29 July 2011

Not Bad, Not Bad

I'll admit it: the thought of spending time in Rome made me nervous. My experience with big cities is limited, and Rome is, you know, huge. Guide books call it intense, gritty, a sensory overload, chaotic, risky, crowded, potentially overwhelming. But, really? I like it a lot. The mild sunshine and late nights of bonhomie don't hurt, but I think this city is more pleasant, more welcoming, cleaner, and less crowded than some I've been to in the states. The catcalling I heard so much about has been kept to a bare minimum, and jogging along the Tiber felt neither foreign nor sketchy. The apartment is located on a narrow cobblestoned street in a locals-only piazza only minutes from the crowds of the Pantheon, the Vatican, and Trastevere. I feel like a rube in totally uncool clothes, sheepishly blurting out "grazie" to shopkeepers who have waited on me in flawless English, but at least I'm not wearing a backpack or socks with sandals. The view from one of the seven hills, I guess

We did an actual paid-for tour of the Vatican today and it was quite something. In a place with such a glut of decadent beauty and art, it's nice having a friendly Dutch girl tell you where to look and what charming anecdotes to consider. Of course, after browsing the masterpieces of history for four hours straight, we needed gelato therapy, followed soon thereafter with risotto pastry therapy...and topped off with sandal shopping therapy.
Wonderful. I haven't done a great job documenting this trip so far (surprise!), so here's a lame shot of the back of St Peter's Basilica...

28 July 2011

Day Due

Time in Rome has thusfar included:
-an artichoke sandwich
-aperitivo at several bars surrounded by heart-breakingly cool young Romans that made me want to hide in the bathroom
-a torrential downpour--I can't escape the rainforest that easily
-a tiny but excellent apartment overlooking a bustling plaza
-the Pantheon, which (surprise surprise) is way cooler in person
-delicious anticipation of our upcoming weeks in the south

25 July 2011

Europe for Beginners

well, i'm flying to Italy tomorrow. rome for five days then frasso telesino for two weeks. don't really have anything more to say but: oh boy! and stay posted.

11 July 2011


Suffice to say this weekend did not turn out as expected. I was planning to suffer and plod through the run and then surge from behind to take the throne during the six-hour. I assumed I would be deathly sore and fatigued from the run but would somehow rise like a phoenix to conquer the course--after all, I am in no way a competitive-level runner, and am in some ways a competitive-level rider.
Well, I won the half marathon.
I do not win running races.
Uwharrie was way...way...way...way too many fireroads. Yet somehow this didn't daunt me. I went on my merry way, heart beating in time to the pitter patter of high cadence footsteps, drenched with sweat in the 93% humidity. Zoning out on the fresh logging roads and relishing the rare singletrack. Then St Marie, who was trawling the course on his Stumpy, gave me a news flash: Number one!
Say what?
When we crossed paths again and he confirmed it, I settled into grinning complacency--until I glimpsed the light-footed form of another female right behind me. Terrified, I pushed hard for the last four miles and finished, arms raised, only 45 seconds in front of her. Sub-two hours.

Me and my "arch nemesis"

On Sunday I forgot, in a combination of laziness and cockiness, that a six-hour is about riding as many laps as you can, not as many laps as you can get away with. Feeling way better than anticipated, I took a huge early lead, pinned it for a few laps, then started taking longer and longer breaks. I would eat, drink, and watch the course, trying to ascertain where the eff my competition was. Finally after five laps, my hands and ass whimpering for respite, I asked the well-meaning but somewhat inept race director what my gap was. He told me #2 (who was also second in the run) was two long laps down, with an hour and a half to go. After I had thrown in the towel, changed clothes, and put on my shades, he let me know that the timing was screwed up and she was actually only one lap down. No way was I kitting up again, and my faulty math led me to believe I still had the W.
Alas. My mistake was revealed at awards. So in a very strange turn of events, I won a half marathon and lost a six-hour that I had been totally crushing. I still netted the Queen of the Mountain, but it was a hollow victory because not only was the competition pretty sparse...I couldn't even beat the sparse competition!
Well, we still had fun...and I definitely won't do it again, thanks.

06 July 2011

And Then There Was This

thanks to ella for the fab photo

05 July 2011

Fast Times

You know how once in a while you'll have an experience that's such pure fun, so gut-bustingly funny, so grin-inducing, so achingly perfect that you want to preserve it in amber and take it out to warm you on some boring, depressing winter day?

This weekend contained a quick succession of just such experiences, the best of which was the first annual Fast Times at Brevard High Alley Cat. Dan somehow masterminded an amazing race that was both super casual and very involved--detailed course maps, intricate scoring calculated under the influence, and a couple of checkpoints that were sheer genius.
The biking community of Brevard and its suburbs answered the challenge, and how--the Arbogasts rolled up with decorated children in tow,
Cissy and Dave came all the way from Hendo to embarrass their competitors, the King of Pisgah wore a black sequined jumpsuit,
JT proved himself an adept freestyler when accompanied by some fresh Barbie beats,
and quite a few participants forsook the race for some cornhole and cream ale.

I spent most of the race with my lady friends at the costume checkpoint and couldn't count the number of times I keeled over laughing. The best part was reuniting with everyone at the Root and hearing the war stories--time-trialing on the bike path, creative interpretations of the local knowledge photo bonuses, old man dance parties, and pancake flipping under threat of a soaking. Dan Bennett, town shutterbug, took a gabillion pictures and I dare you to find a single shot in which everyone is not beaming ear to ear. To Dan, T Cowie, everyone who manned a checkpoint, and all sixty-something people who showed up to have some fun: well done! As if I needed another reminder that Brevard is absolutely awesome.