Thursday, November 18, 2010

what am i doing????

Lately, I've been wandering, just being a wanderer, no plans, just aimless and getting pretty good at it..which freaks me out because I usually have a plan.  Im not overly organized or ocd (i dont think) or anything, Im just usually trying to have some kind of baseline plan and goals going into the next season.  But this year, I dont have any.  I dont know if its boredom, or what.  I really am starting to miss "home", wherever "home" shall be.  But mainly, Im missing living in the states.  I love living in Europe and the travel opportunities, but I miss having a crapload of riding buddies, be it gals, guys, and excellent, unlimited singletrack, people who speak "bike", people that understand the sacrifice, and share it with me.  Im really missing that whole lot.  I miss being so excited to ride, I miss lusting over bike parts, I miss the chamois, I miss the hours of training, the drain, only to be uplifted at a race and see the hours pay off.  I miss it all!  I miss the occasional wreck, that lets me know Im alive, and to not get too cocky.  I love the clowns in the sport, the funny people, you know the ones--the playaz-- they make a ride in a torrential deathly desert/lightning storm the best, scariest and fun all at the same time, ride of your life, people you can have a beer (or 3) with after a great ride, people that know you, that really see you, that make me laugh until I pee my pants, and dont care if you belch, fart or puke on a ride(or if you pee your pants)--the socially incorrect, the politically incorrect or uncorrect, whatever...I've had the joy of calling many "friend", even "best friend".

I had that life.  Then I moved here.

That sounds awful, but I really feel lonely.  I guess I am finding I am a person that needs friends that share the same hobbies hobby.  I dont get into the stuff here, which is basically, oh, lets go hang out at my house and watch football and stuff our faces full of crap food and drink cokes, or lets just all get drunk.  I mean, I dont care about the drunk part, just at least lets go ride first!!!  I mean COMEon Man!!!  am i asking too much??

I used to be funny, I used to laugh at life, now Im just annoyed most of the time.  I dont even wear pink anymore, and thats a BIG deal.  I've become a monotonic/monochromatic moron, trying to ride my bike on foggy, wet, PAVED paths, that run for miles, but little dirt ever reaches the tread.  I dont even dream about that next tattoo, most of my clothes are black, gray, or navy blue.  BORING!!!!!!!!!

I am whining, and Im sorry.

But then, I DO remember who I am, and I come back, even though I dont like the non-endless amount of singletrack in Germany or the endless rain, and fog.  Eventhough my friends consist of me, myself and I and my kids and husband, at least thats 6!  Im not depressed, just homesick and dont think for one second that I dont love Europe.  I think I was just spoiled before...and lucky.
My husband, he's def adaptable.  He doesn't need a social network.  He doesn't care either way, Im sure, but he is fine training alone, and he still pushes himself whether with a group or not.  And he does it everyday, he NEVER complains, he is always happy to be out on his bike, so it makes me feel even MORE like a whiny little puke.  Its pretty awesome he can do that, and I look up to him and hope one day I will be that great, not just as a cyclist, but as a human being.  I guess that's what separates the champions from the weekend warriors, haha, and Im not even that anymore, I used to be a champion, but I've resorted to sorta ride my bike, if its not too cold, but I guess I just need to take a chill pill and be thankful for what I have, the people I get to see everyday, my family, because they are what makes me happiest, I just cant wait to move back in a few years. Hopefully its somewhere I can hop back on the train and catchup with my mates....

p.s. thanks for reading this if you actually could stand to read it : )

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Paris, the lens perspective

A few weeks back, I took a trip to Paris (4hrs away) to explore the darker side of the 'city of lights'.  It was around Halloween, so I thought it most appropriate to get a glimpse of some things I have wanted to see for a long time.  Mostly, I wanted to take the opportunity to use my awesome camera and also, my husband wasnt interested in going and I wasnt interested in taking my kids down under Paris into the catacombs, so it was a perfect solo adventure for me (I did have a guide). 

