Friday, July 31, 2009

asphalt artists

the nice thing about riding on a route that's used for running races ~ emigration canyon in this instance ~ is that just before the race, somebody cleans up the bike lanes.
the sweeper sweeps away pebbles and rocks and garbage, and for a brief time the bike lane is debris-free.
even more incredible is that they fix problem spots in the road surface itself.
now, I cannot swear that the race promoters are so powerful and connected that they can impact street repair, but I think the fact that the repair happened just days before the event is too serendipitous to call a mere coincidence.
the repair of which I speak is one of those interesting little "sinkholes" where the asphalt dips down. (do I really need to try to describe a sinkhole? seems to me the name says enough.) there was one on the downhill bike lane, about 3 or so miles from the top, that was just a doozy. (yep, that's a technical term for whoa! that's a bump!) when you're riding downhill, fast, and you hit that, it would send you skiwompus. (another technical term.) and if you weren't paying much attention, could give you a fairly significant scare.
so I assume someone with pull decided that that sinkhole could result in a twisted ankle or worse, and two days before the ride a worker-bee filled that hole with asphalt.

which leads me to today's curiosity: who is it that patches these spots?
I know the general answer: someone who works for the company the city hired to do so.
but I want the detailed answer: who is the person who actually used his tools to smooth over the fill job? who decided it was done, it was just right, it was the best patch job he could do?

you know this is leading somewhere.
and that somewhere is that there are good patch jobs out there, and absolutely hideous patch jobs out there. I have ridden over both. and to ride over the good ones is such a treat that I want to repeat it, just to be certain that I can't feel the edges. there are patch jobs that good out there, and I could tell you exactly where to find them.
and then there are the ones like what they did to the aforementioned sinkhole.
I avoided that sinkhole before, and I avoid it now.
because whoever did the repair job is not an artist.
I like asphalt artists: they make my ride pure pleasure. and they do exist, as proven by some of these beautifully smooth repair jobs. I like to think about someone who cares so much about the job he does that he will not quit until it's as if the original injury and resulting repair never even happened.
there are people like that out there.
in every walk of life, in every field, in each kind of industry that exists.
I like to think about the pride they must feel in the job they do, and I hope that my thanks and gratitude for their efforts and commitment might somehow work its way through the universe and someday, in some way, settle into their awareness.
with great appreciation and admiration for all who elevate their work to fine art,
warmly and respectfully,

Thursday, July 30, 2009

okay, but back to me

I write about me a lot, don't I?
I'm really not as egocentric as it might appear, though I do love to tell stories and ~ go figure ~ they usually include me as the protagonist. I could just go around telling stories about other people, but those tend to either fall into the gossip category, or the "but it's not my story to tell" category.
but here's one that I feel safe relaying, because this particular protagonist has already put it out there for the world to see, read, and know on his own blog,

I don't recall the story of how I found his blog, but I do remember seeing Fat Cyclist jerseys on my first lotoja ride, almost 2 years ago. the Fat Cyclist logo is a clydesdale, which is a pretty distinctive mascot to have on a cycling jersey. not to mention that one of the jerseys was pink. this is not your typical team cycling jersey. (though I did see an awesome beer-themed cycling jersey at the MS ride last year, and I've been racking my brain to try to recall the motto: something clever about riding and then drinking. if you know this, please share!)

it was some time later before I found the Fat Cyclist blog, and discovered that I was about the 10 millionth person to do so. I won't go on and on here, as I've done this before and it's just as easy for you to go to his site and pick up the history firsthand. suffice to say that he's clever, verbose, funny, committed, and currently in a world of hurt.
his wife has been battling cancer, and its grip has tightened and been squeezing this family more and more mercilessly over the last little while.

we all have our battles, our stuff, our challenges, our rewards, and our devastations. and while we're on upswings, it's sometimes difficult to remember that a good half the world is experiencing something quite opposite.
if you go visit fatty at, check out his 7/28 post where you can view his 6 minutes of joy. because even at a terrifyingly difficult part of life, he is able to acknowledge that beauty and joy exist. and more importantly, he's able to admit that he needs to incorporate these things into his life, and does so.

back to me, though: I am incredibly blessed and grateful for all the grace that surrounds and weaves through my life. I hold a firm belief that humans are resilient and capable of weathering fairly intolerable storms, and that we are always gently guided to (and through) what is the best experience for us at any given time.
therefore, the crappy, awful, painful things are crucial, and necessary for creating the people we are becoming. like the forge's fire and the unforgiving anvil, these experiences form us and give shape and definition to our character, our hearts, and our very beings.

but I'd say it might be time to let fatty off the anvil.
that's just my opinion. of course.
so I wish for him continued joys and moments of peace, an overflow of love and care from those who surround him and from within his own heart, and ultimately, a soaring rise from the the fire as a phoenix full of power, compassion, empathy, strength, and love.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

the neuro 6.0

I haven't grumbled about my cyclometer for quite some time,
mainly because I'd gotten it to a point where it would tell me how fast I was going, what my cadence was, and it would even keep track of my miles.
I was quite pleased with having it function like that.
I'd given up on ever accessing all of the other features it offers (especially after I sent the heart monitor strap it came with through the washing machine: very bad move) :
  • Digital Heart Rate with 5 Training Zones and Real Time Memory
  • Current, Average and Max Speed, Cadence and Heart Rate
  • Weekly Ride Time and Odometer
  • Altimeter with vertical feet/meters climbed and percent grade
  • Race Mode
  • 50-Lap Chronograph w/Interval Timer
  • etc, etc
I was just grateful that I'd figured out how to see how many miles I'd ridden (although I didn't dare reset it, for fear I'd lose all my data, so each ride I had to remember the odometer number I began with, then subtract that from the end-of-ride number) and how fast I was going at any given time.
when I would say I couldn't use certain aspects of my cyclometer, people would ask what part of my cyclometer wasn't working; I would reply, oh, it all works, there's just an issue of operator error.
the operator error was that she (me) was too lazy-chicken-intimidated to put the manual-on-CD into the computer and dig through it to learn how to use the darn complicated thing that has 5 sub-menus to memorize for each push of each button.

until today.

this morning, I put on my bright red cape and blue unitard and learned how to use my cyclometer. ta-da!

watch out world, here I come.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

red light, green light

this morning I was continuing to work on being where I was instead of wishing I were somewhere else.
where I was, was 23rd east heading south toward holladay. where I was (just for a teeny moment) wishing to be was home and swinging my leg off the bike.
yep, another one of those exciting, stimulating, fantastic recovery rides.

as I stated above, I was working on being where I was, and just pulling myself back into the present, when life shoved one of those teaching moments in my face.
it began when I looked forward, and saw a stoplight a couple blocks away.

(a big part of why I love riding canyons is that there are no stoplights. and very few stop signs. none of that stop and go and stop again frustration of riding around in the city.
on recovery ride days I have to steel myself for the experience of having my speed and flow determined by those sometimes amazingly slow-to-change stoplights that are laying down the law for nonexistent cars.)

back to my learning-moment.
I looked up, saw the stoplight shining red two blocks away, and immediately started scheming about my strategy. should I throw a little speed on and possibly catch the green, or would I miss an entire rotation of green-yellow-red by slowing a bit and waiting it out?
this is when the teacher shouted at me:
you are not in charge!
and more importantly, you can't know when that light is going to turn what color!
you have to wait until you get there!

ah. you have to wait until you get there.

that means when I'm on 23rd east and 42nd south, I need to be on 23rd east and 42nd south.
when I reach 23rd and 45th, then I can be at 23rd and 45th.

I got my little overeager, outsmart-the-world hand slapped, and I sank immediately back into the very present moment.

just last night, lying in bed, I was trying to plan the upcoming weekend. well, I could ride here or ride there or do this or do that, and how will it all coordinate and where will I be . . .
this morning, 2 emails provided information that completely adjusted my weekend, and all of last night's musing and plannings were for naught.

someday, I will learn this lesson, won't I?

for today, I am feeling pretty good about my stoplight lesson. I held an internal smile for the rest of my ride, and I gave up (okay, except for one more time) trying to outsmart the traffic lights. I worked on waiting until I was there before I put myself there.
because as much as we'd like to, we are just not able to control and manipulate the universe which surrounds us.
sometimes we just have to surrender to what is.
and be exactly where we are.

