Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Wrapping up life in Thames and moving on

So its been awhile since the last post, but I've been busy with training and recovering.  My wrist and fingers have been giving me problems since being dumped by my bike.  I ended up getting x-rays and an MRI on it. Luckily nothing major, only that there is fluid in my wrist and the Dr is recommending that I get a cortisone shot.  I've taken the stance of reducing my swimming and riding my road bike.  I've also been delaying setting up an appointment as I'm supposed to start at my new job in Auckland on Monday, but there is a little kink with that.

I received a phone call from my new manager mid-last week asking if I would be ok starting a day early as he would like to take me to an on-site installation for my first week.  I ran it by Beth as we are scheduled to move into our new house on Saturday and I would have to catch a flight on Sunday.  Today I received confirmation that we are booked on a 1 am flight out of Auckland to Kuala Lumpur via Singapore.  So technically I'm not starting a day early only several hours, many of which I'll probably be sleeping.  What am I going to be doing there you ask?  I'm not really sure, but its a new installation of hardware and software.  There is bound to be some issues and I'll be there in the deep end trying to stay afloat.  Otherwise, I'll observe and start to learn first hand what we provide and what is required on my expected frequent travels. I guess Daytona wont be my first on-site.

I've slowly been getting used to the idea of not living in our little town.  I've been doing things one last time, like running up to the Pinnacles Hut or baking for my local friends.  Hopefully I'll stumble upon some friendly bikers and other active people up in Auckland.  The different groups of people I interact with be missed. 

There are the mountain bike crew.  Whom I met via a poster looking for worker bees on the track.  Last night we finished a section that allows us access back to the main track, even though the new track is only about a 1/3 done.  We also did trips to Rotorua and other mtb trails as well as our weekly Wed Night ride. 

Then there are the tri folks.  We swam, biked, and ran together.  And after all of that we would hit up a cafe for some drinks and snacks.  They are also the ones that talked me into my big event of the year.  I'm already thinking that I may want to top it next year with Coast to Coast, but don't let Beth know just yet.

I'm sure I'm forgetting stuff, but its getting late and I'm wanting to research where I should eat in KL.  Also need to plot out some running workouts so I don't suck at my race in a month.  If anyone wants to sending something over to us, Beth's parents are coming over for Xmas.  Email me and I can get you in contact.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Time to start looking

We'll be moving to Auckland in early December as I just accepted a role as a Business Intelligence Developer with a company on Auckland's North Shore. I've had a few interviews as I've been looking for roles that would allow me to utilize my development skills. This role feels like an extension of my previous roles in data and development.  I'll be responsible for SSRS (reporting), SSAS (cubes of relational data for reporting and metrics), and ASP.NET MVC in C# (for the application). 

What does the company do?  They design, manufacture, install, and manage via software sorting systems.  Huh?  Let me paint this picture for you.  You drop off your bag at the ticket counter.  It gets tagged and then takes a magical ride through the underbelly of the airport.  Based on the bag tag it gets routed by a computer system to a carousel to be loaded into a baggage cart and then delivered and loaded onto your flight.  Works most of the time, right?  Well this company makes most of that happen.  The other big client would be companies like FedEx, which utilize conveyor belts to move thousands of packages around the facility to the proper containers to be loaded for exotic places or more likely just across state lines.  It will be interesting to see the operation for a different point of view as I held jobs in both industries in college. They were eager for me to accept and are anxious to get me in the office.  I'm sure I'll learn a lot and rise to any challenges that the new environment brings.

Once I find out exactly what I'll be doing, I'll post it up.  I know right now I'll be in charge of creating an application to deploy report definitions from a central server to client servers when new versions are created in order to keep the remote sites synchronized with the latest version.  I will be drinking from the fire hose when it comes to SSAS, but I'm already been studying and practicing.  

Some of the perks:
Early adopters of technology
Close to lots of sushi restaurants and other tasty places in general
They have an indoor 3-on-3 soccer 'field', weights, heavy bag, and other cycle commuters.
Pay for Microsoft Certifications (Training and Exams)

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Trail runs, fooding, and other recaps

So training is in full swing.  Its 10 weeks from POTH and 18 from IMNZ.  So I've been super active.  I have K2 November 2nd just a little jaunt around the Coromandel Peninsula, approximately 200km.  I did a lengthy write-up of it last year.  Wait, I've been in New Zealand how long now? 

