Monday, April 29, 2013

Mountain Biking in Italy

They call me Katy 'The Fridge' Steudel.

Stubby 'Lil Arms

My arms look about a foot and a half long in this picture :) I hadn't planned on riding while on vacation, but the opportunity arose. Brakes were switched around, American style, and men's cycling clothing was borrowed. We rode to a couple of beaches - one famous and one private - on a few different trails, one of which had been in an enduro race a few years ago. It was fun stuff. I don't have any photos of the riding because I didn't take a camera along. Ah well, I would have taken crummy photos anyway! Matt said it was typical of the riding in the area. There were a few short sections of goat paths, a few good climbs and of course, some downhills. Lots of large loose rocks on a few of the descents. It was nice to check it out, and I'd definitely ride it again. But then, it's entirely possible that I never will. That would bum me out, except I suppose I have lots of other new riding to look forward to these days, on the East coast as well as (fingers crossed) abroad.


RACC shirt for the Tour De L'Albitibi

This is such a simple design, all told, and in a few weeks I'll probably look back and wince at it, but for today I'm pretty happy with it.

RACC Shirt

A friend from Wisconsin, Jim, asked me to do a t-shirt design for the Racers Against Childhood Cancer (RACC) Junior team, who are going to the Tour De L'Albitibi this summer. It conflicted a little with my work for the Racers For Childhood Cancer team, but you know, I never much liked those guys.

Jim wanted the tour name and dates, and RACC on there, along with the US and Canadian flag, to represent the kids going to Canada for the race.  We won't call this the final, though, since it hasn't been sent off to print yet, and I probably won't be able making a few more tiny tweaks. For the moment, though, this is the latest.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Castiglione della Pescaia

Of the area that I covered, Castiglione della Pescaia seemed to be the most commercial town. They had a castle and everything was ancient, yes, but there were tourist shops of every shape and size: pottery, high end undies, a pop-up shop for fashion clothing, beach wear, and my favorite the gelato place. Of the handful of small villages I dragged Matt around to, this place definitely had definitely cultivated a tourist district.

When we got into town, we parked across the street from this poster. The knowledge that I'm missing Pork Fest this weekend makes my heart heavy.

Grosetto, Italy

I was also really interested in witnessing the Ass. Hockey.

Here's the main entrance to the castle. Apparently there was an enduro race that ended in town, and the course went down a set of steps within the walls. I saw them with my own eyes!

Grosetto, Italy

Along the inner wall.

Grosetto, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Climbing to the top and the overlook - those are the aforementioned stairs in the background, there!

Grosetto, Italy

We were rewarded with this view of the town.

Grosetto, Italy

On the way back down, we found the church.

Grosetto, Italy

So. Old. So. Cool.

Grosetto, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

Grosetto, Italy

I hope you're not bored of pictures of old castles, because there's a lot more where that came from...

Friday, April 26, 2013

Picnic Lunch

As a quick side trip one day, we got sandwiches and then offroaded/hiked to the top of a hill above Il Cicalino to have a basic picnic. On the hike up, we saw some clearings where, in the bronze age, people had made charcoal. They were generally flat areas where very few plants and no trees were growing, and the soil was a much darker brown than the surrounding forest, like so:

Charcoal Burn Site

It was cooler at the top, and very windy. Throughout the trip, the hills made it possible to see towns we had driven through, the area we had come from on the coast, and all the castles and fields dotting the landscape. It was such a good way to get an idea of the landscape, like being able to look at a real-life map. I guess that doesn't make a whole lot of sense, but there you have it. Just smile and nod and enjoy this photo, and be grateful this is the end of the post :)



Thursday, April 25, 2013

Italy, the Early Days

Well, I'm back from Italy. I visited a friend living in Punta Ala, in Tuscany. A friend with a cabin by the beach. Who knew all the good places to eat. Who took me around to medieval villages to look at ruins and do other adult vacation things that I would have found incredibly boring as a kid. It wasn't a bad life for about a week there.

It's hard to know where to start... I suppose at the beginning, eh? We'll warm up with the first few days, which were spent relaxing and were generally pretty unexciting in a good way. On the first day there I took a walk down the road and found a little orchard (or at least, what I assume was an orchard).


I sat down and did my nails, because I could, and because I'm fancy like that.


Then I picked some flowers, because I was wearing a sundress, and when you're in a sundress in an orchard, it's necessary to pick pick flowers.


The first few days I also spent a lot of time on the beach slathered in sunscreen, being happy and warm.


Ok, so this afternoon it got a little chilly in the wind, but I toughed it out in the name of Vacation.


Other days I did a little swimming, though. The beach dropped off gradually and the sea was pretty tame most days.


Matt and I spent a few nights watching the sunset over the water. Unfortunately, the mosquitos were also lined up for the show. Here Matt's burying his legs in the sand to avoid getting eaten alive.


Still, mosquitos were a small price to pay to be out there.




