Feeds:
Posts
Comments

ImageQuincy Bicycle Club Spring Kick Off Scheduled for May 16!

May is National Bike Month and the Quincy Bicycle Club invites the entire community to our Spring Kick-Off Meeting! Join us at Madison Davis Bicycle Shop at 8th and Jefferson on Thursday, May 16.  We’ll have light snacks starting at 5:30 and the meeting officially begins at 6 pm. 

At 6:30, we will have a short program by Madison Davis’s Trek Certified mechanic Ryan Hildebrand.  Ryan will discuss general bike maintenance including tire changing and chain lubrication and replacement.

Don’t forget to ride your bike to this kick-off, because at the conclusion of the meeting, we will have a fun, social ride to welcome new members!

* SPECIAL NOTE: If you’re not riding your bike to the meeting, please bring a chair!  We won’t have too many chairs at the new shop! 

Membership in the Quincy Bicycle Club is $10 a year for singles and $17 for families.  There are club rides nearly every day of the week to participate in and several special events every year.

Beginners and families are WELCOME!  You don’t have to have a fancy bike to participate; just bring yourself and a helmet and come to try our beginner rides!

Leisure Wheels meets Thursdays at 6:15PM at Clat Adams Bicentennial Park.  This is a slow-paced family-oriented ride which features Quincy’s parks!  Leisure wheels is free to QBC members or $10 to join the group for the day.

Pedal Pushers, our other beginner and social group, also meets Thursday evening. This ride starts at Madison Park (24th and Maine) at 6 pm.  Rides will be a manageable pace for most riders, around 12 mph.  Spring rides will start in the 15 mile range and get longer as the year goes on.

Wednesdays, the club offers 2 rides.  A-Group is fast paced (Average 18 mph+) and for experienced cyclists.  B-Group is medium/fast paced (Average 14 mph+) and helps members build group cycling skills and hill climbing ability.  Both of these groups meet at Madison Park on Wednesdays at 6pm and will ride between 20-30 miles total.

Monday rides also meet at 6 pm from Madison Park and are medium to fast speed, 20-30 miles total.

Weekend rides can be found by visiting the club on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/groups/quincybicycleclub/ and on the bike club website at http://www.quincybikeclub.org

Helmets and waivers are required for all Quincy Bike Club activities.

Earth Day 2012! On far right is Ashley, who organizes this event each year!

Earth Day 2012! On far right is Ashley, who organizes this event each year!

Save the planet, one park at a time!

Quincy’s Harrison Street HyVee store is once again hosting an Earth Day Park Clean up at South Park (12th and Harrison) this Sunday, April 21st starting at 3pm.  Last year, I was fortunate enough to be able to help with the clean up at Quincy’s Gardner Park.  The event was fun and we all felt like we had made a real difference at the end of the day.

This year, organizer Ashley Hibbard, has planned an extra special event.  HyVee will be providing food, bags and dumpsters for both trash and recycling.  Local musicians Esther Moore, Beau Becraft and Cheeks McGee will be providing music.  All you need to provide is yourself, your friends, a pair of work gloves and a great attitude!   This event is a positive way to impact our community and celebrate Earth Day- and it’s a lot of fun too!  I hope to see lots of Adventure Foot readers at the park!  Happy Earth Day!

earthday

I’m not sure there are words to say about the bombing in Boston that haven’t been said, but I know the entire active community shares the feelings of sadness, rage and resilience that an event like this inspires. I suppose the best thing to do is… run.

Tomorrow morning, 4/17/2013, the Heartland Road Runners Club will be running at Starbucks at 5:30 am.  Most of us will do about 3 miles, but walkers and people who want to run over or under 3 miles are welcome.  We’ll all be remembering victims and honoring survivors of Boston by wearing the bib you see below.  I hope lots of you can join in for this tribute.

HRRWC will be running 4/16 at 5:30 am; for Boston.

HRRWC will be running 4/17 at 5:30 am; for Boston.

Doug and I take in the view from the top of Monk's Mound at Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site.

Doug and I take in the view from the top of Monk’s Mound at Cahokia Mounds World Heritage Site. You can see the St. Louis Arch in the background.

Have you ever dreamed of visiting something iconic, inspirational, and culturally significant to the history of humanity?  The Pyramids of Giza. Persepolis in Iran.  The archeological remains of Pompeii in Italy. The Temple of Apollo Epicurus in Greece.  The Taj Mahal in India. Stonehenge in Northern Ireland.

In 1994 the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) launched an initiative to compile a list and work on the preservation of the most important cultural and natural sites in the world.  This list of World Heritage Sites is awash with one jaw-dropping wonder of the world after another.  It includes all of the sites I listed in the paragraph above and more.

Stone artifacts/axe heads found in various burial pits near Cahokia.

Stone artifacts/axe heads found in various burial pits near Cahokia.

Now to visit the amazing sites I listed above would take a whole lot of time and a whole lot of money.  But what if a true wonder of the world, a record of the technological achievements of man, a significant stage in human history preserved in the archaeological record, and an exceptional example of a civilization that has disappeared was located just two hours from where you’re sitting now?  Don’t you think you owe it to yourself to go and check it out?

