Fruit salad with light and easy syrup

On a recent trip back to Ohio, I was reminded how much I love fruit salad. At one party, there were five different kinds of fruit salad!! Talk about yum. One even came in a fancy watermelon rind bowl.  That led me to make my own fruit salad for a party we attended. I really don’t understand why I never encounter fruit salad in Texas. Well, cutting up all that fruit is time consuming I suppose.

I went to the store and picked out the most delicious looking fruit they had that day. I came home with red and black plums, strawberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, pears and apples. Most fruit salads I’ve had in Ohio are just cut up fruit, but after looking around at some recipes I decided to make a light syrup for my salad.

Colorful fruit salad!

Colorful fruit salad!

After cubing the apple and pear, I mixed in the juice from half a lemon to keep them from turning brown. I then cut up the remaining fruit and tossed it with some mint from the garden.

I made a simple syrup by combining a  1/2 cup sugar, 1/2 cup water, zest from one lemon and the juice from 1 and 1/2 lemons in a sauce pan. I simmered the mixture for a while to thicken it just a bit.

Right before heading to the party I poured the cooled syrup on the fruit and mixed it up. I think I’ll make this again.

Lemon zest!

Lemon zest!

Plums, pears, apples, cantaloupes, oh my.

Plums, pears, apples, cantaloupes, oh my.

Fruit salad-3

The pioneer woman’s fruit salad was definitely inspiration.


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Mission Complete: Pedal to the Point 2012

Well, I’m back in Austin now. This past weekend I rode the 2012 BikeMS: Pedal to the Point in northern Ohio. The route goes from Brunswick to Sandusky, Ohio and back again. I had a great time while I was there, spending time with my family and some close friends that I don’t see nearly often enough.

This was my 5th year riding in a BikeMS event. So far this year, I’ve raised $1,110 for the MS Society (it’s not too late to donate). During the ride, I rode through my old high school stomping grounds. In fact, I even rode by the houses of my two closest high school friends. Overall, the ride was nice although it lacked some of the excitement of the BP MS 150 from Houston to Austin and the Escape to the Lake in western Pennsylvania. The lack of excitement was made up by having a great crew of supporters see me off at the start line, meet me at rest stops, and cheer for me at the finish. Throughout the ride I got to spend time with my wonderful husband Carl who accompanied me to Ohio, my Mom & Darrell, my Dad & Ellen, and my Uncle Jim.

We arrived in Cleveland late Wednesday night after a delayed flight in Austin almost made us miss our connection in DFW. By some miracle, our checked luggage actually made it on the plane and showed up in Cleveland with us. Last year on my BikeMS trip, the same situation was much worse when I was without my luggage for more than 24 hours after landing.

Thursday my bike was delivered to a FedEx office so we picked it up and I assembled it.

Need to transport large things? The trunk of a ’99 Chrysler Concord swallowed up the large bike case with room to spare.

Yep, the bike parts were all still in the case upon arriving in Ohio.

Unpacking and assembling my bike.

Thursday evening we enjoyed a nice dinner and a few beers at Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland with my Dad & Ellen. Carl and I try to make it to the Brewery at least once during every Ohio visit. I even picked up a new bike jersey in the gift shop while we were there.

Friday afternoon we headed to packet pickup in Brunswick where I got my rider numbers, route map, and t-shirt.

Showing off the t-shirt.

Friday evening we enjoyed a smorgasbord of fresh Ohio food including amazing tomatoes and cucumbers from my Mom’s garden and sweet corn from a local farm. The company was great as three friends and their families joined us for a cookout and some relaxation the evening before my ride.

Bright and early on Saturday morning my Mom and Carl drove me out to the start line in Brunswick. We rolled out at 7:20 am after a delay while the organizers were waiting for the ride celebrity, Phil Keoghan from the Amazing Race, to make the opening remarks.

Waiting for Phil Keoghan at the start line.

A mass of riders pouring out of the start line.

There I go!

On Saturday, the weather was quite nice, if a bit on the hot side for Ohio. I was ok with the heat. The route only had a few hills, although some of them were steep, none of them lasted for very long. A few roads had more traffic than I expected but I didn’t encounter any angry drivers. In fact, a few times drivers gave me a thumbs-up as they went by.

