Tuesday, June 30, 2009


birds were my alarm this morning, chattering, singing, happily communicating birds.
they didn't receive the message, though, that I wanted to sleep in until 5:30. they thought 4:30 would be a good time for me to get up and going.
I didn't.
I can't say either side won: it was more of a stand-off, as I refused to get out of bed and they declined to stop singing.

however, they were right.
it was a beautiful morning, just waiting for me to get out and enjoy it.

by the time I battled the headwinds streaming out of the canyon, and settled into the calmer air a few miles up, I was fully engaged with the fresh air and more twittering birds performing their morning rituals. a solitary hummingbird hovered while I rode a shady stretch, as the sun lightened the sky all around but selfishly kept its rays far above my head and goosebump-laden limbs.

I love many things about my early morning rides, but one aspect I just adore is my ability to be completely alone for amazingly long expanses of time. I can often ride for miles without seeing a car, a jogger, or another cyclist which leaves just me, my bike, the sound of my tires on the road, and the subtle symphony of a world without humans beginning its day.

the reservoir was dark glass this morning, greens and blues and grays shimmering and marble-like. it pulled me up over the summit and down alongside it, and then I just kept going. not a soul around, it was just me and acres and acres and miles and miles of pure nature. no toiling lilies, no stressed trees, no little creatures spinning their wheels, trying to make the world bend to their demands.
just peace.
and my favorite meadow, my favorite body of water, my favorite place to just be.

the sun danced on my back as I rode back up to the summit, then down to the slowly wakening city. the wind gave me a little push, and the entire experience gave my soul a refill which will hopefully keep me moving forward without toil, stress, or worthless spinning, all in efforts to make that world bend to my design.
instead I will hold onto peace, pulling in deep breaths of that miraculous space I inhabited not so very long ago.

Monday, June 29, 2009

old dogs and new tricks

I discovered something about myself this past weekend.
a few things, actually.
which illuminates the concept that a good life is never static.
I thought I was a certain way, and circumstances conspired to show me a slightly different picture of myself, as well as providing me an opportunity for a new experience that I found completely joyful and fulfilling, not in the least bit the disappointment I feared it might be.

I am on a distribution list to receive a weekly email message from a man named Steven Lane Taylor, and after I started working on this post this morning, I happened to open his message for the week. the following is a direct quote:

"You may not know yourself as well as you think you do!

Regardless of how certain you are about what makes you happy, I suspect that there are many things in life that could bring you great joy, and you are relatively unaware of what those things are. There are many experiences that your soul hungers to have that you are simply not in touch with . . . yet.

Fortunately, the divine flow knows you better than you know yourself. It not only knows what you "think" you want, but it also knows what you really need deep down inside. It knows what makes your spirit soar, and it is continually guiding you to the effortless fulfillment of those unconscious desires . . . as well as your more conscious ones."

a perfect dovetail with my thoughts this morning!

what happened for me last weekend is that my plans changed 2 days before the MS ride. I had been planning to ride the event with a friend who was on a different team, but then that plan was altered.
thus I was placed in a situation where I had to function with a group of people I hardly knew and would barely recognize if they were wearing street clothes: my Bad Ass teammates. I had met a few of these Bad Ass riders on the 2 training rides I participated in during the past months, but not many. and both of those training rides were ridden loosely, everyone at their own pace and just re-grouping at key points along the way.
the team rides this past weekend were serious pace line, pelaton-type riding, with usually between 15 and 30 of us sticking together as a herd.
and it was beautiful.
they rode fast enough to keep me challenged, and slowly enough to let me keep breathing.
I rode next to different people throughout the rides, learning names and discovering personalities. I drafted a lot, and I pulled a bit. I chatted and laughed and have never enjoyed riding a hundred miles more.
what more could I ask for?

Steven ends his message with these words:

"By all means, go ahead and let the Universe know where it is you "think" you want to go. But remember to always be open to arriving at a different destination than the one you originally set your sights on. Because when you let the divine flow lead the way, chances are it will direct you to a destination that is greater, grander, and more deeply fulfilling than anything you ever imagined . . . or even thought possible."

I know this, deep down I know this, however it is still difficult to let go of the reins at times.
so every time I have an experience like that of this past weekend, I float a little higher on those clouds I sometimes walk on. I was brave, I jumped in with both feet (and both wheels), and I had an absolutely fantastic new experience.
thanks, universe.

[you can join Steven's weekly message list by sending an email to him at sltaylor@rowrowrow.com ]

Sunday, June 28, 2009

fear of the unknown, or, trust in the universe

often things in life become disrupted, unrooted.
you can be sailing along ~ smoothly or more bumpily ~ making plans, looking forward, tacking and trimming, adjusting the till and in general, doing quite a decent job of maneuvering through life when suddenly the winds calm, or the winds gather steam and throw a storm at you.
you think you're headed toward a particular destination, and suddenly find that this will no longer work.
plans change.
you create a new plan.
and sometimes, there is fear.
the unknown looms, and the uncertainty wraps itself around you like a dense and creepy mantle.
wait, I wanted it
this way. I had a plan. I knew what I was getting into.
now everything is different, and I am entering uncharted waters, solo. I want the situation I knew back, not this unknown, possibly dislikable future.

and this is what the universe has been diligently working to teach me over these past few years:
trust me, I'll take care of you. the new plan will bring you more joy than you could ever realize. you just have to take a deep breath, put that first foot forward, and go.

comfort has its benefits, no doubt.
discomfort is even better for us, however.

to use again that infamous quote: you can't know what will transpire until you actually have the courage to get there.

be brave, have faith in your ability to adapt and change, and have enormous trust in that awesome bundle of mass and energy, the wise and ultimately benevolent universe.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

another lesson learned

I have now learned how to ride the perfect century:

  • join Bad Ass cycling team
  • have God arrange for absolutely stunning weather: sunny and cool to begin, no hotter than 85 degrees
  • stop every 8-10 miles for a brief break, water, treats.....
  • ride like hell in the draft from the cyclist in front of you
  • have no physical problems, no mechanical problems, and ~ of course ~ not a care in the world

sure worked for me!