Ladies and gentleman, I give you: Cahokia Mounds in Collinsville, Illinois.

Recreated village scene at the visitor's center museum

Recreated village scene at the visitor’s center museum

My own trip to Cahokia (pronounced Ka-Hoke-ee-ah) came from one simple truth: we were tired of being in the car.  My friend Doug and I had just run the Run the Bluegrass Half Marathon in Lexington, Kentucky and were headed home.  Over 5 hours into our trip home, I spotted a brown historic site marker on the highway and exclaimed, “We’re right by Cahokia Mounds! I’ve always wanted to see it!”  Doug made an impressively quick decision and an equally quick lane-change with the car, and just a few miles down the road, we arrived at the park.

Cahokia Mounds is the largest prehistoric Indian site north of Mexico.  At its height, the chiefton-based civilization covered 4000 acres, included numerous villages around the main city structure, and was home to nearly 20,000 people.  These Mississippian people flourished from 800 AD to approximately 1200 AD and had highly structured communities with a complex social system which included art, agriculture, community, trade networks, and many scientific and engineering achievements.  In AD 1200, Cahokia was larger than London.

The Cahokia Mounds site today, as it was in AD 800, is organized around a central Grand Plaza and the largest earthen pyramid in the US, Monk’s Mound.  Monk’s Mound and the 100+ surrounding mounds are made of earth and wood using stone and wood tools.  The earth was transported primarily on people’s backs in woven baskets.  It is estimated that Monk’s Mound- with a base that covers 14 acres and a height of 100 feet- is comprised of over 22,000 cubic feet of earth.  Anyone else’s back sore thinking about moving that much dirt?

Monk’s Mound was a cultural focal point and once was topped with a massive building where the most important chief would run the government and conduct ceremonies. Other mounds were built for other purposes.  Most contained burials, and some may have just been built to elevate the residence of important figures in the society.  Today some of the mounds have been excavated and amazing artifacts have been recovered and preserved.

Infographic at the main plaza. Monk's Mound can be seen to the left in the distance.

Infographic at the main plaza. Monk’s Mound can be seen to the left in the distance.

All of the mounds have been cataloged and numbered.  Of particular interest is Mound #72.  The excavation of this small mound found over 300 ceremonial burials, mostly of young women in mass graves.  Atop of this, an elite male, estimated to be 45 years old was buried on a platform of flat beads made out of shells.   The shells were arranged around the body to resemble an eagle or hawk.  There is a recreation of this chief’s burial inside of the park’s interpretative center which is truly amazing.

The interpretive center of the park is very nice and the displays are engaging for kids and adults alike.  There is no admission to the center, though there is a suggested donation of $4 for adults, $2 for kids and $10 for families.  Along with many wonderful artifacts like tools, beads and pottery, there is an auditorium which shows a film every hour as well as a recreated village to explore.

Since Doug and I had stopped on the way home from an exhausting weekend, we did not have the time to explore the true breadth of the park, however we did take the opportunity to climb to the top of Monk’s Mound.  Under cloud dotted skies, the view from the top of the mound was vast and gorgeous.  The St. Louis Gateway Arch and skyline, 7 miles away as the crow flies, was clearly visible to the southwest. Farm fields and lakes spread out to the north.  And all around, you could see tops of the mounds which made up this ancient city.  It was easy to imagine how inspiring this vantage point would have been to the people who lived here.

"Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi" by Timothy R. Pauketat is available at the Quincy Public Library.

“Ancient America’s Great City on the Mississippi” by Timothy R. Pauketat is available at the Quincy Public Library.

The top of Monk’s Mound is made even more significant by its placement in relation to the rest of the structures in the society.  Its crest falls at the point at which the sun rises during the equinox, making a strong connection between the chief and the life-giving sun.  Another unique structure at Cahokia is a sun-calendar known as “Woodhenge.”  This site, discovered in the 1960’s, was built of concentric circles of enormous cedar posts that aligned with the sun at the equinox, and would have probably been important as both markers in the calendar and for ceremonial gatherings.  One of the rings of “Woodhenge” has been recreated at the park and can be viewed both up close and from the crest of Monk’s Mound.

Now listen, AF readers… I don’t normally get bossy with my advice, but I’m telling you:  Go to Cahokia. 2 hours from Quincy lies a site of significance to the whole world, and you shouldn’t miss it.  I’m glad I finally had the chance to visit, and I plan on returning to walk more of the grounds and explore.  For further reading on Cahokia, visit:

http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/198

http://www.cahokiamounds.org

And check out this book (also available at the Quincy Public Library): http://www.amazon.com/Cahokia-Ancient-Americas-Mississippi-American/dp/0143117475

PLEASE CLICK HERE TO ENTER MY ADVENTURE FOOT PHOTO CONTEST! WIN AMAZING PRIZES FROM NUUN HYDRATION AND V FUEL ENDURANCE 

Also, a special hello to Amanda… who we met on the top of the pyramid.  🙂  Hope your adventure was fun and educational!