As always, I rode the extra loop so that Saturday would be a 100 mile ride. The extra loop was called the “Kent Clapp Extra Lap” in honor of Kent Clapp, CEO of Medical Mutual of Ohio, who died in a chartered plane crash in December 2009, along with his fiancé. Medical Mutual has been sponsoring a BikeMS team since 2008. My first rest stop of the day was at mile 40 on the extra lap. I received a wrist band indicating the extra distance I rode. Carl, Mom, and Darrell met me at the rest stop.

Riding out of my first rest stop, in front of a field of corn.

My photo crew hid out a few miles from the rest stop and snapped my photo as I rode through a tunnel of trees.

Seen on my bike: Scenic Ohio back road with wildflowers.

I proceeded to ride through many roads extremely familiar to me, even going by houses of friends from high school as we cut across Lagrange, Ohio, my hometown for a number of years. During this section, I got caught up in a friendly pace group and was making great time. I lost them at the lunch stop because I continued to the next rest stop where my crew was waiting for me again.

Mom and I in the line for water.

One thing disappointing about this ride was the rest stops. They only had two water stations and so long lines would form as cyclists waited to get water. Besides a good fruit selection, the snacks at the rest stops were mostly unhealthy and not something I would eat while riding a bike.

My rest stop supporters. They even brought me pretzels and a pickle!

Seen on my bike: Old bridge.

I planned my next stop to be one at an orchard that also has a winery. It was packed with cyclists and had huge water lines. Luckily here I met my Dad and Ellen who had water for me in their truck. During a venture into the orchard store, I bought some homemade jam and kettle corn and was given a slice of ice cold watermelon, ice cold cantaloupe, and a handful of popcorn. The cantaloupe in particular was amazing. I can’t ever get cantaloupe that good in Texas 😦

More rest stop supporters!

The ride was a little tough-going after that stop. I was hot and tired and the wind had picked up. I was mostly passing people because I had caught up with the folks riding the shorter route.

Seen on my bike: Large greenhouse out in the country.

Seen on my bike: Fruit orchard!

I eventually reached the finish line for Saturday after riding 101 miles. The finish line was marked with blue flags and balloons and loud music.

Riding across the finish line on Saturday!

The finish balloons.

Saturday evening we stayed in little camping cabins with my Dad and Ellen only a few miles away from the finish line. We had dinner and drinks at Mon Ami winery, which was quite good. I knew from the start that Sunday’s forecast was for an 80% chance of thunderstorms. We were surprised when the storms started around 8:30 pm Saturday evening. The wind picked up and there was a lot of thunder and lightening while we hunkered down in the cabins. It rained, but it was by no means a torrential downpour, thankfully.

Sunday morning I woke bright and early and checked the weather map. There didn’t appear to be any rain in sight although the forecast still said 80% chance of rain. I was hopeful that by putting my rain jacket in my jersey pocket I would deter the rain.  We loaded my bike up into the truck, drove the to start line and I joined the route right at 7 am. It was a nice morning, if a bit damp and windy. I got caught up in an extremely fast pace group for a while which helped me reach my first planned stop at mile 30 at a small park in Wakeman, Ohio rather quickly. By then I knew I was most likely going to get rained on. There were very dark clouds behind me so I was just trying to ride out in front of the clouds as fast as I could.

Seen on the bike: Sunday morning country road. I was near these two riders for a while both on Saturday and Sunday.

Seen on the bike: Apple orchard and a gloomy sky.

Soon after the rest stop, I picked up yet another pace group who invited me to join them as they tried to out run the rain. Unfortunately that did not work and soon a steady rain began. I never saw lightening thankfully. There was wind but it wasn’t terrible and the rain was not so heavy that we couldn’t ride in it. However, I did start to see a number of bike crashes mostly from people riding in groups. Once your wheels are wet, your brakes don’t work well at all and you have to be very careful. If you need to brake in a group I can see how this would lead to a crash. I was thankful that after riding by the lunch stop most of the groups of riders stopped and I was on my own on the route. Not that I entirely wanted to ride alone, but I was nervous about crashing.

At my next rest stop I was met by my Mom, Darrell, and my uncle who made the trip in from Pennsylvania to see me. By that time I was drenched. My Mom was volunteering at the stop which was near her house. They had plenty of volunteers so after I stopped she headed for the finish to see me there.

Seen on the bike: I saw rider #1 on both Saturday and Sunday. On Sunday he was sporting a top VIP fundraiser jersey which was pretty awesome. On Saturday, he was riding with a young teenage rider, showing her the ropes of the ride.