First, a quick jaunt to the Eiffel tower, 

Looking up towards the gargoyles of Notre Dame:
 then off to another great sight for my lens-- the gargoyles of Notre Dame.  You walk up a gazillion never ending little stairs that spiral up to the bell towers, where the beautiful, yet mysterious creatures greet you, as they guard their ledges.  They have been there for hundreds of years, watching over Paris.  If I could have only seen all the things they have witnessed perched on those ledges over many lifetimes..

It was a rainy, and rather gloomy weekend, with intermittent moments of sunshine, which was perfect and set the tone for my sightseeing adventures.  

After a little shopping, some hot mulled french wine, a nutella crepe and a quick stop to the Arc de Triomphe, I headed to the hotel for a rest and then to a nice eatery in an old wine cellar within the super cool Latin quarter, where I dined on french onion soup, beef burgundy, chocolate mousse (just a taste) and about a gallon of red wine.  After that it was time for a night cruise on the Seine.  It was a beautiful sight at night.  Seeing Paris at night from the river was a real treat, the little lights, dancing like stars on the waterfront was wonderful!  The highlight was that the Eiffel tower would light up ever so often and the lights would start to sparkle and blink, her toast to me for coming to this great city.

The next day was the highlight for me, the catacombs.  I have always wanted to go, but not because Im fascinated with death, but because I am fascinated with history, and a respect for those that have departed, and there are over 6 million Parisians buried beneath Paris.  What also fascinates me, is the tunnel system itself.  There is a complete history and if you research it on the internet, it is quite fascinating, but Im too lazy to type the whole spill here right now...

The entrance to the catacombs, nothing scary in this very normal french neighborhood, but what lies beyond this simple door? p.s. if you go, get there early, a long line formed, glad I got there first:

*short background story here*
When I was a kid, probably like 13, there was a tunnel system under our town.  Every day one summer, we would always go into these tunnels, with no flashlights or anything.  It would take us at least an hour to get from one side to the other.  In the pitch dark.  Many times we experienced strange people in there, druggies and transients.  Always in a group it was fun and scary at the same time to go and try to freak each other out, I might of even had my first cigarette down there, but it was a moment of liberation down there for us young kids, having fun, being rebels...anyway, I now know, being the adult I am, the dangerousness of the situation and even cringe at all the possible terrible things that could have happened to us, but nothing did, so its the memory of those times as well, that makes me fascinated with underground tunnels systems,,,,end of background story

After a long walk down below the city of Paris, you come to the entry which reads : Stop!  This is the empire of death: (yes, kinda gave me goosebumps) 
Anyway, as I was one of the first people down there that morning, I enjoyed the silence of it all and absorbed the workmanship and the labor that went into creating final resting place for so many.  Temp-wise, it was cool, and moist.  Ever so often my boots would hit a small puddle of water on the dirt floor, or a drop or two would hit me from the ceiling, reminding me I was hundred of feet below the surface of civilization.  The feeling I had once I was walking for awhile, was one of curiosity and one of awe.  It is only a small portion of the actual catacombs that the public is allowed to see.  There are so many stories that we will never know, so much history and of course the awe of it is how they brought so many down there and the arrangements that were made, in a way as a memorial to those that had passed.  Overall the experience was a somber one.  Afterall, it was a graveyard and one should always be respectful of the dead.

random pics:

graffiti stained walls in one area of the catacombs:
Immediately after the catacombs experience, this girl (me) was happy to be back amongst the land of the living! (my expression sucks):
 Inside St. Sulpice:
After that, a quick stop to St. Sulpice, a quick look at the rose line, featured in the book the Da Vinci Code, lunch then finally to Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Chopins grave has the white statue on it:
What an amazing sight, visually, not to mention the size.  It is huge, you could easily get lost within the walls.  Which wouldnt be a terrible thing.  There is a beauty within this place that lures you to seek out those very famous people that had some impact on the French, if not the world, at one time or another.  I first wanted to see Jim Morrison though, whom I have wanted to see all my life (although he died before I was born).  

