Saturday, April 28, 2012

All About Cozumel

Still having a great time in Cozumel!  I am getting seriously tanned.  As in, "I Have Never Been This Tanned In My Life."  Don't hate me!  LMAO!!!

In no particular order I am going to begin "Cozumel in Pictures"...

My buddy Demi, Olympic windsurfer who kicks serious ass.  (I have adopted a new mantra:  What would Demi do?  Hahahahaha!)  I did a core workout with her that saw my heart rate skyrocket to over 200 bpm.  LMAO!  This pic was taken at my birthday dinner.  The big 37 spent in Cozumel!

Happy Birthday sung to me in Spanish!  That is a first and I got a free dessert!  FREE!  (There was a time in my life when I registered 80 emails and then signed on to this website using all these "friends" as referrals so I could get a FREE fleece vest.  I got 4 vests.  Yes, I was one of THOSE people.)  But the word "free" still excites me, I cannot lie.  The same way that I simply MUST touch a sequined top in store.  I'm drawn to it like a crow....Caw, caw, CAW!

The guy sitting next to my hottie is Demi's coach/boyfriend -- Adrien.  The day after my birthday we went out for a 5 hour ride...I managed to stay with him for his warm up.  Hahahah -- Then I pedaled like I was possessed.  The gentleman that he was, he kept circling back for me.  :)  The COOLEST part of the ride was during loop #2 when he bunny-hopped a speed bump!

At that precise moment, I was eating some 'ride food' and I inhaled (while chewing and swallowing) and said, "That was AWESOME."  I ended up choking and coughing and feeling like an idiot as I pedaled along, but I couldn't stop saying out loud, "That was so AWESOME."  I want to learn how to do that!!

The dude can RIDE.  Thanks for letting me tag along and push myself!  :)

Ok, this is going backwards in time -- this was me before the bike race a couple of weeks ago.  I could already feel the adrenaline kick in...LOL.


This pic makes me laugh -- my adrenaline had kicked right in and I was frigging poised to GO.  Hahahahaha!

Gratuitous Sunset Shot.

There really IS a happy bus!  Hop aboard people -- the happy bus is in Cozumel!  Hahahahahaha.

This is Mike's "Friend Donkey" -- Pepe.  Now this is a hilarious story...Every day, Mike rides his one speed beach cruiser through downtown on his way to the pier (where he gets picked up for scuba diving).  There is a home on the main drag with this guard donkey -- at least that is what we jokingly call Pepe.  And his name isn't even Pepe.  Mike just calls him that!  LMAO.  Every day, Mike rings his bike bell and feeds Pepe a carrot. 
But Pepe has a real stubborn streak.  

(Caught that, didn't you?  Hee-hee!)
And, Pepe can be a real ass.
(Oh, somebody stop me!  lol.)
He does not hee-haw like a normal donkey.  He makes this God-awful racket that sounds like a combination of:
  • A squeaky door hinge
  • A dying hyena   
He has even tried to bite Mike.  LOL.  Little bugger. So, last week , Mike had this big surprise planned for Pepe....

We'd been talking about it for days....How Mike was going to surprise Pepe with an apple instead of a carrot.  Days passed, and we kept forgetting to purchase an apple on our many grocery trips.  Finally, Mike remembered and was excited to see how excited Pepe would be.

Can you guess what happened?

Pepe doesn't like apples.  Let me clarify that for you...

Good Lord, Mike took a video, and Pepe sulked, pouted, gave Mike the old "sideways-eyeball" and huffed and puffed.   LMAO.

Pepe, in a more pleasant mood.  LMAO -- Haaaaaaaayyy!

Another gratuitous sunset shot.  lol.

Things I have learned so far:
  • You have to wash your eggs before you crack them into the pan.  They are fresh.  :)
  • Traffic does not stop and give you a little courtesy space like at home, they keep coming at you assuming you are going to go at the same speed -- so this means a car or scooter will inch right up as close as possible to turn into traffic IMMEDIATELY after you pass.  LOL -- Takes a bit of getting used to! 
  • If you go pee in the bush, don't go far.  Because you will invariably end up standing in an ant pile.
  • I can still miss my turn on the only road that goes around the island.
  • I need a new frigging saddle.  I have landmines and an open war zone going on that no one should ever have to experience.  (My friend Jenna once drew a detailed diagram of the typical saddle sore location...I emailed it to Coach Sara.  LMAO.)  Adamo here I come with open, loving arms.
  • The good thing about not renting a car, is you have to bike everywhere.  The bad thing about not renting a car have to ride everywhere.  
  • I have become quite proficient at cramming as many groceries as I can into a canvas shopping bag, doing some kind of ungodly backwards stretch that entails me getting each arm back and through the handles and then humping it on my back.  (Always causes a few stares at the grocery stores.  And reminds me of when I was in Grade 7 and the boys would tease the one girl in class with the big boobs, "Carla!  I betcha can't touch your elbows behind your back!"  Except in my case there really is nothing to see but a red face and grimace of concentration.  LOL)

Last night at sunset, right before we biked to dinner.  MY HAIR IS LONG ENOUGH TO BRAID PEOPLE!!  LMAO!!!  Yes they are little, but I don't care!  Hahahahaha!