Monday, July 27, 2009

chop wood, carry water

note to self: always clean, degrease and lube bike before showering, not after. duh.

rick fields (et al) wrote a terrific book titled chop wood carry water. I bought this book a good 15-20 years ago, and when I went to look for it today I first ran across a similar book by the author jon kabat-zinn, full catastrophe living. I laughed, as that title seems incredibly appropos of my life these days, and set the book aside for future essay material.
but at the moment I was focused on finding chop wood carry water, and discovered it lying where I remembered it to be once I stopped and thought about it: in the cupboard of my bedside table.
the title of this book originates from a Chinese Zen master's poem written over 1000 years ago and translated by soiku shigematsu,
Magical power,
marvelous action!
Chopping wood,
carry water . . .

last week john gave me a 25th anniversary copy of the book, zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance, which I had never read, sneaking in as I did at the very end of the "hippy" era. I read a bit of it over the weekend, and it must be impacting me because today, while I was cleaning my bike, I leapt immediately to the concept of chopping wood and carrying water.
the point of that title is that we can all find a spirituality in common acts of everyday life; in fact, that these are often the best places to connect with that spirituality. it's also expressed as doing small acts with great love and awareness. as being present, fully involved, with whatever you are doing.
today as I wiggled the rag between my fingers to remove grime from my rear derailleur, slowly moving the chain around to expose each new tooth, I found myself in an incredibly peaceful place of pure focus on a necessary task.
not a loved task, by any means, but a vital task that impacts my well-being.
I was aware of each movement of my grease-covered hands, and I was involved in the care of this machine that takes me places I couldn't go without it. love was present, and knowledge gained, and even some level of a skill developed over time, which all combined to put me in a place of contentedness. and a place of spiritual connection.
ordinary tasks done with attention and focus on the actual activity can lead one to a greater joining in with the depths of one's soul through this pure process of being fully present. it moves one to an almost meditative state, yet there is complete awareness, attention, and action. it is a connection with a deeper, more divine place within oneself where peace and timelessness thrive.

of course when I finish and come back inside, the clock has moved its minute hand 30 times, a bead of sweat is trickling down my back and my hands are black with old lubricant and grime. but I, myself, have been in an aeonian space that has given rest to my mind and peace to my soul.
so I intend to hold the catch phrase chop wood, carry water within me as I go about living these next few days, hoping that it will continue to hold me present and accountable for how I relate to the world around me.

but at this very moment I'm incredibly glad for modern plumbing and the gift of running water (and serious soap and scrubbing pads), without which the hand-cleaning process would be much lengthier and more trying . . . though the very challenge of having to clean my hands in a bucket of slowly darkening water might lead me to another bout of timeless, zen-like existence . . .
I think I'll pass on creating that experience for myself, and just be grateful for that running water.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

banana bet

I traveled new terrain today, and conquered another summit.
and then the way back home just about conquered me.

on saturday I rode 93 miles, from home to mountain green, then a loop through the morgan valley, up and over trapper's loop, finishing with a lap around pineview reservoir. I was staying in huntsville that night, so was able to end it all there.
knowing I'd be in the huntsville valley today, I thought I'd take advantage of that and ride somewhere I'd always heard about but never been: monte cristo.
things I'd heard about the monte cristo ride:
it goes uphill
it goes on forever
it's 25 or so miles
it's not so bad
it just goes on forever

saturday evening, being the absolutely amazing planner that I am, I decided to get online and try to find out a little more about this ride up the canyon to the monte cristo summit. one of the guys I rode with saturday, paul, had told us all about this great website,, and I decided to check it out.
after patiently (not) perusing the instructions and spending 15 minutes in an effort to map my potential ride ~ not being completely certain of where the summit of this ride was on the map provided ~ I threw in the towel and tried the "find a ride" search tool.
that was easy.
up popped the monte cristo ride, already mapped for me. it showed a 24 mile climb, with grades no higher than 5%.
5 percent is not too bad of a grade.
I then searched for emigration and little cottonwood, checking elevations and grades and concluding that I would be okay. emigration showed no grades steeper than 5% as well, so I prepared myself for a climb that would be like riding emigration 3 times.
then I looked at the elevations for the monte cristo ride.
huntsville is about 4800 feet, and the top of monte cristo was about 8900 feet. now that is a significant gain. it's almost exactly the gain from my house to the top of brighton ski resort. and climbing to brighton involves a titch more effort that 3 emigrations.

to cut to the chase, it was a climb. and if some of those spots were really only 5%, I will each an entire bunch of bananas. at one sitting.

darn good thing it was absolutely gorgeous.

unfortunately between the climb, the lack of watering holes, and the pissy little headwind on the way down, I was a bit beat up and grumpy for the last 5 or so miles. most muscles in my body ached with tension and overuse, and I was most eager for the whole thing to just end. stop. be over with. leave me be.

of course it eventually did.
and I get to add another name to my list.

would I have had a better ride if I hadn't ridden 93 miles the day before?
most likely.
at 22 miles up the hill was I glad I was doing it?
not really.
at 6 hours post ride-completion am I glad I did it?
you bet your life. and a bunch of bananas, because you're safe on that bet.

and if anyone dares take me up on my challenge, I'm almost absolutely certain you won't have to shell out the 3 bucks to buy me those bananas.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

head, shoulders, knees and holes

I promised an update regarding my hole-sitting, and neglected to give you one yesterday.

thus I've developed a 4-step plan to let you know how things are going in my biking world, and it follows along with one of my favorite childhood day-camp songs . . . you can stretch along with me (and sing, as well) if you'd like.

head. biking is very much a head game. I find that what I set my mind to is usually what happens. thus I easily psych myself out, but also pull through when I set a goal. after writing about sitting in that black hole the other morning, I had decided not to sit in that hole on friday. since I started riding in the dark that morning, I was about 5 miles into my ride before I remembered to look at (and could see) my heart monitor. at that point I was sitting in that hole, and I immediately put the power on and raised up and out of there. I had made the decision to stay out of the hole friday, and once I remembered that (and could track it), I only visited the black hole on my way up to or down from other zones. I mentally patted myself on the back.
biking is very much a head game.

shoulders. I tend to tense my shoulders when I ride, lifting them up slightly as I tighten muscles and climb. before I know it, they're only inches away from my ears, and when I remember to, I take a deep breath and relax them back down to where they should be. they inch up less when I'm sitting in the hole, and more when I'm heading toward my top zone. my form disintegrates when I'm working really hard, and I was quite relieved today when I watched a bit of the tour de france today and noticed that some elite athletes do the same thing (only completely different) as they push beyond reasonable limits. I may have even seen a few creeping shoulders. but then again, that could have just been wishful thinking.

knees. my knees have been letting me know they exist, lately. I find that I enjoy my body much more when it just does its thing and doesn't need to talk to me about it. my knees are entirely too vocal these days. I've been working with my bike shop boy on this issue, and I think we've made progress. but I believe that some of my hole-sitting may have to do with my fear of my knees: I want them to stay with me for a long time ~ ideally, the rest of my life ~ and so I've been babying them with low gears and slower speeds, almost subconsciously. I do believe I'm back in correct alignment now, and that my knees will gradually reduce their chatter as they heal and once again get happy. the theory here: happy knees = no need for hole-sitting.

holes. I can't completely ignore 5 beats on the continuum of my heart's beating range. they exist, and I can't skip from 159 to 165 by wishing it to be so, by relaxing my shoulders, or by having happy, healthy, silent knees. I can't be afraid of those numbers, I just have to attend to the monitor and stay determined not to sit there. I have to believe in my ability to push up and out of it. I have to keep the faith.

and to wrap it all up, I'm sure that if I continue to add more stretching to my daily routine (say, starting with a head-shoulders-knees-toes action) I will continue to improve my body's happiness, which will in turn help me ride harder . . . better . . . faster . . . stronger . . .
so now I'm off to do a little more stretching.