 At the gravesite, there is still an air of presence, if not him, through his fans.  Thousands visit his grave and because of this, it is cordoned off with barriers.  A tree close to the grave is littered with "grafitti", writings of those wanting to pay their respects and show how much they adore this man, even after so many years.  I was truly touched by that spirit that continues to linger.  If you could say Goodbye to the lizard king, what would you say?
This one is my favorite, "Thanks Jim Find Peace":

So many notable people are buried in this cemetery, its definitely worth a visit on your trip to Paris.

 After all of this, I was feeling a bit drained, and missing my family, it was time to head back home.  

I cant wait to go to Paris again soon, but next time with company.
And so I say Au Revoir and leave you with this last little bit, complements of Mr. Morrison:
This is the end
Beautiful friend
This is the end
My only friend, the end
Of our elaborate plans, the end
Of everything that stands, the end
No safety or surprise, the end
I'll never look into your eyes...again
Can you picture what will be
So limitless and free
Desperately in need...of some...stranger's hand
In a...desperate land....
 All photographs are the sole property of Angela Koppa and cannot be reproduced or copied without her permission.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

life, lyfe, lie_f

Here are some pics for your viewing to Paris for the weekend, visiting the spooky side of  Paris-catacombs, cemeteries, gargoyles of Notre Dame, so planning on taking a crapload of photos, check back soon!
 This is my village, Im on one of the many hills that overlook the area, my house is one of the very last in the back:

 Now you have NO reason not to train outside in the winter:
 The best reason I wake up every morning:

the season that matters most: cross season

I think that of all the four seasons, I like cross best.  I really like to watch it.  I need to participate in this next year(when I've actually had a full on race season!), but this year, I will enjoy the sport of spectatin' and enjoy watching boys play in the mud (what girl wouldnt?).

Last weekend we moseye'd ourselves over to Hochspeyer for a cross race put on by an American guy living over here in Deutschland.  It was the perfect day, as the prior night, it was raining and cold.  That morning the course looked the way it should (muddy, cold and wet).  I was excited to watch Justin suffer, especially since he was in a grouchy mood that morning.  Just kidding, but really, it was fun to watch him push it beyond his normal limits and although he wasnt feeling at full form, he slowly watched his second place slip down a few notches finishing a very respectable 5th.  The course looked really fun and it was great to have the race close to home.  Promoter did a super job, so thanks Ken Bloomer!  

We didnt stick around too long, as our 4yr old was in protest mode, she wasnt too keen on being that cold, and I DID forget her gloves (Isuck), so found out later that Justin even got a prize!  Wow, so cool.  So next up is most likely Karlsruhe, on Halloween.  I wonder what Justin will dress up as?  I wonder if the German racers will dress up??  I wonder if I should wear something scary or sexy?  Just kidding, but seriously, Its fun to watch this stuff and if you havent you definately should!!

It was cool to see some other Americans there as well, and they live in our vicinity so its always great to meet up with like minded peeps.

Anyways...I am really amazed that people still take the time to read this blog.  Im sorry if its boring, but its been fun and I am trying to post more,,see, this post comes only a week'ish from the last, not to bad!!

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

imagine im contributing to this blog

Everyday I think about things I am going to write about on this blog.  I come up with some awesome thoughts, and then I get home from my walks or whatever and I immediately get sucked back into my life, kids needing something, husband requesting my often gets tucked away in my brain, so far that I often forget the cool, awesome things I want to share with the world.

We have been continually busy people since moving to our new place here in Germany.  Its been great to say the least.  We have been traveling, enjoying the company of good friends visiting from the states, and just enjoying our new digs. 

The house is amazing.  We go back and forth on deciding if we want to buy this place.  Right now, we are just enjoying having so much open space all around and the amount of riding in close proximity.  A great thing is that the highest point here, where all the cyclists go to train for climbs is pretty much right behind our house.  Its a good few miles, but the climb is a paved sufferfest and Im sure I will get to initiate my vomit once or twice on this mountain come spring (sorry for that ; )))..Our village is super small, not even a bakery, but its an amazingly beautiful location, surrounded by huge rolling green hills.  I love all the cows, and sheep that dot the countryside.
On top of Germay, at the Zugspitz:
Last weekend we went to Oberammergau and Garmisch for a Ritchey mountain bike marathon.  It was Justin's race and he did great!  He was somewhere midpack, after three hours in the saddle and over 5000 ft of climbing, he was spent!!  No pain, No gain!!  He was amazing...oh and we climbed the zugspitz, the highest peak in Deustchland, it was so beautiful up there, if you ever can take the train up, do it!!  Then take the cable car down, AWESOME!  I am planning on actually climbing to the summit next summer, no train, no cablecar.  I love to climb mountains!!  

