Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Oooh, finished one!

Oooh, finished one!

Mitts - positively Fetching

I did have yarn and a pattern for the Fetching mitts. One is almost done. I should go and knit now.

Fetching Mitt, mostly done

All that Bike Maintenance - Progress

As per my whine a few days ago...

Front wheel (non-generator hub) now has the Michelin Axial Raid tire mounted, for the ride this weekend. The tire will move to the generator hub wheel upon return.

Front Wheel done

Speedplay Frog pedals on Bleriot and Lemond have been greased. A fun, yet messy process.

Washing Bleriot now would be futile. Later this week...

Earth Day, 1972

Back in 1972, a group of us decided to ride our bikes to school for Earth Day. I was in high school, and rode the bus every day. Even if I'd had my license at that point, I still would have ridden the bus - I only got the car when I had an orthodontist appointment :-)

High school was Clear Creek High School, in League City, Texas. I lived in Clear Lake City; our new high school (only 2 miles away!) would not open until the next fall.

The terrain is really, really flat. But there is a nice headwind from the south, off Galveston Bay.

The route.

It is 8 miles, which in those days seemed like forever. If you do look at the route, please realize that many streets which would make it a shorter trip did not exist in 1972.

I did have a 10-speed bike - a C. Itoh, which my dad brought back from a business trip. Like any 10 speed/racing bicycle of that era, it was perhaps a little too big for me.

We stopped at the middle school in Webster for a brief visit, and continued on to League City. I'm not sure I even had a rack on that bike, so had to use a daypack.

The ride home was probably more fun, with the tailwind on Old Galveston Rd.

I survived, and spent the next couple of years either walking, riding my bike, or taking the bus to the new high school, went to college, and rode my bike all over Houston (no car until I was a senior).

Still riding. Rode into work today, as I do most days. I do have a better-fitting bicycle. And 8 miles isn't forever anymore.

Friday, April 18, 2008

Perhaps no mitts today

The Bernat Galaxy won't work at all. Oh well. Back to the socks...

And the Knitting

Finished my first Conwy sock.

Conwy socks progress

I think I have the cable thing down, now. I've cast on the second one, and have just about finished the cuff.

But my hands are cold. Rummaging around in my Ravelry queue, looking through all the mitt patterns that interest me, I found the Axel Mitts pattern (they've even spelled it correctly), and it wants chunky yarn. Two+ leftover skeins of Bernat Galaxy from my scarf are just about right. The yarn won't show the cable pattern well, but that's fine for this particular project.

Bernat Galaxy Deep Space

However, I haven't got any double point or cable needles in 8 or 9. But wait... my MOM knits, too. Bet she'll have some. (phone call) And she does and she hasn't used them since the 70's. I'll pick them up on my way home today. With chunky yarn, they'll knit up fast, and my hands won't be cold. And I'll have mitts that match the scarf.

A Small Whine...

So, like, I'm just whining now, tune out if not interested.

Sitting here at work. While the other option (unemployment) doesn't appeal, I *could* be doing the following:


  • give it a good bath (bucket of hot soapy water, and those Park bike-cleaning brushes)
  • clean and lube the chain
  • lube the pedals
  • pick glass out of the tires (another handy bike maintenance hint)
  • swap on the Michelin Axial Raid tires (rumored to be "faster" than the Panaracer Nifty Swifty)
  • swap on the non-generator-hub front wheel (oops, which wheel should I put the Michelin on?) for the upcoming daylight-only long ride (Chico Wildflower Century, in case anyone is wondering. If I show up on any bike BUT the Rivendell, the trash-talk will be intense)


  • give it a good bath
  • clean and lube the chain
  • lube the pedals
  • pick glass out of the tires
  • ride it 10 more miles, so it rolls over 10,000 miles


  • install handlebar tape
  • mount fenders and rear rack
  • ride it further than 2 blocks; relearn how to use downtube shifters

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

On Blaming the Victim

(in which Lynne actually Steps Up On A Soapbox)


Read this article. Consider the contents. If you are a family member, consider what you are going to say the next time you see me. I do not break the traffic laws. I obey every traffic control device. I signal my turns. I use more-than-sufficient lighting. I wear a helmet. I ride predictably. I wave at small children. There is not a separate speed limit for bicycles, so even though I'm going at what some consider a "high rate of speed", I'm still NOT exceeding the speed limit.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Milestones, year to date

For me, over 1000 non-commuting miles
For Bleriot, 4000 miles
Lemond will have a milestone coming up in about 10 miles. Time to do a Council Crest-Fairmount Loop to get there...

