Friday, September 28, 2007

Why is it that cats like water but hate to bathe?

Every day, as I step out of the shower my cat (supercalafragilisticexpialadocious - super or superduper for short) steps in. He spends the first few minutes licking the water off the bottom of the tub. Then he sits down. Often I will go back into the bathroom thirty minutes later to check up on him only to find he hasn't moved. And without fail, as i look down at him he looks up at me as if to say, "What's your problem?" Strange.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

If it's in black and white, then it's real...

I just read about my speaking at World Veggied Day in the Marin Independent Journal and on their website this morning! No chance of backing out now!

Art of ProBar just told me that he will be equipping our table with 144 bars of each of the seven flavors they make. Uh-oh - must have self-control - can't eat eighteen bars an hour!

If you do happen to make it to World Veggie Day this weekend, you can find us at the speakers table section next to VegNews Magazine and Berkeley's KPFA radio station. And i'll be the one with a mouthful of either Whole Berry Blast or a Koka Moka and most likely sporting the Vanderkitten pink camo shirt.

Vardaros to speak

IJ cycling columnist Christine Vardaros, a professional on the Vanderkitten team, is speaking at World Vegetarian Day in San Francisco's Golden Gate Park on Sunday at 4 p.m. Vardaros will discuss the optimal diet for athletes with food coach and ProBar founder Art Eggertsen.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Guess who is speaking at World Vegetarian Day?

ME ME ME!!! And it's not just with a safety cone, screaming at the eventgoers as they enter the event. I'm actually on the speakers panel.

When I originally confirmed for this engagement, I was really excited. My big chance to tell a bunch of eager ears why a vegan diet is preferable for athletes. But then i started to think about it a little more - I will have to stand up in front of all those people and entertain them for an hour straight! Cyclo-cross races aren't even that long!

Luckily Art Eggertsen, AKA the Food Coach & founder of ProBar, is flying over from Utah to chip in on the entertainment. He will follow my presentation to provide the audience with nutritional facts and findings. So when i warn a weekend tennis warrior to step away from that skinless chicken wing for fear that her backhand will suffer, Art will provide the "why".

If you're in San Francisco this Sunday and want to heckle me, the event is being held in Golden Gate Park at the Garden Room. I speak at 4pm. Oh, and i'm also presenting Dr. Elliot Katz, president of IDA (In Defense of Animals) at 2:45pm. Since I am a spokesperson for the organization, he asked me to introduce him.

Visit World Veggie Day Website for more info. You can find Art at the speakers table all weekend. I'll be there Sunday afternoon only. Hope to see you there!

Monday, September 24, 2007

Sneak Peek at my VDK Cross Kit

TWENTY DAYS until my first cross race! I have never ever been THIS EXCITED for the season to start. Yippidy-do-dah!!!

When i'm raring to go, it makes it even harder to read about all the cross races that are going on right now - without me! I do understand that I must be patient and not start my season too early so I am best prepared for a long hefty european season of racing, but nonetheless i'm still just as anxious to get going.

While I was checking the internet to see how my competition is doing in the early season races, I read that a former teammate of mine, Sarah Kerlin, just placed 2nd in the Star Crossed Event up in Redmond, WA. Very cool! AND my current teammate on Vanderkitten, Allison Beall, placed 18th in the same event - nice job against a star-studded field!

The next big cross races is this week in Vegas. Even though I dislike that town, I probably would have enjoyed the spectacle of racing there since it's being held concurrently with Interbike - USA's largest bike show. At least my teammate Mandy will be at the race to put on a good show while she challenges the gals for the win! On a side note, I'm also bummed to miss out on the Belgian beer and chocolate at the Vanderkitten booth.

If you go to the show, please stop by VDK booth and say hello to Dave for me. You can use this as an excuse to enjoy his beer and chocolate. Oh, and be sure to cheer for Mandy for me!

About our cycling jersey above: VDK went with Belgian clothing company Bio-Racer. They make amazing clothes - I wore them when I raced for Lotto-Belisol last year. I just can't wait to slide into the skinsuit and hop on the matching Ahrens Bike. We are going to look hot, hot, hot!!!

Thursday, September 20, 2007

A Tsunami leave-behind

As we were walking through the Brussels Airport parking lot, we passed a car that had so much dust on it that it even shamed my friend Twig's car that regularly resides on the San Francisco streets.