Friday, June 26, 2009


why I ride:

to eat more cookies.
to eat more cake.
to eat more everything.
to think.
to stop thinking.
to escape.
to strengthen my heart.
to challenge my muscles.
to breathe fresh air.
to enhance my (very strange) tan.
to stay fit.
to swoop and feel pure joy.
to experience that powerful feeling of triumph over difficulty.
to conquer the next peak.
to feel the wind on my face, the sun on my shoulders, the solid road beneath me.
and because I can.

this weekend I'll be riding many, many miles around and throughout the logan valley. this is an organized ride, the fundraiser for Multiple Sclerosis that I've been soliciting funds for over the past 2 months. about 3000 of us will be out there, sweating and panting and coasting and being thankful that we're able to do so.
I am so damn fortunate to have the health I do: I thank God regularly for the amazingly blessed path I'm traveling.
and which I intend to continue traveling upon:
spinning my legs around, feeling the sheer pleasure of canyon air on my cheeks, sweating and collecting a layer of dirt atop my skin, pushing myself, stretching my boundaries, and experiencing new heights of accomplishment with every ride.

see ya out there.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

hummingbird lane

yesterday half a dozen hummingbirds danced with me as I rode up the road.
this won't last long: as I remember, it is only a brief phase of summer when these diminutive beauties hover and frolic about the bike lane, traveling with me, welcoming me to their beautiful home.
perhaps a month ago I was visited by one of these petite feathered creatures in my back yard, convincing me to get my hummingbird feeder out and filled and ready to welcome more of them.
and no one seems to have found it yet.
I haven't given up hope, but each day I look at the plentiful pink liquid and sigh a little sigh, unsure of how to let them know I am ready for their presence.
I am not alone in my desire to have hummingbirds grace my space with their presence: I frequently see feeders out as I'm traveling about. a couple weeks back when I rode the road less traveled, up deep into the northern arm of emigration, I passed a house with at least half a dozen hummingbird feeders ~ and a big, red Utah Utes flag ~ on the front porch. I imagined that house to be the perfect setting for enjoying these little birds: the house perches on the western sloping side of the street, looking across to a hillside of green, and big sky behind. for these homeowners to look out their windows to see handfuls of shimmering hummingbirds hovering to drink, with open hill and endless untouched sky behind . . . what a gift.
I would settle for just one little visitor, dancing around my solitary feeder with its few bushes and a cedar fence behind.
as I said, I haven't given up hope, but I will continue to look forward to the next week or two of riding up the bike lanes, watching for my welcoming committee, and reveling in their singular beauty and undeniable strength and charm.
I will never reach a point in my life where the presence of a hummingbird in the space that surrounds me fails to bring me joy and awe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

hobie cats and carrots

this is what happened to me monday:
I got suckered by a crisply colorful hobie cat and a handful of imaginary carrots.

my intention was to ride up emigration, and hopefully, as far as the reservoir, depending upon how I was feeling.
but this is what happened:
as I crested the little mountain summit at the top of emigration, I looked down at the reservoir and saw a single, perfect, rainbow-colored hobie cat slicing through the caribbean blue-green water, and I was entranced. my legs kept spinning, my heart leapt forward, and I followed it all the way down the hill, watching the shoreline of the reservoir reveal a small sandy beach and the petite blue-green cove that always pulls at me.
my eyes danced and my leg muscles delighted in the tailwind, and before I knew it I was heading for the gate at the east end of the reservoir and the entrance to the big mountain climb.

okay, I'll just ride to the gate.
zipping along, pushed by the wind and pulled by the glorious day, I skimmed past the gate.

okay, I'll just ride another mile.
which passed so quickly I hardly knew it.

okay, I'll just ride up to Quaking Aspen Grove, about halfway to the top, where the road gathers steepness dramatically, handing it to you like a gift.
I settled in for some work, drank my water, and began thinking about the rest of the road to the top. and then there I was, at the grove.
carrots shimmered in front of me, and I, stubborn mule that I am, kept stretching myself toward them.

okay, I'll just ride to the switchbacks.
another painful kilometer, which would lead me to a pretty good turning point.

okay, I will dig my heels in and suck it up and just give it the remaining 20 minutes I need to get to the top.
which is what I did.

in 19 minutes.

and that is the story of my ride: all it takes is a sun-filled day, a gorgeous body of water, a joyful hobie cat, and a handful of carrots to get me to ride further than I think I want to, giving me once again one of the greatest gifts possible . . . that incomparable, unmatchable sense of accomplishment you can only feel at the top of the hill.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

messy, continued

not finis.
my thoughts are rarely finis.
here's the thing: if you're going to jump in with both feet, fully participate, get muddy and give it your all, this thing we call life is just plain messy.
if you prefer to stay cold, detached, and clinical, I'm sure it can be neat, better contained, more manageable.
but we were plunked down on the gameboard and given thoughts, feelings, desires, wants, needs, a breadth of emotion and a wealth of opportunities to express such things, and it just doesn't tie up all neatly in a little bundle.
those 6 degrees of separation connect us all with threads that range from silken, spidery wisps to mercerized cotton to bungee cords to links of soldered gold chain. and with those threads come thoughts and feelings and intensity and affinity and, ultimately, a great deal of soul work.
we are challenged to make decisions that protect us, enrich us, stretch us, and define us. what we choose to say and do impacts other lives. no man is an island, and none of us live in a vacuum. the repercussions of our words and actions ripple far and wide, jostling small boats and large ships and shorelines.
yet we cannot not move.
we are programmed to resist inertia and stagnation.
we are driven to strive forward and reach out with both arms and embrace our paths. with each step and each touch, with every sentence we utter and feeling we share, we impact the world around us.
and this is how it's meant to be.

yesterday a friend gave me a small plaque with this quote:
live imperfectly with great delight.

for months of this past year, I have had this tag line at the end of my email signature:
love imperfectly with great delight.

