Sunday, October 14, 2012


Yesterday I participated in the Cochise County Classic.  I'm out of shape and over weight, but have been riding for about a month and a half now.  I approached the ride as another workout, a step towards getting back in shape.  I have little hope of achieving my goal for El Tour de Tucson of getting a Platinum finishing time.  (Platinum just means fast, basically.)

I took some time off in the summer as I'd plateaued, big time.  Then, just after one week of training I became very sick, not exercising at all for the next six weeks.  I had to ease back into riding for a couple of weeks before having my first really good week last week, 231 quality miles.  The problem is, I'd been eating like I was riding 15 hours a week the entire time!  So, packing on the pounds I did!

My wife and I stayed at the Motel 3 in Douglas, AZ.  The rooms were all smoking and there were safety awareness placards posted on the walls.  They had helpful information about dead bolting the door, how to contact the authorities in case of an emergency and so on.  But, I knew the place was okay when I saw that there was a fixed bottle opener and a clean ash try.  The bottle opener suggested that the normal clients at this establishment drink quality beer, not twist tops!  

The hotel was next door to the Border Patrol Detention Facility and we had read that announcements were made over the loud speakers all night long.  We didn't hear any such thing.

A few nights before the race someone that remembered me from the Nogales Classic contacted me, asking if I'd like to help he and his friends out.  He said they earned platinum status last year (a time of 4:20), but would like to improve this year.  I was quite flattered.  I remembered who they were and looked to fall in with them on the ride.

The morning was cold, just above 40 degrees.  That's perfect running weather, but on a bicycle, a bit chilly.  Turns out I couldn't feel my toes for about 3 hours!  At the start of the race the national anthem was played and the announcer mentioned to keep in mind, while cycling, those who are suffering and dear to your heart.  He shared the story of his niece who is likely to succumb to a long battle with breast cancer this coming week.  I thought of my daughter off lonely in Missouri at Basic Training, and was saddened.  I like the message though, these types of endurance events are a celebration, if not an exploitation, of good health.

The Chubby Cyclist...fear the socks!
The ride started at 6:30 AM.  The route began in Douglas, AZ, went through Bisbee, towards Tombstone and then looped back to Douglas.  I had no sight of the people that asked me to sit in with them, (I'll call them the Nogales group).  But, I was sure that if they were there and they got platinum, I'd see them passing me eventually.  
I started the race out towards the front of the group.  I wanted to use what I learned in the Nogales Bicycle Classic, which was, stay with the front as long as possible, but don't do any work!

I had no problem sticking with the group until we got to the fact, it was quite pedestrian.  Everybody knew the climb was coming and it should've been an easy ride before that point!  I saw the five or six guys that I was to sit in with pass me as they worked up towards the front of the group, but I was quite comfortable inside the center of the peloton, protected from the wind, so I let them go.

Once we got to the climb I realized I should've worked to move up towards the front of the lead group.  That way, if I began to get dropped, which was likely, then perhaps I would end up at the back.  But instead I was in the middle and by the time we were half way up, I was out the back and soon dropped, over heating and nearly sick.  I dialed it back and just eased up the climb in granny gear.  I didn't see any of the Nogales group on the climb, so I figured they moved right on ahead.

The climb was beautiful as it viewed Bisbee just to the right of the road and then we climbed up and through a tunnel that went beneath the mountain.   The problem was, the climb was demanding and I couldn't focus on much of anything other than forward motion. Things got crazy on the climb, it was so long, that people were being dropped over a good 15 mile stretch.  The peloton went from about 100 riders down to 50 quickly, then down to 30 or so when I started to get strung out.

I desperately wanted a break, but no rest for the weary!  I remember thinking that I was intensely happy that I've been riding hills a lot, knowing that I'd be suffering far worse if I hadn't been.  I also remember thinking that this was the race right here...if I had been able to stick with the group, I'd probably finish with the lead group.

Eventually a few people caught up with me as I was sitting up and not pushing anymore.  I tucked in behind them.  When we finally reached the top my extra weight shot me down the mountain!  That was cool, several miles of fairly steep decline to allow me to catch my breath. 