Doug, Glenn and I show off our medals after Run the Bluegrass

Doug, Glenn and I show off our medals after Run the Bluegrass

When I signed up for the Run the Bluegrass half marathon in Lexington, Kentucky, I had many lofty expectations that probably seem silly.  I pictured rolling green pastures, enormous old estates, chickens in the yard, babbling streams, horses running the fields, and miles and miles of white fence framing it all in the perfect picture of the South.

As it turns out- I was spot on.

Pre-race Sponsor Pics! It's Nuun Hydration and VFuel! Love it! Click here to enter my contest to win both!

Pre-race Sponsor Pics! It’s Nuun Hydration and VFuel! Love it! Click here to enter my contest to win both!

I came to this race by way of another race selling out really fast. I had originally intended to run the Quivering Quads half marathon through Cuivre River State Park, but when it was full in a day, I did what any red-blooded American would do: whined about it on Facebook.  A high school friend who once lived in Lexington posted a link to what was billed as “One of the prettiest half marathons in America,” and I was sold.  I quickly talked my training partner Doug into the race, and not long after that- primarily by reminding him that Kentucky was the heart of bourbon country- I had convinced our friend Glenn from the running club to join us too.

Training for this race didn’t always go smoothly.  The first few months of this year, our hometown was blanketed by over a foot of snow not once, but three separate times. It seemed like our choices for times to run revolved around which was worse: freezing temperatures or freezing rain. But we slogged through long runs and hoped for spring to relieve the need to run bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy.

Night before the race drinks in the hotel lobby. My first ever bourbon. When in Kentucky...

Night before the race drinks in the hotel lobby. My first ever bourbon. When in Kentucky…

Due to a death in the family and an unexpected trip to Chicago, I arrived in Lexington late Friday night, after 10 hours in my car, having missed the expo.  My friends Doug and Glenn were already there, and I was barely in the door before Glenn had his expo prize out to show me: a bottle of Knob Creek Bourbon that was specially-selected for this race which he had gotten signed by Runner’s World’s Hal Higdon.  The guys had also each purchased an etched Run the Bluegrass rocks glass, and Doug had kindly picked one up for me too.  Happy to finally be out of my car, we all went to the lobby to have a nightcap and then were off to bed at a pretty decent hour.

We woke up at 6 am for the 9 am race.   We stayed at the race hotel, the Hyatt Downtown, so we were pretty close to the race start.  We grabbed breakfast at the hotel lobby. I had hot cereal and some fruit, which is evidently my pre-race ritual now.  Then we were off to the race.

Beautiful drive to the race.

Beautiful drive to the race.

The drive there is worth mentioning actually.  There was a low fog hanging over the low spots of the farms along the way, and temperatures just around freezing had frozen the fog in spots and added a gorgeous sparkle to the landscape. The sun was working hard to burn the fog away and the scene was another perfect picture of the South.

We arrived at Keenland Thoroughbred Race Track over an hour before the race.  Walking up to the spired main building I could see the finish line off to my right.  Perhaps the little detail of pre-race that made me the happiest is that the racetrack had plenty of inside bathrooms.  There is nothing in this world better than knowing you don’t have to go to the port-a-potty before a race.  I popped a lemon-lime Nuun Hydration tablet in my water bottle (what, you didn’t think I was going to mention my sponsor!?  CLICK HERE to see my brand new Ambassador Page!!) and then it was time to go.

I'm betting on the right horse to win!  These ladies did the whole race in costume. Awesome.

I’m betting on the right horse to win! These ladies did the whole race in costume. Awesome.

We made our way down to race start about quarter to nine, and maybe it’s just the speed of the South, but no one seemed in much hurry to get to the start.  We found our spot in our corral among the other 4000+ runners and chatted with the people around us.  Mainly, I talked to a guy named Andy, who was funny and kind and kept my mind off of the 13.1 hilly miles in front of us.  The race started just a little late and by the time we hit the start line, the temperature outside was absolutely perfect.

Go ahead. Count the hills. But it will only make you cry. (chart from Taz Running.com)

Go ahead. Count the hills. But it will only make you cry. (chart from Taz Running.com)

Now, dear readers, I’ve been thinking for 5 days what to tell you about the race.  You see, I don’t want to scare you off because you should definitely do this race.  I’m not going to lie to you though, it’s hilly.  Real hilly.  And if I do this race again next year, I shall never, ever skip one of Brian Pahlmann’s hill repeat training sessions down at the river. Ever.

I noticed the first long hill we climbed had a name: Songbird Hill.  It was a good name, since I could hear some meadowlarks off in the field. The next hill was also graced with a sign at the top dubbing it Rose Hill.  And at the top of the next hill there was another sign and another name and I remembered what someone in the bike club once told me, “It’s only a real hill if it’s got a name.”  Well looking from the crest of the hill we were on across the rolling landscape in front of us, I thought, “Gosh, there are going to be a lot of names.”

Kim and Laura and myself at around mile 8...we stopped for a picture!!

