15 November 2006

Tuscany.... Wow!

As it turns out, Tuscany is one of the most beautiful parts of the world that I've ever laid eyes on. Honestly, I have no idea why I took to it the way that I did. In any case, I think that I probably annoyed everyone else by constantly making comments about how beautiful I thought everything was.

Radda in Chianti info.

Photo links -
Bagni di Lucca/Modena etc.

Driving in Italy.. let me rephrase that. Driving in Italy south of Bozen/Bolzano is like nothing that I've ever experienced. Road markings seem to have little or no meaning & stoplights are somewhat of an 'optional' thing. At times, we'd be sitting at a stoplight 5 or 6 cars wide and within a couple hundred yards, we'd be back in to two lanes. After a couple of days though, you kind of develop a 6th sense about where and what is happening. It's quite strange. Definitely not Germany any longer.

Verona... the world seems to think that Verona & Venice are the greatest things since sliced bread. Verona was o.k. and Venice was... an old city that's currently decaying at a mad rate. Florence (Italians call it Firenze) is one of my favorite Italian cities. It's only surpassed by
Lucca, a smalled walled city west of Florence on the way to Piza. What an amazingly beautiful city! Lucca sits just at the base of the mountains in a valley. It's quite hard to describe what I found so cool about it, but I know that Kera really liked it as well. I also bought a new pair of specs in Lucca as well.

What else? Oh, you'll see a number of photos from a small town called Bagni di Lucca. My mother, who never asks for anything, asked me to see if we could go there to check out the area. She loves the figurines from a company called Fontanini and they're made in this region. We found the factory and went in to what we thought was a store but was, in fact, the rep. showroom. The lady was very nice and let us take a few photos before we left.

On Teri & Tony's last night we hit the 6 Day track races. Here's the link -
6 Day Races

Other things... I've been sending out resumes to some of the various language schools here in town and have heard nothing in return. I've also been doing a fair amount of work for Vincenzo, the Baron that owns Castello di Roncade (where we stayed with Nikki & Aaron). Last Sunday I worked the wine fair all day and then Kera came to help in the early evening. It was quite an exercise of the Deutsch skills as well as a learning experience.

This past week, I've been helping Vincenzo do deliveries and generally meeting the local customers. Not sure what or if anything will come of it, but it keeps me out of the bars and whorehouses (so to speak)!

We both got new glasses in the last week. Kera's are really cool, but I have no pics of them, yet. Mine... well, here they are.

With all the spare time, I've been riding & running a fair amount. Saturday morning, we went to spin class with our favorite trainer. An hour of hard work that left us pretty much spent. It definitely makes getting through winter riding o.k. Sunday & today I went for a run.

29 October 2006

Fall.. it's here!

Yes, I know, it's been awhile since the last post...AGAIN! Seems to be a reoccurring theme.

Random news. You can see by the pics that it's definitely leaf peeping season. Also, for those of us in Europe, it's the day to change your clocks. We woke this morning to rain & Grey skies. We also couldn't figure out why my computer was an hour different than my watch. Hmm, now we know. That means it'll be at least an hour before I can get Pretzel's to mate with our breakfast of Weisswurst & Bretzen (Pretzel's). It's really good... trust me! A traditional Bavarian breakfast constitutes Weisswurst, Bretzen (Pretzel's) & a Weissbier (Wheat Beer).

The last couple of weekends we've hit the Alps on the mountain bikes. Two weeks ago with went with our friends Suzanna & Matthias. This past weekend we found our way by ourselves. The Alps are normally beautiful, this is even more the case in the Fall.

In any case. It's definitely fall here in Germany. I suppose it's the same almost everywhere in the Northern Hemisphere. Well, since I wrote that, it's turned to winter. That's just in a couple of days. Yesterday... 75 F. Today it dropped to a high of 45 F and tomorrow, well, let's say it' supposed to be friggin' cold. Below freezing and a chance of snow. Guess I'd better get that snowboard ready. Thanks Robert!

This week, I pulled the trigger on a new bike. Of course, as life would have it I broke my old bike, last week. It wasn't supposed to overlap like that. Hell, it's my own fault as Kera told me to get a new bike way back in May when Dee & Don were here and I did the race in Garda. Yes, sometimes it actually takes awhile for me to make a decision like this. In any case, here's a pic very similar to what the new bike will look like.

Here's a pic of the crack on the old bike. By the way, it's going back to the builder for either repair (which I've been told might well be impossible). In any case, I might end up with a new frame out of the deal when it all settles out in the end. I think I've made the decision that the reborn Curtlo will be my race bike (with gears and a shock. Will wonders never cease! The new Black Sheep will pretty much be a dedicated SS for most of it's life. Hurray!

Our friends Nikki & Aaron came and went. While they were here we did a number of things including hitting Salzburg, Northern Italy, Venice, Garda and more. It was great to see them as they're fantastic friends, but even more so, they're the one's that introduced Kera and me. Ahhh, isn't that cute? Here's pics from that adventure. Nikki & Aaron pics

On Friday, we have repeat offender's Teri & Tony arriving. We're going to spend a week of being bums in Tuscany. The plan is to eat, drink and relax for a full week. I think we'll be hitting vineyards, the Vespa museum and other museums and sights in the area. We'll probably even have to make a jaunt over to the ocean for a day. We'll make it up as we go along.