A typical echelon is strung out, a sign that the group is going fast.
A small group of 8 to 12 riders formed and we worked together for the rest of the ride, kind of.   We formed an echelon and took turns taking pulls.  That means, we were in a straight line, each person with their front wheel directly behind the rear wheel of another rider, save the person in front.  The person in front would break the wind, creating a slip stream for the other riders.  Since that's a lot of hard work that person would stay there for a short period of time, called a pull, then move over and the next person in line would pull.  If everybody was doing an equal share, the person pulling would drop to the back and get a good 5 to 6 minutes of easier work.

And while this makes the group go way faster than they could alone, make no mistake, rolling along at 24 to 30 miles an hour, having to surge forward as the riders in front perhaps start descending while you're still climbing, keeping in mind that you must keep contact with the rider in front or else you're out of the slip stream and must sprint to catch up, is not easy work!

A few riders instructed the group on how long to pull and that each puller should make sure not to lose contact with the group.  I was all ears, never having done much of this before, certainly not for any amount of time.  I got scolded for not signaling that I was done with a pull, then misread the gap as I tried to get back in line, nearly bumping another rider off the road.  I apologized personally each time.  The last thing I wanted to do was make a fool of myself (says the guy with the Where's Waldo socks).

I quickly learned the most effective way to move over and keep my speed so I can catch on the back of the echelon without a huge effort.  I saw how some people are "courteous," allowing those that just pulled to slip in front of them, thus ensuring they never have to pull.

At one point, someone allowed me in front, saying, "I'm gassed, need a bit more of a break."  That was fine.  But there was one particular rider doing no work.  Now, I know he was probably gassed too, heck, after a while we all were.  But, he was doing no work at all.  So, I took a risk and didn't cut in front of him.  I stayed behind him and everybody else that pulled then dropped in behind me.  This forced him forward and he had to work.  Soon after he lost contact.  I'm not sure of the etiquette required in such a situation, but part of me says, "No Free Rides."

Eventually we came away from the mountains and it got windy.  Crosswind, headwind.  Repeat.  A headwind sounds worse, but it's not bad.  Your front tire cuts through it nicely and if you tuck in, you make a small profile, the wind makes you work harder, but you can get a rhythm.

Crosswinds, however, are different.  I think it's because the wind hits the broad side of your wheels, slowing your spokes.  Not to mention, it pushes you sideways.  Regardless of the physics, it is the worst.  It's a lot of work to move forward in a crosswind and the benefits of an echelon are negated, almost entirely.  The picture to the left shows how an echelon stretches out sideways as each rider tries to get into the slip stream created by the next ride as they cut across the wind, instead of head on.

About this time I secretly wished for a flat tire.  Our group was too small to provide any shelter from the crosswinds.  However, the group still maintained about a 24 mph pace through the winds.  I toughed it out, but when I felt a strange sensation I looked down at my tire, kind of relishing the idea of catching my breath.  Then, someone took their turn to pull and took off.  The group surged.  I stood to sprint, cramped and sat down.  I caught back on the back, totally shot.  It happened again, and again.  I was done for.  I got dropped.

I rolled up to the last aid station, just about a half mile ahead.  I planned on refueling, getting some water and catching my breather.  Two other riders were there, one from the group that just dropped me.  I barely filled my bottles, choked down a cup of raisins and the other two were leaving.  I had to catch on.  I threw a banana in my pocket and took off, hoping I wouldn't cramp again.

Surprisingly, I felt fine.  We turned into the wind immediately after the aid station!  If I had just held on a half mile, about another 60 seconds, I'd probably have stayed with that group.   Still, the three of us worked together, taking fairly long pulls.  We caught a pair of riders from the group that dropped us and formed a group of five.  We moved quickly, 28 to 30 mph most of the time, directly into the wind.  But then, we turned into the crosswind again and I got dropped.

I thought about letting them go, but knew that I had a chance to catch them if I worked steadily.  I caught them and am glad I did.  They knew the route, and somehow hearing a description of what lay ahead comforted me.  I forgot about how bad I hurt and just went for it.

I crossed at 4 hours, 19 minutes and change.  I thought my clock was wrong!  The man I rode with most of the ride was also a Chubby Cyclist.  People came in after us, amazed at our time.  They commented that it was crazy to see two heavy weights move that fast on such a difficult court.

For me, this was a new things.  Not for the other guy.  He's been on the cusp of getting the platinum for a year now.  He said to look for him at El Tour de Tucson, said he has a group of friends that are all Fringe.