I attributed this latter quote to leigh standley, and I'm not sure where the former came from, and I certainly don't know if I accidentally (or accidentally on purpose) changed "live" to "love."
but what I do know, today, is that it doesn't matter because in the end, one cannot exist without the other.

live well, love well:
be messy, be imperfect, be willing, be brave, be you.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Sunday, June 21, 2009

forests and trees

the expression goes, one can't see the forest for the trees.
meaning we get so focused on the details, the little things, that we're unable to see the big picture, the whole story.

well, I have the opposite problem.
sometimes I can't see the trees for the forest.

I'm looking at the big picture, the scheme of things, how it all works together and what it might entail, when the little pieces of the puzzle are crying out for attention: look at me! see me! deal with me!
I am so busy viewing the overall effect that I often neglect to see how one small thing can change the entire schematic.

today I went out into my garden and was overwhelmed by the forest. there are hundreds and hundreds of plants and at least a thousand little weedy things and trees and bushes and greenery growing on top of greenery. I often look at it and become immobilized by the immensity of the forest.
but this afternoon I decided to just tackle one small tree: a limited portion of the pretty green weeds with the sweet yellow flowers. as I started digging them out, one by one, my forest of a garden became more real to me, less threatening, less of an immense forest. as weeds disappeared I began to see individual plants: day lilies and columbine and roses and other nameless forms of flora. my forest began shrinking down to a more manageable tract of land, all because I was able to focus on a few trees instead of the totality.

I guess what it really comes down to is learning how to view both individual trees and the wonder of the entire forest at the same time. to slow down, take a deep breath, and accept both ends of the spectrum.
because ultimately, we can't have that forest without the glory of each individual tree, and those trees all become more glorious and meaningful when they join together to build a forest.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

up and over

today I climbed a small mountain.
but first I battled weak muscles and a cough and little hills and wind and rain and more little hills.
and more importantly, my mind.
the one that said, you really can't do this. it's okay to just turn around and go home. you don't have to climb this thing, and besides, you really can't.

this is not truly my mind.
I think it belongs to someone else, someone involved in a great mind-control experiment, who has access to my brain when I become tired and weakened from one cause or another.
when my muscles fatigue and rob my brain of oxygen, the great experimenter slips in a substitute brain which is much less willing to support my choices.
it constantly tells me of warm beds and couches and cookies.
of the pointlessness of excess (meaning any) exertion.
of how silly I am to think that I can speed down bike lanes and up sharply climbing roads.
of how much stronger (wiser, smarter, cuter, younger) everyone else on a bike is.
of how I am not really capable of powering myself up anything more steep than a speed bump.
of how all of my past victories and successes are just that: past.

because there's just no reason why I would sabotage myself in this way, is there?
it must be someone else messing with my head.

today I climbed up and over that steeply climbing mountain road, and down the declivitous back side. I did it in the rain and without support of my brain, as it was so obviously occupied as described above.
I do believe my real brain has been returned to me, however, as I'm already planning tomorrow's ride and counting the peaks which I will conquer, with or without it.

Friday, June 19, 2009

more things I don't know

today as I was riding I again thought about all the things I don't know.
things like the names of flora and fauna.
like how quantum physics really works.
like how wind thermals and cold fronts and low pressure systems and barometric changes work together to create our weather patterns.
like the volume of water crashing down cottonwood creek at peak flow.
like the meanings of more than three-quarters of the words in an english dictionary.

I can accept that there are billions of things I don't know: facts and factoids and names and meanings and theories and concepts.

but what's more fascinating, and much more difficult to accept, are all the why questions to which I have no answers.

like why the supply/demand theory works the way it does, because it seems to me if people were like me (i.e. not greedy) it would operate much differently.
like why so many people are born with severe disabilities.
like why babies die.
like why love comes when it does, even when it disrupts and creates chaos, and doesn't come when everything points to how it should.
like why some people's lives seem infinitely challenging, unrelentingly difficult.
like why I don't always behave the way I think I want to behave.
like why we have to experience so much loneliness and loss in our human lives.
like why we don't seem to be learning as much about how connected we are as we should be learning by now.
like why I don't get to know what's going to happen 1, 2, and 5 years down the road.
like why you can put your heart and soul into something and still not have it take off the ground, sprout wings, and fly.
like why we don't all love and accept each other in a better way.
like why cookies have to have more calories than, say, kale.
and, ultimately, why I don't get to receive all the answers to my questions.

this last one, at least, I can guess the answer to.
it has to do with the mystery, and the excitement of walking an unknown path. a path where we must stay alert and focused, where the unpredictable may jump out around any corner. where an emerald city may suddenly appear, or a hungry and irritated mountain lion. where we may be surprised by fields of flowers or rattlesnakes or another solitary traveler with whom we bond or a secret garden full of lush and (to me) un-nameable flora.
if we knew all of the answers, we might be less eager to stick with our journey.