I've been riding a bunch lately and have taken a bunch of pics while doing it. Check 'em out here... pics

Lastly, I've been sending out resumes to language schools and haven't gotten any bites... yet. I've also been mulling over the idea of starting a small business. We'll see if that idea pans out. Wish me luck either way.

Till next time... Ciao!

26 September 2006

München 24 Hour race debacle...on my part

München 24 Hour race pics

Well, the 24 hour race didn't go anything like I'd planned. Quite honestly, for me, it sucked! My body & mind just weren't cooperating in any way, shape or form. At about 3 hours I started cramping badly. Then, I started having a constant urge to pee, no real idea what caused that. From there it actually went downhill.

I'd do a lap or two and then have to sit and recover for a 1/2 hour or so. Eventually, at about 9:00 p.m. I decided that I'd had enough, at least for awhile. Kera and I walked over to our friend Mathais' tent and had a beer with him. It was at that point that I realized that I was happier not continue any further.

Oh, not to mention that I was getting quite bored with the course as well. The course was right at 7 km long and to me, seemed to be unrelenting. It was either steep uphills or flat. Most of the flat parts of the course were on pavement or grass. Which on a single-speed means that you end up spinning your ass off.

I suppose, in my defense, I've had bad allergic-like sinus problems for a couple of weeks and then my brother came to town and I haven't had the time to train properly for most of the last month. Not the best reasons/excuses, but it's all that I've got.

Oh well, in the end, I did 115.1 + km's (71.5 miles) in about 5.5 hours with an average speed of 20.4 km (12.7 mph). That added up to 17 laps according to the folks who scored it. Given that 100 solo racers started and I ended up 71st after just 5.5 hours, I can't be too upset with myself, other than that I did quit a race. Another 24 in the future and I'll conquer the 24 hour beast.
Promoters first pics

The 'official' photos for the race aren't up on Sportograf yet. Seems that they took a whopping 30,000 pics of the 1500+ racers. Ouch! No wonder they're not all up yet.

22 September 2006

I'll spare you.. But.. here's an update.

Life's been keeping on in spite of my lack of updates. Obviously, it's been quite awhile since my last report. In fact, I've actually started to update a couple of times without ever completing anything.

Since I'm so far behind, I'll have to make it as short as I can otherwise, you guys will get worn out & BORED before I'm finished. Kera keeps telling me to put together a collage of pictures, but I have a hard time narrowing it down. Thus, you guys get stuck with gobs of pics to wade through instead.

As previously posted, we hit Stockholm a few weeks ago for the Single-Speed World Championships. On that same Sunday, we celebrated our first anniversary. Hurray! Things are great! Kera still speaks to me and occationally finds me fit listen to and worthy to hang out with. Ha! Actually, I kinda figure I'm about the luckiest guy around. My last post had the links to those pics. I'll spare you that.

Somewhere along the way, I went to Zürich with Kera for a couple of days. This time the weather was sunny and clear as well as warm. I walked the city for nearly 8 hours and founds some really cool areas. As you can tell, I took quite a few pics along the way as well.
Zürich second trip pics

Since then, we've had my brother (Bret) come in for a little over a week. While he was here we did the Mike's Bike Tour of München & the tour of Neuschwanstein that I do for work. Bret and I also did a trip to Venice, Italy as you can see here. We also hit Oktoberfest which proved to be "interesting" but very fun. Score one for the old folks. Here are those pics... Oktoberfest pics

....And the rest of Bret's vacation photos are below...
Venice Pics Set 1
Venice Pics Set 2
Bret on the Mike's Bike Tour München
Bret at Neuschwanstein

As you can see... we took most of Bret's vacation photos for him.

I don't know if I mentioned it anywhere before, but awhile back, Kera went Paragliding one day while on a day off. Here are her pictures.

Kera paragliding

Lastly, we'll be visiting the States in February. We're going to Seattle first, then Kansas City. The dates we'll be over there are Feb. 2-11. See you then!

O.K., see, I can make it short when I need to. Tellin' the story with photos folks.

Until next time.. Ciao!

27 August 2006

SS World's report

Last weekend we went to Stockholm Sweden for the SingleSpeed World Championships

Here's a link to our pics from the weekend
Kera's and my pics

Lot's more at HappyMTB.org if the site ever comes back up. I think it crashed when eveyone got home and started downloading pics.
In any case, Stockholm was very cool. We wish that'd we'd realized how cool the city was as we'd have stayed a couple of more days. Very much a combo of Amsterdam & Munich with a large underground scene. Seems that almost everyone has tats (young and old). Might be the sea faring culture or something. I'm not sure.

The vibe at the event was good. The only downer that I can think of came in the form of liquor laws similar to Kansas City. You had to be within a tiny area if you were carrying a beer or drink. Unfortunately, that area was full of people eating dinner at tables. Essentially, that meant that you had to dodge wait staff all night or stand inside where no one was.

As far as the actual event went, that was cool. After one of the promoters removed a huge viper (snake) from the course we laid our bikes down in the grass and began to wait for a signal of "all clear" from out on the course. Suddenly, we were off. Up the ski hill we ran, picked up our bikes and then all the way to the top of the hill. Around a corner and down a sketchy gravel hill. After that, it was about 90% singletrack and 10% gravel/dirt road.

