In the (Gran Fondo) mood

9 01 2011

I’ve got another Gran Fondo to train for.

Saturday was my birthday. Now I’ve never been a huge birthday guy, but Katie loves them. In fact, she’s a firm believer that birthdays are actually three-week celebrations. Which causes her a bit of consternation when mine falls two weeks after Christmas and one week into the new year.

A while back Katie asked me whether I wanted to go out for dinner, or have her make me dinner. The former is easy, we can do that any time. But the latter would be a truly rare and special occurrence.

Katie makes no bones that she doesn’t cook. In our time together, she’s cooked me dinner maybe three times, twice for previous birthdays. But each of those was spectacular, a delicious chicken dinner and, last year, pasta with fresh tomato sauce and mussels.

She spends days stealthily researching recipes on the internet. She frets about shopping for the ingredients. When she starts to get busy in the kitchen, I disappear into the bike room to stay out of the way, her culinary crafting occasionally punctuated by expletives and gasps.

A rare sight indeed, Katie at the stove, smiling between curses.

But once again, the result was outstanding, pasta in a Pino Grigio wine sauce with shallots, sun-dried tomatoes, clams and shrimp. Her timing for a loaf of home-baked olive bread didn’t quite work out, but it will make great sandwiches for the rest of the week. And the coup de grace? Chocolate brownie Junior’s cheesecake! (I think I drooled a little just typing that)

But the result is sooo worth it!

Deeeeelicious!

Birthday cake aka home-baked Junior's chocolate brownie cheesecake!

NOT 80 candles!

Our bellies more than sated, Katie could barely contain her excitement for her gift surprise.

Since mid-week she’d been hyping it, asking me again and again whether I was excited for my birthday, whether I had any idea what she’d gotten me.

The plastic shopping bag had been sitting in a corner of the couch since late afternoon. Apparently its origin was of some significance, but I had no clue. And there was a specific order.

First up was a wrapped envelope. Inside it was a bib, no. 1962 for the Levi Leipheimer King Ridge Gran Fondo in October in Sonoma, California! We’re going to California!

Excitement!

I’d expressed some interest in tackling this Gran Fondo as a follow-up to last year’s Whistler Gran Fondo. In its third year, it’s got a great reputation as a well-organized ride along a beautiful route along oceanside cliffs, past vineyards, up and down rolling hills of northern California. Leipheimer and some of his pro cycling buddies ride it, as do celebrities like Patrick Dempsey. Participants get a cycling jersey.

We’d been hoping it would be scheduled in quick succession with the Nike Women’s Marathon in San Francisco, as it was last year, so we could make a holiday bookended by each of our respective exercise passions.

Alas, this year they’re three weeks apart, and I told Katie I’d find another Fondo.

And I guess that’s when her scheming started!

The rest of the shopping bag – from a bike shop, natch – was essentially a swag bag  of stuff I’d need for the ride like a water bottle, cycling magazine, t-shirt, musette, chamois butter and a Larabar energy bar!

Swag! Just like the real thing!

What an awesome surprise! From a spectacular wife!

Sonoma here we come.

The Big Ring rolls on!

All resemblance to an actual King Ridge Gran Fondo bib is purely the result of Katie's creative hard work!

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