so I suppose I will continue walking (and riding) the path, continue formulating questions in my mind, search out answers to those which are knowable, and hold fast to the wisdom given me a few years back by a gentle man who works with paper and cardboard in a manufacturing plant:

you can't know.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

black pearls

yesterday little dell was the color of black pearls.
deep, dark gray with a shimmering iridescence that pulled my eyes so far in that glitter remained on my eyelashes when I finally looked away.
there was mystery there, an unknowingness, a teasing play to the slightly rippling surface which reflected the roiling sky above.
I love this color, this metallic, mystical, charcoal gray that swirls with secrets and untold depths.

even more to my liking, it was only an illusion, for as I moved down the mountain and closer to the basin everything changed, and the water became once again green and stormy and dense.

back in the days when I rode a bike to get from my house to my friends' homes to the cafe for a milkshake and fries, I fell in love with a song that ended with these words, which come to mind as I stare at these pearls and think of the depths of that reservoir:

breathe deep the gathering gloom
watch lights fade from every room
bed sitter people look back and lament
another day's useless energy is spent
impassioned lovers wrestle as one
lonely man cries for love and has none
new mother picks up and suckles her son
senior citizens wish they were young
cold-hearted orb that rules the night
removes the colors from our sight
red is grey and yellow white
but we decide which is right
and which is an illusion . . .
                      ~ graeme edge


some wise woman once said that things in one's life will change at some point, because . . .

one begins to

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


one day a thought crossed my mind, a question really, more than a thought. whispery words flitted across my mind's terrain, a spidery little query that asked
if you could ride your bike anywhere, anywhere, where would you want to ride?

it startled me.

first, I did not dream up this thought. it came to me, not vice versa. I know I am supposedly in charge of my thoughts, but this welled up from the deeper sub- or even un- conscious me.
second, I have not been in a place where dreaming of wild and improbable possibilities is something I dare do. I have more been in a place of being grateful there is asphalt nearby, there are canyons close at hand, and I even have a bike to ride. to be able to mentally transport myself to a dream spot seemed so far beyond reach that it stretched my comfort zone to the breaking point.
third, I didn't have an answer.

and now, a few weeks later, I still don't have an answer.

I can paint a vague dreamscape: it is lush and green and full of smoothly paved asphalt that glides over rolling hills. there would have to be a significant climb or two, and mile after mile of peacefully flat road surrounded by trees and water and homes and a handful of twittering, singing birds. a rushing stream, noisy and cheerful, and dogs in cars pushing their heads out the window and exuding joyful anticipation of the coming run.
or it's twisting and winding through a tuscan countryside.
or it's on maui, a cool morning on the freshly paved road to hana.

it's not so much the where, it's the belief that someday the experience may actually come to life.
so for now I will keep on my known and beloved roads, inhaling my beloved scenery, knowing that even better and more incredible experiences will some day exist because I had the courage to dream.

Monday, June 15, 2009


anniversaire heureux à moi !

rituals, traditions, acknowledging anniversaries . . . all extremely important things in my book of how to live.
thus, today, I honored my own anniversary and rode up a hill.
ah, you say, sounds like any other day in susan's life . . . and you would be somewhat correct.
but this was a special hill, on a special day.

today marks my 3rd anniversary of consistent cycling.
on my 1st anniversary, I decided to celebrate by riding up Big Cottonwood canyon to brighton for the first time.
on my 2nd anniversary, I repeated that pleasure.
thus, today, I kept the tradition alive and again, rode to brighton.

I even bought a hostess ding dong at the top in honor of the day. (note to self: these things look better than they taste, especially when the one you purchase is from the brighton store where it's probably been hanging around for quite some time. I dusted off the wrapper and saw that the expiration date was january 20th, but was so hungry I didn't really care to look hard enough to decipher the year. that first bite told me the year.)

God sent rain, hail, sun, cold air, and a great tailwind for most of the ride: of course, there is no better ride than one that lets you experience all of these elements. the creek continues to roar down its channel, and the hillsides are as green and flush as ever. trees still grow crookedly where the snow sits heavily on them for 5 solid months, and the road still climbs upward as steeply as it ever did.

I'm just grateful I had the opportunity to acknowledge and celebrate another year behind me, and welcome in the new year which has just begun. big cottonwood will always hold that special place in my heart, not only for its grandeur and beauty, but for helping me to celebrate such an awesome part of my existence.

Sunday, June 14, 2009


I rode up a hill today.
it was one of those winding, twisting ones ~ for once, not in a canyon ~ where you could see for miles, see the wide sweeping expanse of hill falling away below and stretching away above the road, see the sky unobscured by canyon walls and tall towering trees, and, at times, see glimpses of what might possibly be the summit.
there was a spot where I could see cars a half mile ahead of me motoring up what appeared to be the edge of the hill, silhouettes in front of the open sky behind them. as I curved around with the road to reach that very spot, my perspective changed dramatically, as it always does. neither I, nor the cars ahead of me, were on a dramatic edge, and neither of us were close to the top, either.
I thought time and again that I was catching sight of the summit, and time and again I was wrong. however, I knew it was there, knew I was on the road to it, and knew that I would eventually get there.
I was riding a single road, approaching a single summit, and I knew I would, at some point, reach that summit.
and that's how it goes.
you can only travel one path and aim for one summit at a time.
there may be a list of other peaks you ache to, intend to, plan to, or scheme to eventually climb, but the fact of the matter is, they are only conquered one by one.
through commitment, courage, and determination.
with focus, with fuel, and with faith.
one road at a time.

you can set as many goals as you choose, and they may be short-term, long-term, or some combination of the two, but the quickest way to tick them off your list is to pick the one that is most within your reach, get on the path, and start moving. pedaling along, catching glimpses ~ whether real or imaginary ~ of that summit, and focusing on getting to that peak.
it may appear to move, your perspective may change again and again along the way, but if you refuse to give up, I have faith that the summit will, at some point, be reached.

which is when you pause, gently pat yourself on the back, and set your sights on another summit on another road.