Almost immediately, people began to stack up at the singletrack. Hurl Everstone (former Surly guy) passed me in the rocks and grass and I stuck to his wheel. We got to the one hike-bike section on the course, maybe 20' of vertical rock and off I went. On the rest of the course, I just kept passing people in the technical stuff.

About 4km in to the race I came upon the beer stop. Just a couple of people there so I had to stop. Couldn't make the guy feel lonely you know. Downed a beer after chatting a minute and off I went. Just a fabulous course. Lot's of roots, rocks and nicely done singletrack. I honestly think that I probably didn't quit smiling the whole time.

I managed to get lost twice on different parts of the course and both times ended up at the same intersection. How strange is that? Then I'd see one of the guys that I just had passed and would hop on the course and go again.

The first lap ended with me pretty much by myself. In to the singletrack I went with no stack up's and then another stop at the beer area. Must've been 40+ people out in the woods drinking beer. The Shonky gang affiliated with Singletrack Magazine were hanging out. A couple of guys pouring beer over the heads of those not willing or able to stop for a beer.

In the end, some guy with a Porn 'Stache from Norway won. He got the tattoo as you can see.

We picked up Kera's new bike from Curtis Inglis of Inglis & Retrotec who had drug it all the way from California for Kera. I ended up staying up until 2:00 a.m. the morning before the race putting together both our bikes in the hallway of the hostel.

Other than that, I suppose my job is about done. I, at the most, have two more days of work. After that, i'll have to look for something new. Wish me luck.

Guess I'll have plenty of time to train for the 24 hour race. Turns out that they almost doubled the course length. It's right at 7 km and it should be a good SS course. Solo people get their own pit area away from the teams and crowds. That might be good.
Here's a link to the Course Map & the Profile

I'll leave you with a couple of final pics from the SS World's...

23 July 2006

Been awhile.....

It's been awhile since I've posted. Between 60+ hour work weeks, people staying at our place, etc. I just haven't found or much less, made time to write a blog. Sorry 'bout that.

So, what's been up in our world? Well, a little of this and a little of that. Last weekend we went to the Cook's Ball on Sunday morning (think 5:30 a.m.), then went to have coffee about 10:30 and then off to the airport to hook up for a late lunch with our friend Wayman who we know from Kansas City (even though he lives in Barcelona).

We then took a nap which was followed by wandering through some of the many galleries that were open last weekend. From there we hit the street fair close to our house. We ate a hamburger at a BBQ that had a sign posted stating that they are members of the Kansas City BBQ Association. Strange!

We attended the Cook's Ball in as close to traditional Bavarian Tracht (clothing) as possible. Kera was much closer in her attempt than I. In part because I chose to wear my UtiliKilt and logging boots. I managed to get a few peculiar reactions. The Men tended to smile and nod whereas the older women looked at me agast! One older guy sitting next to us asked me if I was wearing hose and was actually complimentary when he found that I was a cyclist and actually shaved my legs.

Kera went to London for a couple of days at the beginning of the week. I managed to entertain myself by hanging out with a few of the other guides a bit. Thursday night we had our Mike's Bike Tour's "Isar party" on an island in the middle of the Isar river. Mike spent a butt load of money and it seemed as though everyone had a great time. More pics here, but it's in Deutsch (look for Fotogalerie). As you can tell, any excuse for a party in Munich.

I've been leading a bunch of my own tours down at the castle. They've been a mix of High School classes and families. Overall, they've been pretty great. One school group really stands out. They were from Golden Sierra High School in northern California. Just a bunch of really cool kids with equally as cool adults that were accompanying them.

My quest for the perfect bike continues as does my constant stupidty in regards to racing. I'm now "officially" signed up for two more races this summer. Race 1 is the Single-Speed World Championships in Stockholm and race number 2 is the 24 hour race here in Munich in which I'm racing solo. Ugh! Sadly, my job has taken so much time away from my 'normal' days that I don't ride much anymore. Therefore, I'm losing conditioning by the day in spite of a couple of attempts at riding during the week with 1 hour runs thrown in here and there.

Guess I'll be ramping up the morning and evening training schedule through Sept. when the 24 hour race takes place.Here's the aerial map and the profile. Just click on 'em for the big view. I went out for a run earlier and ran to the Olympia park to do the course. My run covered the whole course in approx. 15 minutes. It helps me understand how last years winner did something like 95 laps!

Construction on the tents for Oktoberfest began a couple of weeks ago. Even though Oktoberfest doesn't begin till mid-Sept., they're hard at work on the site. Here are some pics. If you can see the pics, you'll see that the buildings end up looking like permenant structures more than actual tents.

Lastly... check this out Bike video.

25 June 2006

Day off and lazy

So, this week I worked a grand total of hours approaching 72. Kera realized that is the most hours that I've ever worked since we've known each other. Ugh! About the only thing that I can say about it... at least I'm enjoying every day of it. Well, to rephrase that... most every day of it. Last Wed. was kind of a strange day at our company. It's normally my day off as well as Brad (the guide that lives down in the neighboring town to Neuschwanstein). Instead, our owner decided to capitalize on World Cup fever and run a bus that day without consulting either of us. Hmmm.

