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Yesterday I came down with spring fever. The temperature got up to an unseasonable 57F/14C. The spring fever outbreak was of epidemic proportions in the city causing people to go outside without coats on! There were people out running and cycling, walking dogs and children. I walked out onto my deck with bare feet and stood in the sun, face upturned, as though I were a sunflower. It felt delicious.

I had a window open for a while for the cats and when they weren’t fighting over who got to sit in the window where there was plenty of room for both of them but neither wanted to share, their noses were plastered to the screen. Then, for no reason that I could discern, one or the other of them would go running around the house, scrabbling across the furniture and skidding around corners on the wood floors.

Fickle spring

Fickle spring

But what a difference a day makes in more ways than one. So much restless energy let off yesterday and today, rain turning to sleet and then to snow. Waldo and Dickens were mad at me for not opening the window again. Since they didn’t pull out enough of each other’s fur yesterday they had a few more rounds today. Finally they have settled down and are curled up together sleeping as I type this.

Seed sprouting is coming along nicely. The leeks and onions are looking good. The peppers have not yet sprouted but they are getting close. They take a long time to get going which I found out too late last year. But I am getting a nice and early start this year. Today I made more newspaper pots and seeded tomatoes —pink brandywine, pink ponderosa, Cherokee purple, and Evan’s purple pear — and celery. I had no luck at all with the celery last year and since I have seeds leftover I thought I would give it another try.

While I am making newspaper pots I can’t help but notice article headlines. Of course the news is generally bad (terrorism, Syria, ISIS, climate change) or infuriating (presidential election campaigning). I was beginning to get a bit down about it all today and then I realized that all the bad stuff in the paper, I am turning it into good stuff. Pots for starting vegetables and soon herbs and flowers. And newspaper, being compostable and good for the soil, will get planted right into the ground with the vegetable plants in May. So then I couldn’t help but smile over turning bad news into sweet onions, spicy peppers and juicy tomatoes. If only my reach went beyond newspapers.

Some of you have mentioned you are interested in making your own paper pots. Here is the YouTube how-to video for the pots I use:

The pots are a really good size. You don’t need to be precise in your folding. After making a couple it gets really easy and you don’t have to think about it. A good activity while watching Netflix. Be aware though that the more you make, the inkier your hands will get so don’t plan on touching anything while you are working.

Cycling

QOM, sprint and lap jersey all at the same time

QOM, sprint and lap jersey all at the same time

I’m still cycling indoors on Zwift. For a time last week on one of my sessions I had the women’s QOM (queen of the mountain), sprint and fastest lap jersey all at once. I had to take a screen shot to mark the occasion.

I am part of a women’s only group and Wednesday I led my first virtual group ride. The women’s group has two rides that leave at the same time, a fast ride and a slow ride. We start off together at 1.5 w/kg until a certain point in the course and then the fast group increases to 2w/kg (and then 2.5 w/kg on the second and third laps with an all out sprint to finish) while the slow group continues and does 3 laps (about 19 miles/30km) at a constant 1.5 w/kg.

I’ve ridden with the fast group the last few weeks but Tuesday night I had a hard workout and needed a slow recovery ride. No one had volunteered to lead the slow group and I asked if there was going to be a slow ride and who was leading. It turned into one of those because-I-asked-I-got-volunteered situations. So I led the slow group.

We were a pack of five and stuck together tight even on the hills (we found out later the fast group fell apart at the end of the first lap and we felt quite pleased with how well our group did). We all had a great time and they asked if I would lead again and even consider being the regular ride leader. I was so flattered, how could I say no? Hopefully it goes just as well this coming Wednesday night and wasn’t just a fluke.

The women have also started some women-only racing which is great because even though I have been doing the open racing on Zwift every Thursday night since January, it’s all men and pretty much a stupid free-for-all. The women race on Saturday afternoon every other week and so far we’ve had two races and they’ve been great with everyone following the rules and encouraging each other. In yesterday’s race I finished 14th in a field of 22 and I had a great fun time.

My goal for the next race is to really concentrate on strategy and making sure I am at the front of the pack when we cross the start line so I don’t get dropped off the back and end up racing alone and having to work twice as hard as the people up front in the pack.

I just found out there is a real life women’s gravel road race at the end of May a half hour’s drive south of the Twin Cities. And it’s free, no entry fee. It’s only 33 miles/50 km which is a totally doable distance for me without any extra training. Astrid, however, is a road bike designed for smooth narrow tires and pavement. We rode on gravel trails every week last summer but the gravel we rode on was crushed and packed and almost like pavement. The internet informs me I can get some tires for Astrid that will work better on gravel, slightly wider with a little tread. I’ll have to talk with the folks at my local bike shop and find out if it is true. I hope so!

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