Monday, May 30, 2011

A perfect weekend

Even though I had not planned another update from Germany, well, here we go. Sabine and I had such a great weekend that I wanted to share with you.

The weekend actually started on Friday afternoon, with steady rain but a promising trip to the oldest brewery in the world, Weihenstephan. To think that it was only a 7-minute bike ride to get there! Ever being the traditionalists, we went for Radi (a type of mild horse radish eaten with salt and chased with copious amounts of beer) and the ubiquitous Brez'n (accompanied by traditional and sweet, i.e. Bavarian, mustard). You got to agree, that thin-shaved radish looks just great!

Heaven, Bavarian style
With the weather back to sunny and warm, we started Saturday with a shopping spree in the Freising market square. Local farmers have stalls selling everything from chicken and potatoes to honey and olives. We ended up with goodies for our evening meal that were fresh and yummy.
Market square in Freising
Afterward, we did what one does on a Saturday morning in Freising: We went to Weissbräu Huber to eat Weisswurst and drink beer. Things were fairly well hopping with locals readying themselves for the day with a hearty meal.
Traditional Weisswurst, Brez'n, and Weissbier
In the afternoon, we went on yet another cycling excursion and sampled yet another beer and yet more wurst—fortifying oneself is important, especially when the evening is going to bring on a Zither concert. Since this is Germany, one puts on a decent dress and hops on the bike to get there on time. The Copenhagen Cycle Chick has nothing on Sabine, for sure.
The Freising Cycle Chick
The Zither somewhat resembles a steel guitar, and its sound is rather pleasing. The concert we attended featured the Zither Club Freising (with 12  Zither players plus three with guitarists), under the leadership of a conductor, delighting those assembled in the Pfarrsaal with both classical and traditional pieces. After the intermission of this decidedly very Bavarian concert—which attracted a crowd in which we stood out as the youngsters—an accordion / violin duo joined the fun, and the Meindel family (they looked to us like the elderly parents plus four adult sons or some itinerant uncles) took turns playing folk songs on zither, clarinet, and bass. It was quite an evening.

One of the dozen Zither players
Sunday was going to be our last day together, and Sabine had come up with a great idea for an excursion: She wanted to take me through the Hallertau to Weltenburg, on the river Donau. I had no idea that the world's best hops are being grown just a few kilometers north of Freising! OMG, Hallertau! The area's crop is well known to true hop-heads, and the countryside is just as beautiful as the smell of those hops implies. The area features countless fields that cover the hillsides like vineyards in Sonoma and Napa.
A hop-head in the Hallertau
Onward we went, to a small town called Kelberg, where one of the Ludwig kings (according to Sabine, it was the nutty one who also built Neuschwanstein, the Disneyesque castle whose name can't be pronounced by any god-fearing 'merican) built the pompous Befreiungshalle, which overlooks the beautiful Donau river, also known as the Danube to aforementioned 'mericans. Instead of the Befreiungshalle, here's a pic of the two of us with the Danube in the background.
Sabine's choice of tires was definitely more suited to the terrain
Ever the industrious cyclists, we continued our bike excursion for a few miles until we made it down to the Donau river. Now, you need to understand that this river continues its run via Vienna, Budapest, and Belgrade all the way to the Black Sea. This is serious stuff, and one can ride one's bike along the river's banks—well, at least if you make it around the Donau Durchbruch just downriver from where we were. Here's a photo of the mouth of this amazing "tight squeeze," which is also the home of the oldest monastery brewery in  the world, dating back to 1050! (The local monks obviously had some sort of gentleman's agreement with the Weihenstephan bunch, one claiming the "oldest brewery", period, and the other holding the rights to the "oldest monastery brewery.")
The Weltenburg monastery at the mouth of the Donau Druchbruch
To cross the river we took one of the traditional ferries.What a cool concep: Hang the vessel from a steel rope and let the Lederhosen-clad ferry-dude dip the oar into the river and allow the current to take you across. Voilà, you've just earned a euro and a half.
Our driver across the river
After riding a few miles upriver we decided to go to the monastery at Weltenburg. After all, four beers were clamoring for our attention. The Urbock, which I had last. was the absolutely greatest, of course. Of the more  traditional beers, it was a close toss-up between the ever-so-lovely unfiltered Weizen and the astonishingly hoppy Märzen. The Dunkel was definitely for the tourists... Ach, as we say in German, it was a great afternoon.