While the rain relented for a while, it picked up again after the rest stop. The rain stopped again closer to the finish. The last 10 miles or so of the route felt like some sort of punishment. First we turned straight south into a nasty headwind for a number of miles. Then we turned out of the headwind going east and went up a loooooonnnnngggg slow hill capped with a short steep segment where a few other riders were walking their bikes. We then turned onto a road in desperate need of repair. Constant potholes, many of them large enough to put your tire in, were quite scary. It was like navigating a maze. Eventually I turned off into the smooth school grounds and ended up at the finish line with my cheering section. I rode 84 miles.

Crossing the finish!

Cheering section at the finish line!

Cheering section, part 2.

The finish was largely absent of spectators. I’m not sure if I was just early or if this ride just doesn’t get many spectators. Definitely different from my previous four BikeMS events.

I realized that I’m 4 for 5 when it comes to rain during a BikeMS weekend:

  • 2008 BP MS150: No rain!
  • 2009 BP MS150: Saturday rained / flooded out
  • 2010 BPMS150: Big storm Saturday night left me unable to sleep. Sunday was misty and the lack of sleep greatly affected my ride.
  • 2011 Escape to the Lake: Threatened rain Saturday. It started as soon as I crossed the finish. Rain overnight and Sunday was cold and misty on the bike.
  • 2012 Pedal to the Point: Saturday night rain, steady rain on Sunday.
  • 2013: Don’t know what event I’ll participate in, but already crossing my fingers for a lack of rain 🙂

I had a great ride both days despite the rain and really enjoyed the route. I think I had a smile on my face for the majority of Saturday’s ride because it was so nice to ride in areas familiar while knowing that loved ones were cheering me on.

So, to those of you who donated this year:


I know that you were thinking of me and most likely saw my Facebook and Twitter updates for the ride. Your support is greatly appreciated! I’m so thankful to have such generous family and friends.

If you’d like to donate, there’s still time! Head over to my fundraising page.

BikeMS Training update #12: All trained up and ready to go!

Wow, I can’t believe next weekend is when I ride the Bike MS: Pedal to the Point in northern Ohio. It’s a 180 mile bike ride over two days.  The ride goes right through the best part of Ohio: the flat part and the part that I lived in for 18 years of my life. I can’t wait to ride in temperatures no higher than the mid-80s (according to the current forecast). It will be quite the change from the Austin summer heat.

This is my 5th year riding a Bike MS ride and my first time riding in northern Ohio.  With one week to go, I am at 40% of my fundraising goal.  Can you pitch in to help me meet by goal by making a donation to the MS Society? Every little bit helps. I continue to participate in this event because I’ve seen too many friends and family affected by the disease and I hope to see a cure in my lifetime.

Today I completed my last training ride, bringing my total riding distance over the last 12 weeks to 1,586 miles. Whew! On Saturday’s ride I knew that I was ready when I averaged 16.5 mph for a 75 mile ride with hills and a bit of wind. On the second half of the ride I was in “the zone” – riding was effortless and I was lost in my surroundings. It was a great day for a bike ride. My chosen route combined aspects of the Tres Burritos ride from last weekend and my long ride out Parmer Lane the weekend before. Riding out Parmer Lane, especially after getting past the heavier traffic, is a great way to spend a weekend morning.

A Texas country road

The sunflowers are still blooming. I passed a whole field of them on Saturday!

Beautiful shiny horses hanging out by the road


My Sunday ride ended up being 35 miles and I road a reverse route of last Sunday’s ride around a local golf course. After getting home, I started on bike maintenance so that I could get my bike packaged up for its travel to Ohio.

After cleaning the entire thing, including the chain rings, I was covered in grease. I also replaced my front brake pads which were quite worn. To disassemble my bike, I had to do the following things:

  • Remove my seat and handle bar bags
  • Remove the bottle cages
  • Remove both tires and deflate the tubes
  • Remove the skewers from the wheels
  • Remove the pedals
  • Remove the bike computer
  • Remove the seat (after I marked its height with masking tape)
  • Remove the handle bars (also after marking with tape)

Next I used a combination of foam tubes and bubble wrap to wrap up the bike safe and sound (or at least I hope it will be safe and sound). All the pieces then went into my hard-sided bike case and were strapped down with a combination of velcro and tape. When finished, it was hard to believe that there was a bicycle under there:

All wrapped up and ready to go.

Bon voyage, ma bicyclette!