Friday, July 24, 2009

the marathoner

I was in a marathon this morning!
I'm about ready to go buy myself one of those 26.2 stickers for the back of my car!
what a great time it was: the enthusiasm from the support teams at the water breaks, the sheriffs on their motorcycles, the pace car right behind the race leader, and then toward the end, as the route wound through wasatch drive, all of the residents who put up lawn chairs and waited to watch us all pass by.
the energy was just powerful, and swirled around the entire event.
I even passed the race leaders! twice! both times a blond in bright yellow running shoes was in front, followed fairly closely by a dark skinned man who must be a kenyan. aren't most of the best marathoners from kenya? or is that just one more urban myth?

regardless, I'm sure you've figured out by now that during this intensely magical marathon of mine this morning, my feet never touched the ground. they stayed firmly attached to my pedals, as I wove in and out among the astoundingly diverse collection of runners who were on their way to tucking another little marathon under their collective belt.

it all began in the dark, when I first caught sight of a truck parked at the mouth of emigration, its flashers flashing, its owner standing alongside a portable table and various other paraphernalia I didn't have time or the ability to puzzle out. the scene was familiar, though, as a handful of other times I have seen support stations posted along the emigration canyon road for running races.
hmm, my little brain went.
nothing else entered the big picture until a bit past ruth's, when I saw a half dozen cars and some bodies and tables set up with a hundred or so paper cups filled with liquid. I said good morning to them, and almost immediately put clue #1 together with clue #2 and deduced it was a running race day.
ooh, my brain went. it's pioneer day, and this is the annual deseret news marathon . . . sharp as a tack, am I, at 5:50 am.

the 40th annual deseret news marathon took place this morning, and I was in the thick of it. what fun! I got to weave in and out and amongst some of the best runners in utah as well as a bunch of slightly obsessed people quite similar to myself. what more could I ask? I had to finally stop saying hello and good morning, as that in and of itself took more energy than I had to spare.
I first saw runners coming toward me a mile or so from the top of emigration, when they were about 8.5 miles into their race. the front runner was being led by 2 motorcycles and a pace car with (I'm sure) dignitaries in it, the woman in the front seat reading a book. (she must really be into marathons.) the next 3 runners were close behind, and then there was a gap of at least a half mile. I saw the first female runner near the top of the summit, and I silently cheered her on.
I wanted to shout way to go! you all are so awesome! to everyone along the entire route, but I haven't figured a way to do that without feeling that I will be interpreted as somewhat condescending or just plain crazy or possibly, histrionic. so I just thought it, and tried to give out waves of positive energy to all I passed.
running has its strategies, just like all racing, and I just now searched the news to see who won. it was not the man who was far in front both times I saw them, nor did the front-running woman win. so during the last 8 miles, it's clear that the leaders tired and some runners from a bit further back powered on to take over those leads. (and yes, it was a kenyan who won the men's race.)

what I learned this morning:
  • I like being around the energy of athletes exercising their skills and strengths.
  • it's even more fun when I'm not part of the competition.
  • some runners take pictures while they're running marathons.
  • chalk messages on the asphalt cheering on specific runners can be done quite artfully and colorfully.
  • skorts are reasonably popular among running women.
  • runners are more jovial running downhill than uphill.
  • cyclists moving toward runners get there much more quickly than if those runners were on bikes.
  • I'm glad I'm a cyclist, not a runner. but hey, I already knew that.
happy pioneer day, utah!

Thursday, July 23, 2009

night riders

last night after dinner, john and I started driving toward emigration canyon to escape the city heat for a few moments. before we'd even reached the mouth, we passed a handful of cyclists, pedaling away in that 89 degree warmth.
at least a dozen cyclists were coming down the canyon as we moved up, and a few were ascending as well. it was sometime between 8:30 and 9, and the sky was losing light with each passing moment.
at the summit, we parked the car and walked along a service road for a while, breathing in the view from the entire circle of available directions, and watching the sky continue to darken as it released the last dancing particles of the last faint rays of sun.
as we returned to the car, we watched 2 cyclists preparing for their descent back into the city, rear taillights flashing and strong headlights cutting through the dusk.
I wanted to be on one of those bikes.

I love my early morning rides, and I even love them more as the days shorten and the dark hours of night inch deeper into my ride. it is cool, it is quiet and sparsely populated with humans. I love this, and can't imagine giving it up.
but last night I felt the pull of an evening ride, headlighted and jacketless, reaching the cool 69 degrees at the summit and turning to head back down to the heated bowl of the city.
it was the headlight that really got me.
that sense of adventure, of defying common sense and logic. of waiting until it will be dark for part of your ride, of the risk of compromised sight and intensified energy coursing through your body.

it is still hot---we are to reach a triple-digit high today---and it feels like summer has taken firm hold of us and dug its heels in, but the days have already begun to shrink, and their ends on either side will just become darker and darker as we move through the next month.
I will have plenty time for headlights.
but last night teased me, placing a tickly little idea in my mind.
thus I know I will be scheduling an evening ride sometime in the near future, so I, too, can join those lighted creatures whose nocturnal proclivities so enticed me as I stood atop my favorite canyon last evening.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

sitting in the hole

it appears I'm in the midst of a "sitting" theme this week.
first my uncomfortable saddle-sitting issues, and now an entirely different kind of sitting:
yesterday I kept slipping into and sitting in a hole.

a black hole.

the black hole we've been taught not to sit in.
it's that heartrate range at about 85 percent of one's maximum, where most people apparently tend to work when they exercise.
my power camp training taught me to stay out of that range---for me, 159-164---the black hole. the reasoning behind avoiding that area is that people tend to plateau there: they reach that level, it's hard enough, and so they stop pushing. our coach's theory is that we gain strength, endurance, and ability when we push past that limit. which then helps us to sit just below that spot as well, for hours on end if necessary.
what it all comes down to is that when you find yourself in that hole, you're supposed to either kick it up a level, or back off.
my issue yesterday was that it hurt too much to kick it up very much higher: 162 seemed to be where my heart wanted to be, but it sure felt like 172. not a good way to feel.

so I sat in the hole a lot.

now this can be a sign of overtraining, or illness, or just having an off day. I'm choosing the latter, because I have been feeling pretty much the same as always, and had a recovery day just the day before, so it shouldn't be related to overtraining.

it was just a day to sit in a hole.
black hole, sore bottom parts,
what a day.

today was somewhat different: an awesome, crisp, beautiful, less-bottomly-painful ride up millcreek canyon, starting from my house at 5:15 when it was dark and fresh. still didn't reach my top zone, but at least I felt good powering up some of those rises without that extreme top effort.

and still I sat in the hole more than I'd like to have done.

the next time I ride, I plan to work everywhere but in the hole. tomorrow is my yoga day, my day off the bike, so I'm planning to get realigned and be fully back to being a hole-less rider on friday.

I'll be sure to keep you posted.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

more girl stuff

ps: I just looked in the mirror and immediately did 2 things: applied eye cream and decided to stop smiling. from now on I'll just wave or nod my head.

for females only

okay, I know that isn't going to work. if anything, it probably hooked you guys into reading on, eyes pealed and heartrates jumping.
but let me just forewarn you: if you get turned off or grossed out, you were told you shouldn't be reading it anyway. I am pre-absolving myself of blame.
because this is serious girl stuff.
you guys have your own issues.

in fact, that's how I'll begin.
I don't fully understand the details of how guys, ah-hem (throat clearing), arrange themselves to sit on bike saddles for hours on end. when I first started cycling I thought females had it worse, but at this point I've decided it's a challenge either way.
yes, today's topic is saddle comfort.
or the lack thereof.

it all began during power camp. I was sitting on a spin bike saddle 6 days a week, and I was getting pretty darn uncomfortable. I'd always wear bike shorts, but would feel like no amount of padding would ever stop the pain. and it's so not about needing more padding on my butt. (okay, I am, in general, a fairly modest person, but there's just no way to talk about this without shedding some of that modesty and welcoming in the embarrassment.)
it's not my butt that gets sore riding a bike.
it's the parts a little further forward.
first I learned to choose a saddle that was better for me. narrower, and harder. go figure. I still don't understand why a firm saddle is more comfortable than a more padded one: it's that reverse logic playing itself out.
then I learned about lubrication. one of our female instructors gave a little spiel one morning on lubrication options: the kind they sell in the bike stores (expensive) to KY jelly (less so) to vaseline (eww). her recommend was KY.
I tried them all.
and things got better, but there were still plenty days where the saddle caused more pain than the screaming muscles and the hyperextended lungs.