Somewhere there is me as a guide. At the top is a great shot of the castle that Kera took from Mary's bridge.

Anyway, we worked it out and Wed. morning we had a small (30 seater) and more than enough people to fill it and send some on the train. Turns out, it was a scorcher here (33/94) and many of the people had been on the Insomniac Tour the previous night. Long story short; hot bus + hung-over people + winding mountain roads = 3 people puking in to buckets on the bus. CHARMING!!! In the end, I ended up leaving my restaurant menus on that bus in the tumult and the bus driver was a dick. Oh, did I mention that we ended up stuck in the castle for 45 mins. due to almost ping-pong ball size hail!

I had a group of people that had to be back to the train to avoid getting back to München before 10:00 so as soon as the hail stopped we ran down the mountain so that they could get back on the bus. My light PataGUCCHI rain parka kind of gives the illusion of being water proof/resistant. In the downpour, it basically turned in to bright orange SaranWrap! Ah well... all in a days work. I got the people to the bus on time though (pat on my back)!

World Cup... of those of the unenlightened. Germany beat Sweden 2:0 yesterday to advance to the 1/4 finals. You'd have thought that they won the whole thing. People were in the streets most of the night partying. Good times!

Tomorrow, the Spaceship goes bye-bye! We have to clean it up and give it back tomorrow evening. We didn't know until a few days ago that GE had cancelled the insurance on it before we drove it down to Tegernsee for the race a couple of weeks ago. That could have been bad.

Kera's taken a number of pics down at Neuschwanstein. Some really cool ones too. I've got some I still need to upload. Soon folks. Gives you an idea of what I get to see each day and why I enjoy it so much. In case you've missed past posts, here's where to go Neuschwanstein site.

Been thinking alot about what I'm going to do after this job is done (at the end of Oktoberfest in mid Sept.). At this point, who knows? Might try to get an ESL certification, might attempt to start the frame building or trail building business or might check in to other guide jobs or start something myself. All of it's going through my mind. Hell, I get a few hours a day to ponder these things. I'm stubborn and resourcful, so I'll figure something out.

Actually thought I might have something being lined up the other day with a customer. She asked if I might be interested in sales. She worked for an American company that makes a phone/GPS combo. Anyway, she asked for my info. so that her cohort in Germany could contact me. We got back to München and I had to help someone race to the main train station. When I turned around she, her boyfriend and almost everyone else was gone. Ah well, another time.

Kera and I managed to pull of going out to breakfast, she took a nap and then we went for a mountain bike ride. Along the way we stopped at a beach and sat with our feet in the water amongst the naked and clothed people on the beach. Amazing how the more you're around it, the less you even notice (i.e. get a clue powers that be in the US).

I've been running a lot since I don't have time to ride. I'm up at 6:00 3+ mornings a week for a 45-60 min. run through town. We're still planning to do a 1/2 marathon sometime later in the year.

Last but not least... congrats to my friends Amy and Robert on the birth of their son Jack.

That's about it for today. Have a great week.

11 June 2006

Sunday/Sonntag is race day!

This comes from this great link Ad Freak

We went racin' this morning. Our task for today was to take part in the Tegernseer Tal Marathon race. Kera entered the 57 km and I the 77 km marathon. There was one shorter at 39.8 km and one longer at 100 km. We both had a pretty great day. Neither of us has any real idea of where we finished, but we're both very happy with how we felt and performed during the race.

For Kera, the course was perfect. Good climbs with loads of speedy doubletrack. She loved it! Here's the Höhenprofile. Kera did the Streke B (Red) and I did Streke C (Yellow). You can click on the pic for the full view. The first climb isn't all that bad and the second is a no brainer. Sadly, the one stretch of singletrack was a forced walking section. After the long flat-ish section we did a loop through town where Kera's race finished. I then headed out again and went up and over Wallberg.

On Wed. (my day off) I went and pre-rode the course with our friend Tom (often referred to as the Crazy Scottish guy). That day was good, but it was one of those days that I was burning up whilst climbing and freezing going down the other side of every mountain. Today, well, it was a damn near perfect day in Bavaria. I think it's about 75 F and not a cloud in the sky. Amazing!

I'll have to drag the camera along one day when we go down to ride as it's the perfect image of Bavaria. There are grassy meadows in the mountains with the great Bavarian houses, which often serve as restaurants and beer gardens for hikers and cyclists. There are also all the forests and rivers that flow through as well. All the while you're riding past the people in traditional Bavarian dress hiking around. Pretty cool!

For those in K.C., you'll understand when I say that I can get to Tegernsee and the mountains to ride in the time it took me to get to Landahl before. It's about 50 km's out there. Unfortunately, it's a lot of two lane road with local traffic. Just have to go early in the a.m.

If I'm correct, tomorrow officially starts to work for a new company... SwissRE. For the most part, our lives as ex-pats will remain the same. In fact, from what's been discussed, everything, but the car is the same. The car.. our spaceship, is going back to it's 'real' owner. We don't know how, what or when of the details but it seems that we'll end up with some sort of vehicle in the end. All we can do is wait for it to get sorted out.