Apparently the rumor behind the airport car is that it was left behind when its owner was killed in the Tsunami that occurred about two years ago. I guess they keep the car there in honor of all the lives that were lost. I find that kind but creepy.

piano riding is harder than it sounds...

Today i went for a "piano" ride. A super mega slow (aka piano pace) ride is not always a breeze when attempted in Marin County - just above the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco. Our summers are so brutal here that even though we never ever get rain we do get wind storms that regularly hit speeds in upwards of 60mph (100kph). When riding directly into winds like this, it's quite the challenge to keep the heart rate low. Heck, it's hard to keep the bike upright!

It's a really bizarre feeling to be riding in one direction spinning my ass off while maintaining a heart rate of 65-75pbm, only to turn the corner into a headwind and watch the heartrate jump to 125-130 while riding as easily as possible, barely turning the pedals!

Today I got off easy. I landed in the backseat of some guy's convertible while waiting for a stop sign. The poor guy was innocently stopped beside me as the wind scooped me up and dropped me in his car. After another thirty minutes of riding sideways, holding tight to the bars to make sure i stay out of the bushes aligning the bike path, I narrowly missed a falling tree. It crashed hard right in front of me and blocked the whole path. I felt like i was in one of those cheesy SUV commercials where the SUV is shown to narrowly avoid all these potential disasters including the random mountain biker that jumps in his path.

I really hope tomorrow is a bit less breezy because i will be heading over to the coast via highway 1 which overlooks the Pacific Ocean. If I am blown off my bike, it may be a long way to the ground if i'm blown off the cliff!

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Pain, pain, go away!

A couple of days ago, I pushed my body a bit over the edge with some hard workouts and now i can't walk. I figured this out when i tried to sit down on the toilet to pee in the middle of the night. Midway through lowering my ass, i realized that the quads were not willing to support my weight, and i plopped hard onto the ceramic rim! Trying to get off the toilet was just as enjoyable. I had to hold onto the edge of the toilet seat so i could spring myself off the toilet. Elegant.
Walking down the stairs from bedroom to kitchen was just as rediculous. It's so bizarre to be an elite athlete who can't walk - and NO crashes to blame on it, just sore muscles.
Even though the soreness is a bit of a hassle, it does feel really good to be sore from exercise! It makes me feel like I actually worked out.

On another note, my Ahrens Team Bike is coming along! It is totally custom made to fit my freaky "Olive Oil" body. As soon as it is fully built, I'll post a photo. Their bikes will be on display at the Vanderkitten Booth at Interbike. I hear that VDK is doing a Flemish Theme party at their booth. If you stop by, let me know how it was and do have some beer and chocolate for me!

Friday, September 14, 2007

Who says I can't bring Belgium home with me???

I've always been a sucker for routine. I love waking up every morning to my fresh press pot coffee and a huge-ass bowl of oatmeal filled with various crunchy grains, ground flax, pinch of sea salt, maybe some pumpkin seeds, one banana, one apple, and - if there's room in the bowl (I usually use a bowl where the food just barely fits in it so i keep my consumption level to a set max) i'll throw in any other random fruit i have in the house.

Next i'll check my emails, make the regularly scheduled trip to the bathroom, wash off, lay out my cycling clothes if they aren't already prepared the night before, fill the jersey pockets, prepare the bike, take a shower, put the clothes on, fill the bottles, and out the door.

When i return, legs are up for ten minutes, I make some food. While it's cooking i shower, eat, check the email and theoretically veg out for the rest of the evening.

Even though there is a bunch of other stuff i do in a day, it varies quite a bit - no routine to it.
But at least i have my basic routine that i count on for sanity.

I just got word yesterday that a part of my routine in belgium, namely my usual tuesday with Johan the Belgian, will reconvene in SAN FRANCISCO!!!! Yippee!!!! As goofy as it sounds, I really miss my routine of seeing Johan every tuesday. It's one evening a week where I get to hear great stories, talk about my somewhat quirky life while enjoying fabulous coffee and food.

Anyway, he just booked his flight. Again, Yippee!! I will take photos of the tour.