And now I'm back in the US, after several updates to this entry. In 15 minutes I'll board my last flight to Lubbock, where my great buddy Carl will pick me up on this Memorial Day, anno domini 2011.

Thanks for reading. Always feel free to touch base.


Friday, May 27, 2011

Of Bikes, Bavaria, Babes, Buddies, Beer, Bretz'n, Beer (again) and—yes!—Boobs

It's a rainy day here in Freising, the first in weeks. Sabine and I are having a lazy day, especially after visting the world's oldest brewery, Weihenstephan, yesterday afternoon for some serious hoppy sampling. The day before we had ridden to München, about 25 miles away (and 25 back), and I took a few pics along the way that exemplify pretty much everything that makes this area so much fun. First, there was the fact that we were able to ride bike paths all the way to München, some of them paved, others along the river Isar that were pea-gravelled. All these paths use clear directional signs so that one can navigate even without knowing the area. Amazing.
Bike bridge across the Isar (BTW Sabine bought a helmet in München)

The bike path took us to the heart of München, the center of which is attractive, clean, and vibrant. Obviously, any city looks better under blue skies than when it's overcast and a steady drizzle dampens not only the cobblestones but the mind as well, but still....

München's City Hall
Our quest was to meet with my old buddies, Wolfgang and Inge, at the Chinesischer Turm in the English Garden. It seemed as if half of München was already on lunch break as a gazillion folks were milling around the world's largest city park (yes, bigger than NYC's Central Park), pickinicking and strolling around in bikinis. It was quite the meat show, and it was barely after noon.
Englischer Garten around noon on a Wednesday featuring zwei dralle Mädchen
We met up with W&I at the pre-determined time—this is Germany, after all! The two had ridden their bikes, too, just like at least half of those in the park.
Hanging out with friends
The English Garden features various biergartens, and the one at Chinesischer Turm is a big one. The beer is a bit more dear than what we had experienced before, and the food is not exactly cheap, either. Remember, BMW is the acronym for Bayerische Motoren Werke, and if you don't drive a BMW here you most likely can be found in a Mercedes, Audi, Porsche, or VW. So, it doens't really matter to anybody that the big beers sell for six euros.

Ein Grosses und ein Kleines
Beer  calls for food, and what is more Bavarian than the pretzel, or, as it is known in these latitudes, the Bretz'n? The fact that we also ate a healthy portion of spareribs (!) was ameliorated only by the fact that we'd also picked up some Krautsalad.

Bavarian-sized Bretz'n
But it's really all about the beer, and folks drink it by the liter (Mass). Most locals are clad in normal street attire, but some still show up in the traditional garb, Lederhosen. It's quite a sight!

The fellas to the left sport Lederhosen
We listened to the oompah music, chatted about our lives, drank another Mass of beer or two, and finally split. By now the park had become overpopulated (does anybody work in this city at 4 p.m.?), and Sabine told me that the "naked option" was simply a fact of life. American and Japanese tourist appear to enjoy it as much as I did—and I hope you do, too. (Remember that clicking on the pics creates bliss.)

München—a cultured city
Yes, this pic was really taken in a city park in one of Europe's great cultural capitals, home of BMW, in by far the most conservative German state you can find. Oh my, are they ever headed straight toward hell!

I, on the other hand, will head back to our beloved West Texas on Monday, dreaming of far-away lands where the Fräuleins are fair and prefer to clothe themselves skimpily.


Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Berlin, Jena, Freising—the sun keeps shining

A week after leaving the windy Hub City I'm enjoying some of the finest weather I've seen on a trip to Germany in many, many years. Berlin showed itself from its best side, and in the few days I was there I did get a chance to go for daily rides on the single-speed Ritchey that I keep in my dad's apartment.
The trusty steel Ritchey that I keep in Berlin

Thursday night I took the family to a small Italian restaurant around the corner from where my brother, Bux, lives. With us were (from the right) Andrea, my dad, Dennis, Jannick, and Bux; Gabi (Bux' first wife and Dennis' mom) took the photo.

Die ganze Familie

Jannick helps "Opa" walk home
The next stop for me after Berlin was Jena, in the former GDR. There I met up with Dennis, my English instructor and mentor from my university days in Trier back in the '70s. He has been living here for close to two decades, as an emigré just like I in the US. We spent an enjoyable evening and most of the day Sunday, doing what one does in Deutschland: walk, talk, and have coffee and cake.
Der Herr Professor in Jena
And now I am in Freising, just outside of München, with my friend Sabine, enjoying fine countryside, good beer, and general Bavarian Gemütlichkeit.
Church in Freising

I've been traveling with my other Ritchey (yes, I have the one in Berlin and the one I generally travel with) and we've been pedaling a few miles to various destinations. While you might think that the ubiquitous Biergarten is my favorite destination, I do have to say that yesterday's stop-over at the Badeweiher was quite the experience. The Badeweiher is a former gravel pit, of which there are dozens still in operation around the area. Once all the gravel has been mined, the hole fills up with naturally percolating groundwater and—voilà—a new swimhole has been formed. Germans are not too finicky when it comes to stripping down and hopping into the dink, and since only retirees and Beamte (those in public service) never seem to work, a whole bunch of hanging boobs, flabby butts, and other drooping appendages could be observed on the shore closest to the road. So we locked up our bikes and mingled with the natives. The swim was wonderfully refreshing!
Small roads, little traffic, easy rolling
Earlier we had stopped by a fishmonger and had picked up a smoked trout for our lunch at yet another Biergarten cum Badeweiher, but at least here people wore their Speedos. Really, I don't know what's worse.
Sabine debones the trout
And if you've been wondering whether Bavarians really drink out of those huge steins, well, they do—and so do I, whenever the opportunity arises:

Now, that's a beer!
 And that's it for today, folks. Off to ride to München (about 40K) and see my friends Wolfgang and Inge. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

What does "First Class" mean?

Most of us can't really conceive of what it means to fly First Class on an international flight, considering the stunning cost of a ticket. How much? Try $12,000 to $16,000 for a round-trip ticket to Europe, depending on the time of the year and other circumstances; by comparison, an Economy ticket fetches between $850 to $1,300, mas o menos. So, F (the fare abbreviation for booking purposes) is up there in the stratosphere, a good step beyond J (Business), which commands around $6,000 to $8,000.

I can't afford F, so I flew Z and still was in First. Z is like F without paying for it, at least in hard currency. I cashed in 125,000 frequent flier miles and in exchange received a First Class ticket from Lubbock to Germany and back. Beats the hell out of paying $12,000, no? The routing was a bit messy as I had to connect to a BA bird in Atlanta instead of going straight from DFW to LHR (London Heathrow), but paupers can't be choosy. From DFW to ATL I flew domestic First on American, which is a completely different product than international First. (On the way back I'll have a straight flight from LHR to DFW on American, in First.)
Waiting in the BA Lounge in Atlanta with a Korean Airlines  jumbo waiting, too
I was excited to fly British Airways across the pond, simply because I had never done so. Judy and I had been lucky enough to be upgraded to First when we came back from Hungary a few years back, and I had been at the very front of the plane once or twice before (in the fabled days of the now long-defunct caviar cart), so I had an idea of what First is like on American, but BA is generally seen as one of the standard setters in the industry. (Of course, Emirates and Singapore Airlines are in their own league, haute category as we'd say in cycling.)