when class ended for the season and I started riding outside again, I finally dredged up some courage and went to the bike shop and sat on the assometer. yes, they really call it that.
how many of you want to go have your butt measured?
actually, it's not as bad as it sounds, as all they really care about measuring are your sit bones. they make an indentation on this cushy thing you sit on, and the cute bike shop boy then measures the distance between your sit bones and tells you what size saddle you should be using.
on jarrod's recommend, I bought a new, hard, properly sized saddle. I've heard these described as "shovels," and when I first felt that new saddle I couldn't have pointed out many differences between a shovel and that thing.
but jarrod was correct: it became comfortable. geez, really comfortable.

however, I still had issues. so on to serious girl stuff. with just the bare minimum of info, so you guys who I know are still reading just deal with the fact that I'm not giving much explanation.
I have always shaved.
but sometimes those little nubby things don't like the pressure they get while riding. they get bothered. and irritated. which in turn makes me bothered and irritated.
so . . . someone suggested waxing, telling me that this is a lifesaver for a serious cyclist.
I gave it a shot.
but it helps. and life was much better for quite some time.

however . . . I am back to having some issues again, and I'm about out of new tricks to try. (it didn't help that I forgot to use my Chamois Butt'r ---love that cute name---for the 71-mile Mt. Nebo ride on sunday.) every little bump on the road reminds me just how not-good things are. pressure spots, ingrown hairs, redness . . . it's enough to keep a girl off a bike.

well, not really.

but I want to get back to that point of believing my bike saddle to be one of the most comfortable places on earth to be. yes, I have been there. I want to return to that place.

now I do have a (male) friend who had to withdraw from Lotoja last year due to saddle sores . . . I guess I can always keep that in mind. maybe not being able to get on the bike could come in handy some day . . .

Monday, July 20, 2009

accepting recovery

I've been griping about recovery rides lately.
they bore me, and I have only figured out a single recovery path so I find it tedious and much too predictable. because I am neither an uber-cyclist or a really strong guy, it doesn't take too much to get my heart rate up into those anaerobic zones. thus I have to stay on something relatively flat and I just don't live in a part of utah that has an abundance of flat.

so today I decided to change my attitude.
it sounds so easy . . .

I fought my lousy attitude pretty much the entire time, and that probably increased my heartrate by a good 2 beats.
nevertheless, I managed to keep that rate under my cut-off (which for me is 159), while mentally compiling a list of all the wonderful things about riding my awesome recovery route:

  • I get to ride past 2 coffee places, both ways, for a total of 4 great whiffs of freshly brewing coffee.
  • I see lots of ordinary folk---waiting for the bus, out perusing their yards, chatting with neighbors, just out walking---which I rarely see up a canyon.
  • I get to see some street lights go dark.
  • I get a different perspective on the sunrise: it first lights up the sky above emigration canyon, backlighting the clouds, tinting every available cloud light pink, its rays throwing this intensely powerful light straight up and out over this small, low break in the ridge of mountains that line our eastern city boundary.
  • I get to watch the sun break next over millcreek and olympus cove, again backlighting the clouds that hover low behind the mountains. today those clouds were outlined in piercing silver, and they drew me up 45th south toward them, my whole being mesmerized by this miraculous sight. how many other people got to witness those divine, fleeting moments before the sun rose just a few more feet and the intensity of the image faded?
  • I get to inhale the cold and mulchy smell of the salt lake country club golf course, a smell so distinctive I think I could name it if I were blindfolded and given a test tube full of it to sniff.
  • I get to ride past 2 bread stores, both ways, for a total of 4 great wafting breezes full of warm baking bread smell.
  • I get a different perspective on city life: the many different houses, yards, cars, routines, commutes, pets, and cocoons people inhabit and work with each day.
it was a focus on being right here kind of morning, and I did a decent job.

but I already know that tomorrow I'll be grateful to be heading up emigration, my heartrate soaring back up into those working zones, and my heart once again connecting with everything I love about being in the canyon.

besides, the smell of frying bacon that hangs around ruths diner on my way down is worth 4 shots of coffee plus those 4 whiffs of warm bread.

Sunday, July 19, 2009


mountains don't bend to us, do they?
today I was hoping one would, and the stubborn thing just refused. time and time again. I was begging, my legs were sending out s.o.s. distress signals that I'm sure could be heard and understood by every person place and thing in a 10-mile radius, and that darn mountain just stood there, firmly planted and completely unbending.

I conquered another peak today. and this one is going in the "been there done that" category, along with the kamas-up-the-mirror-lake-highway-to-the-summit ride.
at least it's going there today.

it's about 24 miles from the entrance to the winding canyon to the top of the mount nebo loop, though if you asked me to pinpoint where the top of that loop is I'm not sure I could tell you. it has so many ridiculous false summits that I have no idea where the point of highest elevation is. I know I was there at some moment: that's all I can say for certain.
there was a spot where I pulled off the road and gazed at mt. nebo, off to our right, and took a few pictures for people on their i-phones and cell phones (now, what do I push? oh, that little teeny square box on the side of the screen? ok, let me know if you need a do-over).
I think this was some kind of summit.
but then we went down a bit and around and then up a bit again.
and then down and around and up a lot.
and then down.
and down.
and then up again: I almost swore at that point.
well, I did. my legs made me do it.

year 2 has begun with a bang.

I can now officially add the mt. nebo loop to my list of conquered peaks, and I am quite happy to be able to do so.
I made the right decision the other day, by choosing C, and then convincing myself I could also do B.
and the great thing about making decisions is that they almost always seem to work out in the end. in fact, I recently read a great quote with which I will close today, a quote attributed to some unknown sage:

everything will be okay in the end.
if it's not okay, it's not the end.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

the grand experiment

one could look at all life experiences as experiments.
we never truly know what an outcome will be until it occurs, as much as we might hope to predict such things.
364 days ago I undertook a grand experiment: I started this blog and committed to writing and posting something each day, whether it be significant or meaningful or silly or just a tease for a future posting. and I followed through on this commitment. (in the interest of complete truthfulness, there were 2 days I did not post an entry, and at least half a dozen postings were prepared ahead of time and electronically posted on the scheduled day.)
this has been a labor of love, and a job.
I have taken it seriously and been fully committed to actualizing my pledge. it was never a commitment to you, dear reader, but just to myself. deep in my soul I am a writer, one who is fulfilled by creating, by putting pen to paper and words on a computer screen. this has been my exercise, my work, my way to discipline myself to practice the craft I say I love and need.

I started riding my bike regularly 3 years ago, in an effort to improve my health, lose some jiggly fat, and create a pattern in my life that would move me into and through the aging process with some grace and ease. I want to keep participating in life here on earth for a long time, and I saw cycling as something I could add to my life to keep me healthy and fit during as much of that journey as possible.
as part of my cycling commitment, I took a course to help teach, train, and strengthen me, and then the rest has been actually getting out there and doing it. exploring new routes and experiences, riding regularly, continuing to learn more about my bike (eek! maintenance!), and studying what better cyclists do so that I can incorporate new skills into my repertoire.

I started the tao of cycling a year ago, in an effort to improve my writing skills and share the thrill of my experiences with anyone who cared to read about them. it has been a lark, a treat, a grind, a drudgery, and everything in between and around those widespread pillars. it's given me an opportunity to document where I've been, what I've seen, the rides I've ridden and the feelings I've experienced. it has helped me connect with others, and has, at times, helped others validate their own experiences.
liz johnson was my inspiration, and although this weblog may have come to be without her, I will always give her complete credit for making it come to life last july. she stirred the passion within me, and gave me courage and belief in my creative abilities. we never spoke of a weblog, but it all came to be because of liz. she knows this, I know, and it's probably not the least bit coincidental that I rode through her favorite spot on earth this morning.
liz loved storm mountain, up big cottonwood canyon, and as I rode through that area this morning I thought of her visiting this vital and magnificent spot. she drew strength from the mountain, from the earth, from the skies and creatures that claim this niche as home.
but it wasn't until I sat down to write this afternoon that I connected today's ride with liz and the birth of the tao of cycling.

there are no accidents, they say.

tao means path or way. cycling has caused my life to move in a very definite path, one replete with beauty and riches and incredible experiences. and my way is so very blessed and full of opportunities to gain wisdom. I have loved having an opportunity to share all of this with you, and if I can impact even one life in a meaningful way for one moment, I have made a difference.
just as I have been enriched by riding that bi-wheeled machine I love, I hope to share some of that wisdom with anyone who is open to receiving it, and enrich other lives as well.

the grand experiment has reached a milestone.
and although technically it's only the milestone marked "one", it feels an awful lot like I've just completed a century.
so I'm giving myself a "100," and just to celebrate, I think I'll go tackle a new mountain tomorrow.

see you on mt. nebo.