Backside of the ridge from Thames
Our Tuesday Night run went on a new route last week and it was filled with hill work.  I saw a few new places in this small town.  I thought we were running down someone's lawn, but it was a trail.  Then Garth, Manu, and I did a 3 hr trail run on Thursday in the valley behind Thames.  The trail leaves from a side street which I lived closed to when I was in the Edward Street house.  You have the capability to go all the way out to the Kauaeranga Valley (Pinnacles and mtb trails) or to come back down a 2nd track which exits on the edge of town.  That is what we did.  It was a good run, but I worried about my ankle in a lot of spots as it was pretty uneven.  Go figure it was a trail run.

Last weekend, Beth and I went up to Auckland to do a few errands and we hit up 2 different festivals.  It was supposed to be 3, but I couldn't eat any more.  Shocking I know!  Saturday morning, I did 2000m in the pool then took in a Maori food festival and the Diwali festival.  We also planned on hitting up the Auckland Night Market, where they have 60-80 food stalls.  Its still on my to-do list.  At the Maori food festival we started with a cupcake. 
So tasty.  Easy to make to boot.

Then I had a plate of boil up, its like a soup of potato, water cress, doughboy (think dumplings), and pork bones with meat) with 2 pieces of Maori bread.  I wanted to have some hangi, but it was sold-out.  However, a very kind guy stopped by Beth and I and said he overheard we were asking for hangi, but were turned away. 

He gave us, I mean me, one of his helpings of hangi.  We had an interesting conversation with an older lady at the festival.  I got the typical, what are you question.  Which led to explaining how this is a typical conversation.  Now that I think of it, I should just make a t-shirt and wear it all the time.  I said I get my dark skin from being half-vietnamese and she chimed in "and the other half is American!".  I just had to agree with her.  She talked about eating nettles and sea urchin and how in the past they were embarassed to do it in front of foreigners.  Now she doesn't care.  I said I've eaten both and she was surprised as she thought only Kiwis did it.  At this point I had plowed through both portions of food and turned down her offer for some uni as I feeling full.  She said that we should be on Amazing Race because I eat anything.  We told her we had applied years ago, but sadly we weren't chosen to compete.
Yes, $20 for HoHos

Then we went to Martha's Backyard which imports American goods and sells at a significant markup.  I've been using pop tarts as a nutrition source while on my long rides.  Also picked up some corn meal for corn bread muffins and graham crackers for s'mores.  We then drove back up the street to pick up a bike trainer we got off of TradeMe.  Then off to the North Shore to pick up a water bottle seat mount and to drop off my wetsuit which had a seam tear.  Sad because I only probably wore it 6-10 times, but as I had bought it at the end of the September and didn't wear it until June of the following year it was out of warranty.  Then we were off to Diwali where we met up with Shiv.  We took in some music and more food before heading back home.  We had curry puffs, samosas, mango lassi, vegetarian takoyaki (cheese and corn or onion), chipati with bread, fried fritters with chocolate sauce, and a sprite.  Then I topped the night off with a mystery dessert from a place on Elliot Street of panna cotta and chocolate mouse parfait. I don't think I could have forced myself to eat at each of the 60-80 food stalls at the night market, so we just drove back home.

Shiv next to a MN State Fair booth?

Don't be fooled, its not takoyaki
Then on Sunday, I did a solo 50 mile ride against a head or cross wind the majority of the time.  I didn't have the greatest average, but I worked hard.  I also found out that my friend Martin had had an accident on his K2 training ride a few weeks earlier.  The ride, I missed because of my hurt wrist.  He is in the hospital still recovering, but he has a fractured pelvis and 5 ribs.  I'll get down there to check on him at some point, but this weekend is Labor weekend.  We'll be crashing at my friend Phil's bach on the best beach in New Zealand.  I'll be taking my bike, so I can ride the 70 km back to Thames after our little vacation.  Monday is supposed to be a worker bee day at the mtb trail and if I spend most of the day there we might get a good chunk done.  We had 7 people out working last week and got about 20 meters done.  We are working on a technical switchback section of a downhill that requires a lot of platforming and removing of stumps.  If all goes to plan, the trail will be done around Christmas. 

