Friday, February 24, 2006

And now for something completely different...

Last weekend I made an interesting observation. Interesting for me that is, probably nobody else cares about it, but hey, a part of this blog belongs to Pullemutse and that's why I want to write about it.

Over the weekend I was in Shirlington, VA and they have some nice restaurants and other establishments close to the local movie-theater. We went into one of the restaurants and had a good time. Food is excellent, the company is interesting, in other words everything is fine until...

I had to go to the restroom. And that's when it all came clear to me. Ever noticed that in many establishments, there's a sign that indicates the maximum occupancy for the room. Myself, working in the hospitality business see it everyday and maybe that's the reason I notice these things. The maximum occupancy in the restaurant we were was probably around 130 - 140 people at any given time. So, why is there only 1 (= one, uno, eins, un, één) toilet. There are at least 5 fire-extinguishers, there are more waiters and waitresses, so why only one toilet?

Just imagine... the panic in case the food...

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Back to cyclists....We know how to pick 'em!

2004 brought much knowledge to the pookie's life in the world of professional cycling. And many new friendships...No rider has turned down a picture with this unofficial "Podium Girl." One of her personal favorites is a young Argentinean, JJ Haedo (pictured below at the 2005 Baltimore Bike Jam). "He is one of the most genuinely friendly people I know," says Pooky. "He is such a strong and promising rider, yet none of the glamour or success gets to his head." JJ always has a smile, kiss and hug for Pooky, no matter how sweaty, dirty or gritty he may be from racing.

Monday Morning, February 21, 2006, 127 cyclists left Salsilito to climb Highway 1 thru Muir Woods California in the first stage of the inaugural Tour of California. The 81.5 mile finish concluded in Santa Rosa, Levi Leipheimer's hometown.

However, it was JJ who emerged from the peloton about 325 yards from the finish line and took the day's race with a time of 3:14:13. Haedo, 25 years old and a four-time Argentinean national champion, said it was the biggest victory of his four years racing on the U.S. circuit.

After three years with Colavita/Sutter Home, Haedo switched this season to Toyota-United, a first-year team based in Newport Beach. The team also includes Ivan Dominguez (below at the 2005 US National Championship in Philidelphia), a former team mate of JJ's on the Colivita Team in 2004 and most recently riding for Health Net. Speaking of the 2005 US National Championship, Chris Wherry is a member of the team!

"I saw big things coming up and wanted to get on board," Haedo said of his new team, which some cycling analysts say could emerge as a major force on the U.S. scene. Sean Tucker, owner of Toyota-United, said his team "came in here with a lot of confidence that we could compete at this level. That's why we made this team. At the same time, we haven't been racing, so we were nervous and a little unsure. Our whole philosophy is about the team, not one rider." Cudos to you's about time that someone publicly recognizes that cycling is truly a team sport and the entire team deserves credit for their efforts.

Tucker said Haedo is one of several cyclists who could emerge as team leader on any given day...But we knew this all along!

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Not all about bikes...

There other things in our lives (okay, primarily that of Pooky) besides bicycles...Animals for instance. Pooky seems to have been born with a love for all animals. Her first pets were not only the typical dogs and cats, but a cow, squirrels, guinea pigs, and rabbits to name a few.

In 2003, when Tinkerbell (Pooky's daughter) graduated from school and left home, the "nest" felt empty. A trip to the local animal rescue offered a white female Zebra to help fill the void. Weenie (pictured at right) has been a joy and provided a new respect for all feathered creatures. So much so that later that year when the same animal shelter had a pair of Zebra Finches (Jack and Jill) they also became part of the family! Jack and Weenie had their first clutch (pair of twins-male and female) around Thanksgiving 2003....babies made five. For some time, the males and females were in separate cages. In the summer of 2004, being the hopeless romantic she is, Pooky to put Weenie and Jack together again. Quickly came clutch #2- twin males and twin females. Four more...Okay, nine is enough!
Thanksgiving 2004, it was mentioned by a friend that a home was needed for another female white Zebra and a Parakeet! Sneezy (Parakeet pictured on the left) and Teeny also joined the broad. Sadly, Teeny did not live much longer as her previous owner housed her with in a cage with Sneezy, who, three times her size, pecked at her nearly featherless.

Christmas 2005, another finch, a white male Zebra (Willie-pictured at right with Junior-male from first clutch-standing tall, and Jack) and a Quail (Quigley) were added to the family. So, currently, there are twelve in total to keep us company while we are in the home office creating, publishing and posting to this blog. Some day there may be a report on clutch #3, but for now there are enough cages to clean! There are also fish in our household, but that story is for another posting...