Here's a photo of us sitting in our usual spot for coffee - across from the ornate town hall. We chose this spot in Grote Markt because it is the last place in all of Leuven to be showered in sunlight at night.

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Have I been living in a cubicle for the past years?

On my ride today i passed a quaint couple wearing matching puke-orange wind vests sitting down at a coffee shop. As i turned to take a better look at the failed fashion attempt, I quickly realized that one of them was waving in my direction. I looked behind to spot the recipient of the wave. Horrifyingly the wave was for me!

Upon further inspection, I figured out that i indeed knew this rotund pumpkin. It was a very good friend of mine whom I had not seen in about a year. He looked so completely different from how i remembered him. For many years, we were inseparable; he was like a male version of me. We were two skinny bike racers traveling the country to race our bikes! But now he's sitting at a cafe basking in the sun while I'm still riding my bike training for upcoming events.

After a quick great-to-see-you, he told me what he's been up to, such as working hard as a higher-up at some San Fran powerhouse company and preparing for his marriage next month to the blonde bombshell standing beside him.

When it was my turn to talk about all the ways I've changed over the past years, I came up blank - still a bike racer, still traveling, still writing, still living everywhere but nowhere. In my desperation to come up with something, I turned my backside towards him and shook my booty - yep, the only way i changed is that i now have an ass from so many years of bike riding! Pitiful, I know.

For the next three hours of my ride, I was lost in thought. Am i living in a bubble? I do read yahoo news and even periodically pick up a newspaper. But for some reason hearing about all his progress made me feel like my life had been stagnant. Have i lived the past 10 years with nothing to show for it??

It wasn't until the end of my ride that I started to be clear on my life.

Some of the random thoughts that came to mind were:

Am I doing what I want to do with my life right now? Yes.

Do I feel fulfilled? Mostly.

Am I excited to wake up to my life? Yes.

Is there still more to learn about myself through cycling? Absolutely.

Am I happy? For the most part, yes.

For me, it really comes down to whether or not I am happy with where I am in life. Even so, I hope i'm not in the same place in ten years from now! Maybe I'll move to Italy.

Friday, September 7, 2007

Back from a hard day at work

It started off easy enough. The sun was out, no clouds in the sky and the air was relatively still. But two hours into the ride, all hell broke loose. Within a second, the sky turned dark as the sun disappeared behind the quickly approaching fog, the temperature dropped from 85 degrees to 55F, and wind kicked up so badly that it took all my might to hang onto the handlebars!

Even though my average speed decreased by over 5mph (about 9kph), my heartrate jumped by 20 bpm! I think it's because i had to spend the whole time riding sideways from the wind perpetually almost tipping me over! I really tried to do what i could to hide from the wind - i crouched down really low on the bike, just about getting lower than my handlebars (not a small feat with my tall lanky body) - but the wind still found me!

My lame attempt of hiding from the wind reminded me of a rather amusing ride i went on with Jonas. We spent three full hours taking turns trying to hide from each other. One of us would ride up the road to hide behind some house, bush or whatever we could find, wait for the other to ride by, then get back on the road and follow behind until discovered! It just cracked us up to watch the other person chase hard to catch back up to the other rider who was supposedly up the road! Sometimes one of us would spot the other perched behind some bush or fence which made us both laugh so hard.

One of these such occasions made me laugh so hard I was happy to be wearing a chamois! Jonas rode up the road, and while in plain view of me he hid behind a clear paneled bus stop and crouched over as if i wouldn't see him through the clear glass. I pretty much fell off my bike while i watched him set up his hiding spot. That moment made me realize what people mean when they say "bust a gut."

At the end of today's ride, I reached the bottom of the hill to my house - a 7-minute climb from hell. After a rather trying three hours of battling the wind, I gave myself permission to walk the hill. Since it was OK to walk, i figured i'd climb at least the first minute so I didn't have to walk that long. Seven minutes later i was at the top. What's wrong with me? Do i dislike walking that much to stay on my bike even when i turned the corner to tackle the 24% gradient with the wind smacking me in the face? Or maybe i was thinking of cyclo-cross season. As one of Coach Elmo's clients once said - "it is better to suffer in the training than suffer in the racing."

I finished the day with my most favorite meal in the world - an Indian burrito from Avatar's Punjabi Burrito in Mill Valley. They make it super mega spicy just for me!