Kim and Laura and myself at around mile 8…we stopped for a picture!!

In spite of the fact that we were woefully underprepared for a course like this, both Doug and I were surprised to see the first several miles melting away.  The course was very well-marked and large flags called out each mile.  Intermittently along the course there were bands playing a wide variety of music (Seriously: there was some screamo at one corner and a bluegrass band at the next.  WIDE variety…) but mostly the course was a quiet country road with little to hear aside from footfalls.

Another post race pic!

Another post race pic!

Near the bluegrass band was one of those scenes I’d clearly imagined before the race- a yard full of chickens and one proud Tom turkey out strutting his stuff, wearing his feathers tall like royal regalia.  Not far up the road was the first close-to-the-fence horse, a big black and white draft horse who stood by the fence waiting for the next runner who would come over and give him a scratch on the cheek.  He was very sweet and made me smile.  That sort of thing really helps me get my mind off the primary problem: the hills.  My god, the hills.

We were struggling mightily up one hill that Doug named, “The Widow Maker,” when (now don’t miss the irony here) a little old man came by us and said, “You know what a little old man once told me about hills?  It’s just ground!”

Somewhere just past the halfway point, I called out, “Well there’s no turning back now; it’s further to turn around!” which drew a laugh from a couple of girls in the vicinity.  The girls were named Kim and Laura and we ran with them on and off for the rest of the race.  Kim is also a blogger and writes one called This Healthy Endeavor.  It’s got recipes and race reports and more. You should go check it out. Half way is also the point I chose to eat a second V-Fuel Endurance Gel. The VFuel really helped me get through this tough race and didn’t give me any tummy problems at all.  That’s why I love it.  (Click here to see my contest to win Nuun and VFuel!!!!!)

My race goodies! Yeah, I splurged for the bottle of bourbon.

My race goodies! Yeah, I splurged for the bottle of bourbon.

Probably the most beautiful moment of the race for me was at mile 8.  We crested *another* hill and at the top there were 3 sets of mares and foals running wide arcs around their fenced pasture.   It was breathtaking to watch, and even though I was getting pretty exhausted, their enthusiasm for running returned the spring to my step and the smile to my face.

I’m not going to get too much into the end of the race… it was hilly, I was undertrained, and I did a lot of walking.   That’s okay though. Doug stuck right by my side and we did the thing together.  Then, just past a little marching band stationed at the last corner (WIDE variety of music…) the finish line came into sight.  We ran out the last “point-one” as quick as we could and were presented with what is probably my favorite half-marathon medal to date.

Sorry this blog got so long folks! Thanks for sticking with me! Run the Bluegrass was a terrific race.  I posted a personal worst time- but I also feel like I worked really hard for it and was super proud anyway.  I couldn’t have done it without my training partner Doug, who helped me through the long, bleak winter training and shared in the fun in Lexington.  Glenn finished in front of us, but he was great to have around and was fun the entire trip.

Doug, Glenn, Race Director Eric and I after the race (and after a Kentucky Ale!)

Doug, Glenn, Race Director Eric and I after the race (and after a Kentucky Ale!)

Special thanks go to the race director Eric Marr and his team for making every part of the race beautiful.  From the specially chosen barrels of Knob Creek Bourbon, to the ribbons based on the silks of the famous thoroughbred filly Genuine Risk, this was a race with an eye for the details that make an experience special.

Also, a big shout-out to Andy, Kim, Laura, Amanda Jones and her friends, and Lisa- new friends from the race.  I absolutely loved the size of this race. It made it easy to meet people, share a Kentucky Ale, and lament the hills like we’d been running together forever.  Lisa if you’re reading this: I’ll see you this weekend in Allerton. I can’t believe we were both silly enough to sign up for the same two half marathons on back-to-back weekends.

Doug at the Town Branch distillery tour.

Doug at the Town Branch distillery tour.

If you make it down for this race next year (and you totally should) make sure you take a little time to explore Lexington. It’s an awesome town with lots to do.  We toured the Town Branch Bourbon Distillery after the race and also got a taste of downtown at a really great creole joint called Bourbon and Toulouse for dinner.  Then we treated ourselves to pie by the famous Missy’s Pies at Ramsey’s Restaurant for desert.  I had coconut cream.  Wow.

Just remember: If you sign up for this race next year… don’t skimp on the hill training.  🙂

It’s BIG news Adventure Foot Readers! I’m announcing my first ever sponsored blog contest featuring FABOULOUS PRIZES from my blog sponsors: Nuun Hydration and V Fuel Endurance Gel!

3 Winners will be chosen to get a box of V Fuel Endurance Gel.  It's awesome.

3 Winners will be chosen to get a box of V Fuel Endurance Gel. It’s awesome.

Here’s how the contest works:

Take a gander at that super sweet banner at the top of my page.  See how it has 5 Adventure Feet pictured?  Well, I am going to update that banner with 5 brand new feet- and if I choose yours- you will win a fabulous prize!

What are the prizes?