Portland Velo Wool Jerseys are HERE!

At long last!

The Portland Velo wool jerseys are IN!

(plus you can see my sunburn from yesterday...)

Riding to Multnomah Falls

Cecil and I planned to ride to Multnomah Falls, so Sweetpea and Bleriot could get better acquainted.

Pre-Ride Portrait

I went over to her house to be ready for our planned 9am departure. No one took her up on the offer to join us. A round of pre-ride bicycle portraits (Cecil's yard is very pretty at this moment), then heading off east.

The Clinton/Lincoln bike boulevard is really nice. Then we were on Division, which is somewhat less so, then 182nd, then Halsey. The riding seemed awfully easy. After about 1:15 of riding, we arrived at Edgefield. Didn't see anyone wanting to join us, so we had a brief stop (more pictures), and headed out.

The bikes on the porch at McMenamins Edgefield

Climbing up to Women's Forum (stop for pictures at the Springdale Job Corps Dragon) seemed really easy, too. Tailwind :-) Another stop at Vista House (pictures), then swooping down to Latourell Falls. Cecil left me here, which I figured would happen. I'd find her waiting at the bottom somewhere. And I did, shortly after Latourell Falls.

Bleriot and Sweetpea visiting the Job Corps dragon sculpture

Then, continuing east, between Angel's Rest and Wahkeena Falls, Bleriot rolled over 4000 miles. Ritual picture stop. Actually, we don't need much of an excuse for a picture stop, but this was a good one.

Bleriot at 4000 miles

Got to Multnomah Falls, but Cecil said if we went a teeny bit further, then Sweetpea would have 100 miles at the Falls. So we did that teeny bit further...

Back to Multnomah Falls, where we locked up the bikes and I had a mocha and pastry. Did I want whipped cream on that mocha? Yes, indeed. The benefits of riding 35 miles to the Falls. More pictures, of bikes and the falls, and cute dogs.

Multnomah Falls

The big one is mine and the little one is my girlfriend's...

I was sitting down, and an Asian gentleman wanted to know how far we were riding (only 70 miles today) and how fast did we go... Then, as we were walking back to the road, a couple of guys with fast road bikes and more serious jerseys than we were wearing (me: Sheila Moon, Cecil: Randonneurs of China) started up a conversation, with Sweetpea as the main subject. I think they were a couple of regulars on the bikeportland site. As we were departing: "oh, and your bike is pretty nice, too". (Little Pink Bear says the Bleriot is perhaps a tiny bit jealous. She'll get over it).

Then heading back. Ah, there is our headwind. It really wasn't all that bad. Stopped a couple times to take pictures of wildflowers, spring scenery, and bicycles, then headed up the climb to Vista House. I really enjoy that climb.


Bleriot and Sweetpea, paused by the side of the road

Found Cecil at Vista House, with some guy talking to her about bicycles, her bicycle, and Cycle Oregon. He allowed as how HE didn't do the climb up to Vista House, but rode back on the freeway (when he was riding his bike, which was not this day) instead. Ick. He seemed to want validation for skipping that climb. We weren't giving it.

View from Crown Point, looking over the Columbia River

Did the last bit, and then my favorite downhill, with the Bell Rd option. Cecil noted that if we wanted to visit Clever Cycles, we should skip tater tots at Edgefield. We could snack at the Lucky Lab instead. Ok. By this point, I figured I had gotten myself a nice little sunburn.

At this point we were back into less-than-delightful urban cycling. Halsey/181st/Division/60th/ then Lincoln (I think). Whew. A Tri-Met bus was exceptionally polite on Division - we'd be coming up, and it would WAIT in the traffic lane for us to pass before pulling into the stop. We did this about 3 times, and then it finally got ahead of us.

At some point along Division, we both felt a bonk coming on, and did some eating at the red lights.