Friday, July 17, 2009

susan's dictionary

today's entries are:
continental divide

continental divide: the fact that people on the east coast describe things differently than do us here folk out west. and this thought stems from the fact that I saw a beautiful, light brown, velvety young buck this morning while I was riding. it bounded across the road in front of me, then waited patiently and protectively in the scant brush on the hillside for me to pass. he looked at me, his huge brown eyes absorbing every detail and his nose twitching with my scent. his antlers were furry and brown, and there were 2 points on each side.
now back east, it's my understanding that they'd call him a 4-pointer. but us more relaxed and realistic folk out here just call him a 2-point. I like to think it's because we don't need to exaggerate to make ourselves awesome: we just are.

ferocious: as in the winds coming down the canyon this morning were absolutely ferocious. they blew with such ferocity that trees bent down and swept their branches on the earth. this wind was relentless, vicious, fierce, and completely pitiless. it cared not that I was barely moving forward, battling against it. and thankfully, it blew me right back out of that canyon an hour later. wheeee!

guns: last week when I was in the bike shop, my bike shop boy said to me, wow, those are some guns you've got there. been working out a lot? I had no idea what he was talking about. guns? and then a millisecond later it clicked: oh, this must have something to do with biceps, but geez, I've never heard that one before.
then 6 days later my son shows me a t-shirt that says something about guns and points to the sleeves.
so obviously I missed the memo about biceps being nicknamed guns.
but now I know, so I predict that fairly soon this term will be obsolete.

insomniac: a few times during the last weeks I have seen a cyclist coming down emigration while I've been heading up. I see him during the bottom couple of miles, and he is streaking down, not looking one single bit like a commuter. he wears a team kit and isn't carrying any packs or panniers or anything. nor does his bike have a light. but he seems too fit and serious to not have ridden up the entire canyon. and since I'm passing him about 5:50 am, I'm thinking he must start up the canyon about 5. further, since I don't see him every day, I'm thinking on some mornings he starts even earlier.
this morning I passed a guy coming down even through the golf course even before I'd reached the mouth of the canyon, and it could have been him.
so I've decided he's an insomniac. someone who gets up darn well near the middle of the night and rides his bicycle . . . obviously deserves a DSM diagnosis.

newbie: ah, my favorite word of the day. newbie, as in someone who has just begun regularly riding emigration canyon. there are different categories of newbies, and there are 2 I can readily recognize. some fall into the "I'm just starting to ride these kind of uphill things" category, and they tend to be slower, they look tired, and they move their upper body too much in their efforts to keep climbing. I've been there, so I have great empathy and huge encouraging energy vibrating out when I pass them.
another category is the more experienced (or at least stronger) rider who has a distinctive enough appearance that I recognize them. one guy in particular I've noticed each morning I've ridden emigration these past 2 weeks. he is dark skinned, and a large (tall) guy, and he rides his mountain bike which looks just a little too small for him. he has big glasses, and he just looks darn happy to be out there. just to see him makes me smile, as does writing about him. he's started to wave back at me, and I feel like I have a new buddy in the canyon. he is always headed up when I'm coming down, so we don't chat. but we have a good friendly wave thing going.

and that's it for susan's dictionary today: may you discover some new word usages as well!

Thursday, July 16, 2009

this or that or possibly, something completely different

back to decisions:
this happens to me. I can be going along, thinking I'll do either A or B, when I have a conversation with someone who points out that C is an option as well, and next thing I know A and B are out the window and I'm thinking C is the best idea since sliced bread. or air cartridges. or mint mojitos.

what happened is that this morning after yoga I chatted with biking bob, talking about potential weekend rides. he was concerned that both options (those would be A and B, today) would turn into all-day events. he is right about that. and that both were rides where you had to drive to the starting point. oh, I don't like that either.
he mentioned that he'd rather just ride out the door and go up big mountain, down to east canyon, and then maybe go further if he/we/whomever felt like it (this would be C) . . .
he's right, that's what I'd rather do . . .

suddenly C is the right thing.

but then I said, how about doing that saturday, so that if I decide I want to do the Mt. Nebo thing I could still do that on sunday . . .

so now you've been updated with my current thoughts about the weekend rides. I am always torn with wanting certain new experiences, but not wanting to make an entire day event out of them. which then starts me wondering about why that is: why do I not want to spend the whole day out there doing something I like, with people who are probably right up my alley (or bike lane)?
the only answer I can come up with is that there are just too many other things I like to do. or want to do. or need to (eventually) do. (the latter category includes things like laundry, dusting, vacuuming, putting things away, going grocery shopping, keeping up on correspondence, and oh yes, more dusting.)
it's hard to give up the bulk of a day, especially when you return disgustingly sweaty and grimy and tired, to boot.

so, once again I am postponing any real decision. things are formulating in my mind, different scenarios for the weekend adjusting, comparing and contrasting themselves, and I'm quite unsure of the ultimate outcome.

but I have a feeling C will be in there somewhere.

and here's a sneak preview: tomorrow I plan to write about guns.
stay tuned!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

dam dam dam dam dam

I don't like decisions.

ha! some of you are laughing, because you know this about me.

it's usually because I like both or all of the options, and I don't like having to choose just one.
how limiting!
but I need to make a decision about this weekend: there are 2 rides, and be one cyclist I can only choose one.
now if I were a super-cyclist, I could choose both, because one is on saturday and one is on sunday.
some cyclists would do both, but I think I'm better off to just choose one, as they are both on the aggressive side.


so the first option is a saturday ride: the 5 dam ride.
this one begins in park city, and goes past jordanelle to kamas, then through oakley and on to rockport dam, then past coalville to echo dam, then around to henefer (ooh, love that place) and up-and-down to east canyon dam, then up the back side of big mountain and down to little dell reservoir, up little mountain and down emigration to end in salt lake.
91 or so miles, with the frustration of starting one place and ending another.

sunday's ride: mt. nebo.
this one begins in nephi city park, and cruises through all those utah county places like mona, goshen canyon, santaquin, and payson lake, with a description of "major climbing."
70 or so miles, with a long car ride to both get there and get home.

they both pull me, though they both have drawbacks. Mt. Nebo is out there like a carrot: I've never been there in a car let alone on a bicycle. maybe if I knew how tough it was I would drop the option like a hot potato. the Mt. Nebo ride sponsor (the Bonneville Bicycling Club) rates it a "mt. everest: the hardest climbs you can think of."
saturday's ride is more familiar territory, but long and it will be hot and it's got a lot of what I did last saturday.
it depends as well on who might be going on which ride: a friend is tentatively offering her companionship saturday, and the bad ass team is part of sunday's ride. oh, to split myself in two . . .

and luckily it's only wednesday, so I can postpone this decision a bit.

to dam, or not to dam, that is the question . . .

Tuesday, July 14, 2009


this morning I was freezing.

which makes me think about toys.
I know of people who have cyclometers that tell them the time, their heartrate, the altitude, the grade, their speed, their cadence, their calories burned and watts expended, their exact location on planet earth . . . and the temperature. ( oh and yes, this can all be synced to their laptop, desktop, or blackberry when they're done with their ride, so they can study their stats, and email the info to people like me who don't own such groovy toys.)

there are times I'd like the thermometer. I'm thinking I could probably go buy just a teeny little one like they used in my daughter's 7th grade science class, and tape it to my handlebars, and then I'd always know the temperature. this would come in especially handy for that prior-proper-planning thing: if I learned that a long-sleeve jersey and shorts were enough for a descent at 58 degrees, then when I scoped out the weather the night before I ride I could always be properly prepared.

last night I knew it would be chilly this morning, and I walk (ride) a fine line between wanting to be warm and cozy, and enjoying the crisp, chilly morning air. between being overdressed and sweaty on the way up or carrying a small arsenal of extra gear for the descent or just plain old freezing on the way down.
I leaned toward the underdressed side for this morning's ride, and though my cheeks and ears felt like I was on a ski slope during the first 45 minutes, I only froze for a brief span of time. my fingers were the part of me most affected by the cold, and were so frozen by 3 miles from the bottom that I had to stop lifting my left hand in acknowledgement of passing cyclists: the darn muscles just wouldn't work.
but by the time I reached home my body was close to returning to normal warmth, and that first cup of coffee was like nectar of the gods.

tomorrow morning is supposed to be another cold one, and I plan to climb up a chilly canyon before sunrise. as I pull together my clothes tonight, I will force myself to remember how very cold I was this morning, a good 14 hours and 35 degrees ago.

because crisp and chilly is exhilarating, and freezing is fun if it's extremely short term, but all in all, comfortable is my favorite place to hang out.