3 Winners will win their choice of a 24 Pack of the very best endurance gel on the market, V-Fuel.  You can have Peach Cobbler, Vanilla or Chocolate (my favorite!).

2 Winners will win a Nuun Hydration Prize Pack which will include a Nuun Hydration Water Bottle, one package (12 servings) of Nuun Hydration Lemon Lime (also my favorite) and a super sweet Nuun Hydration white vinyl sticker.

2 Winners will win One tube of Nuun, One Water Bottle, and One Sticker!

2 Winners will win One tube of Nuun, One Water Bottle, and One Sticker!

How do you enter?

FIRST you MUST “Like” Adventure Foot, Nuun Hydration and V Fuel Endurance on Facebook.  You’ll be glad that you did- ‘cause these are great companies making great products.

Then you upload a PHOTO of your Adventure Foot on my Adventure Foot Facebook page.  I don’t care what kind of footwear you chose- just get out there and snap a picture mid-adventure! I’m looking for some creativity here people, so have fun with it.  You may also include a sentence or two explaining what kind of adventure you’re having!

How are the winners chosen?

I’m going to put all of the photos which are entered in numerical order and then I’m going to use a random number picker to choose winners. DEADLINE FOR ENTRY IS MAY 15th!  (This is extended… so get your photos in!) People who had their entries in by April 22 will get additional numbers in the drawing so that it’s fair!

Adventure Feet

Adventure Feet Example

Fine Print?

You have to like all three pages on Facebook or your picture will not be eligible.  By entering a photo, you agree to let me put it on my blog and in my new header if you’re selected to be a winner.  I will not put your name on your photo or spam you or anything like that.  Also, I’ll do my best to contact you through Facebook but sometimes people have Facebook settings so tight that a “page” cannot send you a message.  This is my first contest so I’ll do my best to make it fair.  I’m going to say- void where prohibited and no purchase necessary to win.  Since I don’t sell anything, I believe that is enough legalize.  I’m thinking I will announce winners on or around April 30th.  Stay tuned for that.

Anything else?

YES!  You are already a winner because

V Fuel Endurance Gel is giving MY READERS ONLY a SPECIAL DISCOUNT!!!!!!!!!!!!  20% off all orders through the contest period by using the code AdventureFoot at checkout.       

 

Look at all the yum in this photo!! I can't wait!

Look at all the yum in this photo!! I can’t wait!

Don’t you just love a good farmer’s market? Every summer I head down to Washington Park to peruse the fresh produce and marvel at it super bright colors endless variety and…

And I pretty much end up buying exactly the same thing every time I go.

This, for the record, is a Kohlrabi.  I don't even know if the Great River CSA grows these. But I'm buying some this year and I'm going to learn how to cook 'em.

This, for the record, is 4 Kohlrabi. I don’t even know if the Great River CSA grows these. But I’m buying some this year and I’m going to learn how to cook ’em.

What have I been thinking?!  I mean, we all have our favorites.  I love the homegrown broccoli that you can get in the spring, or the beefsteak tomatoes that start showing up midsummer, but I bet I’ve passed over a hundred delicious veggies (what the heck is a kohlrabi anyway?) because I didn’t know much about them or was afraid to try something new.

And “afraid to try something new” is just a silly way for a pretty-good-cook with an Adventure Foot to live.

Check the logo!

Check the logo!

So to bring ADVENTURE to my kitchen, I decided to sign up for the Great River CSA program this year!  For those unfamiliar, CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture, and is basically a program in which you pre-purchase a share of a collection of farmers’ produce for the growing season.   This is great for the farmers because you’re paying for their expenses such as seeds, feed, labor, and supplies, and they have a guaranteed buyer for crops they produce.  It takes the guess work out of how much to grow and lets the farmers concentrate on doing their thing!

Adventure is delicious...

Adventure is delicious…

With Great River, that means that every single week from June through the beginning of October, I’ll be picking up a basket of delicious fresh veggies, fruits and herbs and taking it home to cook up something new.

I’m most excited about the variety in the basket.  What am I going to do when presented with a bunch of squash that I’ve never cooked or more cucumbers than could possibly be cut up for sub sandwiches?  I’m going to have to be creative!  And creativity, my friends, is the very heart of adventure.

If you’re interested in getting giant baskets of good food from Great River CSA, there is still time. There website lists all the details.  A full vegetable share costs $475 and a half share is $360. The CSA also has chicken and egg shares, as well as Thanksgiving Turkey Shares.  From their website:

For the vegetable share, each week you can expect a wide variety of in-season, delicious, fresh vegetables and herbs. One full share will contain enough to feed a family of 4 each week. The half share will contain enough to feed 2 people.

Ca-caw! Ca-caw!  (I think that's the sound a chicken makes...)

Ca-caw! Ca-caw! (I think that’s the sound a chicken makes…)

For the summer chicken share, every other week we deliver two chickens (about 3.5 pounds each), plucked, quickly frozen, and packaged in a plastic bag with the giblets, heart, and liver inside the chicken. $162 for the season.

