Tuesday, July 27, 2010

It’s good to be back

After living the college dorm life for the last two weeks, it felt really great to be back home this weekend.  Back to my old routines.  Back to riding my bike.  Back to writing.  And, while I really enjoyed everything about the experience, I think Dorothy said it best as she closed her eyes and repeated, “There’s no place like home.”

Before going any further, I guess I should say a little bit about Western CUNA Management School (WCMS), which is where I have been.  Here’s a partial description of the program from their website.

“It prepares today's and tomorrow's credit union people with the depth and breadth they need to contribute to their credit union's success and their own personal career goals -- depth of knowledge to help them do their jobs better -- breadth of background to make them more well-rounded and valuable members of management. In addition to receiving solid academic training and practical background, students at Western CUNA Management School establish strong professional networks throughout the credit union movement that benefit both themselves and their credit unions.”

smith-campus-center Basically, it’s a miniature MBA program for people who work in the credit union industry.  It is a three year commitment with two weeks of college living at Pomona College (which is a beautiful campus) each July where you learn and study and network.  I have already forged deep bonds with many of my 87 classmates was we start our journey.  I am also proud to say that I passed the first exam with High Honors (I scored a 92) as did many others in our class.  Now, it’s time to start my first project, which is due April 1st.  They told us we should plan on the project taking 200-250 hours to complete so if anyone out there has some spare time I could have that would be great.

I got home Friday night and was ready to settle in.  Unfortunately, I had to work most of Saturday so my routine was still a little whacked.  It wasn’t until Sunday that my “normal” life got back on track.  I woke up, watched part of the Tour de France and then headed out for a ride.

I wasn’t sure what to expect as I rode to the Flying Goat to meet Carmen and David.  After all, I had not been on the bike for two weeks.  Just to complicate things even more, I was testing out a new saddle.  In the end, I felt great.  The only real signs of fatigue where in the upper body and my back side.  It’s amazing how quickly my ass forgets what it feels like to sit on the saddle for three hours.  I ended the day with just under 50 miles of easy tempo on some of my favorite roads with just a few hills.  It was the perfect ride for easing back into the groove.

Another routine I missed was writing this blog.  I have actually been contemplating taking a long break but I discovered I missed this creative outlet more then I thought I would.  I guess the phrase “absence makes the heart grow stronger” isn’t limited to romance.  So, the blog shall continue as I record my adventures, and misadventures, on and off the bike.

When you think about it, it has been an awesome two weeks.  I am honored to be selected to attend WCMS.  I already miss my new friends that I met at school and my FB friend number is growing rapidly.  Upon returning, I was immediately reminded about the great friends I already have as we rolled and laughed our way around Sonoma County on our bikes.

Over the next year, I am looking forward to getting to know my classmates better even if I have to do it electronically.  As always, I am looking forward to many, many miles on the bike riding with close friends who I have gotten to know personally.  Throw in the occasional french toast breakfast and that’s a routine I can live with.


Saturday, July 10, 2010

Taking a little break

Life has been a little hectic this week and the next two weeks will be even worse in terms of free time.   It’s for all positive reasons but it has left little time for writing.  So to take the pressure off myself, I’ve decided it’s time to take a little break.

For the next two weeks I will be attending a very challenging program for credit union management.  It is a great opportunity but I will be basically back to college life for two weeks.  You know, living in the dorm with no amenities and spending all of my free time studying for the test which comes at the end.  This is actually my first year of a three year program.

Of course, that meant I had to complete three weeks worth of work this week to get ready.  Add to the that hours spent watching the Tour de France each day and you see that there is just not enough time.

So . . . reread some of your favorites and watch for new posts starting the week of July 26th.  Until then, Vive le Tour!!!


Monday, July 5, 2010

Grateful for it all

Yesterday, I had one of those days that reminded me of how lucky I am.  It started with being grateful for Sherry and quickly accelerated into being grateful for all that I have.  I have a great wife, a good life, good health, and a job that doesn’t completely suck so you can understand the reasons for my gratitude.

The day started the same as most do in July, with Sherry and I up watching the Tour de France at 5:30 AM (or earlier).  I just love that Sherry is such a huge cycling fan (read Cycling fans like Sherry for more on this).  A lot of the cyclists I know have significant others who do not share their passion for all things lycra on two wheels.

Next up was a nice recovery ride.  I was supposed to meet a few friends down at Flying Goat (simply called The Goat) at 7:30 and roll at 8:00.  For various reasons they couldn’t make it so I was on my own.  Still, I sat down and enjoyed my pre-ride cappuccino and the beauty of the morning.  I’m not sure why but whenever I sip a cappuccino outside The Goat on a beautiful sunny morning I cannot help but reflect on life.

This was my mindset as I rolled along doing the Bike Path Pokey and saying good morning to anyone who would listen (and some who wouldn’t).  I am happy to say most of them said hello back and I was feeling too good to really care about the ones who didn’t.

I discovered that the new portion of the bike path was open.  While I miss the gravel I have to admit rolling along on new asphalt was quite enjoyable.  Steve, from West County Revolution Bike Shop, also rode it yesterday and said it was like riding on carpet.  For the time being, it is the smoothest 2 miles in Sonoma County.

As I was enjoying my “carpet” ride, the vineyard views, the distant coastal mountains, and the blue sky, I thought to myself, “How friggin lucky am I to have ended up living in a place like this?”  As you can see, my thoughts of gratefulness were rolling right along with me.

I continued along and came across an act of generosity that I found amazing.  There is a section on Guerneville Road where a bridge crosses Laguna de Santa Rosa.  The trees from the laguna grow up and spill over into the emergency lane where us cyclist ride to avoid the 50+ mph traffic.  When you reach this section you need to actually move into the lane of traffic to get around it.  On Sunday, there was a cyclist who rode out there with large pruners and was clearing our path.  He told me he does it every year.  That is just awesome!

I took the bike path back to The Goat where I enjoyed a post-ride cappuccino to reward myself for keeping to a nice, relaxed recovery ride.  There were two more interesting things on my ride back.  First, I rode up next to a guy who was carrying a huge antenna.  So I slowed to inquire and discover he had radio-tagged numerous Western Pond Turtles and was currently tracking them.  I don’t know why but I found that very cool.

I also came up behind two elderly ladies who were dressed very similarly including the wearing of identical Gilligan hats.  When I said “on the left” the both raised their hands to acknowledge they heard me.  Except it was synchronized.  I’m serious.  They both raised their left hands to the exact some height and the exact same time.  Their elbows were also the same height and at perfect 90 degree angles.  Chinese synchronized divers have nothing on these gals.

Finally, it was back home where Sherry made french toast for breakfast.

I know I ask everyone to stop from time to time and acknowledge what they are grateful for.  On Sunday, it seems I took my own advice.  I started out being grateful for something as simple as Sherry enjoying cycling and before long I was grateful for it all.  I hope everyone else feels the same about their own life.