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

First Race of the Year!

I heard that there was going to be a bike race here in Cozumel on Sunday (April 15), and made a last minute decision to race it.

I have NEVER raced a bike race before, and for those who know me, I definitely shy away from pack riding. I like to follow at a respectable distance...just in case.

Just in case what you ask?

Ummmm, just in case I run up the back of someone's wheel, or they brake and stop in front of me, etc. It's a trust issue. I trust myself. I don't trust anyone else when I am mere inches off their wheel.

Now, I've been lucky that the times I have practiced a bit of drafting I've done so with AMAZING cyclists. Professional athletes in fact. LMAO. So, I trusted them no problem. Hahahaha!

Back to the race...

I was told that I could use my tri bike as long as I stayed out of my aero bars if I was in a group. (No problem! That is the first thing I learned when I started cycling with other people!)

It was at that exact moment that it occurred to me -- I am going to be in a bike race -- I can draft!! It's not a triathlon!

I was so excited!! I have been getting so antsy to race -- I think it has something to do with being outside in nice weather -- I just wanted to RACE!

I had just finished a big training week and had done a hard 2 hour bike ride the day before, but I thought to myself, "What the hell! Just go and have a blast and have another hard bike ride!"

There were three categories to the bike race:
  • "Elites" (men racing 90km)
  • "Masters" (guys 40 and over - they were supposed to race 70km but it got changed I think at the last minute to them racing 60km like us women.)
  • "Women" -- 3 of us: an Olympic windsurfer (SHE IS RIPPED PEOPLE), a multiple Ironman triathlete and tri store owner here in Cozumel,!! LOL!!! We kept making jokes about why our race was only 60km -- because we are the "weaker sex."

So, at the last minute, we were told that the Masters were going to ride 60km as well and that us three chickie-poos would start off with them. The "elites" started off before us, then we waited a minute or 30 seconds or whatever it was for our turn...

My two new buds -- both awesome women!!

My adrenaline started to kick in and as I watched the Mexican woman on the sidelines holding the checkered flag, I started to focus and got into take off But seriously, I positioned my one foot on the pedal like I learned in Tucson to start fast once a red light changed to green.

My plan was to GO. To fricking go as hard as I could for 60km and not think of anything but "Push, push, push." Cozumel is a windy place and we would be starting in a head wind, then deal with a strong, gusty crosswinds to the turn around, and THEN at the final turn the wind be at our backs.

The night before the race, I talked with Mike -- and said, "I have no idea how to race a bike race!" He counseled me -- "If there is any kind of headwind, get in a pack, because if you pull out in front, the pack will get you." I was like, "Yeah, that is good advice."

So, my plan was to go out HARD and get in the front pack and hang with them and draft, draft, draft...

The race was about to start and my heart was thudding in anticipation...3...2...1...GO!!

I hammered myself and right away I was ahead of everyone.

I had a bit of trouble clipping my one foot in, but I have been biking all around Cozumel with my sneakers as well as my clip-ons, so it didn't make any difference -- I got it in soon enough and then I got into aero and started pushing the pedals as hard and consistently as I could.

It was hilarious - I had a police escort! A policeman on a motorcycle was just ahead of me and was leading the way. I kept expecting this pack of guys to come by me or maybe they were being tactical or something -- I don't know what they do in a bike race! All I thought was GO, GO, GO!!!

I soon caught up with some of the guys who left before us -- the policeman on the motorcycle beeped his horn and they all moved to the left so I could pass! LMAO! It was hilarious, I didn't know what to do before he beeped his horn, I was going to pass them on THEIR left like in a tri race, but I didn't have to swerve at all. lol.

Then, I caught up to these two other guys who were working together to share the load of the sidewind/headwind. I sneaked in with them and managed to draft off them for a while. I even managed to sit up and let my heart rate come down a little. (A little.)

Then, I felt bad that they were doing all the work, so I tried to offer to help pull them, but my Spanish is just about non-existent (so is my English when I am racing) and confusion set in and all I heard from them "Different categorio" or something like that.