Monday, January 16, 2006

The Mur of Gramont - De Muur van Geraardsbergen

De muur van Geraardsbergen

Als de natte wind in je botten dringt
En de hamer zingt langs je oor:
‘Hier nog een lel dan op je nek!’
De keienstraat door je benen slaat
En het pijnbeest knaagt aan je knie,
Het einde loert in de drek.

Ja, dan komt de muur en hij bijt meteen,
Het zuur snijdt door je heen, gemeen, een, twee, nee.
Hij trekt je adem en je snot vanonder uit je rauwe strot.
Waarom, o God, waarom?

Als de dunne schijt langs je dijen glijdt
En de hele zooi rijdt van je weg.
Nooit kom ik verder dan de goot.
En je wordt klein en het is allemaal schijn
En je zou meer moeten zijn dan een dweil.
Waarom, moeder, ben ik al dood?

Ja, dit is de muur en hij is diep en vuil,
Een spleet, gat, knekelkuil. Hoe kom ik eruit?
Hij hangt aan mijn rug als een blok beton,
Knijpt de godvers uit mijn droge tong.
Ah hond, ja hond, nu moet je gaan.

Wordt het stof of wordt het goud?
Wordt het gras of wordt het steen?
Wordt het nacht of licht?
Ah, ik neem die bult alleen.

Ja, dit is de muur en ik vreet hem op,
Schop mijn drog over de top en jank, jank, jank niet meer.
Het gaat alweer naar benee, ik jaag met de besten mee,
o nee, mij krijgen ze niet.
Het gaat alweer naar benee, ik jaag met de besten mee,
O nee, mij krijgen ze niet.

Distance: 1000m
Average climb: 9.2 %
Maximum climb: 20 %
Localization: Hill 16
4 km to the next hill
At km 242
16 km to the finish

Friday, January 13, 2006

The Tour Of Flanders... In Search of the Flandriens

More than 15 000 participants in 2005!

The Tour of Flanders for cyclists and mountainbikers is the second trial on the Golden Bike calendar, an initiative of the “Union Cycliste Internationale” (UCI) (International Cyclist Union) to promote bike races worldwide. The Tour of Flanders is without a doubt one of the biggest sporting events in Belgium. On the day before, all biking lovers will have the chance to get a sneak preview of the atmosphere at this biking event. The ultimate challenge is to cover the 256 kilometers that the professionals will have completed one day later. But you can also get to know the 140- and 75-kilometer loops together with some pretty tough hills.
On Saturday April 1st, 2006 I will ride the Tour Of Flanders. (Hopefully this is not an April's Fools commitment) I have never ridden 256 kilometers or 155 miles. ..My longest is a 125 miles. My biggest fear is the fact that all the major climbs are in the last 50 miles of the race. The Mur of Gramont could be a real challenge. But to ride the same route of the pro's could give me enough adrenaline for an entire week. Also, I will ride through my hometown Roeselare and very close to my local part of the town. I am getting very excited about this!
The day after Pooky will be introduced to the real Tour Of Flanders. Beer, Fries and lots of excitement. I will make sure that she experiences the Flandriens from close in all of their aspects.
I need to go now, I have a lot of miles to train for...

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

It's just the same as ....

Riding from Roeselare to Bruges.

To put it in perspective and to help understand my daily commute here's a comparison with my hometown area. My daily commute from Oakton to Washington DC is almost identical as riding from my hometown Roeselare to Brugge.

Translated in self-developed dialect:

Om ut un bitje te verstoan en om 't un bitje an joen verstand te briengen, kiekt ne kei ier noa die plakoate en je goat ton zien dan mien doagelikse velotriep van mien kot noar miene buro biekans geliek is an de vojoage tussne Roeseloare en zet je vanachtre Brugge. (no animals were hurt or killed during this transaction)

Somewhere in between Roeselare and Bruges is the town of Kortemark. In that town lives my brother Harry and his family.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

A New Year's Promise To Keep!

Many say that the best way to stick to your goals is to make them public. New Year's has traditionally been a time to re-evaluate our priorities and set goals. 2006 started off much different than those in the past for us (as you might notice - much more fun than those of the past in front of the TV), it is appropiate that we keep our goals in new ways as making them public.
Pullemutse has one other extremely important promise to keep in order to make the plans for Belgium a complete reality.

Keeping this promise is not only important to the travel plans for the year, but more importantly, will overcome a huge obsticle in our relationship, or not.
I am looking forward that he will, indeed, keep his promise as he toasted for 2006...And as a smart man famously said, "It's not about the bike!"

Gelukkig Nieww Jaar!