For the summer egg share, every other week we deliver 2 dozen fresh brown eggs of various sizes. They get bigger as the season progresses. $52 for the season.

For the Thanksgiving turkey share, one fresh turkey ready for pick-up just in time for Thanksgiving. Prices vary based on size and type of turkey selected.

Shares are limited, so if you’re interested, sign up soon! 

… and if you have any good recipes for kohlrabi, you just let me know.

HEY READERS!!! SOMETHING IMPORTANT!!!!

Did you know that you can get all new blogs emailed to you when I post them? It’s true.  If you go to the side bar right under that super nice ad for Nuun Hydration (which you should totally click, by the way) is a little box that says “Follow Adventurefoot.”  When you write your email there, you will get blogs right to your inbox.  It’s super easy. And you can unsubscribe if you want later… but I hope you don’t!   If you’re currently viewing this on your phone, the box is not in the sidebar… it’s below this text somewhere at the bottom of the page.

HEY READERS!!! SOMETHING EXCITING!!!!

You have heard how much I love Nuun Hydration and VFuel Energy Gel— well my adventuresome friends, I’m going to be doing a BIG GIVEAWAY from my two favorite blog sponsors in April.  You can get a head start on WINNING if you go and like Nunn Hydration and VFuel on Facebook.  Official contest announcment will be made on April 1st… no foolin.  😉

And One More Thing…

So, WordPress- the site which I host my blog on- has started adding a lot of stupid ads and videos at the bottom of my blog.  That makes me sad because I already pay enough for hosting and stuffs and now they want $60 a year to take the stupid ads off my site.   I might do that at some point, but right now any extra money is going toward race entries!  So anyway, I just wanted to say I’m sorry about the ads.  IF you see ads at the sidebar of my blog (like my Nuun one or VFuel or any of the blogs that I list)  I PROMISE these are not scary links. You just click on them and they go to exactly the website I said they went to.  No tracking or anything icky like that.

Okay, one more, more thing…

Exciting news: I’ve been elected President of the Quincy Bicycle Club!  More on this later… I just wanted to share.

thanks-for-reading

This is what spring looks like to me!

This is what spring looks like to me!

Hey there, Adventurers!

Can you feel it?  Spring is in the air and it’s time to ramp up the activity level!   I’m just so excited I can’t hardly take it!

Personally, I’m gearing up for TWO half marathons in the next 3 weeks.   I’m going to Run The Bluegrass in Lexington, Kentucky on Easter weekend and then the Allerton Trails Half Marathon on April 6th in Monticello, IL (near Decatur, IL).  If you’re looking for some last minute running plans, you can still get in on either of these events.  The Allerton event is especially nice because, even at this late date, sign up is only $40 for the half marathon or $30 for the 10K.

CLICK ME!! :)

CLICK ME!! 🙂

How am I going to get through 2 half marathons on back-to-back weekends, you ask?  With help from my Adventure Foot Sponsors, of course!  You have probably heard the news by now that I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, but I’m also adding a second sponsor to the blog roll this week!  I’m pleased to bring you the very best energy gel on the market:  V-Fuel Endurance Gel!

CLICK ME, TOO! :)

CLICK ME, TOO! 🙂

V-Fuel is a Colorado based company, and they’re flipping the script on regular old Gu and have created a true endurance fuel that tastes good and keeps my tummy feeling good too (regular users of Gu will catch my meaning).  I’m going to write a full product review on both Nuun and V-Fuel in the near future- so stay tuned.  Even better: I’m planning a CONTEST for April where you could win product or gear from my sponsors! Woo hoo!

Heartland Road Runners Club is in full swing right now, but there’s still plenty of time to start running for Spring.   Come check out “Road Runners After Dark” if you want a taste of how lovely running with the club can be.  RRAD meets at a restaurant every Tuesday night for a fun, social run.  No runner left behind, we promise!  For the month of March, we will be meeting at Kelly’s Restaurant in Quincy.  Running starts promptly at 6:15.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee  handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

I simply do not get tired of this photo of Jackie Joyner Kersee handing me a medal at Bridge The Gap.

And as long as you’re running, you should plan on signing up for Quincy’s biggest running event, Bridge the Gap to Health Race!  This race, now in its 13th year, supports the MedAssist program.  MedAssist helps low income patients afford prescription medications.  The race will once again be marshaled by Olympic Gold Medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee.  If you’ve never been handed a medal by an Olympian, now is your chance!  There are a ton of options for this race including a walking or running half marathon, walking or running 10K and a running 5K.  There will also be a 5K Leisure Walk which starts an hour after the other races start.

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

Best day ever?!! Greg Davis of Madison Davis Bicycles and I pose by my brand new Trek Madone!