Work has been strange. We had a couple of huge groups on Mon. & Tues. other than that, I didn't work at all this past week. Even with the World Cup going on which has brought giant groups to the bike tours, we've been slow as far as groups heading to the castle are concerned. Come on people...! It's finally beautiful outside and no one seems to want to see this amazing part of the world.

Update, before I update you guys... results for last weekends race came in. Kera - overall 197th out of 253 & in her class 25th out of 44 (great for a roadie!) Me - overall 133 out of 274 (o.k.) & my age class 26th out of 89 (pretty good for a singletrack guy).

16 May 2006

Navigation and the like.

Germans and their navigational systems. At first, I thought that these people were whimps. Then, I tried to drive in Europe. I quickly realized that it's a good thing that cars used to be a lot slower, as you need an excellent navigator to get you and your vehicle anywhere but the nuthouse or the local fuel station (to tuck tail and ask for directions). An interesting link
German Der Spiegel article (in English)

Side note... Der Spiegel is the German equivalent of Time/Newsweek to read it in English go here - Der Spiegel Magazine - English site A good way to get the German perspective on things.

Back to the point of my post. Did I really have a point or was it just an excuse to chatter? Well, nevermind.... We call our car 'The Landbound Spaceship" because of this LOVELY piece of equipment. In the middle of our dash sits the control center. Contained herewith is said Navigational System, DVD player, multi-disk CD player, Radio, info. center (traffic conditions and the like) and more. You can push a button and the scree flips up to reveal two SD card slots to add MP3 capability to our stereo.

What's more, it's illegal to talk on the phone whilst driving in Germany. In that vein, our car came with a wonderful hands-free Bluetooth system. If someone calls, you hit the button on the dash and suddenly, the persons voice takes over the sound of the car. "Hello!" When you're finished, stab the button again and back comes the music. Very safe and very bizarre. The first few times I used it, I felt vaguely psychotic.

Monday was a good day for exercise. I managed to pull off a long-ish run after dropping Dee and Don off at the airport (Bye you two). I think it was in the neighborhood of 45+ mins. My watch showed 40, but I forgot to turn the clock back on for a long stretch of the run. Then, after Kera got home, we went for a 2.5 hour bike ride out south of town, through the German countryside (we had about 180 degree view of the Alps). No, riding in Bavaria isn't all bad.

I'm signed up for the Swiss Single-Speed Championships. We'll head down to Switzerland on Sat. morning for that. Kera might end up participating if we can fit a bike for her. Apparently, the promoter is bringing extra SS's in an effort to get more people to participate (primarily, the spousal units). The course is pretty flat so it ought to be a good first time effort should she choose to partake in the festivities. Otherwise, we might just have some good pics of the race from her vantage behind beer goggles.

Monday, I had an interview, of sorts, with the owner of local tour company Mike's Bike's. He's considering me to host this tour Neuschwanstein Castle. He had a few more people to talk with, but promised to call me either way. If I get the job, I pal around with the customers to and from the tour. While they are doing the tour, etc. I can do whatever I want. Hike, swim, run, read... anything. It'd be 11 long hours a day, 5 days a week. However, it'd get me a work permit and a place to start. I'll report back later on further developments.

So, back to the saga of our lives. The previous interview that I mentioned... well, got an SMS (text message to the rest of the world) from the owner of the company... I'm going to be employed! As of tomorrow, he says that I'll have a work permit and we'll start working out the details. Here's the place that I'll get to spend my days.. Neuschwanstein Castle and the area.

Did I mention that life has a funny way of turning out very differently than you may have planned? Obviously, for me, it certainly has... in a very good way. Off to go celebrate!

09 May 2006

Switzerland and life as I know it

Like Father, Like Daughter... who said that?

I've yet to finish my race update from Garda. However, here is a link to the pics that I can purchase. I'm going to see if I can buy the file instead.
Action pics from GardaMe after getting my ass handed to me by the mountain... not the racers... so much. ..And, pre-race

So, I'm sitting in a hotel in Zurich, Switzerland while Kera's at work for a couple of days. Depending on what's in the cards for us, we may end up moving down here. Not our favorite idea, but Munich was a surprise as well. Since I had the time, we figured that I could come down with Kera and play around town for a couple of days and get the lay of the land.

My report.... for now. The Swiss drive much slower and not as well as the Germans. The Swiss accent that is spun on the Deutsch language sounds way too much like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets (think German mixed with Norwegian). They have a beautiful lake (Lake Zurich) that pokes in to the city. The major art museum here is first rate. Some really amazing pieces there (Picasso, Cezane, Monet, Miro) Also found a couple of new favorites (Sigmar Polke and Alberto Giacometti). The city is quite beautiful and very hilly and like a small San Francisco in some ways.

However... (yes, the big BUT) I've seen very few bikes on the streets. I see more bicycles on our street in a short walk than I've seen here while walking around for almost 7 hours. Even though there's a big university here and seemingly lots of things going on, the soul seems to be missing from the body. I can't put my finger on it, but there's nothing here that makes me want to live in Zurich. Munich, on the other hand, is such a great place to be and live.