Saturday, June 13, 2009


I've been thinking about bridges today. bridges over water, bridges over deep gullies and valleys, suspension bridges, floating bridges, metal bridges, rough wooden bridges, bridges simply connecting one thing to another.
I love walking over bridges, leaning on and looking out over bridges, and of course, riding across bridges. I love the bay bridge, get a kick out of riding on the dumbarton bridge mere feet above the lapping water, and even love the challenge of crossing a hanging bridge over a deep crevasse.
bridges fascinate me (to be honest, so do many things): I often look at them and try to imagine the construction process, and am completely baffled. how do they get from point A to point B across a 400 foot deep chasm? across a 300 foot deep body of water? I picture a cartoon construction crew, building each new foot forward then hovering on that to build the next foot across, and on and on until they reach the other side . . .
I know better, but my mind still creates ridiculous scenarios based on my childhood understanding of construction which I learned from wooden blocks and my brother's erector set.
and I don't really want to know all the details of bridge building.
it's enough that they bring me joy to look at, to be on, to cross.
and sometimes, to reach the other side.
bridges are so much more, but at heart they are simply a transition from one spot to another. some of us are fortunate enough to commute across them day after day, transported magically across whatever the challenge may be ~ water or simply great space ~ while others of us cross the simple road-over-road type, and still others cross metaphorical ones each day to leave one world and enter another.
they can also transition us from one phase of life to another. in this capacity they are often longer and more fraught with peril and frustration that those we physically encounter. they may span years and seeming lifetimes, and the end point may seem too distant to ever be visible.
but they do end. and we can leave them with regret or with great rejoicing. or with any mix of emotions along the spectrum between the two.
they may have been suspension bridges, keeping us high and dry and safe, or those floating bridges barely keeping us above water. or hanging bridges that sway and toss us from side to side, unsettled, unsteady and unsure.
regardless, they perform their function, and move us slowly but surely to whatever is next.
because as beautiful or comforting the view from standing on the middle and looking out may be, we must eventually continue our journeys and have the courage to advance across to the other end. via foot, via bicycle, or even with the help of a motor, we eventually cross and enter the new beginning awaiting us.

Friday, June 12, 2009

the road less traveled

two roads diverged in a deep green canyon, and sorry I could not ride both, and be one rider not long I stood and looked down one as far I could to where it bent and climbed away . . .
I chose the left, the road less traveled, and yesterday, that made all the difference.

(with deep and genuine apologies to robert frost. I had to memorize that poem back in high school and have always retained deep affection for it, though you might not believe that, seeing as how I butchered it just moments ago.)

last evening I rode in the rain. I'd been itching to get out all day, but circumstances kept me from doing so, and finally at 5:15 when my responsibilities seemed to disappear, I donned my gear and turned my mindset to ride.
it had rained off and on all day, and the pavement was still dark with moisture. some gutters were full of gently flowing water. and yes, there was moisture falling down from above.
I thought it had lightened and perhaps even stopped, but as I rolled my bike out to the driveway and paused to shut the garage door, it was apparent that this rain was committed to making its way earthward.
I was mentally prepared, and even partially physically prepared, and I set off on my usual route. and now I can condense the next part of my story to this:
I rode, I got wet, I kept riding, I got wetter, I thought about turning back at this point then that point and then, well, maybe if I just get to this point . . .
I kept shaking my head like a dog, trying to dislodge the water pooling in my helmet's chasms. I wiped my cyclometer's screen, and that of my heart monitor. my feet were wet, but not yet squishing.
and throughout it all, I was giggling with the ridiculousness of the whole event. geez, susan, take the day off!!
but as I passed Sun and Moon Cafe and set my next turn-around point as the old Pinecrest bed and breakfast, the rain's intensity seemed to lessen. a bit. I thought.
as the Cafe had been my 2nd potential turn-around-and-call-it-quits point, I was determined that Pinecrest was my limit.
I cruised past Pinecrest and thought, well, just a little further: it's been so long since I've been up this way, and it's so pretty, and a good climb and no one rides up here . . .

this is the road less traveled, and I don't really know why. the road winds deep into a crevasse and climbs up and up, at times quite steeply. there are a few homes, then fewer homes, then none for a while, then a handful pop back up. the road narrows even more, and continues twisting and climbing to a point I have never reached: I've always (okay, both times I've been that far up) called it quits before the road completely petered out.
it's a more challenging climb than to the Emigration summit, and I've never understood why more cyclists don't head up that way. it doesn't give you the wide sweeping views you gain at the summit, nor the ability to take in little dell's resonance, nor a path to another climb, but still, it seems that at least a few people would be drawn to the winding, climbing path that reaches deep into the gorge between these hillsides.

so I was alone, riding in the lessening rain, pumping and breathing heavily, listening to the rushing creek and the determined birds who cared not that the air was wet and heavy. at last I turned, and began my descent, wet and cold and cautious with my drenched and gunky brakes. soon my shoes were drenched as well, my toes squishing with each rotation. the rain ceased, and only kickback from the sopping road added to the wet I had collected in the past hour or so. it still brought a grin to my face.

and although the letters I had earlier in the day penned across the knuckles of my left hand were faded by the time I reached home, I could still make out a faint f - a - i - t - h in wiggly black ink, and I knew that the road I had traveled in the rain was the perfect one for me at that perfect point in time.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

hawaii, salt lake city, spain

this morning the north eastern rim of our city could have been a little slice of a hawaiian island..... undulating green hillsides draped in ribbons of white cloud, at the v-shaped opening of emigration canyon the sun pushing powerfully through thick layers upon layers of white bumpy clouds so that streams escaped and highlighted lush green coves and bumps of foothill.
clouds rested gently on the valley floor and high above hillside homes, their airy whiteness ethereal, the sun streaking through from so very far away, beyond layer after layer of cloud that you could see up the narrow canyon openings, lending this otherwordly feel to our slowly awakening 7-am city.
which reaffirmed for me why I get up early: this incredible tableau is temporary, fleeting, missed often before you even realize it was there.