Then I started to worry that maybe they meant I shouldn't be drafting off them -- so another official in a scooter came by and I asked him if it was ok to draft. (The tri shop lady I spoke with before the race, told me that drafting was fine and normal, but it was the triathlete in me getting worried.) He couldn't understand a word I said and sort of waved at me -- LOL.

So I sort of backed off a little just in case and worried that maybe I was going to get DQ'ed.

(I know, I am an idiot. My brain just craps out as soon as I race.)

So, now I see a guy on the right side of me -- just behind me. I can see his shadow on the ground. He was a hefty fellow too and I realized, he is using me as a windblock and drafting off me!

I kept pushing, pushing, pushing, but he was still there. So, then I thought, maybe he will take a turn and shield/pull me like those other two guys were doing...But when I sat up and slowed down a little, he did too. I was like, "Seriously?"

It was at this point I decided, "I have to destroy you." Yes I know this sounds ridiculous, but this is honestly what was going on in my head. LMAO!

I sat up again, and slowed a little. He followed suit. Then, I slowed down a little more. He did too. Then, suddenly, I shifted into a harder gear (I still don't know whether that means shifting up or down, so I say harder/easier, lol) stood up, shifted into another harder gear and pedaled my a$$hole off. And I totally broke him. LMAO!

From then on, I was totally alone for the rest of the bike ride. Me and the wind. I never could quite catch back up to the two guys who were racing the 90km (that I had drafted from before) -- I used them as a carrot though. They were always about 25m away.

Before I knew it, it was the turn around and I got to see who was behind me. There was no one -- I was alone.

The way back was brutal. It was on the way back that I realized the cross wind was sort of like a head wind at an angle, you know? Oh God it hurt to push in that. There were a few dark moments but I have been there before mentally in races, and I knew it would pass and it wasn't "real." I interpreted those feelings that yes I was pushing myself enough.

I also ran out of water. I only brought two bottles of water with me and 2 gels. The gels were the right amount, but I wish I had brought more water....but "Train heavy, race light," remember? LMAO!!

All I kept thinking to myself was "Push! Push! Push!"

I was just waiting to make the turn so the headwind would be at my back and then I could push as hard as I could all the way to the finish line.

It was awesome, the policeman on the motorcycle had to speed up when I got the wind at my back -- and he beeped his horn at traffic and cleared the road for me. Hahahaha! It was pretty awesome!

The finish line was a couple of guys standing by a car and waving their arms at me to stop. lol -- I stopped and then said, "Hasta luego!" (I hope I spelled that right, it means See you later!) And then they told me to stick around.

One of the guys asked me what my time was -- I didn't know for sure, because I don't know when the race started....I do know that I crossed the finish line at 10:17am. I know for sure that the race started after 8:15am -- one of the women told me afterwards that it started at 8:30m, but whatever! I always round up so I can make myself work harder/go faster for next time! :)

I was dying of thirst -- one of the guys gave me a jug of water which I promptly downed. I stayed there making small talk with a woman who spoke excellent English -- I really need to learn Spanish!!!!

Fast forward to the end of the race. I won 150 pesos! LOL! And got my pic taken with the other winners. Hahaha -- One of the Mexican guys that was part of the duo I had drafted from, told me I was a "strong rider" and shook my hand. I told him he was too!

I was dying of thirst and hunger though -- and the spin back to the condo is about 30 minutes, and by the time I got back I was STARVING.

Good times!!!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Adventures in Cozumel

I find myself in Cozumel and yes, life is very, very good! Hee-hee!

Mike and I decided to save money and not rent a vehicle while we stay here so in order to get groceries, to go anywhere, we have to bike.

Yes you read that correctly. Mike is biking now. He bought a cheap one speed cruiser for $140 down here and bikes to the international pier every morning to go scuba diving. Then bikes back! April 6 was his one year anniversary of quitting smoking! YAY!!

I brought along one of those big canvas reusable bags from Wally World and use that as a backpack to load up with groceries. When I go for a bike ride, I wear my clip-ons, when I am going grocery shopping I just wear my sneakers. lol -- I feel so bad, like I am breaking the rules of tri biking! Hahahaha!

It hasn't taken me long to get quite confident darting in and out of Mexican traffic. lol -- I remember there was a time not very long ago when I was PETRIFIED of riding around Cochrane, AB. Hahahah! This morning, I biked up the road to check out the Mexican version of Wal-Mart (what a disappointment -- you have to watch your prices, and I was hoping to find a cheap pair of bike shorts as one pair is definitely see through now, and I have to wear a long tank top to cover my butt cleavage.) No shorts. Boo.