Well, let me put it this way: Don't continue to save your pennies so you can afford to buy a $12,000 ticket. Don't get me wrong: The experience was damn cool and I don't regret one bit shelling out the 125,000 miles (and some taxes), but had I paid for the ticket with actual dollar bills, well, I'd have been disappointed. Here's some detail.

The boarding process was sub-par. I had arrived at the gate on time before boarding started after using the BA lounge at Hartsfield International and expected a leisurely stroll on board with the other F passengers. Not so—the floodgates were opened and all First, Business, and elite frequent fliers (and there are lots of them nowadays) were invited to board at the same time. Mind you, some of those being bumped into had paid $12,000 to be First.
First Class berths on BA's 777
Once on board I was personally escorted to my berth in 2A, one of 16 "seats" in First. Seat is really not a good word since the area is more like a big convertible LazyBoy that becomes a flat bed and has cubicle-like privacy. Check for a seatmap of a plane, and you will understand why these First Class seats cost so much—the space allotted to me is used by the entire Kettle family in the back, plus some fat relatives.

Not only is this cubicle spacious, but the design of the area is stunning. It's definitely a notch above what American has to offer. This 777 was anointed in the most luxurious way I've ever personally seen in an airplane.The actual windows are separated from the cabin with a clear screen, and in between is a motorized louver that is illuminated like a nightclub. A flat screen TV can swivel in and out of the way, the extremely comfortable seat can be adjusted in a gazillion ways, the tray table has a carbon fiber top, and my shirt was hung up in a small, sexy closet right next to me. Yes, I said sexy in regard to that closet. We're not even talking Carla yet.
My space

Before we took off, Carla, my personal attendant (well, she also took care of the three other passengers on my side of the plane, but I'd like to think of her in those terms) offered me a glass of champagne (not sparkling wine or the crappy take-off champagne that one gets domestically) and set me up with slippers and complimentary pajamas. Dude! She didn't offer to help me change, though—would have been nice since she was a lovely young British lass, slender, tall, and ethereal, not one of those battleaxes that populate American's transatlantic routes thanks to seniority. Ah, I digress....

The menu was exquisite, at least on paper. The choice of wines (three whites, three reds) didn't lack in quality, either. When I told the lovely Carla about my choices for dinner, she'd whisper a barely audible "oh, that's divine" and "a lovely choice." I was in First Class!
Heathrow's T5 is huge
But not all was  perfect. I had chosen among the dozens of films on offer Anthony Hopkins' The Rite, but my computerized entertainment system didn't seem to like me and kept switching itself off. After restarting the movie five or six times and Carla gently rebooting the system, I decided to move to another seat. (Only 9 of the 16 seats were taken.). Alas, the damn seat's electronics were on the fritz and it wouldn't recline! So I said, screw the movie, I'll move back to my spot. The purser appeared to be as appalled as I was, and profusely apologizing he provided me with a form to fill in. The fact that they have a pre-printed form for just such an occasion made me think.... Anyhow, I was given a choice of either £100 or 20,000 miles for the "inconvenience." I think that if I have the wherewithal to spend $12,000 on a ticket neither will make up for my "inconvenience." I chose the miles since they represent almost a free flight within Europe.

Dinner was enjoyable, but the white wine was way too warm (Carla exhales: "Oh, Mr. Heise, we've had it in the freezer for hours." Moi: "Well, I suppose your freezer is also on strike, just like the entertainment system." Carla emits a lovely, barely audible chuckle.), the ciabatta fell apart, and the beautiful-looking steak was not only way overdone and dry but had a texture as if it and not the wine had been placed in the freezer. Am I snobbish and unduly critical? Not really. Things like this must not happen in First.
Yes, that's a lampshade on the horse's head—Concorde Room's terrace
But I did sleep well in my PJs and on my flat bed, lovingly turned down by Carla, and breakfast was nice even though the coffee was truly lousy. But then, they are Brits, after all. Should have gone for the tea.
Heathrow's Concorde Room lounge
And now I am sitting in the Concorde Room, BA's most prestigious lounge, which is reserved for First Class BA passengers only—not even the black Executive Platinum card will get you in here. I'm about ready to have an à la carte lunch on the house. The champagne has been great, and I'll sample my way through the reds. Thank goodness, I still have another two hours before my flight to Berlin.
Appetizer plate in the Concorde Room; Zinfandel in the background
Flying First is fun. Just don't pay $12,000 for it, or you might be a tiny bit disappointed.