I suppose the fact the the weather is sheisse, doesn't help matters any. Maybe tomorrow, if the sun shines as it's supposed to. I think I'm also used to lots of bike shops around and I only saw two and they were really tiny. Imagine, bedroom size. Nothing nice at all.

Given a choice, I'd pick Munich in a minute. Now, if it came down to moving here or moving back to the states, I'd rather live here. At least I'd be surrounded by mountains and have a bazillion things to do outdoors. Yes kids, I love that outdoor life.

Other news, bike related... broke my Truvativ 180 Stylo SS cranks the other day. I was 25-30 km's out from home on the mountain bike trails and noticed that something didn't feel right. I kept going until I got tired of my crank banging on my chainstay. I finally flipped the bike over and played around with the bottom bracket adjustment. While doing that I found the crack half-way across my crank arm. Crap! So, I limped the rest of the way home using primarily my left leg to spin.

Yesterday before we left Munich I ordered White Industries ENO cranks which should be in when we get back.

We'll be back down here in a couple of weeks for the Swiss SingleSpeed Championships. Maybe a new report about Switzerland then.

New pics- hopefully, more from Zurich today, or later.
Last day of school pics
Stuttgart to vist the Host 'rents
Bozen & Garda, Italy pics

That's about it for now. Ciao!

18 April 2006

I can drive!!

I am now in possession of a German Fuhrerschein (license)! Look out Europe. Oddly, no expiration date or anything. You get it and have it forever. Interestingly enough, in my opinion, the Germans tend to drive so much better than most Americans and they only have to do the license thing once.

The photo above would lead you to believe that was Kera's reaction to the news of my new license but was, in fact, a funny face she made whilst out with friends at a concert.

Unfortunately, I got a rejection letter from the CELTA (ESL) certification school. I think that I'd put a little too much hope in to believing that I would get in. Kind of hit me hard. No reason listed in the letter, just "thanks for coming in, you're on the waiting list if we have another class and don't call us, we'll call you." That's the Reader's Digest version.

Head over here to read my friends Jenni and Matt separate blogs. Both are pretty amazing. The two of them have had pretty rash surgeries at different times and keep on going. Kudo's to both. Matt did an amazing double-century (200 miles) last weekend and Jenni recently had hip surgery and is back on the bike herself.

Dee and Don (Kera's parents) arrived this morning. I skipped school and drove out the airport to pick them up. Just for the record, European navigational systems are the best! They talk to you as well as showing you maps and all sorts of navigational info.... duh.

We're off to Italy early in the morning so that I can abuse my body and do the Garda Marathon. As it turns out, it's 76.2 km's long with a lot of vertical climbing and descending. Click on the photo for a better view...

Been doing a bunch of riding lately. After having done a 40 mile mountain bike ride a few 60 km road efforts, I'm feeling pretty good about this weekend. The weather is supposed to be great this weekend as well. Garda Weather

Lastly, caught up with Justine (one of the great people on the adjoining Egypt tour) and we exchanged emails. She, Cory and Daniel were great fun to pester and hang out with. A link to her account of the trip + pics - Justine's page

01 April 2006

I seem to have been remiss..

Meine Frau has informed me that I've been remiss in posting the links to our Egypt trip photos. I suppose that I figured that everyone interested had gotten the links. I'll figure it out though. Here's a link to 'our favorites' of the trip. Our favorite Egypt pics

On Friday, I had an interview with the people who teach the CELTA (ESL) certification course. As part of the process, we had a group informational session, a grammer test and a personal interview. The CELTA course sounds and appears to be very intense. It's taught 4+ days a week from 9:00-17:30 for 5 weeks. It entails us creating lesson plans and has us doing actual teaching with critiques and many other factors.

I'm really hoping that I get accepted. That's all on that.

Spring has sprung! We did that daylight savings time thing last week. It's been light past 7:30 p.m. Unfortunately, it's also been raining a lot as well. Kind of defeats the cyclists purpose for enjoying the DST thing. Well, there's that and the fact that we still haven't figured out where people ride their almost 5000 Euro road bikes. Yes, we rolled by the Bianchi store today and looked in the window. What do you get at the Bianchi store... Bianchi's and Bianchi name branded cycling related items. Imagine a Ferrari dealership for bikes. Kind of strange but oddly appealing! Make my testosterone flow... just a bit.

Tomorrow we're doing a 6 hour cycling 'marathon' indoors on Spin bikes. Should be sweaty and 'interesting'. Monday in class ought to be entertaining for my fellow students. After sitting on the ill fitting seats on the Spin bikes, I'll probably look like I just attented my own Briss. I need the practice. In just a few weeks I have that first big race of the year down in Italy. Whether I do the 65 or 85 km distance is still up for debate.

On one had, Kera's parents will have just arrived in town and it'd be nice to spend some time with them roaming around Garda/Torbole. On the other hand, I could certainly use the miles. I'm guessing that I'll make the decision about the day of the race.

Flowers are blooming, friends are coming over for Mexican food and it's been about 60 degrees outdoors today. Oh... we're having margaritas and Mexican beer too. Life isn't all bad here!

17 March 2006

What was I saying?

The view of Garda lake from above our Hotel. My next race is part way around this lake (70+ km).

This is attempt #2 at this blog. We'll see how it goes this time. Wish me luck.