Today we went back up to Auckland to get our refinance documents certified at the US Embassy.  It was our first time, visiting an embassy.  It was nothing like the movies.  Where were the heavily armored guards walking around the massive complex?  Nope it was tucked in a Citi building on the edge of the CBD.  We then talked briefly to an accountant to see how screwed up our taxes may be.  Then we picked up my freshly repaired wetsuit.  Time to get some open water practice.  I was called on Monday about scheduling a job interview.  It took place after all the other activities for the day.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Some recipes cause I love food

Tonight I made the following; a Caramel Cake for Leith's birthday, a chocolate chip cookie pan, and  quinoa spinach goat cheese fritters.  So much for not baking while on my training program.  Then again, I rode 17 miles on the trainer this morning.  My wrist still isn't feeling that awesome.  Even on the trainer my wrist caused me unbelievable amount of grief that lasted for hours.  I also have wicked sores on my heels from my new-ish trail running shoes. 

So I've been cooking and baking here and there for years.  What can I say I love food.  I've worked as a cook back in college for a short time.  I've even taken baking orders for friends from time to time, but never professionally.  Sometimes I hear that I'm in the wrong industry or I hear the comment that I should own my own bakery or what have you.  I wont claim that I do it all as sometimes I start with a recipe from this place or that magazine and then modify it.  Other times I just whip things together.  Not everything I do turns out, but it almost always gets eaten.  I can only recall a few major disasters where it was utter crap.

Recently I made a modified Pumpkin Whoopie Pies but I roasted my own pumpkin and hand mashed it for a chunkier consistency.  Then I basically disregarded the entire spice section and put in a combination of ground ginger, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, and cloves.  This is my typical spice concoction when dealing with pumpkin, which I love using.  Also made some wicked pumpkin pancakes the other day with a faux buttermilk.  I've yet to find buttermilk in New Zealand, so I learned a trick of curdling milk with white vinegar.  I don't really have a ration that I adhere to, I just taste the batter and add whatever I feel like that day or night.  Then I changed the filling to be one that I've used for my Cream-Filled Pumpkin.  This is a recipe I found over a decade ago while working for the airlines.  I don't recall the magazine, but I have several sure fire cupcake hits from that issue.  So straight from recipes files so of my crowd favorites.  My current and former co-workers, Beth's former co-workers, and our friends and family approved pants tightening goodness.  This is another big winner that I made back home.  I have yet to find the mini-kisses over here so if you are coming to visit, bring a couple bags and you might get a batch to yourself.  My instructions for the Choco-pucks.

Enjoy baking and eating, cause I know I do.

Cream-Filled Pumpkin Cupcakes
4 eggs
2 c sugar
¾ c vegetable oil
1 can (15 oz) solid-pack pumpkin
2 c flour
2 t baking soda
1 t salt
1 t baking powder
1 t ground cinnamon
(See above for my spice concoction)

1 T cornstarch
1 c milk from
½ c shortening
¼ c butter softened
2 c powdered sugar
1 t vanilla
Bake at 350 for 18-22 minutes, for the filling you mix the cornstarch and milk over medium high heat and bring to a boil while constantly stirring.  Remove immediately after coming to a boil.  Let cool to room temp.  While that is cooling, cream the shortening, butter, and sugar.  Now add the vanilla.  Slowly add the thickened milk mixture to the creamed ingredients while mixing on high.  You are looking for a fluffy mixture.  I've never used all the milk mixture when creating the filling.  After the cupcakes have had a chance to cool cut a cone divet in the top.  Remove the section, fill with cream mixture, and then replace the cut-out section.