which is not to say night scenes aren't as beautiful and dramatic. I love to sit up on a hillside, looking out over the valley, the city lights spread far and wide in front of me, imagining the millions of different lives that are lived out under the spector of their glow. a night sky smattered with stars and wispy clouds that play hide and seek with the moon fills my soul with joy and strength.
I suppose if all were ideal, I would sleep from 1 am until 5 am, and exist on those four hours of sleep, so that I could have both enough hours to do all that I want to do, and the perfect hours when my heart and soul thrill to the visual wonders that surround us at dawn, at dusk, at midnight.

they tell me that as we age, we sleep less well, and it's possible that I may someday own that sleeping pattern that I just labeled ideal.
and not think it's so ideal.
but perhaps I could throw in a midday siesta, and all will be well.
I know, I know, be careful what you wish for . . .

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

where everything is good

something magical happens when I am riding my bike: I can forget the rest of the world.
the challenges, the trials, the frustrations, the pace which doesn't always seem to suit me. the problems, the difficulties, the things-you-want-to-solve-for-others-but-can't, the uncomfortable feelings.
all of these start to fade, to loosen their grip on me, as I begin pedaling up the street.

inclines help.

I find the less oxygen I have to shoot up to my brain, the closer I am to that magical state where everything is good.
perhaps this is part of why I like riding hills and canyons so much.
I won't numb myself to reality through drugs or alcohol, but I'm willing to do it through intense exercise.
because when one re-enters reality after using or abusing substances like drugs and alcohol, everything is just as bleak as it was beforehand. but returning to reality after 100 minutes riding a canyon is entirely different: things seem more manageable.
yes, it is still an escape, but it is one that often enables me to put things in perspective. it helps me connect with my physical body, and with the inner stillness at the depth of me. during those 100 minutes I am able to release my connection with this artificial construct we call daily life, with those games we play and maneuvers we undertake to successfully reach our goals. I can return to a focus on the more permanent and meaningful parts of me, and find the strength and the courage to keep going.

and the faith.

because I find it impossible to spend any time at all outside and not believe in a mightier power, who ultimately takes care of every single one of us.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

sensation yoga

if I keep this up, I may have to change the name of this web-log to the tao of yoga.
but today was yoga morning, and thus yoga is on my mind. and when I remember, in my breath as well.
this morning, our tuesday gal was sick so the thursday gal substituted, which is always okay with me.
the thursday gal talks almost constantly throughout class, gently guiding and reminding us throughout all the movements and positions of how we are to be working with our body and our breath. occasionally she will pause, telling us to hold the asana for five more breaths, then she will resume when it is time to move again. she speaks in calm and soothing voice as she guides us through the asanas and suggests minor modifications that will improve the position of our bodies.
a word she frequently uses is sensation.
as in, breathe as you move through the sensation . . .
sensation is her code word for pain.

I'm trying to incorporate this into the rest of my existence:
my back doesn't hurt early in the morning when I'm first waking; I'm just experiencing a sensation.
those shrieking muscles when I climb a steep hill are really just moving through a sensation, not preparing to completely fail on me.
when my knees/back/hips/shoulders are talking loudly to me, telling me they are tired of what I'm doing and would like some rest, I just talk back to them, telling them they are just experiencing a sensation and they should settle into it gracefully.


this is a good word, actually, for expanding one's mind. it helps one to consider all aspects of the situation: sensation tends to incorporate more than just the narrow focus of, say, pain. sensation can also include the tingling, the stretch, the breath, the working together of different body parts in efforts to lengthen and extend one's reach. it includes the touch of the air swirling around the skin, the sounds that move through the auditory canal, and the aromas that tickle their way through the olfactory nerves. it's the millions of particles of light that move together to present a visual story around us, and the reality of fellow bodies beside us.
sensation encompasses all of this, and is becoming the word I choose now instead of the word pain.
from now on, I will acknowledge the myriad different sensations my body experiences, and I will remember to think of yoga, which has taught me that there is more to every encounter, experience, and asana than simply meets the eye.
or ear.
or nose.
or muscle.
it is up to me to undertake the process of amalgamating all of these into one unique, amazing, unrepeatable experience, one inexplicably perfect sensation.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

cheating the weather

it rained this morning.
it rained all morning.
it kept raining even after morning stopped and afternoon began.
but then it stopped, and the ground started to dry. pavement showed lighter spots where the rainwater had evaporated, and the gutters no longer ran.
weak sunlight even filtered its way down to my little spot of earth, and my thoughts turned to riding my bike.
by 3:15 I was filling water bottles, watching sunlight pierce through my huge old tree's copious leaves, deciding that it was safe to ride.
I packed a light rain jacket, and headed up to wasatch drive with "south" as my destination.

riding wasatch is a good medium effort ride for me. there are plentiful ups and downs, slight rises and more aggressive grades, few enough stop lights and decent enough shoulders to make the ride as tough as I want it to be. no 4-mile hills to climb, but enough up and down to make me work.
the sun was shining through a small amount of clouds here by my house, but the clouds farther south were thick and dark. as I rode up to wasatch I decided I would just keep riding south as long as I had sunlight around me. at that point, it looked like I might make it as far as the mouth of Big Cottonwood.
but somehow, that sun kept shining on me, moving with me as I rode south. I passed the entrance to Big Cottonwood, and soon the entrance to Little Cottonwood. that sun stayed with me, and didn't give up until I reached draper, at which point it surrendered to the layer of clouds that hung over that part of town.
I turned, and was in for a surprise: the city from which I had just ridden was now covered by thick clouds, and streaks of rain showering from cloud to ground were visible. where had that sunlight gone? had it just moved with me, breaking only the clouds around my little space?