Cyclocross season is starting up and we will head to a local cross race and support local racing next weekend.  Im excited to watch, yes, watch this year, and get some good action shots.

Im still getting used to my new slr, Im really, really knew to the digital slr world, the nikkon is not too hard to figure out, but it is a lot of trial and error on my part.  Im diggin' it though.  I just ordered a backpack style camera bag, so I can take it on rides and travel, it will be so much better.

Im looking forward to heading to the states in a few months for a good long vacation.  It will be two years since I've been in the USA, and Im excited.  I miss family and just being around my fellow countrymen.  My parents just bought a house in beach in Florida, so I am also excited to go visit them and soak up the sun in the future.

I will post some great pics later, my connection has been crappy lately.

I am excited for the possibilities for the next race season.  Just planning to rack up an assload of miles over the next 3-4 months and then get ready for the races again.  I am excited, because this is the time to enjoy the bike, to sit back and watch the colors change in the trees, breathe easily and watch the arrival of fall, all from the top of my handlebars...

Saturday, September 18, 2010

remembering to stop and smell the roses

Well, this is ridicuolous!!!  I mean really!  Who takes this long to update their blog?!?!!!  I mean, if you are going to even plunge in and do this, you should not wait an ETERNITY to update it! 

I see my numbers dwindiling, people are fed up with me and I am losing my beloved blog readers.  Well, hopefully you will try to follow more.  I have so much new stuff going on. 

First, not only will this be a blog about pedal girl, but it will also showcase photography, which I have been doing for years, but now my sweet husband has bought me the ultimate camera, and two nikkor lenses, so it is time I do this right.

Anyway, not to make this a super long post, let me start from where I started off from..oh, bu the way, sorry for the spelling mistakes, but I just got back from a brauhaus, and one to many beers may affect the readout...

Soooo...3..or maybe more weeks ago, I had the honor of watching my husband complete an XTERRA.  I think this may be much harder than a century mountain bike race.  Watching the men and women complete a swim in the Neckar river, a mountain bike ride in the mountains outside of Heidelberg and a run in the same mountains, it made me re-think the definition of suffering.
the village where it all took place place
Justin was amazing.  He first started with the swim.  When I saw it start, it looked like..crazy.  It was a whole bunch of swimmers and it seemed like everyone was getting kicked in the face..Then I saw him. 
He even saw me! 
Thats him with his face out of the water!

There was this direct look between us, like "what the f&*k did I sign up for?!", then I saw his head go down and continue on into the great blue yonder.  I was super impressed, but even more unsure of this new task he had taken on.  Then he transitioned into the mtn bike portion.  Me and my kids did a mad dash towards the transition area, but when you are running with a 3 year old, it feels like you are lugging a ton of mollasses, so we eventually found a spot and luckily we were able to see Justin ride by, he looked like a fire was put under his booty, so he was hauling on by, we ran back to the transition area (by this time, the 3 year old was in "turtle mode"), but we barely caught him coming out for the run.
 finishing up the bike portion
Seeing him go by in the run and acknowledging his "crew"--us, was awesome.  He went by and had to go under this overpass, that went directly into the river, but there were ropes and cute fireman to catch him if he fell in, so he seemed ok (he later mentioned to me that he started to cramp as he went down under). 

After that, we ran to the finish and cheered him on to the end. In the end, he finished midpack, to seasoned pro's.  He was not even fully trained for it, so I see some podiums in the future!!
I was really proud of him and excited for the future XTERRA's we will get to particpate in. 
Coming in for the finish!

He has made mad improvements in his run and year he should dominate!!
and we really like living here by the way : )
the view outside my kitchen window