Cream Cheese Chocolate Cupcakes
1 (8 oz) package cream cheese softened
1/3 c sugar
1 egg
1/8 t salt
1 c semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 c peanut butter chips

1 ½ c flour
1 c sugar
¼ c baking cocoa
1 t baking soda
½ t salt
1 c water
1/3 c vegetable oil
1 T while vinegar
1 t vanilla
Back at 350 for 25-30 minutes  Cream the cream cheese, sugar, and egg.  Mix in the rest of the ingredients.  Mix the cupcake ingredients together.  I've never been a big fan of using multiple bowls and slowly adding the wet and dry together.  Then again, this is something I do for fun not a job.  Fill the cupcake paper about 1/2 full with cupcake batter and then take a table spoon or so of the filling and plop it on top.
Caramel Sauced Cake

Caramel Cake (Gourmet, January 2008)
2 c plus 2 T flour
1 t baking powder
¾ t baking soda
½ t salt
1 stick (4 oz) unsalted butter softened
1 c sugar
1 t vanilla
2 eggs
1 c shaken buttermilk

1 c heavy cream
½ c brown sugar
1 T light corn syrup
1 t vanilla
Bake cake in an 8 inch square cake pan at 350 for 35-40 minutes, cool for an hour
Boil glaze until it registers 210 to 212 for 12-14 minutes, cool for 30 minutes

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Boring life

So my life is pretty boring at the moment.  I train, I work, I sleep, I eat, and I heal.  Sometimes not even in that order.  I'm 3 weeks in to my training for my races.  I've been throwing down the workouts left and right and occasionally they throw me down as well. 

So this past weekend, I headed down to Tauranga to cycle with some friends from when I lived there.  My friends have been doing a casual 100km loop every Sunday for a spell and many extended an offer to me to crash at their place.  I decided to take Martin up on his offer.  I left on Saturday after doing my morning swim and my long run for the week.  This week its 8 miles and that number will steadily grow over the coming months until our May marathon.  I was on the road at about noon after I showered and ate a quick snack.  I pulled in around 1:30 and was just in time for our 2pm ride.  Willie, Martin, and I pushed against the wind and the rolling road of Welcome Bay for 50km.  It was kind of surreal being back there and riding the road that I had ridden so many times last year.  It was fun to see the Mount in all its glory.   We do miss living down there quite a bit, but Thames is the bad town that everyone makes it out to be. 

Sunday, the Red Bike group ride consisted of 19 riders, several of which asked where I had been.  It was fun to get that type of recognition with the group as I haven't ridden with them since at least January.  Then again I rode a lot around Tauranga while I was there and I'm kind of memorable.  Not often you have an American with chops show up in your town and start to act like a local.  We did their typical ride which consisted of doing Armstrong Loop and then up Oropi road and then Welcome Bay then back along Papamoa Beach into the Mount.  We had a little break at Cafe Blend where I had a really nice chocolate caramel slice and a smoothie.  Then it was back on the bike to Martin's place, which isn't too far from where I was working.  So I took the same route I took for the entire time I worked there.  We had a nice little meal and I got back on the road.  Monday was my rest day and boy did I need it.  I rode just shy of 200km, swam 2100 m, and ran just over 8 miles.

This is the last week of Beth's vacation back to the US.  She had a few days in Vegas, then time with her family in Wisconsin, before rounding out the trip in Minnesota.  She'll be bringing back a few things with her, which will be kind of like receiving delayed birthday presents.  I'm busy with my 9+ workouts a week and waking up in the middle of the night in order to stave off my insatiable hunger.  Last night, I ended up putting my mountain bike down hard on the concrete.  The Mountain Bike Crew (Jason, Graeme, and Kim) rode out to Hikutaia on the rail trail in the fleeting sun only to be illuminated by an almost full moon.  We didn't need out lights until we reached Hikutaia.  On the return trip shortly after getting off the crushed rock trail, we were cruising at just over 20 mph and I got whipped to the ground while cornering.  I evidently had a flat front tire and my body got banged up pretty good.  I got road rash on my right knee, calf, and hip as well as a bruised left palm and 3 very tender fingers, which feel sprained.  It made sleeping a challenge and prevented me from going on my run tonight.  I did a quick warm-up but there is pain in my knee.  Well I'm off to ice it after my lame workout.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Another hit of K2

So the long training session starts tomorrow.  In reality, we kicked it off on Saturday with a little jaunt around the Coromandel Peninsula.  Several of my friends from Tauranga came up for a K2 training ride which by the bike computer measured in at 117.8 hill filled, leg cramping, and fortitude testing miles.  My friends have been logging a ton of miles over the winter, while I've dealt with some back issues and really only rode my mountain bike a couple times a week.  The ride provides picturesque views and stunning landscapes.  I was captivated last year while doing my first K2 ride and fell in love with the area.  Unfortunately, Beth has yet to experience the full peninsula,but we look to rectify this once she gets back.  Yesterday, she had the pleasure to drive up to the Coromandel Town to join us for lunch and ferry one of us back to Thames.   When I got back all I could think was that in 8 months, I'm going to have to "run" a marathon after the approximate distance I just biked.  I'm glad I have some time to actually train.