PS: Here's a pic from the final flight on British Airways from Heathrow to Berlin Tegel. This pic is also taken in First—quite a difference, eh? Actually, seat width, pitch, and legroom are the same as in Economy, and the service doesn't appear to be any different, either (a small snack and free booze); however, there is a curtain than separates the two classes.... FlyerTalk participants often comment on how pathetic the inter-European First product on at least some airlines is when compared to what US carriers have to offer in domestic First. And no, Kai, this ain't no bitchin'—just observin'. :)

Monday, May 16, 2011

A new standard for brutal: LeadmanTri Life Time Epic 250

I’m sitting at about 28,000 feet, still climbing, and when I look out the port side of our MD-80 I can see the battleground of yesterday’s truly epic LeadmanTri Life Time Epic 250, the 50 miles toward the Valley of Fire, the old historic train trestle leading to Hoover Dam. What an event this ultra-distance triathlon turned out to be, on so many fronts!
Racers spread out on the road to the Valley of Fire

Back in February I had received an e-mail from Nick L., who now works for Life Time Fitness after leaving WTC sometime last year. Life Time is the billion-dollar-plus company that owns more than 90 state-of-the-art fitness centers around the country, and Las Vegas was going to be the company’s latest target to receive a 150,000 square foot Diamond-level fitness club. Nick asked me whether I would be available as Head Referee for the inaugural Leadman ultra-triathlon in May, and luckily I was. Nick had seen me officiate various 70.3 events around the country, and I was honored and humbled that he would pick me as his go-to guy to kick off what may become a new player in the world of triathlon.
The leader in Lake Mead
Initially, Life Time envisioned a field of 200 to maybe 250 racers who would have to meet certain qualification standards such as having finished, for example, an Ironman-distance event in 12:30 hrs (men). With a 5K swim (3.2 miles) in Lake Mead, an extraordinarily challenging 223K (138 miles) over the hilly terrain toward the Valley of Fire and back, and the final, mostly uphill 22K (almost 14 miles) run to Boulder City via Hoover Dam the number of takers never reached those lofty goals: All told, 40 racers were at the start on Saturday morning, with four of them representing relay teams, and another 8 or so having signed up for “only” the half-distance Sprint. Yeah, right, whatever—sprint! It’s just not easy to prepare for such a gruel-fest with only three months or so to go since its original announcement.