Stopped by Cecil's house to grab her Clever Cycles gift card and zipped over there. She shopped. I looked around - I hadn't been in there yet. Shopping concluded, we crossed the street to the Lucky Lab, found Greg (Mr. Cecil), got permission of a sort to take the bikes inside, and got some snacks and beer (Greg and Cecil) and ice tea and snacks and dinner (me). Fitz arrived shortly thereafter and got himself some beer and dinner, too.

Nice sunny day, with possibly the slowest elapsed time ever :-) Many pictures :-)
Cecil's pics here, too

Portland Velo Saturday Ride

(no pictures. On Velo rides, we just keep on moving...)

Cecil was going to ride to the start and then ride home. I sent her an email proposing a meet-up at the Usual Spot, but it was late; no reply. I was going to ride to the ride anyway, as the wool jerseys had not yet arrived. I was upstairs just before leaving, and heard Fitz having a conversation with a familiar voice...

Cecil and Sweetpea came by! So after a nice long bicycle admiration session (and that bike can be admired extensively), we headed off to the start; mostly discussing our plans for Sunday.

I chose to ride my Lemond Zurich - sunny day, fast ride.

Arrived Just in Time (oops), and took my place with Linda to lead the, um, 17's. (All 17's are equal, some just don't feel like climbing any optional hills...). After a longish wait for all the other groups to head out, we left. We were supposed to be two groups, but sort of ended up as one. It worked out. I stayed toward the back with Carla and another rider. Worked our way south to the park on Rood Bridge (Minter Bridge? whichever) for a brief bio-stop. Then it appeared that Linda and Tom were just lounging around, and we were all waiting. Well, not quite. Tom was fixing a flat. Some of us went over to offer tips and assistance. The balance of the group elected to press on toward the Laurel Store. Tom's tire repaired, we followed.

I had removed all armwarmers, leg warmers, and extraneous outer gear at the stop. It was warm and sunny. Got to the Laurel Store to find our group, plus a few other groups (Matt's). After they took off, we gave them a minute, then headed out ourselves. A few riders elected not to do the Vandeschuere Rd part of the ride, and in theory, headed back.

McCormick Hill Road (oh, so pretty!), Vandeschuere (3 rollers), then into Scholls, carefully working our way through the Spring Into Scholls event.

Then onto Scholls Ferry, up Clark Hill (always special), down Clark Hill (always much fun), and working our way north again on Burkhalter and Minter (Rood?) Bridge, across TV Hwy, and back up to Longbottom's.

Nice sunny day, so most of the riders were sitting outside, enjoying second breakfast/lunch/snack/drink... (I think Matt was enjoying some combination of the aforementioned). I went for the Dutch pancake and a bottomless cup of coffee.

Then riding back home. Brian C was giving me grief about counting the to/from miles. ("How do you get 60 miles?") Mike Y interpreted for me: "he lives 3 blocks from here". I live a little further away...

The ride was the best part of the day, as I spent many hours Doing Taxes.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Gitane Leaves the Driveway

First Ride Panda

I took Gitane into work today, to show Einar. He rode it around the parking lot and tweaked the derailleur adjustment a bit. He thought Mechanic Mark should look at the headset and the rear derailleur as well.

Took it by Mechanic Mark after work. The headset is now better, but not perfect. It will possibly not be perfect until the frame and fork are more straight :-) The fork is a little off, as are the rear dropouts (hence the rear der recommendation). Mark also got to use his special Weinmann Brake Tool. Bought some Planet Bike Cascadia fenders for it.

That said, it is now eminently rideable. I rode over to my parents' to show it off, successfully using the downtube shifters. Then I rode home, and hunted around for the old Sekai seatpost, for the seat mount piece on top - the existing one on Gitane did not want to tighten down, so the seat kept tipping. As long as I was doing that, I installed the new seat, and changed the seat and stem height (up!)

It has now moved out to the garage. I'm running out of places to put bicycles...

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Gitane Rides Again!

Go for a bike ride?

Another go at the derailleurs. After some tweaking, they appeared adjusted on the stand. Put the old seatpost/seat back on. Found some serviceable pedals in the garage. Tightened down the stem. Tried to adjust and tighten down the seat :-)

freewheel and Simplex LJ rear derailleur

Stronglight compact double crank, Simplex LJ front derailleur, random pedals

front side view

And then I rode up and down the driveway several times. I have not used downtube shifters since (mumble. Sekai's drivetrain was updated in 1991?) Practice clearly required. Plus I think the derailleurs need a bit more adjusting. But I think it is mostly there.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Gitane update

Added the chain, and attempted to adjust the derailleurs. These are retrofriction, downtube shifters. How bad could I be?