Where is Beth going?  Well she is visiting the US for 3 weeks.  She is meeting up with her friend Angi in Vegas, then back to Milwaukee to visit her family, and finally back to Minneapolis to visit my family and friends.  We also have a small amount of things that need to be picked up from the States as we have been stockpiling items at our families houses.  I'm a little jealous that she gets to eat at Chimborazo, El Taco Reindo, Punch Pizza, Ideal Dinner, and many of our other favorite jaunts in Minneapolis.  Then there are the ones that she wouldn't dine at, but I would like Big Daddy's BBQ, The Butcher and the Boar, and Zenbox.  When we visit the US together, I have a feeling that I might eat out every meal. 

Beth and I looking at the logistics of our standing trip we take every 4 years.  That's right, its time to look at World Cup.  We are registering for the ticket lottery and making our sojourn to Brazil this time.  We are also talking about re-visiting Uruguay while we are over in South America.  There is a pararillada that I'm dying to eat at located in Montevideo.  I would have hit it up in 2010, but we ran out of time.  Has it really been 4 years since we were last in South America?  Seems like we just visited Pete and Leeann there in the last couple years.  I guess I have no concept of time when it comes to traveling.

Last weekend, Beth and I headed to Taupo.  I was supposed to meet up with a co-worker for some snowboarding at Whakapapa ski field, but he and his wife ended up bailing.  So I ended up riding solo for about 4 hours.  Longer than I thought I would make it as I haven't boarded in probably 2 years.  My feet and calves were screaming at me.  I also had the coincidental meeting of an older couple on the chair lift and after a brief conversation I found out that they were also from Thames.  Not only that, but there is a strong chance that I ran with the gentleman on our Tuesday Night run.  With the early twilight settings I don't know everyone's face unless I have met them during the daylight hours. 

Last week, I had an interview up in Auckland for a developer role.  I let my current boss know what I was doing and he asked what he could do to prevent me from looking at the opportunity.  We are talking possibilities tomorrow.  I feel that my talents are being wasted performing only only as a BA.  After the interview, Beth and I went to a place that sells American groceries.  We purchased corn soft shell tacos, hot sauce, and a few other items from the States.  I could probably start an import company for other ex-pats that crave particular items.  It could go even further and I could start selling bikes!  I have several people interested in my Surly Disc Trucker.  They want one of their own.  

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Masters of something and a whole lot of alone time

Its been a little while since my last storytelling.  So grab a mug of Milo or your favorite beverage and prepare for the onslaught that is our life.

First off, Beth is starting Grad School next month.  I said she couldn't get another undergrad degree and others agreed.  So she is going to for a Masters in Predictive Analytics.  This is directly tied to the role she has been doing for several years.  She is also heading back to the States for 3 weeks.  She will be visiting friends and family.  I may be generous and have her carry back some treats for you guys.  Place your orders now.  She is busy juggling 3 contract jobs at the moment and flying down to Christchurch at a moments notice.  Maybe she'll blog and tell you why.

I didn't get to Woodland Park, instead Jason and I hit up Te Aroha for some riding.  It was pretty bad in my opinion.  It was raining and the track is a bunch of short punchy climbs over wet roots, rocks, and plastic strips.  If you were lucky you might be able to get some traction otherwise it was walking up some gnarly obstacles.  I'm quoted on a video saying I think it would be safer to play with razor blades.  I don't think I'll be back there to ride.  I'm spoiled as I got lots of selection of trails to choose from not to mention the ones we are building.  If I don't like a place, I can just go to another place that I enjoy.  We are just finishing up our 3rd trail and we already have our 4th trail marked out.  We did this about 4 months ago.  It takes a bit of time when its only 4-5 guys with hand tools, but the trails are a lot of fun.