We've been busy since we've been back from Egypt consequently, I've been remiss about updates. This update is out of order, but I think you'll live. Last weekend we drove down to Gardasee, Italy for the weekend. In theory, we made the trip so we could ride our bikes. Things didn't go exactly according to plan. To start the day off, we overslept and didn't get out of Münich till 7:30 a.m. (2 or so hours too late), then we hit a snowstorm about half way. As it turns out, a 3.5 hour drive turned in to a 6+ hour drive.

By the time we got to Garda we decided that a bottle of wine with lunch was in order. After lunch, we lazed around till late afternoon. Next we surmised that it was time to go for a ride, if we were going to. So, down the mountain from our hotel we rode, through Nago and toward Torbole. We then rode around the side of the lake a bit before we began the slow ride up the almost 2 km road back to the Atlantic Club Hotel.

The next morning we awoke to winds blowing in thes 70 kmH range. We quickly made the decision to not go for a ride. Instead, we drove back toward Münich in sunny but much cold weather than the previous day. Along the way, we stopped in Bozen/Bolzano (they double name some of these towns in the North part of Italy, in Deutsch and Italien).

We made it back to Münich in about 4+ hours with the stop, so all was well. Then I sat down to 4+ hours of homework.

Here are some pics that I've been meaning to share..
Pics we took after Egypt

Affing Snow Race.. the ugly one! This replaces the messed up link from a few days ago.

Yesterday, we managed to drag ourselves out for a road ride. It was cold, but it was good just the same. Now that April is here, the weather God's have seen fit to make us think that Spring/Frühling is on the way. We'll see what's next.

Today it's beautiful out. Currently, it's 50 degrees and not a cloud in the sky.

Back to homework and consolidating boxes. Till next.... chow!

10 February 2006

Weather reminders and a bit of rambling

Cairo this week, temps range from 57-87. Luxor... similar. Münich, well it'll warm up to freezing temps and snow. Currently, it's snowing as a reminder of what we'll be missing whilst in Egypt. Yesterday I witnessed my first snow thunderstorm. I couldn't see the school across the platz behind our building but there was lightning flashing and thunder booming. Very strange.

Today I have a number of things on my agenda. Finish packing, clean out the fridge, do the recycling like a good American-German or the visa-versa. I need to get some US cash (which is very strange looking after dealing in Euros for this long) as it's needed for tips, our Visas and various other things.

A couple pics found on the web of what we'll be seeing. Think of it as a mini travel photo blog till we post ours. , and .

First is the Nile in Cairo

Next are Camels in the desert which we'll be riding at some point - I'm sure my friends from Albuquerque will think this looks like home

Last is the Nile in Luxor where we'll hope on a sailboat for the ride back to Cairo

Tonight we take Baby to her "Aunt Sara & Uncle Christian". Gonna miss that little rodent while we're gone. Two weeks and I'm sure that she'll have forgotten all about us. Like sending your kid off to college.

Training has been off this week since I've been battling the pre-vacation cold. Ugh! I feel like I should be over it in a day or so. While home, I've been putting together our race schedules for this year. If we wished, we could start early next month as the 1st race of one German series is in the Canary Islands (no, it's not in Germany, just cheap to get there from here). It'll include lot's of marathons (which range from 45 km up to about 140 km) and a solo run at a 24 hour series thrown in just to be obnoxious and my attempt to cheat age. Kera and I are doing one 12 hour race together and she may try one solo sometime during the season.

I went snowboarding again on Tues. with Kit and Tom. Next time.... more lessons are in order. I was fine up on top of the mountain, for the most part. It'd sure be nice to be able to do it properly though. When we decided that it was time to head to the car, that's when things started getting sketchy. Damn, who builds those mountains so steeply. I'm holding on for dear life and 4 & 5 year old kids are doing circles around me and swooshing down the mountain. Little rats!

All the while I had a couple of thoughts going through my pea brain: 1) Next time, lessons no matter what Kit says! 2) Kera will kill me if I end up in the hospital with a broken... fill in the blank 3) Where's my ski bike, this would be a blast?!

My rambling has gone on long enough. We'll post along the way if we're able, but don't really expect anything for a few weeks. Till then, stay well!

31 January 2006



Main Entry: et·y·mol·o·gy
Pronunciation: -jE
Function: noun
Inflected Form(s): plural -gies
Etymology: Middle English ethimologie, from Latin etymologia, from Greek, from etymon + -logia -logy
1 : the history of a linguistic form (as a word) shown by tracing its development since its earliest recorded occurrence in the language where it is found, by tracing its transmission from one language to another, by analyzing it into its component parts, by identifying its cognates in other languages, or by tracing it and its cognates to a common ancestral form in an ancestral language
2 : a branch of linguistics concerned with etymologies
- et·y·mo·log·i·cal /-m&-'lä-ji-k&l/ adjective
- et·y·mo·log·i·cal·ly /-k(&-)lE/ adverb

Kera and I ventured out to get our German/EU drivers licenses. After having visited the Führerschein Büro we now know the etymology of bureaucracy and (cover your eyes...) clusterf*ck! One other thing that we discovered is that government workers worldwide are the same hippie/apothetic folks. It was an amazing epiphany whilst sitting there that, indeed, we were looking at a certain breed of folks who work for the government. Odd.