Tot morgen!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Busy day today...

I spent the morning calling NYC magazines to set up a press tour for Devine Toys - a leader in sex toy holders. When i have time, I work part time in Public Relations for a good friend of mine who usually has creative, offbeat clients! Needless to say, the parties are not to be missed! Yeah, if only i weren't a bike racer i could actually attend them more often.

These photos were taken at one of the parties that I actually got to attend!! It was a Good Vibrations School Girl Fetish Party in San Francisco.

The top photo is of their bake sale.

The next one is of a woman who spent the evening following me around to periodically whip me.

The last is of me. Guess which body part it is...
After my media tour calls, i headed out for a cyclo-cross ride in the Marin Headlands. My coach joined me this time around. We rode up and over the hills to Coast View Trail.
On the first time up, he rode in front of me to keep pace. Fortunately he never saw the chaos behind him! I suffered from severe ugly riding due to too much air in my tires - every time i hit a bump i didn't see since i was riding up my coach's ass, my wheel went airborne causing me to free-pedal without any return force on the pedals - comical looking actually. And to make matters worse, I couldn't get my iPod to work so i rode most of the climb with one hand on the bars and the other between my boobs where i keep the iPod. Good thing he didn't turn around!!
By the next climb, I got my act together. I took some air out of the tires, got the iPod to work before i started the climb and rode in front of my coach so i could see the terrain. Much better the second time around. To celebrate my success, I spent a few minutes at the top of the climb dancing.
Speaking of dancing, I will never forget the time i went out to a bar/night club in San Francisco with Karen. While she was being wooed by some random guy, I was obligated - as a friend - to keep his buddy occupied. So when he asked me to dance three times, I finally agreed. To make sure the dance was short, I busted out with my best Saturday Night Fever moves as soon as we hit the dance floor.
He stood there for a second just staring at me. I win. But NO! I was wrong. The next second was spent with me watching HIM pick up the dance moves where i left off. He knew all the moves to that goofy movie! Foiled. But i tell you i never laughed so hard on a dance floor as i had in that moment.
After the ride, Don and I made some eggplant/veggie/habanero burgers with a huge-ass salad. For dessert, we had fruit salad with soya yogurt. Yum. Gotta go now to see if there's any belgian chocolate left around the house.
BTW, 37 days until my first cyclo-cross race. Yippidy-friggin-doo-dah!!! OK, i just convinced myself i will skip that piece of chocolate - must lose weight for cross.
Thanks for reading.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

A magical place indeed...

Yeah, training in Marin County totally bites. OK, clearly based on these photos that was a joke. In preparation of cross season, I've been spending a lot of time in the Marin Headlands - just over the Golden Gate Bridge from San Francisco.

Although I miss Belgium more than I would have thought possible, it feels really good to get back to my usual training routine here in California. I took the photos so I can take you on a virtual cyclo-cross ride with me.

The first photo is of me trying to get my heart rate monitor to confirm that I was truly alive.

The next is of my dirty arm after a few bike shoulderings. For the next few months, I'll have not only a perpetually dirty forearm but it will be spotted with black-and-blues from tossing the top tube onto the forearm a little too aggressively.

The next three photos were taken from the top of a cliff overlooking Cronkhite Beach. My friends and I like to go to this spot to watch the beginner surfers tackle the tiny waves of the Pacific Ocean that rarely ever reach two meters high. Even so, it's still fun to watch them bob up and down in the water for thirty minutes straight without ever attempting a single wave. And on the offchance that they do go for a wave, we get super excited when they stand on the board for over three seconds.

The photo of the rock is my favorite. Every time I pass this rock, I see a handful of tourists taking photos of it. If only they knew that us locals call it the doody rock - it's white from seagulls using it as a toilet.

The one of the mini-lake is just before Cronkhite Beach.

For fun, I included a photo of my dancing rock which is located at the top of a hill where old springs and miwok converge. Although the spot is in full view of the trails, the passerbys would have to actually look up to see me shaking my booty!!

On another note, Don just got his hot tub fixed. Too bad the heat wave is still going on.

Oh, and I met with Dave of Vanderkitten a few nights ago. It was great to meet him for the first time. But even more importantly, I was thrilled to score a bunch of really cute clothing!!! Photos to come of dave and the new outfits.