Since my last post, we went to Tauranga and stayed with my friend Phil.  As I hate to come in empty handed I baked some pumpkin whoopie pies.  For those who have eaten my pumpkin cupcakes, I used the same powdered sugar filling between two thick pumpkin cookies.  Needless to say they were a big hit.  In fact, I had so much pumpkin left after roasting a single one that I made several batches of the whoopie pies for work and had pumpkin pancakes for several meals.  If the pancakes weren't good enough already, a little dab of left over frosting melting over the top of the fluffy cakes really soothed my sweet tooth.  Since I do bake and give most of it to my co-workers, I suspect that they think I spend all my free time baking, but I tell them only when it is raining.  Even that isn't exactly true.  I bake when I crave something.  It just so happens to coincide with the rain as I don't like to ride that much in the rain.  The reason for our trip down to Tauranga was to see our friend Faye before she headed back to the UK to work for Marmot UK.  We had a nice dinner on The Strand.  The usual cast of characters from Macpac were there as well as a few new comers.  They work in other stores or started after I left.  Talked to Faye about what she'll be doing and wished her luck.  We ducked out around 10 pm.  Back to Phil's for some stories and to wish him luck as he and a few other friends were doing the Okororie Winter Ride, 70km of country roads.

Beth and I left fairly early as we planned on doing some hiking.  We had several options, most of which I had already done.  Instead, we opted for a hike that neither of us have done and is less than an hour from our place.  We ended up doing the Karangahake Mountain Track, which can be found between Paeroa and Waikino on the Hauraki Rail Trail.  In my opinion it is the best section of the trail for viewing pleasure.  If you want to do a straight ride for fitness then ride from Thames to Te Aroha and back as you only have the Coromandel Forest and Kaimais on the East side of the trail.  We hiked up to the top of the trail and were given a stunning vantage point of the area.

The view from Karangahake hike.

The next week, I believe flew by and we had awesome fun on tap for the weekend.  For the past year and a half we have been trying to get out kite boarding.  For Christmas 2011, Beth and I coincidentally exchanged the same present.  Kite boarding lessons.  The winter was basically a bust because of the freeze/thaw cycle we experienced.  Then we moved over here.  So we never got to utilize our lesson vouchers.  So when Beth found lessons on a group-on like site over here, we pounced.  So last weekend, we went up to Auckland and learned how to fly the kite and do a bunch of different techniques in the water with our teacher Roger.  It was a lot of fun and I even owe Beth and Roger a beer!  You owe someone a beer if you hit them with your kite.  That's right, I dived bombed my kite and smacked the fools.  I then pretended like I didn't know what I was doing.

Pumpkin Whoopie Pies
We ate at one of my favorite places to eat in Auckland, El Sizzling Chorizo.  We pulled up a spot at the small counter and smelled the smoked meat.  I ordered a platter of meat while Beth got the roasted veggies with cheese.  It brings back memories of visiting our friends Pete and Leeann in Argentina.  After we ate, we jumped in our car and made for Hamilton.  Beth had to pick up some puzzles that she had won on TradeMe.  After we picked up the puzzles, we hit up The Wolverine.   It really made me want to go back to Japan.  It also made me miss my chops.  Welcome back chops.  According to my old boss I should now be driving a windowless van and sport a t-shirt saying "Strangers have the best candy".  I don't rock either one.
These beef ribs are awesome.

On my Tuesday night run, I ended up doing 12km in under an hour.  They guys asked if I had registered for Ironman yet.  I responded that I'm still debating it.  Several of the guys that I run and swim with are competing this year.  I was told that the word on the street is that the race is 90% full.  If I want to race, I got to register soon.  I feel rather reserved when it comes to registering as its a lot of training and I have plans for our summer already that includes a visit back to the States.  On Wed night I did a mountain bike ride with Graeme and we discussed our upcoming weekend trip to Taupo.  We are planning on doing W2K with the Headland loop along with the K2K on Saturday and then doing several of the local trails on Sunday.  On Friday I registered for Ironman.  I've got some big training on the horizon as I have K2  (Oct) , Port of Tauranga Half (Jan), and now Ironman New Zealand (Mar).  So Steve, I hope you step up and do something more than just a marathon!  I'm sure I wont be able to say no to some other events not to mention my personal list of things I want to do.
My meat platter.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

The price is your pride

First and foremost Happy Birthday Asa! Happy belated birthday Josiah and Juniper.