Mmmm. Adult supervision needed. Or maybe a narrower chain. Perhaps a careful study of internet advice.

In theory, I could put on a seat and pedals and attempt to ride it, but it is really dark and cold out, and I'm not sure it would shift properly...

Birkie Brevet, Co-Organizer's View

After weeks of obsessing over things like volunteer scheduling, control menu, the pre-ride - here it was the Friday afternoon before. I left work a bit early, to get ride snacks at Costco. Well, mostly. I mean, how can Costco not have bananas? Plus a few items came in quantities greater than needed. So, a detour by Winco on the way home for the last few items.

I had already dug out the camp stove, propane tank and stand, and made sure they all worked. Collected the various items needed (ladle, potholders, matches, cutting board, bread knife, a few plastic utensils). Collected stuff to keep ME occupied (knitting), plus figured out what I'd need to wear. What one wears riding is woefully inadequate for standing around. Put all the stuff in the van. Went to bed. Remembered I hadn't washed the strawberries, so went downstairs and did that. Back to bed.

Up. Off to collect Jason and thence to the start. Cecil and Susan were already there, setting up. With Cecil, Susan, Andrew and Jason all standing behind the registration table, I wandered around, visited, and took some pictures.

Susan, Jason, Cecil and Andrew, checking the riders in

I could look at Ray's bike all day.  What a nice bike!

Drew and the bike he built

Then the Route Rap - dogs, loose gravel and bad tracks in Timber, the french fries are great at the Birkenfeld Store...

Then we stood around for a few, because it was not quite 7am. Longest 3 minutes on record. And they were off! We started moving various food bits between vehicles - we left the post-ride snacks in Cecil's car, and moved all the wonderful baked goods she made into my van. A few more riders arrived late, checked in, and started off.

About 7:30, Jason and I set out for the Vernonia control. Susan said we'd have plenty of time to get there. We drove out via the route, passing the late riders in Forest Grove, many riders on Gales Creek Rd, a big clump on Hwy 6, and then found the lead pack just at the base of the Timber climb. They were moving between 7 and 10mph, usually right around 10. I'd die if I tried that...

Passed them at the top, then went the last 11 or so miles on to Vernonia. Got all the food out and unpacked. The park host showed up to let us get at the water, and showed us the flood line from the December flood marked on the door. It was up to my chest.

Got the water heating and.... in came the fast boys. They wanted to know when the control opened. 7 minutes ago. "Guys, we are slow! Wasting time here!". A round of card signing, and they were off, no picking up of any cookies or snacks.

Susan, Andrew and Cecil arrived just after they left. Another fast group came through; again, no food, just sign here, please. The third group actually stood around for a few minutes; subsequent groups stayed longer, had cup of noodles, rando mochas (freshly brewed coffee with hot chocolate mix stirred in), strawberries, many of Cecil's excellent cookies and brownies, and practically none of the store bought baked goods. (Future ride organizers take note - if Cecil bakes, don't bother with bagels or muffins. And if you've got fresh strawberries, they'll go much faster than the bananas).

After the last rider passed through, we packed everything up, and decided to all head back to the Grand Lodge, rather than go on to Vernonia. In my case, it was a lot of driving not necessarily needing to be done.

Jason and I drove back the direct route, and got back a good hour and a half before the control opened. Time to soak in the big hot tub, which we did, then proceeded up to the Rounder Room to sit with Beth, Susan, and Cecil. Andrew headed home at this point.

Over time, snack food was brought in - leftover muffins and scones, more of Cecil's baked goods, chips, dip, the strawberries and bananas and drinks.

Rain showers were passing over periodically.

The first three riders came in at 6:55 elapsed time, checked in, and promptly fell to replenishing their glycogen stores.

Finishers milling around and eating snacks

A couple more groups over the next 90 minutes, with lots of sitting around in between. Susan organizes and reorganizes rando paperwork. Cecil reads legal documents. I knit. Jason and Beth talk. We all munch on the snacks :-) and go out one by one to get some real lunch.

Riders come in. We can tell which ones were riding with people that had insufficient fenderage. Or if they themselves had insufficient fenderage. The snacks are being consumed at a steady rate.