And, saving perhaps the best for last: It’s BIKE SEASON!  I’m so darned excited about starting to really rack up the miles on my bike, I can’t even contain myself.  If you’re new to cycling, I suggest you try out the Quincy Bike Club’s Thursday night group.  This group will start meeting on April 4th.  The park which it meets at is TBD- I’ll keep you posted.   Once again this year I’ll be leading “Wednesday Night B Group.”  B-Group for 2013 will B a medium to medium/fast paced ride and I’m going to work in some training exercises  for all of us.  Maybe one week we’ll work out on some hill repeats. Maybe one week  we’ll do some flat sprints.  I don’t know. We’re going to be better cyclists for our work on Wednesday B Group!   Wednesday A and B group (A Group= really fast and experienced riders) will both leave from Madison Park Shelter House at 6 pm.  The first B group will meet April 3.  I will bring Easter candy as a bribe.

OH! And don’t forget to attend the Grand Opening celebration at Madison Davis Bicycles.  It’s April 11th at 6 pm.  The new shop is absolutely gorgeous and Greg is planning some great sales to kick it off.  You won’t want to miss it.

And Adventure Foot Readers- don’t miss this great spring sale from my blog sponsor, Nuun Hydration! $18 for a 4 pack of Nuun plus a water bottle (most of the 4 packs are normally $24 without a water bottle, so yeah. Stock up now.). It’s a great deal!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Click here for an awesome sale on Nuun!

Hale-Bopp.  Mmm Bop.  See the difference?

Hale-Bopp. Mmm Bop. See the difference?

As regular readers will know, I’ve often got my eye to the sky for backyard astronomy. In fact, my most popular post of last year was my eloquently titled,  “The Adventure foot Guide to Not Burning Up Your Retinas or Going Blind While Simultaneously Viewing the June 2012 Transit of Venus Across the Sun for the Last Time Until 2117…or How to Make a Pinhole Viewer.”  That post, not to brag, (but totally to brag), was even ranked #1 on Google’s search results for 3 days.  So cool.

But ya know, watching the Transit of Venus or some of the other cool celestial goings-on sometimes takes a lot of preparation or complicated directions on how to view the event.

Not so with the Comets of 2013!

There are 2 great opportunities to view comets this year and one is TONIGHT (or tomorrow… or anytime through the 18th) All you need to do is:

  1. Follow your Adventure Foot out the door just a little while after sunset. 30 minutes should do.

  2. Locate the crescent moon low on the horizon (If you’ve got a lot of obstructions like trees and houses, you might need to find another location. It’s low in the sky.)

  3. Look at the comet right next to it.  It’s the bright red-ish star…with a tail.

Ta-da!  That little 2.5 mile wide hunk of rock and ice is named Comet Pan-Starrs.  It was discovered in June 2011 by a team of astronomers using the Panoramic Survey Telescope and Rapid Response System (or PAN-STARRS), a telescope in Hawaii. Personally, I would have named her Dottie.

Artist's (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system with boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80's.  I bet you didn't know that.

Artist’s (my) approximation of comets. They casually cruise the solar system wearing aviators and carrying boom boxes playing Monster Ballads from the 80’s. I bet you didn’t know that.

Pan-Starrs is on a lazy 100-million year orbit around the sun and is the brightest comet to whiz by earth since Hale-Bopp in 1998 (astute readers will also remember this as the “Mmm Bop” era, but that’s unrelated.)

On the off chance that any of my South American friends might be reading today- there’s another comet visible in your sky tonight called Comet Lemmon, hereafter known as Comet Liz Lemmon.

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

Viewing guide. Credit Science@nasa from space.com

If cloudy skies thwart your comet viewing this week, do not fret!  Another hunk of icy space junk will be blazing through the sky in November.  It’s called Comet ISON and it’s making a close pass by the sun in November.  This solar pass is either going to cause it to melt slowly and have a huge and spectacularly long tail… or possibly cause it to melt real quickly and be a bust.  Guess we’ll just have to see.

By the by- did you know that comets and asteroids are both space debris from the earliest part of our solar system?  They were formed around 4.5 billion years ago out of the left-over stuff floating about.  The main difference between the two is their composition: comets are mostly ice, frozen gas and some rocky material, while asteroids are metal, rock and minerals.  The ice/frozen gas on a comet are what melts and creates its distinctive tail.

Please also check out one of my favorite astronomy related blogs, also from last year.  Click here! 

AND if you’re a Heartland Road Runner (or if you want to be a Heartland Road Runner): Come to Kelly’s at 6:15 tonight, run 3 miles with me, then I’ll point out the comet for you!

thanks-for-reading

Hey Adventure Foot readers! I’ve got some fun news!

Nuun Hydration before my long run! These flavors are grape, fruit punch and tropical!

Nuun Hydration before my long run! These flavors are grape, fruit punch and tropical!

Adventure Foot is now an ambassador for Nuun Hydration!  I was introduced to Nuun out on RAGBRAI (Register’s Annual Bike Ride Across Iowa.)  It was one of those days over 100 deg. and over 80 miles, and another rider noticed that I looked exhausted and that I’d sweat so much that there was salt dried in my jersey and my shorts.  He asked me if I was staying hydrated and I replied, “Yeah, I’ve had like 8 bottles of water!”   And he said, “Well you can’t just drink water! You need electrolytes too!” and he popped a Tri-Berry Nuun in my water bottle.  Not much later, my headache had subsided, I felt much better, and I became a real believer in Nuun!  Anyway, I’m sure I’ll tell you much more about Nuun over the next year of my ambassadorship, so stay tuned for more!  I’m also planning a give-away, so now would be a good time to “like” Adventure Foot on Facebook, and while you’re at it, like Nuun Hydration too!