A few minutes later, the Nogales group came in.  I never noticed that I passed them, but guess I did on the climb.

I found a bench and laid down, put my legs up.  They hurt intensely.

Now, 24 hours later, I'm still elated with the race.  I'm hopeful that I will drop some weight between now and mid-November, for El Tour de Tucson.  Maybe I have a shot at platinum there!

EDIT:  The official results were posted, finally.  I missed platinum designation by 9 whopping seconds!  NINE! 

Platinum, by the way, means that (1) you're fast, and (2), you don't have to wait in line at 3 AM at El Tour de Tucson.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Wouldn't It Be Cool If ...

Endurance sports can be a lonely endeavor.  There are very few people I can call and say, "Hey, I just rode Gold Hill in under 15 minutes," and have it mean something to them.

Of course the internet has made it less lonely, and I could share with internet friends, "Hey, I had a PR or KOM."  But, unless they're ridden Gold Hill, they don't really understand.

This is a view from Gold Hill
Lately I've been riding with a friend of mine who is new to the sport, but eager to get into it.  I've been showing him my favorite local routes and when he pauses to appreciate some view or vista, it makes me see it all over again.  And living where I live, one of the biggest pluses in the cycling category is the stuff you get to see!

Last night I bought a bottle of wine, to celebrate and reward myself for a monster week.  I put in over 230 miles on the old bicycle this week and am feeling very great.  As wine often does to me, I woke about 3 AM.  I wasn't sick or hung over, just not sleeping.  Ugh.  I started on of my favorite hobbies under such conditions, imagining different routes and courses.  I got to thinking, what about a Tour?

You know ... a tour, like several days, covering the challenging and scenic routes in the county.  Maybe it could be a week long, maybe spread over a few weekends.  I started thinking and planning, how would it work, wondering if it would work, wondering if I really cared that it would work, it might be awesome to do alone anyway (though company would be better).  It would be a come one-come all type of thing, amateurs would really be the focus.  I remembered reading in a magazine how people were getting very tired of spending $120 to run or ride a race ... yeah, it goes to charity, supposedly, but whatever.  The article was showing how there was a trend of small groups getting together and running their own events at the actual cost of the support for the event.  Applying that idea, here's what I came up with:

  • The Santa Cruz County Cycling Tour would take place over four weekends, including seven total rides and a party.
  • Minor support would be provided, but each rider is essentially responsible for themselves. 
  • Riders could participate in any portion of the rides, but a point system will be assigned.
While it would be a Santa Cruz County Tour, not all rides would be 100% contained inside the county.  After all, this is the smallest county in the state!  Here's how it would work:

Weekend 1:  Date:  TBD
Ride 1:  Pena Blanca to Kino Springs to Josefina to Pena Blanca  (90 miles)

This ride obviously needs a better name!  This ride contains some incredibly scenery and challenging terrain and quite a bit of climbing.  The ride begins at Pena Blanca Lake, which includes a Cat 4 climb, that is way harder than any Cat 4 I know of!  After the Cat 4, it's a fast and smooth downhill for about 7 miles, before hitting some rolling hills and then Gold Hill, which is a Cat 4 climb as well.  This would undoubtedly be a much higher category if it weren't for an incredibly steep quarter-mile down hill right in the middle of the whole thing!

After Gold Hill, there's a fast downhill for another 5 miles or so before the winding Cat 4 climb heading past Kino Springs Golf Course to the village.  Then the ride shoots down the very fast and smooth River Road before entering the Rio Rico area where the ride hits a Cat 3 and a Cat 2 climbing on Camino Josefina.  The ride finishes by returning to the starting point at the lake.
Elevation Profile, Categorized Climbs Inaccurate Here

Weekend 1, Ride 2:  Patagonia - Elgin (50 miles)

Day 2's ride is shorter and easier than the first day's ride.  The ride starts in beautiful and historic Patagonia, Arizona, loops through and around Sonoita and Elgin and then back to Patagonia.  There are no categorized climbs on the day, though the scenery is stunning.  Sonoita and Elgin are rich in agriculture including livestock and vineyards.  On a lucky day one may spot prong horn!
Weekend 2, Ride 1 (3rd total):  Whipple Visitor's Center to Madera Canyon (63 miles)

The second weekend of riding will begin at the Whipple Observatory Visitor's center, as pictured above.  The ride will begin very fast as the course will drop down to the valley below some 300 feet in about 7 miles.  Then the ride will make it's way up the most significant climb of the entire tour as it winds up Madera Canyon (category 1 climb).  It's common to see wild turkey and sometimes coatamundi in the canyon.