Our view.
So its been a few weeks since the last post and I feel a bit beaten up.  For the last several weeks, I haven't been running or swimming as my back had been seizing up and reducing me to walking or nearly drowning. 

My Motobecane above Rotorua.
Instead I've been hitting the bike.  My mountain bike friends from Thames and I went to Rotorua for a weekend of riding.  We logged 9hrs of riding and lots of meters of climbing.  Saturday was 5 hours and over 1000 m of climbing.  The guys wanted to do a little drinking so we went to a liquor store.  I purchased Ginger Beer and M&M's and I got carded.  I couldn't believe it.  I haven't been carded for pop in years.  We ended up at a buffet not too far from our hotel and I put down a couple plates and my friends were shocked.  Little did they know that I wasn't even showing them remotely what I am capable of.  The next morning was a race that we just sort of crashed as the trails were still open.  I heard the funniest thing that morning.  A young woman comes flying down the open trail to the beginning of the woods and slams on her brakes and exclaimed "I don't do trees!"  "Nobody told me we would be riding in trees."After a quick conversation over the next 10 minutes, we find out that she is a track cyclist.  I told her to think of it like her track bike and not to use her brakes.
The cost is only $10. The price is your pride.

We waited another 10 minutes for John, one of the guys we ride with in Thames, to pass the point we were waiting at.  We rode with his bunch for a good little stretch and then harassed a few other racers we know.  It was at one of these stops that we heard about a woman that crashed and she believed she broke her arm.  A call was made to the race coordinators to get help up at the beginning of the track.  We made her a sling and passed her some pain pills.  I did do most of my WFR checklist from memory before doing any treatment.  My diagnosis was a fracture.  If I had my first aid kit I could have done more, but the swath of cloth made a nice sling. 
Gnarly wooden throne at the beginning of Be Rude Not To
We continued on and road up Hill Rd for a 2nd time in the weekend.  This is a difficult climb on tired legs and I was forced to ride in my granny gear.  We then had to wait for 2 of the guys who decided to take the shuttle up the road and then ride down to meet us.  It is now an on-going joke about offering a ride to the top of any hill.  I said I would offer a ride to the top for $10, but my prices go up exponentially.  I'll be getting another bike in a couple weeks!

Our Wed night rides have been taking us up to the beginning of the Pinnacles track (40km round trip), but this past week we did Tararu Creek Road (15 miles round trip).  It is a long steady climb that was made all the more painful as my legs were tired because I did a 13km run the night before.  My first run in weeks and I felt good.  My legs are sore days later.  This past weekend, I took my TT bike out for an easy session.  I wanted to see what it felt like as I haven't ridden it in about 2 years.  Having been here over a year and it being winter before I got here my TT bike hasn't been getting the love.  I was able to do 25 miles averaging 19.9 mph without pushing hard.  Not a bad place to start from.  I expect that I'll be back up to 24-26 mph average once my training peaks. 

I've been baking a bit lately.  I had the craving for French Silk Pie so I made 2 pies this past weekend.  I made a flaky pie crust, whipped up the chocolate filling, and whipped topping.  I took them to work and they disappeared very quickly.  Then after running on Tuesday night, I felt like Peanut Butter cookies.  I found a quick 5 ingredient gluten free recipe that takes under 20 minutes from cracking the egg to smearing nutella on the cookie and gnoshing on it. 

This weekend we are planning on heading up North of Auckland to ride at Woodhill.  Its about 40 minutes from Central Auckland.  After that we plan on working on our trails as we are almost done with another track.  Then we have 2 more marked that need to be started.  Its extremely gratifying to build a trail and a short while later be bombing down the flow that you marked out. 

On a sad note, our friend Faye is moving back to the UK.  I've known her most of the time that I have been here.  She was the assistant manager/manager at Macpac while I was there.  She was a riding and running companion.  I introduced her and Elaine to the joys of Santo Churros in the Mount.  She was offered a job with Marmont Europe last week and will be moving back in a couple weeks.  I think I'll surprise her with some baking for her going away party that will be held in Tauranga.