Now, on to adventure!

Cross country skiing at Wakonda State Park

Cross country skiing at Wakonda State Park

It’s funny to have just told you about one of the hottest days I can ever remember, seeing as the last few weeks around central Illinois have been so cold and snowy!   But like any good adventurer, I like to follow my foot no matter what the weather.

Wyconda State Park

Wyconda State Park

Quincy took on a pretty deep coat of the white stuff in two big snow events in the last couple of weeks, and it seemed like it was the perfect time to try out some winter sports that we normally don’t have enough snowpack to support: snow shoeing and cross country skiing! The only problem?  I don’t have gear.  Luckily though, my very sweet friend from the bike club, Deb Esnault, had both and was willing to let me borrow them.  Also lucky for me: we wear the same shoe size!

I headed over to Wakconda, our nearest Missouri State Park.  Wakonda State Park in LaGrange, MO is reclaimed land which was once a series of quarry pits.  Now, the quarries are 6 deep lakes surrounded by nicely groomed hiking trails, camp grounds, and swimming beaches.   I’ve spent plenty of time hiking and kayaking there in the summer, but I’d never been over in the winter before.

Adventure Foot Cross Country Skis!

Adventure Foot Cross Country Skis!

My friend Karen and I were going to cross country ski together, but our schedules didn’t work out, so my Wakonda trip turned into a solo expedition.  I pulled up at the park and unloaded my gear.  Save one man setting up to ice fish, I had the entire 777 acre park to myself.

I decided that I was going to cross country ski the 3.5 mile trail around Agate Lake first.  I’d run on that trail before, so I knew it was wide and not too hilly.  Since this was the first time I’d tried cross country skiing, I spent a little time at the beginning of the trail trying out the skis and learning what they were capable of.  The first big difference I found between these and downhill skis is that it was surprisingly easy to move uphill.  That’s primarily due to the way the boots are attached at the toe but not at the heel.  The heel detachment allows for a more natural foot motion when walking uphill.

581867_616430828371818_2096944925_nThe second difference I found was that though these skis were much better at making it up hill, they were much worse at making it downhill!  The shape makes turning the skis difficult and their textured surface doesn’t slide as well down a hill.  That’s okay though, because cross country skiers are often bringing gear and things along, so controlled slow descents are probably preferable.

Once I had the hang of things I set out around the lake.  It wasn’t long until I’d found a good rhythm and was scooting right along the trail.  The day was gray, but the trail was still very beautiful.  I watched a few immature bald eagles dive in the open water at the center of the lake and the only tracks in the snow besides mine belonged to coyotes.

About half way around the lake there is a camp shelter, which I used to prop up my camera for a quick blog pictures. Though cross country skis allow you to stay on top of the snow, it’s still a big cardio workout, and I had really worked up a sweat!  On a longer trail in rougher conditions, I might have really been in trouble since I was so wet.  It would be bad news to have bad weather or cold wind set in if I were too far from shelter.  Anyway, since this wasn’t an episode of Dual Survival…

The beautiful trail around Agate lake.

The beautiful trail around Agate lake.

I really enjoyed the rest of my time on the trail.   The hills the lake offered were gentle and rolling, and just enough of a challenge to keep it interesting.  I liked how quiet the skis were on the undisturbed snow, and it was nice to have some time by myself.  I was back at my car in no time at all.

Showing off my Adventure Foot by the start of the Jasper Lake trail!

Showing off my Adventure Foot by the start of the Jasper Lake trail!

Like I said before, we have so few opportunities to play in deep snow around here, so even though I was pretty worn out from the skis, I decided I was still going to snow shoe for a little while.   I switched gear and headed off towards the smaller Jasper Lake trail.

Snow shoeing was much slower going than the skis, but it had its own charms.  Snow shoes have large flat bottoms called “decks” for staying on top of the snow, but also have metal cleats called “crampons” on the bottom for gaining purchase on slippery rocks or ice. The bindings fit around a regular pair of hiking or snow boots and are attached to the deck by bolts that rotate and let your feet move in a walking motion.

A frozen corner of Jasper Lake

A frozen corner of Jasper Lake

I used the snow shoes to explore the lake shore and generally poke around a little.  The park looks so much different in the winter and a little sunlight showing through the clouds added a lovely sparkle to the snow.  The snow shoes were fun to try and really did save energy when compared to just trudging through deep snow.

Wyconda State Park Map (Click to view larger)

Wyconda State Park Map (Click to view larger)

I really enjoyed my solo trip to Wakonda and am looking forward to visiting this nearby park for more adventures, no matter what the weather.  I hope you find ways to follow your Adventure Foot this spring! There’s so much to explore!

thanks-for-reading