Saturday, June 30, 2007

Jambalaya Confessions

As a Cajun, I can't stand store-bought food.
I laugh at people that buy their roux in a jar. I think that's a travesty. Part of the joy in making cajun food is the adeventure in cooking it. Crawfish are a great example. However, I have a confession. I don't make my jambalaya from scratch. I have no idea why but I have never made a decent jambalaya from scratch. Ever. I've certainly never made on better tha I have using Louisiana's Cajun Jambalaya Mix.

There are a couple of secrets to using the mix. First when you buy it in the store, feel the package. You want a package that feels dense, not just like loose rice. The ones that are 'looser' don't have as much of the seasoning. At least that's the myth. I'm not certain that's true, but I squeeze before I buy too.

Secondly, don't just use the mix per the directions. I chop bell peppers and onions and brown them in a skillet with a bit of thyme. Today, the bell peppers came out of my little garden, so they were super-fresh.

Otherwise, just follow the directions... Here's the final result:

Thursday, June 28, 2007

Late Night Ride

Took a late night ride through the neighborhood. It was full moon tonight...
As I cruised through the neighborhood, I came across a dark block. My first thought was that a couple of street lights were out. But then I noticed none of the houses had lights either. Apparently, the electricity was off for some reason.

It was kinda creepy... so I'm riding down the darkened block and I can just barely make out someone crossing the street right in front of me, and were on a collision course! I grab the brakes and throw the bike into a tail slide to change diretions. The person goes right into my new path!! YIKES! SO, I unclip from my pedals, and I'm getting ready for the impending crash. I'm about a microsecond from jumping off the bike and then... I realize... the person I was about ot hit... was my own shadow!! It was nothing but an optical illusion created by the darkenss and the moon shining through the trees...

I'm claming oxygen deprivation to the brain from riding so hard!! After I realized I wasn't about to have a bunch of road rash I cracked up... then I realized that if no one in the neighborhood had electricity and had the windows open they probably heard me laughing hysterically - alone - riding down their street... I must have looked like a lunatic. I quickly fled the scene!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Shorts Debacle

I bought a pair of Sugoi Pilot shorts the other day. I'm typically between a large and X-large size. So, I bought the large size. Mistake. They wouldn't come past my knees! Arrgh.

Back to the store for an exchange.

They didn't have an X-large. I exchanged for a pair of XX-large. Since the large was so small, I thought they might fit. Nope. Way too big. The chamois was halfway to my knees.

Back to the store for an exchange.

Since they didn't have my size, I ended up getting a pair of Sugoi Gustavo shorts - X-large size. They were a bit more expensive. But they fit well. The chamois is much nicer than the Pilots’. I guess that's why they were more expensive.
The inner liner is only attached to the shell by two small straps. This makes them hard to put on. So I cut the straps to separate the liner from the shell. First, it makes them easier to put on. Secondly, I can wear the liner with a different shell if I want - or wear just the shell without the liner. Often I wear regular biking shorts under regular athletic shorts when biking. I can use the Gustavo shorts the same way now. Not a bad deal.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Making a Training Plan.

Finally I have time to train. What to do? That is what a training plan is for. I'm in the middle of making one. It's a difficult process.

Joe Friels' book "Mountain Bike Training Bible" provides a great starting point. Friels provides a simple, systematic method for coming up with a properly periodized regimen. I heartily recommend the book. However, Friels' book doesn't address some of the weaknesses that are personal to me. It's up to me to address those issues with my plan.

Making a training plan when you are out of shape is hard. The natural tendency is to list and address your weaknesses as a rider. But when out of shape, it seems everything is a weakness! I'm thinking that good balanced training plan will be good place for me to restart. Right off, I know I'm going to need some serious uppe-body and core (abdominal & back) muscle strengthening.

Finding bike specific strength exercises is not easy. Google searches for strength training bring up all sorts of useless, misleading, and outright incorrect information. Most of it centered on body-building. Shall I design some exercises of my own? Time to get creative with the torture ... mmm, exercise equipment.