a few sprinkles floated down on me as I started my journey back north, but stopped after a mile or so. I watched those heavy rainclouds sit on mount olympus and stretch down to the freeway, the sky deep blue and full. I shook my head and chastised myself, thinking it was going to be a wet ride those last 10 miles or so.
oh well. at least I had a jacket, all balled up in my pack.
and then the sun was with me again, growing from weak to strong, and as I neared mount olympus the clouds had magically pulled back and the pavement was deep black with moisture. I rode that wet road all the way home, the sun once again hovering above me.
when I reached my house I saw happy wet grass, and watched small drops of remaining moisture gather on leaves and drip occasionally down to earth.
I had missed the entire downpour, which must have been a healthy one from the stories told by gutters and drain pipes and droplets on my leaves.

I'd like to credit my deep intuition for choosing such a perfect path today,
so I think I will.

Saturday, June 6, 2009


this morning's ride was pure perfection.
the air was cool, sun shone down just as it was meant to, and there was a running event along the road that made for lots of "hello"s and "good morning"s and lent an overarching sense of community and camaraderie to the morning.
I rode to the top of Big Mountain, and as always, was stunned by the view of millions of trees working and weaving together to blanket the hillsides. in the lower half of the road to the top, trees shade the pavement and the asphalt was damp in long stretches, telling me just what had happened there while I slept last night.
the realization of just how privileged I am hit me squarely between the eyes: I live so close to heaven that I can hop on my bike and pedal there in an hour.

so, to keep me from waxing poetic and dripping sentimentality, I dreamed up 2 riddles as I rode my perfect ride today:

1. how can you tell a happy cyclist?

by the number of bugs on her teeth. uh-huh.

2. two cyclists are on the road leading to Big Mountain. they are both exactly 2 miles from the top of the summit, and they are both similarly strong riders. however, one is 5 minutes from the top, and the other is 18 minutes from the top. how can this be?

one was coming down, and I was going up.

yes, the first one I stole from the old motorcyclist joke, and yes, the second one came to me as I was riding . . . while breathing hard and obviously short on oxygen.

may your next ride be as perfect as mine was this morning.

Friday, June 5, 2009

slow moving trains

there is something to be said for slow moving trains.
once you are settled in one and the train departs the station, you are no longer in control. which is, at times, an absolutely grand and perfect place to be.

we boarded the train at ten minutes til 2, then departed the train somewhere around 5:30, and experienced an almost fairytale timelessness during those magical hours between. part of this was due to my body's excitement to no longer be pushing its muscles past their limits while breathing oxygen-thin air, and the rest was due to the pure visual enchantment that resulted from the tableau slowly streaming past our windows.
very slowly.

I was thrilled by the fact that the train wound it's way down to durango through a path nowhere near the road we had ridden, so the landscape we saw from the train windows was markedly different from that I had already seen. the train took us through the Animas river valley for a preponderance of the ride, a deep and gorgeous, mostly uninhabited land. we saw a handful of kayakers, all on the side of the river, watching it crash through it's winding and rocky bed.

the train passed so close to rock walls that we could touch their solid faces, while branches of trees would occasionally slap the sides of the car. we crossed the river on a high and narrow bridge that was invisible to us while in the car, while we looked down a hundred feet to the sparkling, dancing water far below.

the walls of the valleys were lush and green, and water coursed down steep rock walls and through narrow crevices in the shrubs and trees. no road, no cars, not much of any kind of civilization: just our lazy train spitting soot and steam and throwing out the occasional whistle into the waiting air.

time ticked on, but so very slowly. rocky slopes morphed into tree-covered slopes opening up into a wider canyon which would soon narrow and draw back in upon itself. the river gushed, the skies eventually opened and sent down a light rain, and the train continued its focused and determined movement toward the south.

within the confines of the car people chatted, laughed, told stories, and moved to and from the concession car, and a sense of contentment settled over us all. there was no other place to go or be at the moment, and the train lulled us into a peaceful state.

210 minutes on a slow moving train, winding one's way through a magical, hidden river valley, is a pretty darn good way to spend a saturday afternoon, especially after a hard-fought battle of muscle and will to reach the departure point.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009


I was going to write about something completely different, but as I stood here by the computer, waiting for my 16 year old son to finish what he was doing so I could have a turn, I overheard the lyrics to a song that was playing. the phrase I caught in this lovely rap song was premature ejaculation.
which immediately brought to mind all the times this past year I've driven him to school while listening to his favorite morning radio station. (its tag line is Radio from Hell, if that gives you any indication of what kind of programming it adheres to.) at least half of the mornings we listened to the dj's chat, the program had news stories or discussions that involved some form of sex. whether it was sexual discrimination, sexual absurdities, or sexual harrassment/abuse, I was totally amazed by how often this kind of story made the news.
I somehow managed to find a happy medium between blushing, completely ignoring the radio, and making some lame comment about the current story and by the end of the school year those stories didn't impact me quite so intensely.

I didn't have to deal with this kind of stuff when I was 16.
I can't think of a single song from my youth that contained the phrase premature ejaculation.

maybe it's better this way: not much is secret or hush-hush anymore. when my girls were 12 they knew what the word ho meant, and that I considered it a thoroughly offensive and derogatory name, not just something you called your woman.
it's out there: I should just be grateful that it's made it easier for me to talk about it with my kids.
they know exactly which swear words are cut from the "radio version" of their favorite songs.
they ask me if it's okay to sing a swear word if it's in the song.
they know what just about everything means, and the words have become part of daily common language.