The route will descend from the canyon and return back up to the observatory's visitor's center, which is a category 2 climb.

Weekend 2, Ride 2 (4th total):  Tumacacori to Tubac Loop (22 miles)
Time trial!  Flat, fast and beautiful!  Tumacacori and Tubac are beautiful and very interesting.  After the short ride there's plenty to see and do. 

Weekend 3, Ride 1 (5th total):  Amado to Arivaca (46 miles)
This out and back begins in Amado, goes to Arivaca and returns.  This ride weaves in and out of Santa Cruz and Pima counties.  The route is full of winding road, rolling hills, interesting properties and majestic views.  The ride is challenging but fast.  There's one significant climb, though it is uncategorized.

Weekend 3, Ride 2 (6th total): Parker Canyon Lake (60 miles)

 This is the only ride I've not personally done, on a bicycle.  I've ridden it on a motorcycle several times, as well as in cars.  It's a beautiful ride.  There's quite a bit of climbing, several categorized climbs.  The software MapMyRide uses to calculate elevation is highly inaccurate, so I'm not sure exactly the nature of the climbs, but it's a hilly ride.  Certainly not as tough as some of the other rides in the tour though.

Weekend 4, Ride 1 (7th total):  The Santa Rita Mountains Loop (115 miles)
This route loops around the Santa Rita Mountains.  It is by far the longest ride on the tour.  It's a beautiful route, lots of rolling hills and scenery, including two very prolonged downhill segments!

By the time it's all said and done, the tour will have covered about 450 miles in seven rides

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Can't Control the Outcome

Today didn't go as planned.

That's okay.

A friend of mine has started riding a road bike and has asked to join me on some rides.


Misery loves company!

Today I had planned on my favorite middle-distance route.  It's fifty miles, but a lot of climbing. I think it has three categorized climbs, plus a lot of steep, but short, hills.  Anyhow, it's scenic, hitting all of the great segments in the area.  In the shot to the left, which I stole, you can see the road below.  Fast and fun one way, grinding and painful the other!

The morning was beautiful, even a touch of fog.  So, of course, it was humid.  I rode from my house to a local gas station, met up with my buddy and we headed out.  On the climbs I noticed that my derailleur was rubbing my spokes when in the top gear.  Ugh.  I had to stop several times to adjust it.  I finally got it adjusted, but at the expense of the chain being a little noisy in that gear.

Then, at about mile twelve, my friend's chain started to fall over the top of his tallest gear, almost causing him to crash.  I was able to adjust the stop screw, mess with the adjustment barrel and get his bike operating correctly.  During this time I noticed his front tire was a little low.

I had just one tube, he had none.  He didn't have any air, I thought I had just enough to fill up one tire and then perhaps top off another.  We were a good 7 hilly miles from cellphone signal.  I took a chance and inflated his tire.

Of course, his tire had a more significant leak than expected and we ended up swapping the tube anyway.  I was worried that the remaining air canister I had would be insufficient, but we were able to get him back on the road again.

The work we had done was at a boat launch at Pena Blanca Lake.  There are "facilities" there, namely, an outhouse.  I went in to get some toilet paper, to wipe the grease from my hands.  The world's largest wolf spider jumped out of the toilet paper roll, positioning himself beneath my hand as if to guard his kingdom.  His legs nearly spanned the entire roll of paper!  I'm not afraid of spiders, but holy crap!

We climbed back out of the lake-area, and hit some rolling hills ... they're really not rolling, more like straight up and straight down, about 100 yards each, five total hills.  They're fun if you're fresh, but rough on the body if you're tired.

They got him.

We decided to pull off at a gas station before the tough part of the ride and he was toast.  He almost crashed on his bike.  I ran in to get some food and water, and when I returned he was pale, slumped over and in obvious misery.  We agreed to take an easy route back and cut the ride short. 

Anybody that's ridden has bonked.  It sucks.  I've been there too many times.

It's really my fault.  I should've selected an easier route for the first try at this distance.  But, we rode a difficult section of this route on Tuesday without issue.  The difference was that Tuesday was just 20 miles or so.  