It would have been easy for Life Time to cancel the event or simply scale the entire production back a notch or three—not so. These guys put on a class act second to none, all for the benefit for those who had signed up for a race with no prize money, no qualification slots, no finisher t-shirts—all you were going to get was bragging rights (if you finished), classy trophies as a podium finisher, and the knowledge to have been the first to participate in a Leadman event. (I should have mentioned that Life Time bought the fabled  Leadville 100 last year and, thanks to the lack of a swim option at this 10,000+ ft.-elevation town in the Rockies, could not produce a triathlon there—so now the idea is to produce epic tris around the country.)
Race HQ at the rather tony Green Valley Ranch Resort
Life Time chose to put its entire plan into action, regardless of the number of participants. Those who showed up were treated to VIP treatment: Race HQ in the Green Valley Ranch Resort, an intimate VIP reception with the attending Pros, a catered bus tour of the entire bike course, a pre-race dinner at Lucille’s, full race-day support resembling that of an event for 2,500 participants, an awards breakfast this morning with a chamber quartet playing Mozart…. Boy, these guys know how to treat people right. Did I mention that they hired Jerry McNeil—triathlon’s most experienced announcer—to add commentary to the deeds?
Pre-race dinner at Lucille's, with good blues in the bar
My job as HR obviously took on a different nature than for one of the races that I usually work. Because of the overall intimacy and the daunting nature of this race I was part of the crew in an unprecedented way, at least for triathlons. Since the race was what USAT calls “self-officiated” (the refs are not assigned by USAT but are hired by the race organizer) I had a certain amount of leeway in regard to interacting with the participants. The bus tour was an excellent example: During those almost five hour in the desert, Jordan Rapp (Pro, and eventual winner) and I offered our opinion about the course—Jordan from the athlete’s point of view, I from the official’s perspective. The result: An intimacy and respect between all stakeholders that could result in only a heightened awareness of the rules and the requirements to survive the day. What a fantastic concept. Is it possible to do this for 2,500 athletes? Of course not, but I do not believe that the Leadman is going to grow into a mega-series like the 70.3 events, for example—only a select few are physically able to embark on such an epic event, and by design there will be a certain exclusivity to this series.
16% and 95 degrees Fahrenheit—entering the Valley of Fire
To the race: It was a gorgeous start when 40 athletes entered Lake Mead with the sun just coming up. Two 2.5K loops had to be completed, with a mandatory exit at the half-way point, a quick medical check, the option of warm broth, and then the continuation in 69-degree, dead-calm water. It was truly beautiful. Transition was top-notch, with changing tents and individual chairs for each participant!
Getting ready for a looong day at the office
And then hell started: The 138-mile out-and-back course to the Valley of Fire, the most spectacular backdrop for any race I have ever seen. Long climbs, long descents, wide vistas, and the largest skies you will ever encounter! Think of the Big Bend for scenery, the Hill Country for hills, El Paso in the summer for heat, and Lubbock at any time for the wind—and you’re starting to get an idea of it.

I could have had 10 officials (I had only two volunteers) and there would not have been any observable drafting penalties: After the swim, the gaps were already in the two-to-six minute range, and by mile 50 we’re talking about racer #2 being down by 15 minutes on #1, #3 being behind by another 7 minutes, #4 trailing by an additional 12 minutes, etc. My role out there was not assessing penalties for something that was physically impossible to do unless we extended the drafting zone to three or more miles, but rather making sure those racers were OK. On the way out, they all looked fine, even cheerful. On the way back, when the ferocious 25-mph headwind that swirled through the valleys in unexpected ways, they either battled on, grim-faced, or finally got off the bike at one of the many aid stations before worse could happen. I’ve ridden 300 miles in 19 hours, I’ve crossed 120 miles of Mojave Desert on a tandem in the middle of the night, I’ve spent 50+ hours on busses and trains going from A to B without a place to sit—but I’ve never seen the kind of courage and determination that these athletes displayed out there yesterday.
It's a lonely road out there
To  think that the second-placed individual was a young woman, Angela Naeth, who probably weighs less than 105 pounds, is absolutely insane. I don’t have any idea how she managed to keep her bike upright in those sudden crosswinds that made our BMW RS-1200 swerve three, four feet to the side. How Jordan Rapp, the overall winner, managed to put more than a 30-minute gap on a heckuva talented relay team, anchored by mountain bike Pro Bryson Perry and Life Time VP Ken Cooper, is simply beyond me.
Eventual women's winner Angela Naeth early on the bike
I talked to every athlete out there—a quick check, an encouraging word or two, a thumbs up. And then I had to leave them to their loneliness, the despair that comes with going 9mph uphill into a headwind and knowing that it is still another 35 miles to transition and the dreaded run. (Angela almost wept when she spoke at the awards this morning, recalling doing the math in her head and doubting whether she could even finish, let alone beat almost the entire men’s field.) And all this after climbing 16% grades in the furnace that’s the Valley of Fire, where temperatures were close to the century mark. Craig, my moto driver, kept repeating that it was 95F on the road.
Craig and his BMW RS1200—what a sweet ride!
The run wasn’t any easier. It may not have been a marathon, but with nothing but either flat or elevation-gain terrain, it was hard, hard, hard. I had been given  a Cannondale road bike (ill-shifting but light), and I had a tough time riding the run course! No kidding! Wind, heat, more wind, climbing. Scenery or not (and there was lots), at this point everybody was probably cursing Life Time and the entire race.
The run led through these tunnels on the way to Hoover Dam
The fact that we didn’t have any ambulance transports, nobody on drips, and nobody hurt speaks volumes for not only the organization but also the selection criteria for this race. Don’t try this just because it is another triathlon. You’re going to get your ass spanked, and, judging from the fact that only 14 male and female athletes finished the full-distance event (plus the relays and some Sprints), your chance of finishing are right about 50%. Look at the top three female finishers: None weighs more than 115 pounds. They’re trained, but there is more to them: They have an indomitable will, as I could sense when chatting with them at the party. These are not normal athletes—they are truly Leadmen. As one racer commented: "Thanks, Life Time, for almost killing me!"
Close to the finish line looking back to the start on Lake Mead
I am glad and thankful for having been part of this amazing race as it showed me yet another side of what is truly possible (and sometimes impossible). I can’t wait to see what next year’s schedule for the full series might be, which right now is pegged at maybe four races. From all indications, I may be part of it again. I better train my butt for more 130+ mile motorbike rides!
Tara  Norton, Katya Meyers, Shanna Armstrong, Angela Naeth, and Hillary Biscay (seated) after the race
The fact that my old friend Shanna showed up for the race at the last minute (she didn’t finish the ride because of a mechanical problem—see, Shanna, what moving away from Lubbock and your best mechanic ever will do?) and that Jenny came down from Reno to volunteer at the event (and get so hooked on the entire scene that she now wants to take a USAT officiating class) only highlighted the fact that this was one of the coolest races that I have worked in a long, long time. Just thinking about it all makes me feel worn out—damn good thing I got that First Class ticket on BA to go to Germany in less than 36 hours. Or is that considered a Leadman endeavor, too?