Next up, maybe some medieval villages, or the necropolis we visited. Excitement abounds!

Monday, April 15, 2013

I'm in Decline!

I'm in Decline! - but it's not for anything spectacular I did. I was just in the right place at the right time. This is from the mountain bike Cannondale team camp in Italy this past month.


If you haven't figured it out, I'm the one with the braids. And the boobs. Pretty easy to pick me out from this crowd.


Today I leave for Italy again, this time on vacation. I don't expect I'll be updating over there, as I won't have my computer. So I'll probably see you guys when I resurface in a week or so.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

The Stanwich Ride

This morning I drove down to Cos Cob (near Greenwich) to go for a road ride Darren, who I met last fall at a cross race. I accidentally said hi to him and a teammate, thinking I knew they were someone else. Whoops. But all's excellent that ends excellent. He put together a roughly 30 mile ride, which started off a bit chilly in the morning but warmed up nicely. We ran into this road, Stanwich, a lot on the way back. I was pleased at its recurrence. As street names go, it's pretty awesome.

Darren and Stanwich

I wore my hi-viz windbreaker today and these shrubs wanted to tango for Brightest Color. There were no losers.


Here, let that sear your eyes some more.


We went as far north as Pound Ridge, NY, had a snack, and then if I'm not mistaken we headed back toward Cos Cob.

Pound Ridge, NY

Darren, Pound Ridge, NY

This takes a backseat to Stanwich Rd, but it's still pretty good. (Dingletown Church)

Dingletown Church

On the way back through town, we stopped for brunch at the Cos Cobbler, which was delicious. I had a mimosa as well, and it was a nice way to cap off a ride, sipping from a champagne glass and getting slightly burned in the sun on the patio. Oh, springtime. You are so good to me.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Going Back - Shopping District in Lyon

I just got a replacement cord for my personal camera and was able to download some photos that were previously trapped, so here's a little taste of Lyon's shopping district. I did a LOT of wandering but only a little purchasing.

I came across this wedding dress, which looks like a bride who still stuffs her bra with tissues had a wardrobe malfunction.



There were some cool store fronts.




These necklaces reminded me of something my aunts might like.




A cute pattern, and nice colors.


If these were a bit cheaper, I would have been all over them.


Naf Naf was a little bit girly for me. Some interesting displays and product, though.



Kiiind of awesome carpeting.


A British brand that doesn't mince words. I thought the design was good, and its surliness was attractive to me as well.


Monday, April 8, 2013

No More 'Goooooooooooooooo!'

In fact, I can't even recall what was said in order to start the race this past Sunday at Hop Brook Dam in the Root 66 XC series. I think the official just shrugged and waved his hand dismissively, signaling that we should get off the line.

To fill most people in, Wisconsin has an excellent mountain bike series (whose races and people I miss dearly) called WORS, which is organized by Don, who's been there from the very beginning. Don starts each race by giving a long and loud "Gooooooooooo!" and it goes together with mountain bikes like the bugle goes with horse racing.

The Root 66 series here in New England looks to be a good one and I'm looking forward to seeing more of the courses. Unfortunately, they're a little more spread out than WORS was (if my memory serves me correctly), but I should be able to hit a few of the closer ones this summer.

Upon arrival at Hop Brook Dam, all that was visible were some long sections of pavement, and I settled in for disappointment. However, the rest of the course was interesting enough, and there was one long and pretty challenging climb, as well as some fun descents. It would be easy to get bogged down complaining about the long stretches of non-technical riding, but I'll just say that I'm out of shape and that I would have welcomed some more technical sections to make up a little time. By the second (and final) lap I felt like I was getting back into the groove of things, aka, enjoying bullying my way over many small rocks with very little finesse.

Speaking of being out of shape, I downgraded to a Cat 2 in XC mountain biking since I haven't raced any kind of bike consistently in two years. This past weekend I got second in my age group (which barely counts) and I estimate I got maybe 5th or 6th overall in the Women's Cat 2. The results aren't posted yet, so I can't be sure. I do know I finished a minute and thirty seconds down on the woman in front of me (she put a full minute on me during the second lap), and that I would have been much too out of shape to do the longer Cat 1 course. So thank goodness for downgrading.

There aren't many photos of me riding, but there are a bunch of me standing around and freezing.

Here I am with Ben, a former teammate some of you may recognize.

Hop Brook

With a coworker, David, and someone I do not know... yet. FYI, it feels indecent to slide an arm around a coworker who's wearing a skinsuit. There's just something about 100% lycra that feels like it's not 100% SFW. I was even wearing gloves! I can't explain it. Just steer clear.

Hop Brook

Hop Brook

I look like I don't even belong on a bike in this picture. So awkward.

Hop Brook

And here I am on a bike anyway. My one action shot.

Hop Brook

Well, I apologize for the boring race report. Maybe my next one will be more interesting - or maybe I'll just stick to blogging photos of Citizen Snips, everyone's favorite bed hogger.

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