So we're limping home, grateful for the downhill ride back, when about 4 miles from the finish, his tire blows again.  This time, with an audible pop.  No more spare tubes, he had to get a ride.   (I didn't abandon him, but the details are a bit extensive and ultimately, uninteresting.  Just leave it to this ... the rescue attempt didn't go as planned either!)

I hit the remaining ride hard and felt good.  I think I'm almost healthy.  Lungs are clearing up and legs are feeling stronger.  It's going to take another few weeks to get back into shape so I can start training hard, but hey ... I'll take it!

The funny thing on the ride was we had talked about how we cannot control the outcomes of our efforts.  He shared that in his experiences, when he lets things happens he notices great things happening around him.  Today, I figured he'd struggle, but between the humidity and the lack of experience (he didn't drink enough on the route), he bonked.  Still, though, I had a great ride and a great time.

I'm looking forward to next time.  Plus, this way, I can ride again tomorrow.

On a side note, I was entertaining the idea of running a marathon in January.  I ran twice this week and my left ankle has a lot of soft tissue discomfort.  Unfortunately, it's not just when I run, it's all of the time.  I'll be patient, let things run their course, but at this point, I'm not sure I'll be able to participate in the two half marathons I've already paid for!

What was that about letting things happen again?

Tuesday, September 4, 2012


Incontinence aside, it was much like a Lincoln driving octogenarian in the fast lane on a Wednesday morning...but it was a successful run!

I'd forgotten the disparity between how good ideas sound at different parts of the day.  At 7 PM, running at 5 AM sounds like a great idea, romantic even.  But I got out of bed, wondering what I was doing, did some jumping jacks, 5 little pull ups, 25 itsy-bitsy pushups, 100 crunches and ran (loosely using the word here) two miles.  

The last two runs involved pulling a calf muscle.  Today, calf was fine.  The past month I've had a pretty severe chest infection.  This morning, I didn't choke on phlegm.  All in all, a good start to the day!

And yesterday I rode my bike.  That wasn't as slow, but still a bit slow.  Both cases, the idea was just to get back into the groove again.  

Yesterday I posted my ride on  Then, I looked at the training profile for the past few weeks.  This is what I saw:

Nothing at all.  I'm pudgy, out of shape, still a little weak from illness.  But ...






Friday, August 24, 2012

Best Laid Plans...

I've been gone a while...

First, time off.  I needed it.  It had been two full years without a signifcant break.  Then, the start of some duties at work, some training and so on. 

Finally, two weeks ago, I started week one of my training program.  I'm super excited about riding El Tour de Tucson in under 5 hours.  I'm excited about riding centuries and riding them faster and faster. 

And then there's running.  I'm seriously considering running my first marathon in January.

So, I've got big plans.

And all the while, I'll be working two jobs, one teaching high school math, new leadership role, then teaching two courses for the community college and all while starting work on my master's degree.  I'm taking two classes myself.  A statistics course (refresher type thing) and an Abstract Algebra class.  Yikes on the second one.

And the whole time, I'm pumped about all of it.  I'm excited about the progress I've shown on the bike, even when taking time off.  For example, this summer, I rode the Taylor House Century in Flagstaff, Arizona.  It featured one major climb of almost 20 miles in length that rose over 2500 feet!

The picture he is me having fun with the camera and my brother-in-law following me.  I'll post about that ride later but will say now, that was an amazing ride and I cannot wait to do it again!

I had a great time and was surprisingly fast on the climbs. 

Then my average speeds kept creeping up and up.  Maybe the 111 miles of El Tour could fall in under 5 hours after all.

Week 1 of training went great.  I pulled off all of the workouts, hammering through some tough conditions and fighting a touch of a cold.


The cold turned to bronchitis.  Now, it's a full two weeks after missing the first training ride and I can still barely breathe.

So I HAD about 10 weeks to train and needed all of it.  Now I'm looking at a max of 7, probably 6.  And that's disappointing.  I'm a bit disappointed and down.  I'm thinking my chances are long gone. 

But the sleep is nice.  And maybe it's for the best with all that's going on...

Here's the thing:  Before taking all of this on, I spoke with my wife.  We agreed that it would be wise that racing stay a priority.  That is, I do not allow my life to get away from me.  Health is a priority beyond career. 