Just a few loose dog mentions. Rather than the headwind we've enjoyed in previous years heading in on Gales Creek, there is a tailwind. Bummer. And rain off and on all the way in from Vernonia. But the french fries at the Birkenfeld Store got positive reviews.

Riders continue to trickle in. The bags of chips dwindle, and the muffins, scones, and cookies are eaten.

Lesli and Sara at the finish

Nat's a happy finisher!

By 7:30, all the riders are in. Including the pre-riders, 46 finishers, 1 DNF.

The rest of my pics are here
Cecil's pics
Lesli's pics
Jason's pics
Nat's pics
Bill's pics

Thursday, April 3, 2008

It Took 113 miles, or, A Senior Moment

The evening before the Birkie 200km preride, both Jason and I had eaten Middle Eastern food. I was recalling the offerings, and drew a blank on one name. I could see it. I could taste it. I could describe it to Jason and he could see it and taste it, too.

Neither of us could remember what it was called.

I'm riding along, thinking: "hummus, baba ghanouj, pita...."

Jason said he was riding along doing the same.

The name would almost be there, but it would just not emerge.

Then, on Gales Creek Rd, while we were enjoying the downhill/tailwind, at mile 113, Jason triumphantly called out: TABBOULI!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Birkie 200km Preride Report

That's the word...

The weather for Monday was supposed to be much better than Saturday, or Sunday. 10% chance of precipitation, mostly sunny, high of 51, even in Timber. Sure.

Sunday I did have a party for co-workers who got married, which, in the style of our little group, involved a lot of really elaborate food, with a Central European/Middle Eastern/Vietnamese flavor. Yum. So, calorie-loading for Monday accomplished.

Came home, organized my food supply for the next day (2 brie-jam sandwiches, 2 bananas, a couple of Sweet Salty Peanut bars, some gel packets, thermos of Gatorade-Tea and a packet of powder and a teabag for a second helping), my clothes (wool figured prominently, with the Showers Pass Jacket and Pearl Izumi AmFib tights as the outer layers), and the bike (Bleriot ducks into a phone booth and changes from Commuter Bike to Rando Bike!).

Collected Jason at 6am; got to the Grand Lodge at 6:30, and managed to faff away that half hour with amazing ease. Then Jason couldn't get his heart rate monitor to register that he had a heartbeat, so lost another 10 minutes there.
Go for a bike ride?

Official start, 7am, but I think we left about 7:15. Anyway. Nice ride out Gales Creek Rd. Sun is rising; a few clouds, yes, this could be a pleasant day for a bike ride. Brief stop at the Shell Station just after the turn onto Hwy 6. The bathroom was clean, well-lit, and didn't smell funny, so perhaps it was cleaned after Cecil and Andrew came through Sunday evening.
Another view from Gales Creek Rd

Lots of gravel on the Hwy 6 shoulder. Skinny tires, take note. The Timber Rd turnoff is right around mile 15-something; about a mile further than the current version on the cue sheet indicates.

The initial climb off Hwy 6 levels off quickly. Count the discarded liquor bottles by the roadside as you head up. A few miles of level to slightly rolling, then the steep switchbacks up to Timber. Well, the switchbacks, then a gradual climb. Nice views to the west. Snow by the side of the road, and that wonderfully crunchy frost on the road surface.
The climb to Timber

Take care descending through Timber - 3 switchbacks with hairpin turns, and gravel. Lots of gravel, especially around the railroad tracks. A brief uphill out of Timber, then level and downhill to Hwy 26. Cross carefully!
Then a long on Timber Road (farms, forest). It feels pretty remote out there. We rode in a blinding snowstorm for a couple of miles.

Eventually you'll pass the Vernonia Golf Course, and at the T, turn left onto Hwy 47 for the last couple miles to Vernonia.

The right turn on Umatilla is very subtle. For one thing, it doesn't look like a road! More like a very badly kept up, big sharp chunks of rock and mud parking lot, with massive potholes. It is right after the big Welcome to Vernonia sign just over the bridge. You want to hop onto the bike path immediately to the right of the road as soon as possible. The bike path isn't labeled, but it is the northern terminus of the Banks-Vernonia Linear Park. You'll probably see a bunch of RVs parked in about a block or two; that is Anderson Park, the first control. We'll be in the covered picnic area.