Monday, July 13, 2009

about ewes

you know I'm a romantic at heart, and there is something terribly romantic about sheep and sheepherders. at least in my book.

when I was in 9th grade my sweetheart was a boy named barney murnin. we had been friends ever since I moved to utah and joined his school class, but during 9th grade the feelings turned into that mushy stuff. I spent a lot of my free time with barney, and one summer day he took me horseback riding in the hills behind his home. he lived in snyderville, at the bottom of what was then Park West Ski Resort.
barney saddled up a gentle horse for me, brought a picnic lunch in his bag, and we started up the road and turned into the gently sloping trail up toward the mountain top. in my memory, we rode up red pine canyon, but everyone I have ever mentioned this ride to insists that there's only a white pine canyon. perhaps red pine lives only in this story, but it is a vibrantly real place to me.
we rode up and up, finally coming to an open meadow that spread for an acre or two, where a small, rounded and worn trailer perched in the yellow grass. a blue healer ran circles around us, barking and nipping gently at the air by our boot-shod feet, and a small old man came forward out of his old wood chair to greet us.
barney introduced me to the shepherd who cared for the murnin family flock, and we sat and ate with the wizened and browned man who spent weeks at a time with just his dog and his flock of sheep.

this was one of those defining experiences for me: I believe it was the first time that I realized not everyone lived the kinds of lives my family, neighbors, schoolmates and acquaintances lived. that someone could spend their time following sheep across hillsides and pastures and mountaintops, reading thick novels by lantern light and using their voice only to communicate with four-legged and two-winged creatures.

I treasure this memory, and relive it each time I see a sheepherder moving his flock.
which is what I saw saturday as I flew down the back side of big mountain toward east canyon resort.

I actually had to brake and slow for the ewe and her two lambs who didn't quite know what to make of me, while the long-haired white sheepdog lay at the side of the road, confident in his herd's ability to navigate us cyclists and automobiles. a single black sheep stood on the far side of the road, watching me with solemn dark eyes and a motionless body.
I smiled inside and out, and instantly returned to that meadow where I first met a man who lived such a radically different life from mine.

on the way back up big mountain a few hours later, the shepherd and dogs were nowhere to be seen, but sheep decorated the entire hillside, their bumpy bodies moving slowly uphill, weaving about through the sagebrush and rocks and thistle. their calls to each other floated down the hill and I echoed a baaa or two back up at them while my heart remembered exactly what it was like to be 14.

Sunday, July 12, 2009


I had to look up the official definition of bonking, so I could start there, today.
this is what I found from our web friend, wikipedia:

In endurance sports, particularly cycling and running, hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by precipitous fatigue and loss of energy. Milder instances can be remedied by brief rest and the ingestion of food or drinks containing carbohydrates. The condition can usually be avoided by ensuring that glycogen levels are high when the exercise begins, maintaining glycogen levels during exercise by eating or drinking carbohydrate-rich substances, or by reducing exercise intensity . . . Such fatigue can become seriously debilitating; in cycling, exhaustion can reach the point where the cyclist is unable to stand without the support provided by the bicycle. Symptoms of depletion include general weakness, fatigue, and manifestations of hypoglycemia, such as dizziness and even hallucinations.

I'm sure you caught the key phrase in that description, the one that says this condition can usually be avoided by . . .
uh-huh, it sure can.

I have bonked twice so far in my cycling career, and both times have been extremely unnerving. the first was over 2 years ago when I was about 75 miles into a 100-mile ride in southern utah. I started feeling weak and strange and had no idea what was going on. I remember thinking I had to get off the bike, but didn't think I had the energy to do so. I slowed down and after a few miles, my mind settled enough for me to realize what was going on. I had a GU with me (those sugary energy goop-in-a-teeny-packet things) and quickly sucked it down, and soon some energy returned. I limped through the last miles, and thought I had learned a big lesson.

until yesterday, when I realized I'd done it again.

yesterday I rode with brad and bob and patty ~ well, I rode behind brad and bob and patty ~ from home to henefer and back. I left home at 7 am to ride up to the northern rim of our city, to brad's house, for pre-ride latte's from his killer espresso machine. now, I don't usually do pre-ride latte's, so I just had a small one.
we left brad's about 8, and headed east.
in henefer we stopped at grumpy's, which is basically the only place in town to buy anything. and they're closed on sundays, so we never ride to henefer on a sunday.
I had a salted nut roll (yum) which had 9 outstanding grams of protein, and only half a gram of trans-fat, which biking bob, MD, oh-so-kindly pointed out to me. I also had a small packet of trail mix, and filled up my water bottles.
the next leg of my ride, from henefer to east canyon resort, was not my best. if I wouldn't have been so embarrassed I would have called for a ride.
I blamed it on the trans-fat, and swore off salted nut rolls.

we stopped next at east canyon resort store where the owners have a tolerate-hate relationship with all of us cyclists. the actual clerks behind the register are usually friendly and nice, but the feeling hanging over the place is "keep your bikes off our property and don't mess up our bathrooms and ice is 25 cents and hurry up and leave." I bought a diet mountain dew, and drank it down while we waited out the brief rainstorm that started right after we arrived. and then we started up the mountain.

50 minutes later I reached the top, where we all said our goodbyes, letting everybody go from there home at their own pace. which meant brad and bob streaking off, and susan and patty trailing behind.

I did fairly well until I reached the top of little mountain, 10 miles left to go and all the significant climbing behind me. I crested the top and shifted gears to head downhill, and it hit me.
I bonked.
the world changed colors and my head was suddenly swallowed by an ocean and every muscle in my body started complaining. I lowered into my drop bars, and coasted and spun lightly down the hill, and after a mile or so had to lift myself back up to my handlebars before the ache in my upper arms moved to a cramp. I had nothing to give, nothing to pull from, and yet I had to keep going. I was the spinning wounded, knowing that I was running well below empty but knowing there was little I could do about it besides just get home. my head felt separate from my body, and neither of them wanted to be where they were. I had my last sip of water and started praying.
a couple miles from Ruth's I thought about the possibility of stopping there for sustenance. I had a few dollars left in my pack: perhaps they would fill up my water bottle and give me a teaspoon of their incredible raspberry jam . . .
but I so desperately wanted to be home, I couldn't bear the thought of stopping.

I wobbled through the last few miles, and dragged myself to my door, thinking that I'd never felt so intensely awful ever before. my arms shook as I lifted my bike to its rack, and biking paraphernalia scattered itself as I walked to the kitchen, my helmet here, glasses there, gloves wherever they fell.
I opened the refrigerator and with shaking hands pulled out a bowl of potato-and-veggie salad and scooped a large bowlful. I leaned my sweaty body against a chair and shoveled food into my mouth. after 10 or 15 shovels-full, I drank a glass of water, then went back for more salad.
the room wasn't spinning, but it certainly wasn't standing still.

I was too exhausted to shower, but too sweaty and dirty to rest on any of the furniture, so I stretched out on my tile floor until the world became somewhat navigable.
I thought that eating and drinking would immediately take me from bonking-land to the land of the living, but apparently it doesn't work quite that way.

so to end this drawn-out tale of misjudgement, I will say that a shower and a nap, 10 nilla wafers and a chocolate chip cookie helped immensely in returning me to me. rather, to a newly improved version of me who will never again ride without enough food in her belly and in her back shirt pocket and in her bike pack.

or who will, next time, bite the bullet and stop at Ruth's for a teaspoon (or two) of raspberry jam.

Friday, July 10, 2009

me first!

the self-scrutinizing question: why do I have to get up so early and go ride? why do I want to be out there first, before everyone else?
why do I have this push to get up there so early, why do I get a little rush from being the first one to the summit? why do I feel somewhat deflated when others are ahead of me, when others pass me, when others are out and about before me?