In the big scheme of things, no problems here, I guess.  My legs are healthy, back is healing (I fear I had a minor herniated disc since last March and I'm itching to get on the road and on the bike. 

So it's been too long.  I hope all that read this are well. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Summer Program Week 2

Week two is in the books.  Diet is so-so, but otherwise, things are going great. 

I ran a total of 26 miles, which is two miles more than last week.  Perfect.

I ran two tough runs, one being just shy of 7 miles and the other being a short 3 mile run.  Both had some 80% to 90% efforts, which is the first exertion I've done of that level running in two months.

Then Saturday morning I joined my dad for his first ever double-digit distance run.  We got hit the road about 5 am and logged 10 miles!  That was a neat experience.  I'm a proud son, to say the least.  How cool to hit your all time long distance when in your 60's.  That's pretty tough.

I didn't do much on the bike but did purchase an indoor trainer that kicked my butt today!  That thing is going to be intense.

This coming weekend I have a 5K race, for which, I have little expectation.  In fact, I'm just going to run it like a speed workout.  I'm not ready to push for a PR and will be happy with anything less than  an all time slow of 22 minutes.  Just want to get through it uninjured.

That's about it here.  I'm happy with the running but unhappy with my dietary indiscretion.  I ate very poorly this weekend, including some sweets and beer.  But man, it was good. 

Thank you for your time and I hope all is well with you!

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Summer Rebuild Program Week 1

During the month of June I will begin basebuilding for running while taking some time away from intense cycling.  I also want to drop some weight, by the end of August I'd like to be in the 180's.  The last goal is to build some strength in my legs by hitting the gym, probably more in July than June. 

In January I plan on running my first marathon and need to be ready.  I want it to be a great experience.

I am also teaching summer school, which starts at 8 am and finishes as 3 pm.  I plan on commuting on the bike, at least for as long as it's tolerable.  The afternoon temperatures in the mid 100's with some stiff winds, last week had 35 mph winds on Tuesday, may take some of my vinegar.

Here's how I plan a basic day.

5 AM: Wake Up Call
5:30:  Pushups, pullups, squats and lunges, then a run.
6:30:  Breakfast and shower
7:15:  Ride to work
3:30 PM:  Ride home

Monday was a holiday and Tuesday was a work day, no students.  Tuesday I needed to take materials and such, so I drove my truck, but did get in a short run and a 25 mile ride after work.

Wednesday morning I went on a run, nice and slow, just trying to get used to running consistently again.  When I went to get on the bike only to find a flat rear tire.  The first tube I used got pinched between the rim and tire bead and popped.  The second tube had a short valve stem, making it double tricky to inflate.  But, we got it done.  End result is that I had to fly to work, getting there later than I hoped and a lot sweatier. 

Since the ride to work is down hill, it can be nearly effortless, save a few small inclines.

Thursday I had a recovery run, nice and slow.  The ride to and from school was without issue.  Friday I had a faster run, pushing a bit and an easy ride to and from school, but the bike started acting up, shifting strangely.

Upon examination it was discovered that the chain had a link that was frozen.  Since the chain had about 2000 miles on it, it needed to be changed anyway.  Luckily I was able to pick up a Dura Ace chain in Sierra Vista on Saturday.

Saturday was an off day and I blew my much for losing weight.  Sunday I took the dog for her longest run, 8 miles in about 1:14. 

Then, I put the chain on the bike, cleaned and tuned it up, and hit the road for a test ride...when I discovered just how steep a hill not one mile from my home is...14% grade!  Whoa, that's some serious climbing right in my back yard.  I may throw that into some of the rides on the way home.  The ride was just 16 miles, which I wanted to get in to total 100 evenly for the week.

So week 1 I did a good job running, amassing 24 miles.  The riding to work went well.  The diet, during the week was superb, but Saturday I blew it on pizza and beer. 

This week I need to increase my strength training, especially with some core work and gradually increase some of the running.  For now, the runs are basically unstructured, just heading out for a minimum of three miles a day.

With that said, not much else to share.  I had a 5K in the middle of June, but I'm not sure how hard I'll run.  I've had a cranky right hamstring for God-Only-Knows-Why. 

Thank you for reading, sorry for the lack of adventure or jeopardy in the post, but it's been a while and I wanted to check in.