Sunday, May 8, 2011

So what does a weekend in Lubbock look like?

Lo and behold, I spent a weekend at home! So, what would be more appropriate than to showcase weekend activities for this Mother's Day weekend?
Art in Lubbock? You bet!

Friday night, Liz introduced me to the FATT—the First Friday Art Trail. I had heard about this event before but had never attended. Essentially, various businesses and art galleries in downtown Lubbock open their doors to allow the natives to breathe some culture. The entire event is free, several places entice visitors with gratis beer or wine, and one runs into other folks whom one knows since this is a village, after all.

In the Underwood Center for The Arts
Saturday morning, of course, was spent riding the bikes. We had a nice group together and rode the usual 56-mile route out to the canyons near Slaton. The wind had mercy on us, and the temps didn't hit 97 F until later in the afternoon, just around the time when we all started thinking about the BARF. That was Alan's acronym for the Brisket Annihilation Regional Festival that Liz threw for the benefit of our group of friends—as she said, there was not just a big-ass but a huge-ass brisket in her freezer that was begging to be annihilated, and so we all descended on her place to help out. I made these fine poppers (using Anaheim, Poblano, and Jalapeno peppers and my own secret recipe for the filling). Nobody's guts were annihilated, thank goodness.
Poppers ready to go into the oven at the BARF
Mother's Day itself brought with it the usual Sunday beer ride, and it was just Smitty, Carl, Rod, and I who did the full ride, which once again was marked by relatively benign winds but high temps. Here you can see us at Lakeway Liquor, at 12:01 p.m., having the traditional quaff with only another 12 miles to go.
The oasis in the desert

From right, Smitty, Rod, Carl, and moi
Rod had a bit of tough time with the heat today, but he trooped on and we all made it back home, safe'n'well.
Rod taking it easy with a Landshark

Add to all these activities my working on something like five bikes and doing house chores, and you have an idea what routine life in Lubbock looks like. Next weekend: Las Vegas and Leadman.