I've put some thought into this, and I think I have it figured out.
I don't enjoy how tired I get in the evening, nor my need for an early bedtime, nor the terrible process of waking up at 5:15 in the morning.
but absolutely nothing compares to the complete joy I experience up there in the canyon, early and alone. it's not as much about being first as it is about the solitude before everyone else gets there.
I love the late fall and early spring, when the mornings are dark and cold, because there are so very few of us out there. this time of year I can't even count how many other cyclists are heading up the hill or cresting the summit during my journey around and back down.
this morning I was early, and I hit the summit at 6:27, just as the sun was peeking over the eastern hills. no one raced ahead of me on the way up, and the only other person (other than those in cars) I saw during the last 5 miles uphill was a woman out walking.
I love this.
I love riding when the world is sleepy and relatively quiet, when it's just me and all of those birds and chipmunks and insects and other critters. I smile at them, but don't feel a need to wave.

I sacrifice certain things in my life to be able to do these early morning rides: late evenings with friends, jay leno and dave letterman and even the 10 o'clock news. I often go to bed before my kids do.

but as I called out to the canyon this morning on my way down,
it is so very worth it.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

me too

whenever I see a bike rack on a car, a bike in the back of a car, some kind of biking bumper sticker, someone on a bike, a bike shop, people wearing biking gear, whatever bike-related something somewhere, I get all tingly inside and want to shout out, me too!

it's like a little kid thing: yes, yes, me too! I like what you like! we can be friends!

no, I'm not really that naive, I understand that just because we have a bi-wheeled focus in common we are not guaranteed to hit it off.

but I still feel a little giddiness whenever I see those biking things. and I know it's because I like the connection, the belief in a potential camaraderie, though it may be one-dimensional. a smile creeps over my mouth because I know the joy it brings me, and I feel an affiliation with those who like to experience that same joy. it draws an invisible thread between us, although those other people may never even know it's done so.
this thread is the kind that binds us ever so loosely but oh so definitely to one another: threads of commonality, of connection, of humanness.

and this is why I love my little biking sticker on the rear window of my car: it gives others out there to experience that tiny flicker of giddiness that comes with the thought, me too.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

be right here

I have a business partner, connie, and we have a company that's been alive for 8 years now. we have a gift line that is spiritual and heartfelt, and we ship wholesale to little stores all around the country.
last year we came up with a new concept that we've worked to build a line around, and it's taken us on an interesting journey.

the line is called Be Right Here, and it all began with a little thought I had one day when I was driving. (so did the original line, leading me to think I should get in my car and drive more often . . . )
I was following a car that had one of those white oval bumper stickers with black initials on it that represent some place the owner likes to be. it could have been NB (newport beach) or SV (sun valley) or just about anything. I was looking at that sticker, and thought, gee, wouldn't it be nice if we could all be pleased to be right here, instead of dreaming of being somewhere else.
I thought, this is what we all need, a bumper sticker that stands for Right Here, to remind us that we do our best work when we are fully present wherever we are.
well, connie and I tossed this concept around for a while, and eventually came up with the logo you see above.
yes, we have a white oval bumper sticker that has BRH on it, and a handful of other items whose purpose is to remind us to be present, aware, and alive each moment we live.

and this is being presented to you today because yesterday as I was riding I found myself wishing to be in a different place. wishing for a simpler phase of life, a more stable existence, just wanting things to be different. and then I looked around at the reservoir, the mountains, the blue sky, the sunshine . . . and realized that I'd completely forgotten my very own logo.
I pulled myself back together as that lightening bolt fuzzed around me, gathering in my scattered thoughts and desires, winching back in the parts of me that wanted to disengage.

be right here.
right now.

because reality is that once we embrace what is, it shrinks down to a manageable size and at some future point, resolves itself and fades into the past or a more comfortable present.

and all it took was a lightening bolt during a bike ride to remind me to live what I preach.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

and in conclusion.....

this is it, I am now done.
there will be no more flats in my life.

at least for a little while.

yes, the saga continues . . .

yesterday john said to me (I paraphrase) : you're going to change out that patched tube, aren't you? it probably won't hold up too long.
I responded: I am tired of changing tires. I will just let it happen whenever: at home, on the road, it really doesn't matter, it's a pain either way.
to which john replied: what happened to your prior proper planning??

don't you just hate it when the other person is right?

this morning I got up early, and was ready to leave by 5:35, excited to get up the canyon in the cool morning air. I'd eaten half a protein bar, had my arm warmers on and icy water bottle caged, sunglasses in my back pocket, front and rear lights on, and was ready to roll . . . until I saw that my rear tire was flat. flat. airless. deflated, collapsed, depleted, unfilled, empty, flat.
I was tempted to go back to bed.
I wavered.
coffee was a mere button-push away, and there was a cozy spot on the couch with a good book at the ready . . .
I flipped up the brake thingee, unscrewed the thingees on the widget that goes through the hub of the wheel and holds it to the fork, and pulled the wheel off the bike. my entire body and mind were resisting this activity, with waves of I don't want to be doing this energy flowing off me and circulating around my bike.
which added a good 15 minutes to the process, I'm sure.
most of that time was spent fighting with that brand-new super-tight tire, trying to detach it from its comfy little home. I eventually got one plastic tire lever under an edge, and spent the next 8 minutes trying to get the second one in and doing its job of untucking the rest of the tire.
sometimes I hate being female: I have never seen a guy struggle like I do with this part of the drill.
and everything eventually came off and got switched out and came back together, all the thingees back doing what they're supposed to be doing, and I tucked my tire levers back in my pack, washed my hands, pushed the "wake up" button on my cyclometer, and rolled up the beautiful early-morning canyon.

yes, john was correct. argh.
and yes, I am done with flats. fingers crossed.
and yes, this saga is finally complete.

Monday, July 6, 2009

those p's again

this morning my awesome new tire rode smoothly and beautifully, and I got a long, south and north ride in.
I chose my route based on access to help, as I was using an old patched tube and had not a single spare tube to throw in my bag and carry with me. yes, I know I just went through the whole "prior proper planning" drill, but there are times when circumstances just don't want to play along with my agenda.

this is how it all came to be:

last summer I bought 10 tubes from these tubes are great: they have some self-sealing goo in them and seem to last forever. I went months between flats, and actually got tired of having all those spare tubes hanging around.
so I started giving them away.
here, I have one, don't go buy one, please, take one of mine!

here, happy father's day, go ride!

here, congratulations on graduating high school: use these tubes as you move forward along your path.

and then I got a flat.
then another one.
and then as I was replacing a tube I put a hole in the new one.
and next thing I know, it's sunday night in salt lake city ~ 6:45 pm ~ and I am tubeless. my front tire is ready to roll, and my back tire is brand-spanking new and . . . tubeless.
if you know where to go buy a road bike tube in salt lake city at 6:45 on a sunday evening, please let me know.

knowing I was in desperate need of a ride the next morning, I searched my garage for an old used road bike tube that just might be hanging around. eureka: I found two!
I pumped the first one up, and it wouldn't even hold air long enough for me to track down the hole.
the second one, however, plumped nicely and then spit all that air out of a little slice that was clearly visible. woo hoo!
I cleaned that section of the tube, dried it, roughed it up with my little sandpaper square, then slapped on a clear plastic patch and prayed.
(I also let it sit for a while, sending it good thoughts, letting the patch become one with the tube . . . )
after carefully placing the tube inside the tire, snapping the tire back into position, and pumping up said tube, I prayed again.
and this morning it was still tight and firm, and I hit the road for my much-needed ride.

staying close to cell phone service and potential shuttle drivers.

and this afternoon I ventured out to the bike shop, chatted with my favorite bike shop boy, and bought a handful of new tubes: one of which is already curled up snugly in the little pack on my bike.

because...... ppppppp.

Sunday, July 5, 2009


boot: a small piece of material used inside a tire to cover a cut in the tread or sidewall. Without it, the tube will push through and blow out. (

okay, it's time to write about friday's ride.
this is the deal.
I was unprepared, unthinking, and a complete embarrassment to the biking world. if I had a cycling license, the powers that be would have revoked it after witnessing my behavior last friday.

I had made plans for saturday that involved non-biking activity, so I scheduled myself for a Big Long Ride friday morning. it was time to head to morgan, which has become a rite of passage for me each summer. this ride is an 84-mile round trip if I keep it simple, and it involves enough climbing ~ including the back side of Big Mountain, my nemesis ~ to keep me humble. this isn't the kind of ride you jump into the minute june rolls around; this is a ride you work up to.
so I'd done my work, and it was time.