My bike leaves Monday morning via FedEx ( is how I set up the shipping). She arrives in Ohio on Thursday. I arrive in Ohio late Wednesday night. I’ll miss you old friend! I guess I’ll actually have to drive to work Monday, Tuesday, AND Wednesday, ugh.


Stay tuned for photos of the Pedal to the Point (and please consider a donation)!

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Bike MS Training update #10: It’s about the numbers

This weekend was relatively uneventful as far as training goes. I was in Texas, I didn’t get rained on, and I didn’t crash. Success! So, I’d like to sum up some numbers for you.

  • 3: Weeks until I fly to Ohio for BikeMS: Pedal to the Point.
  • 184: Miles I’ll ride August 4th – 5th.
  • 400,000: The number of Americans who have MS.
  • 6,444: Dollars I’ve raised for the MS Society with your help over the last four years.
  • 5: The number of BikeMS events I’ll have participated in after completing the Pedal to the Point.  If you’re able, please consider supporting my participation by making a donation to the MS Society.  I’ve seen too many friends and family affected by the disease so I continue to choose to participate in these events.
  • 1,250: Miles I’ve ridden in training for this year’s BikeMS.
  • 320: Additional miles I’ll ride before the event.
  • 36: Miles I rode this Saturday.
  • 167: Number of cyclists I saw during Saturday’s ride. That’s almost 5 per mile! I saw cyclists on road bikes, mountain bikes, cruiser bikes, and even a folding bike!
  • 200: Americans diagnosed with MS every week.
  • 75: Miles I rode Sunday.
  • 3: Number of new roads I checked out during Sunday’s ride.
  • 17%: How far I am to my $1,000 fundraising goal for this year. Can you help me meet my goal?

During Saturday’s ride, I made a pit stop at Bicycle Sport Shop on Parmer Lane for a rear derailler adjustment. While I was waiting, I admired these candy-colored cruiser bikes. Want!


I started Sunday’s ride at 7 am. Good morning sun!

While checking out a new road, I got to do a bit of off-road riding on my road bike while I traversed this dirt patch.

A new road that I checked out. Nice and smooth with good views.

Free water! It was even cold. This place was a life saver during Sunday’s ride because I managed to run out of water, even with my planned water stop.

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Bike MS training update #6: So many bikes

I’m happy to report that I have continued to heal from last week’s bike crash. Which is good since I’m in the middle of training for Bike MS: Pedal to the Point, a 175 mile ride in Northern Ohio on August 4th & 5th benefiting the Multiple Sclerosis Society. Consider supporting my participation by making a donation today! This marks my 5th year fundraising for the MS Society. Every year it seems I learn of another family member or friend who has been diagnosed with the disease.

On Saturday I headed out at 7 am for a 58 mile ride. It was a nice morning for a ride, if a touch humid. I went north on Parmer Lane and eventually made a turn on to a very bumpy and scenic road.

Along that road I ran into a young boy and his grandparents. He was learning to ride his bike with training wheels. They were very friendly and full of smiles and waves.

I stopped at a little gas station with very friendly clerks around 9 am to fill up my water bottles. They were interested in my route for the morning.


Sunflowers still in bloom, seen from my rest stop

After the rest stop, I had the pleasure of a road runner running just in front of me for a few seconds. Awesome birds. After turning back on Parmer Lane to go south, the headwind had picked up (of course). I saw tons of cyclists out on Bicycle Sport Shop’s Women’s Day Ride. I overheard that they got over 150 people out on their bikes, which is great. I could tell some of them hadn’t been out on bikes in a while so I’m glad they were braving the headwind. For a while on the way home I was behind two guys that blocked the wind for me, enabling me to ride much faster than normal. Thanks guys!


On Sunday I got out on a 30 mile ride. I stuck closer to home, riding on Jollyville and loop 360. Not too windy and not as warm or humid. A great day for a ride.

The view on loop 360

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Bike MS Training update #3

Well, I’m a little behind on this update, but I did get out on my bike last weekend. Luckily, it was a rather boring bike weekend so I don’t have a lot to say.

Saturday it was windy of course, so I rode in a bunch of random directions for 42 miles. I stopped along loop 360 to take some photos because it’s peach season and some tents were set up along the side of the road.

The wildflowers are still in bloom, giving me a great view:


Sunday was a pretty laid back day, also windy, so I just cruised the neighborhood for 20 miles.

I’m training for the 2012 Pedal to the Point Bike MS ride in northern Ohio. Consider supporting my participation by making a donation today!

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