I studiously ignored my son's face when I heard those words in the song he was listening to tonight. what am I going to say, hon, you know what that means, don't you?
the kids say it's just a song.

I say there's got to be something better to sing about.

they say it's news, it's funny to hear about.

I say there are some things that don't need to be shared.

so, signing off, I am, respectfully,
miss prude

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

batting one

a couple weeks ago I went for a ride up the canyon. it was a pretty day, a little on the chilly side, and quite a few cyclists were out. at the mouth of the canyon, heading up, I saw my first cyclist coming down.
I waved.
he didn't.
then I saw another one, and another.
I waved.
they didn't.
the pattern continued: cyclists coming down the canyon kept their heads focused on the road in front of them, and my waves went completely unanswered, and possibly unheeded. sniff, sniff, pout.
batting zero, I thought.
that uncomfortable place where you keep on trying, putting your best foot/smile/effort forward, and you keep on getting nowhere.
batting zero.
I'd started at zero, and eleven people later, was still there.
and then came magic number 12: a wave! a smile! a something in return for my effort.
from that point on, I stopped keeping track. some passing cyclists waved, and many more didn't, but it had ceased to matter. I had moved from zero to one, and I no longer felt stuck in a bottomless pit of nothingness. I lived a long time on the happiness of just simply batting one.

today I'm working to remember the importance of batting one.
so far june has hit me with a few fastballs ~ or perhaps they are simply curve balls ~ and the sense of hanging out at zero was tightening its little mitts around me earlier.
I began the day by tackling my internet problem: that only one of my two networked computers was able to access the internet. by mid-afternoon and post hours on the phone and online chatting, I was down to zero computers able to go online.
but, after only another 45 minutes on the phone, I was back up to one. and I came away from that call believing I have an understanding of and possible solution to my problem.

so as I sit to type this, I am once again batting one.
which is a hell of a lot better than batting zero.

and although durango will have to wait at least one more day, I am grateful to be a positive on today's scoreboard.

Monday, June 1, 2009

not today, either

jumping right into it all, the reason I can't write about durango today, either, is that it's stormy outside.
the sky is dense and thick and heavy, a solidly moving mass of gray upon gray. wind is whipping through the trees and rippling the top of the grass, and deep rumbling thunder waves are rolling over the valley.
no moisture yet, and it may not reach us at all, but I have hopes.
my windows are upon and I'm on high alert, as my trusty guard dog turbo lies cowering against the washing machine in the laundry room.
I hope it rains; I hope it rains hard and mightily until the sound of it dropping on my roof lulls me to sleep. I hope the air stays this heavy and moist until sunrise tomorrow; I hope the sky unleashes and drops every ounce of moisture it has left in its dark gray clouds.
I am so surrounded by walls and trees that I cannot see lightening if it flashes down, but my open windows allow every decimal of thunder to grace our airwaves, and I relish this.
it has cooled 8 degrees in the last hour, and I sit here patiently awaiting the rest of the storm.

thus I'm unable to mentally transport myself back to durango, as I am absolutely transfixed and held by the magical atmosphere surrounding my own small, familiar spot of the world.

maybe tomorrow.


I am ready to return to durango.
come with me, and I will do my best to recreate at best, part of my experience, and at the least, just the smallest sense of the grandeur and majesty of this spot on earth that must have been lovingly shaped by God's own hands.

we drove into durango on a rainy friday evening, clouds draped over the tops of the san juans, the tree-covered hills of the town romantically misty and deeply green. the sun was hidden behind rainclouds, and the filtered light lent a magical cast to the town's simple streets and hilly walls.
those hills hugged the little city, pines and grand old deciduous trees throughout. my heart swelled.
the morning of the ride dawned dry and cool: perfect riding conditions. as we awaited the official start, we listened to the steam engine preparing to pull its cars up to silverton, the rumbling engine much more confident than my own.
when the train whistle blew ~ again and again ~ we all pushed forward, us on the worn asphalt and that engine on its own little narrow gauge track. it had begun: no turning back now.
the ride began both gently and beautifully, as we headed north toward silverton on the Million Dollar Highway.
fat white clouds hovered far away and far above us, hiding the passes we would eventually reach, and the contrast between those snowy clouds, the green hillsides, and the far brown and gray mountain slopes was deep and almost transcendental. the valley through which we rode was lush in its moist springtime posture, and the cool, damp air we breathed filled me with delight.
as we climbed into the mountains my head swiveled back and forth, taking in the dense pines, the rocky crags, and soon, the remaining fingers of snow that had yet to release their crystalline grip on the ground beneath.
the road would twist and wind, then switch back on itself, and as we reached the summit of Coal Bank Pass, the air was 35 degrees and the world lazily stretched itself out in front of us as we gazed upon hundreds of miles of a topographical wonderland.

this country is astoundingly gorgeous.

the descent from that pass and the climb to the next led us past a river gorge far, far below the road, and we watched water thrusting itself from hillsides and over rock faces, rushing and gushing along a narrow channel that threw white froth up upon itself over and over, and over.

snaking down the winding road from the final pass into silverton was pure joy, as the crisp air rushed past and the road rose up to meet us and carry us to the end, into the narrow and concise valley that is home to this small town at the end of the railroad line. I sighed with relief and the thrill of having made it, and with delight for the experience of having ridden through such a stretch of God's obvious bounty.

and tomorrow, perhaps, I will write about that railroad line and the distinctly different path the train takes from the road we rode.

ahh . . .

just a note: up emigration, the sagebrush is in complete, pungent bloom.