At one point during the ride back to our condo, I was smack dab in the middle of scooters and vehicles -- literally. I could reach out and lean against a vehicle if I wanted to, that's how close I was to traffic. LOL -- I had to smile because the mere thought of this would have terrified me not that long ago! Hahahaha!

The driving here is totally different than at home (as if I had to even say that - lol). You don't signal if you want to turn (I do though, don't worry!) If you want to make a left, you don't get to take up the whole left lane have to move as far to the left as possible so a vehicle can wedge in beside you to turn left as well. Hahahah! I am not kidding!

I've been biking EVERYWHERE on my bike and I just love it! I wish, wish, wish I could do this at home, you know? For more than 2 months of the year. lol.

Here's some more stuff for ya!

  • The best place to buy groceries is a place called Soriena (I think that's how its spelled). Here's the drill: if you have a cheap bike, you can lock it up on a bike rack, or if you are anal about your tri bike (me) you can pay a guy 5-10 pesos (just under a buck...13 pesos = 1 USD) and he watches it for you.
  • Soriena is BY FAR the cheapest and has the best selection of stuff I've seen so far. There is a big honking store called MEGA right on the main drag. The prices there are inflated because they are on the waterfront, but they have the best bulk guacomole EVER. HOLY COW. It is effing good. And bulk pico de gallo and bulk ceviche.
  • What the heck is bulk ceviche? It looks like salsa (but not the crap you get at home, this is the really good stuff and fresh!) with big chunks of white fish in it. It is so cheap and so good. I eat it right out of the container, with nacho chips, or on top of yams, etc.
  • Fruit and veg stay fresh so much longer here -- even the avocados! At home, if you put half an avocado in the fridge (even with some lemon juice and saran-wrapped), it turns to grey/brown mush right away. Here, one half of an avocado got pushed to the back of the fridge FOR A FEW DAYS and it was still green!!
  • And the size of the avocados! Oh my. Big, green and beautiful! I just about broke out into song the first time I cut into one and saw all that brilliant green goodness. :D
  • I don't even have to mention the bananas do I? LOL :D
  • I bought protein powder at a GNC in the same mall-thing as Mega. $78 USD!!! If I had a GNC card, I think I could have saved 20%.
  • The humidity here is incredible. Hot, humid, but so awesome.
  • I love biking around and around the island. The wind makes it challenging enough to make up for the lack of hills. Yesterday, I had a 5 hour ride and I forgot my chamois butter. Think: sweat, humidity, saddle sore, chafing. I was squirming around so much by the end, holy crap, but I was too stubborn to simply go back to the condo and get the cream. I had started my ride! I couldn't stop! It's my session! lol.
  • After the brief run after that ride yesterday (I was so hot and cooked and drenched -- it is so humid here your clothes are SOAKING WET) I was so bagged I had to watch my feet to tell them to take one step in front of the other as I walked to the fridge. Then I bumped into and almost fell over the couch. Hahahah -- After some grub and a COLD shower, I started to come back to life.
  • The roads can be pretty rough and I've been rattling all over the place on my bike. Good thing Tucson prepared me. Tucson was REALLY bumpy!
  • Coach Sara has been reminding me every day to HYDRATE and to make sure I get enough salt. Thank you Sara!!! (I am so excited to be out and about I lose my head sometimes)
  • There is an airforce base near our place and army guys in trucks and camo gear and guns all over the place too. I don't think I will ever get used to the sight of camo-geared army guys hanging out of the backs of open-air trucks armed with machine guns. And just watching traffic. Should I wave? Nod? I wave sometimes, sometimes I think I might get taken out! LMAO.
  • Public why are there no seats? I guess all those times in the middle of the night when Mike hasn't put the seat down were good preparation? Or are you supposed to sort of hover over them? I've done both...and I still don't know what I am supposed to do. lol.
  • And you are not supposed to flush toilet paper. I always forget this -- you are supposed to throw it in a wastebasket beside the toilet. There are places where the basket isn't lined with a garbage bag and I can't help but pity whoever has to clean the poopy/pee-ey toilet paper out of there.
  • Tarantulas! OMG. BIG ones. Mike got two on video just outside our place. Shudder.
  • Sea lice? I think I got stung (well, I KNOW I got stung) -- I need to google what they are, but I got stung again and again and again, and I am like, "What the heck is going on?!?!" Like tiny little pin pricks.

This is where we are staying. Seriously awesome.

Coach Clint made the mistake of telling me once:
"Train heavy, race light,"
and ever since that day I have biked with full water bottles.