As there was no well-catered control waiting for us, we stopped at the Sentry Market and had candy bars. I also ate my first sandwich and banana of the day. It would show up later in the afternoon that I had waited too long (40 miles) to start eating.

The out-and-back on Keasey Road was fun. It does roll quite a bit, and offers nice views of the Nehalem River (you'll be seeing a lot of that) to the left. Arrived at the info control, answered the question (new question this year, AND last's years answer would be incorrect, as the house has new siding and is two colors). Rolling back, then left on Stoney Pt road. Some climbing required here.

Just after the summit, the first of the loose dogs found us. A determined little black and tan thing. Fortunately, this was a downhill; so it was easily outrun. Further along, I found Jason standing by the side of the road with a big black dog waiting to chase me. Jason said that one was pretty aggressive.

Then left on Hwy 47 again, heading north to Mist, following the Nehalem river. Look for flood debris on the banks and in the tree branches. Lots of farms and ranches. I felt sorry for the livestock standing around in the muddy fields.

This stretch goes on longer than the current version of the cue sheet indicates. The pavement is adequate, and in some places, truly outstanding. At 50 miles is an intersection not on your cue sheet, stay left. Around 60 miles you are wondering where is the turn onto 202, exactly? It shows up around mile 62. You won't miss it; there is no other place to go, but at this point, I was ready to make the turn.

Turning left, up and down the rollers, past the Fishhawk Lake turn, then into Birkenfeld, past the church, a couple of houses, and we arrived at the store.

Birkenfeld Country Store

The proprietor was happy to see us, and cheerfully signed our cards. He is looking forward to seeing you all on Saturday. I ordered a grilled cheese sandwich and fries from the cafe and we sat at one of the tables and enjoyed our lunch. I also got my right thumb to finally defrost. Chatted with the proprietor and grill cook, made another batch of Gatorade Tea, topped off the water bottles, and it was time to turn around.

Last year we had a lovely tailwind. Not this year. Darn. I think there was a bit of hail somewhere on the way back to Vernonia, and it is slightly uphill. Past the Keasey Road intersection, just before getting into Vernonia, three dogs came running out at us from the right, but did not leave their yard. I think.

The turn onto Bridge St is really the main road turning right; you won't necessarily see a sign. Cross the bridge, and start looking for a place to sign your card. We stopped at the Shell station on the right. A couple of women sitting inside (minimart plus place to sit down and eat it) were amused by Little Pink Bear. I ate my third sandwich of the day, along with a banana and a cup of coffee (65 cents!)

Then off for the interminable 10+ miles back to the Hwy 26 crossing. I had been dragging since Birkenfeld (see earlier comment about not eating anything in the first 40 miles), and did not perk up until we crossed Hwy 26.

It is only about 3 miles to Timber after the crossing, going up the fun curves we rode down earlier in the day, the long fairly flat stretch, then the three switchbacks up. Easier than the climb from the other side, really. This was the refrigerated portion of the ride.

Most of the gravel on the south side had been swept during the day, but I would still exercise caution on the descent - check for gravel as you are climbing it in the morning.

Another medium-long stretch, vaguely downhill towards Hwy 6. It might be a good idea to turn on all your rear lights before turning onto Hwy 6. The shoulder is gravel-strewn, sometimes a bit narrow in the dark, shaded spots, and has that rumble strip right on the white line.

You can pull over at the Glenwood Store, which you can just about see from the Timber Road entrance, or elect to go a couple miles further and stop at the Shell station.

Then a right turn onto Gales Creek Road, and with any luck, you'll have a tailwind, and get to feel like a racer as you fly the last 12 miles back to Forest Grove. There are a few rollers and a climb up into Forest Grove.

Also, some chasing dogs coming in from the left. They almost got theirs however - they started chasing us, not noticing the cars coming in from the other direction. The first car braked, the second car, perhaps following a little closely, had to really brake and honk, and we just kept riding. This is why dog owners should properly restrain their animals :-)

Through Forest Grove (count the churches and signs pointing you to other churches), then left on Quince and we are done. 7:15pm Whew.

We had bludgeoned our respective spouses to join us for dinner. Since we did not finish as speedily as last year, we decided to forgo the soaking pool and just get hot showers before dinner.