Saturday, June 23, 2007


It's rained here daily for over a week. I'm <-> close to rolling outta here in the middle of it.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Childish Ride

I started out tonight's ride with a serious goal. To work on on my low speed handling.

I started with the following:

Max Braking - Build up a healthy speed and stop as fast as possible. Concentrate on getting weight back, and using the front brake to the max. Do not touch the ground until as late as possible.

Braking Turns - Build up a good speed, hit the brakes, and turn as tightly as possible while continuing to brake. Tighten up the radius as much as possible as you slow down.

I did about 10 of these and then I decided to proceed to track stands. Track stands are where you attempt to stand on the bike but not go anywhere. I just read a great how-to HERE the other day. (Yes, I know it's a girls site, but the advice applies to all). While practicing, I remembered doing this when I was a kid, long before I even knew what a track stand was. I "discovered" the idea of track stands naturally, playfully. Discovered because they are fun!

Reminded that this bike thing is about fun, I decided to spend the rest of my ride goofing off! I jumped, hopped, wheelied, buzzed everything I could find within 8 blocks around the house! It was a blast! Bonus was I still accomplished my goal of working on my bike handling! Never, ever, forget to have fun like a child!

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Back To Training

My previous job has been slammed with workload for the last two years. In 2006, we had damn good reason - we had to rebuild offshore oil platforms that were damanged and lost to Hurricane Katrina. It was an exceptional time. But I think I spoiled my boss, as the demands on my time kept up for 2007.

As with so much in life, it's easy to find excuses not to do something. Working 60-hour weeks provides a convient excuse to do little more than work. That simply isn't healthy - physically, mentally, or emotionally. It's a death sentance for relationships with loved ones. Worse yet, I tend to be self-neglecting when the excuse to do so exists. I know from experience the havoc and hurt my neglect causes to myself and loved ones. Though no one around me said it, my soul was screaming "you need a change!"

So, I made that job, my former job.

For me bike and car racing have been "vehicles" for self-exploration. I'm glad to be back to it. I'm still not entirely sure who I am. And I'm surely not done growing yet!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sunday Breakfast

Sunday breakfast is one way I pamper myself. Today, I made some hashbrowns, an omlet stuffed with salsa, sour cream, and jalepenos. For the side, some bacon was made. Finish with a glass of cold milk, a cup of Jamican coffee. The final element - some good jazz music... ahh... decadence at its best!

Some details of the hashbrowns...

I use these hashbrowns from the grocery store. Unfortunately I've only found them at Kroger. The are NOT frozen, which in my opinion makes them taste better. I can't stand the taste of frozen potatos. I brown the hashed potatoes in a touch of olive oil. ......
I season them with a cajun seasoning
that I buy from a small place called the Best Stop in Ossen, Louisiana. The seasoning is the real key to my hashbrowns. It is not hot! So, a pinch of cayanne completes the flavoring.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Pita Pizza!

I have a weakness for pizza. This is a simple, super-fast pizza that's actually not too many calories if you don't over due the cheese, and leave off the meats. Start with a piece of pita bread.

Pita takes zero time to prepare, unlike making a crust from scratch. And it has a LOT less calories than those frozen pre-made crusts. You can even use a whole wheat pita if you want.

Brush the pita with a mixture of EVOO and just a smidge of balsamic vinegar. Top with a pre-made tomato sauce, a bit of mozerella, sliced cherry or roma tomatoes, mushrooms, onions, or whatever... Just a bit of freshly grated parmesean. Bake. Eat. Yum.

Use lots of veggies, and it's very satisfying, but only about 600 calories!

Sunday, June 3, 2007


This evening's dinner was boiled crawfish, freshly prepared by me for a group of about 10 friends! Having a crawfish boil brings out the social side in people. And we had lots of fun cooking, peeling, and eating the mudbugs. Sadly, the season is almost over, and this will likely be my last boil of this year...