Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Flying and Frying

After weeks of absence I've done double duty for 52 Projects. This past week I knocked two things off my "Things I want to do someday" list; riding in a hot air balloon...

And eating fried Oreos. I ate fried Oreos, fried Snickers, and fried Twinkies. More on that decadence later.

Here's the deal with the hot air balloon; several months ago I stumbled across a most interesting adventure opportunity, a Bicycle Balloon race. Balloons take off with a bike strapped to the outside and a cyclist in the basket. The pilot flies a certain distance, lands the balloon, and the cyclist must race back to the starting area. The team with the shortest elapsed time wins $600.

This was all part of the New Jersey Balloon Festival at the Warren County Framers Fair. Although my team didn't win (winning times was 38 minutes, our time was 57 minutes) I had an awesome time. Being up in the balloon was like floating through the air. It was quiet and peaceful, except when the burner kicked in. Wow! That was hot and loud.

It was fascinating to see the whole process. The balloon and basket get pulled off the truck

The balloon gets rolled out

A fan fills the balloon with air to get it slightly inflated

Then the burners kick in to fill it with hot air

The balloon needs to be held open to allow all the air to get in. I got to help

Did I mentioned these things are pretty damn big?

Bike gets strapped on

Cyclist climbs in

And away we go!!

A birds eye view

We had to fly outside a 3 mile radius then find a place to land. As you can probably see from the pictures, my camera wasn't behaving too well and it was very hazy out so I didn't get too many good aerial shots.

Once we landed I hauled ass back to the fairgrounds. I didn't know the roads that well and ended up taking a longer route than I needed to and added a mile to the bike leg. Still, that would have only cut our time by4 minutes or so. Winners or not I had a fantastic time and would do it again. It would be nice if it wasn't an hour and a half away :)

The whole day was a ton of fun. Jane, the kids, and her parents came and we got to enjoy some family time at the fair, including eating the aforementioned fried treats. I've seen fried sweet things on the boardwalk at the shore and at other fairs but never took the plunge. I'm glad I did because they were sinfully delicious, especially the fried Snickers. Wow. I rationalized it as a post race recovery jolt of calories and protein (hey, Snickers have peanuts). I have no idea what other people used as an excuse. I know we have other pictures to post of those treats, but I'll treat you to some of our family fun.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Bless me Blogger for I have sinned

It's been a month and a half since my last 52 Projects post. It's not that I haven't been doing stuff, I just haven't been focused on posting about them. Here's one thing I did;

As some of you know I am a triathlete. I swim, bike, and run, one right after the other for hours on end. Sounds like a blast, right? Such a good time! My main focus is Ironman Lake Placid next July but I do have some other races planned. One race is coming up in mid September; it's a half iron distance race called Savageman. Sounds pretty rough and apparently it is. It is in the mountains of western Maryland and the bike course is very hilly. I've been working really hard on my training and think I'm going to do well. In fact, I have my sights sets on a podium finish for my age group (that means 1st, 2nd, or 3rd). It's a pretty aggressive goal but based on previous year's finish times I think it's doable.

Another great thing about this race is that it's a charity fundraiser for The Joanna Nicolay Melanoma Foundation. I am not required to raise any money beyo0nd my entry fee but have decided to set up a fund raising page and set a goal to raise $1000. That's sort of where 52 Projects comes in. This is something I've never done but this time I felt like giving it a shot. I even set up a Facebook event and invited all my FB friends to support me. I think most of them thought I was inviting them to the actual race, but I'm really just inviting them to donate money. I am also extending that invitation to anyone reading this. It's easy to do, you can remain anonymous, and it's 100% tax deductible. Search your heart, then if you're so moved just surf on over to this link and make your donation.