I'll keep it short but before anyone else ever moves to Europe, find out what states you can get a license (car only.. not a chauffeurs license) and not have to take any of the tests (Prüfungen). Of course, if you're moving to Germany, make sure that you do this at least two years in advance.

Falls under WTF?

Other revelations... I think if I see one more piece of Pink outdoor clothing I'm going to vomit! Pink should be reserved for really nice bikes and really nice bikes. That's it. I'll give Valentines day a break, but beyond that, it's time to let it die.

This is SEXY!

We drove down to Garmisch last weekend and stayed with Mai and Kit. Unfortunately, Mai had to work so we didn't get to see much of her. Due to traffic on Sat. morning, we showed up at the World Cup ski Downhill race in time to see the last skier. Sunday, we had better luck getting there on time. However, an over zealous ticket guy ran us off the mountain. Instead, we stood in the XC ski field and watched. The announcer could be heard for miles as his voice was echoing off the valley walls.

After watching for awhile, we decided that it was time to attempt skate XC skiing again. It went far better for me this time. It went well enough that Kera and I will probably invest in some equipment at some point. A cool point to go along with this revelation is that there's a German winter triathlon series (run, mountain bike & XC skate ski). Yup, another outdoor addiction.

Lastly, we're planning to head down to Gardasee in Italy for a weekend of mountain biking. We both really need a little warmer weather and the chance to ride our bikes with bike shorts and jackets if necessary. Good times!

The following week, we're off to Egypt! Woopie!!

More pics...

Garmisch Trip for World Cup

Neuschwanstein Castle, etc.

21 January 2006

The Spaceship has landed!

We received our car, courtesy of my wife's multi-national corporation, yesterday. It's an Audi A4 Avant (wagon to you and me). Long story, but we wanted Blue or Red but those colors were deemed "too extreme" and we ended up with dark Grey. It's actually a beautiful car. The car has been dubbed "the Spaceship" is because the Navigational system also functions as a DVD Player/TV/Phone/Radio/CD changer/Information center and more. The screen, which is huge, folds down to expose the DVD port and two SD card slots so that you can play zillions of MP3's. Kinda cool!

The wagon, excuse me, Avant option is great as it'll allow us to do all the outdoor things we love to do (i.e. cycling, racing, camping, snow sports, etc.) and not have to plop the stuff in the back seat. I brought my bike race over as well. One worry is that we have one of the hydraulic over/under parking spots and I'm afraid with the rack on the car may not fit in the space. Wish me luck.

Other news! Got my new boots and bindings for the snowboard. My set-up is now as follows... Burton Motion board - 162 cm, Mikey LeBlanc (Red/Leather) bindings from Drake (which it seems is owned by Northwave... Hmmm), and Vans Danny Kass II boots in this same lovely shade of Green www.vanssnow.com/kass/index.html. Now... I just have to learn to snowboard. I have one more week of school and then the following week I may head over to www.spitzingsee.de/ and attempt to learn whilst avoiding killing myself.

Have a charming weekend gang. Looks like we're off to Nass Ramstein... or not, who knows? I get to drive the new car on the Autobahn though. Heheh!

Schoony... I love this pic. Sorry dude!

13 January 2006


Yesterday I forgot to turn my cell phone on until I got home from the gym about 4:30. Fist thing I get are a couple of SMS messages from Kera... "Dude, give me a call"... "Dude, cell phones only work when you have them on". You get the picture. Turns out we got an offer on the house. Hopefully, they'll buy it and then one house will be gone.

Then, the other. Eh-hem. :-)

Other news, if I didn't tell you already, I did the mountain bike race last Friday. Got the crap beaten out of me by the ground/ice. It happened because of the tremendous amount of ice on the ground. Had it been just snow, I think that I'd have finished much better. As it was, I was the last person on the long course to get scored. Kinda... DFL. There were a lot of people that didn't finish due to injury or sudden flashes of "I'm gonna die if I continue". Me... I must be damaged as I can't and wouldn't say no.

I still have bruises and scabs... but I'll be back next year.

Our car, finally, arrives on Thursday of next week. The "spaceship" as we've taken to calling it, will be welcome on weekends so that we can take off to various locals within easy driving distance. Also on tap will be trips to Ikea, the junk yard to dispose of the exploding shrank/dresser and many other things. When we get our parking spot, the car will probably sit there most of the time as it really isn't worth driving within the city only to spend 3X as much time finding a spot to park.

Kera seems to be adapting to her job well these days. She's busy but that's obviously much better than being bored. It'll still be a long while before we have any inkling of what the Swiss RE buyout will mean.

School is going o.k. I have to go on Monday to register for Kurs III. Only two more weeks in Kurs II. I'm doing much better but have a long way to go.

Meeting with Marcus, the bike shop owner went well...both times. He's a really nice guy and I'm going to head out to his shop one of these days and chat with him. See if he does indeed have an interest in hiring me or no.

Either way, I'm thinking of looking in to getting my ESL certification as there are so many people here that want to learn English. It will also put me in a better place to put up notice at the Universität that I'm for hire to proofread papers for students. As you know, I'm relatively good at finding work when I want.

That's about it. Have a fantastic weekend.