I left home at 6:25, and made it to my morgan stopping point (that would be a big, beautiful phillips 66 with clean restrooms and water for refilling water bottles and good snacks for refilling energy supplies) by 9:15.
by 9:25 I was back on the road, retracing my steps.
all was well, beautiful, awesome, cool, sunny, just another great training ride halfway under my belt.
by 10:10 I was back at east canyon dam, my eyes drinking in the deep blue water and bright sunshine and hundreds of happy boaters out and about.
at 10:17 a shot rang out, and I was down.
okay, not really.
it sounded like a shot, but it was just the tube in my rear tire exploding, and I didn't go down, I just quickly came to a disgusted and completely disappointed stop.
and this is where the fun began.
okay, not really.
I pulled my tire from the rim, pulled out the blown tube, and ran my fingers around the inside of the tire to make sure there were no pointy things in there to pop my next tube. nope, no pointy things. but golly gee, there were 2 darn HOLES in my tire.
my worn tire, that I had been advised to change out for a new one a good 2 weeks before. I'd even been given 2 new tires so that I would do that very thing, and those 2 new tires were still sitting in the utility room at my home.
well, there I was, by the campground on the north side of the dam, sticking folded up dollar bills in my tire to cover those holes, inserting a new tube in, using my cartridge to inflate that new tube, and discovering that my new tube ~ yes, my brand new tube ~ wouldn't hold air.
I pulled out my cell phone and dialed my son's number, ready to toss in the towel and take my 53 miles and call it a (disappointing) day.
no service.
just then a little white SUV pulled up beside me, and a cheerful guy in jeans and a t-shirt hopped out . . . angel rick.
who ended up giving me a spare tube he had in his car, and inflating it with a cartridge he happened to have, as well. who also gave me his cell phone number in case my dollar-bill boots stopped working and I needed further help.
back on the road, I was careful to stay out of the junk (pebbles, rocks, grit, garbage, broken glass, you know) in the bike lane, thanking God with each successful revolution of my tires. the first mile passed, then the next. gratitude was oozing out of me, and pretty soon I was heading up the hill from hell.
and at the top of that hill from hell, I patted myself on the back for making it up, and paused to inhale the view and my last granola bar treat. I was almost home, just another 17 miles, most of which were downhill. my internal grin split me from side to side.
so I started down, loving the rush of air and the thrill of just being there. I ticked off the first kilometer, then the next, and was working on the third when
the gunshot that brought me to my screeching, devastated halt.
my heart sunk so far down it made my feet itch.
to be on the home stretch, and to have your dream yanked completely out from under you is a heartbreaking event.
I pouted, looked at my tire which now had 3 holes, and I thought through every possible way out of this bind. unfortunately, the only thing that made any sense at all was to somehow get a ride down that hill and home.
I started walking, hoping for a nice truck-owner to take pity on me, when my next angels, greg and jed, appeared.
they tried to offer a new tube or a boot, and I shook my head, knowing I didn't dare try another patch on that shredded tire.
so they squeezed their awesome tri-bikes and gear and bodies around, threw my bike up top on the rack, and twenty or so minutes later, chivalrously delivered me to my doorstep.

any grand adventure is only good as the lessons one learns along the way: I hope I learned this one well.
no, it's not about how to make a boot for a hole in a tire, though that was the first time I did so.
no, this one is all about awareness, preparation, and thought.
I will never be perfect, but I can hope that this taught me to always, always, remember that infamous P motto:
prior proper planning prevents piss-poor performance.

nuf said.

Saturday, July 4, 2009


I did not ride my bike today. in fact, it is still sitting in the garage with a hopelessly shredded rear tire, blown tube, and dirty chain. the bag with the new tire, degreaser, rags and lube is sitting right next to it. and before the end of the day, I will do what needs to be done to return my bike to a state of rideability.

today I was lazy and spoiled and treated to a thick slice of heaven on earth. and it was good and grand and wonderful, and it added a little of that desperately needed balance to my life.
it's not always easy to step off the treadmill, but it's crucial.

so today's theme is balance, and as I'm not quite done being lazy and spoiled and hanging out in heaven, I decided to look for a quote about balance to share.
I turned to google, my favorite way to search for information, and the first quote offered on the first site I visited is this:

"life is like riding a bicycle. to keep your balance you must keep moving." ~ albert einstein

I like the wisdom offered there, as I believe he is completely correct.
however, I wish to add this small caveat:

and sometimes you just get to coast.

Friday, July 3, 2009


my first ride on my first roadbike gave me the opportunity to meet an angel.
he was dark skinned and wingless, wore biking gear, and changed my flat tire for me.
I had left home on my brand new bike without a spare tube, pump, or air cartridge, and of course, I hit a rock on my descent that punctured my rear tube and forced me to a dead stop.

this is embarrassment: to be biking, get a flat tire, and not have the proper gear necessary to fix the darn thing.

I apologized up and down as this dark angel gave me his spare tube, changed out the old one for me, and used his air cartridge to inflate the tire again.
he graciously shrugged off my thanks, and headed off up the hill, and I have never seen this man again.

today I met 3 more angels. this time I at least asked their names, so I can be a little more specific when asking the universe to assign extra karma points.
rick donated a tube, a cartridge, and emotional support to my cause, while jed and greg came through with a ride and some great conversation.
and all I could think of is thank you God, for sending me more perfect angels exactly when I needed them.
I don't know how to express my gratitude and wonder at how well taken care of I was today as my rear tire blew two holes, my spare tube turned out to be hole-y, and my carefully-patched-together tire (with 2 dollar bills performing the role of "boot" in said tire) finally sported a third hole which caused me to come to a literal and figurative screeching halt.

the details of my ride are overwhelmed by the existence of the karmic help floating around today, and what really matters is only the amazing willingness of strangers to help a stranded cyclist. this is what is true: we are most fulfilled when we give, and thus it is a gift to someone when we allow them to be of service to us.
we are alone only when we allow our minds to tell us so.

I gifted 3 kind and generous souls today, and I am overwhelmed with gratitude and a desire for their paths to somehow be made easier by some other souls as they continue on their journeys. I can't possibly know their needs, but I can at least offer up the hopes that rick has a great rest of the weekend with his daughter and family, that jed's car's air conditioning system returns to complete health, and that greg's first ironman competition is smooth and safe and leaves him with a significant sense of accomplishment and competence.

and thanks to all of my other angels out there ~ who are plentiful and oh so generous ~ those with wings, and those without.

Thursday, July 2, 2009


my knees hurt.
and this is how I feel about it:

ticked off.

I don't want to have any physical problems: the mental ones are challenging enough. I don't want to have a bad back/tight hips/weak knees. I want my body to flow through life with me, giving me the support I need when I need it. I want it to respond favorably to all the stretching and yoga I give it. I want it to rest easily and go full speed when it's time.
I want it to stay relaxed and mobile.
I want it to work like a well-oiled machine.

is there something I can add to my diet that will make my knees happier?

perhaps cookies?
maybe I've just been eating the wrong kind of cookies: maybe I need to switch to oatmeal raisin.

this is the thing about my knees: they get grumpy when I do a lot of climbing. I've had bike fittings and shoe inserts that have seemed to improve or even fix the situation, but now I find myself in this place I've been before ~ experiencing knee pain ~ which frustrates me.
I only like to fix things once!
I tend to think that once I solve a problem I shouldn't have to do it again.
when will I learn?
when will I learn that life is an ever-revolving door? that what comes around usually comes around again, that just like the seasons, certain facets of life revisit us over and over. that deja vu is real. that just because your hair looks good one day doesn't mean it will look good the next. that my face/hair/body/muscles/knees will never miraculously become perfect forevermore?


I guess this is why we have good friends, failing eyesight, and ibuprofen.
so as you read this, if you care to, send up a prayer for my knees, because I really want them to stick around, happily, with me for the rest of my life.
and especially for tomorrow's ride.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

what 365 means

ask most anyone what 365 represents, and they will answer with "a year," or some variation thereof.
it's become part of the lingo "24/7 365", implying that whatever is being discussed is on someone's mind constantly, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (which really should be 24/7/52, but who's argueing?)

a number of artists have created collections of 365 things, whether they be photographs or items or drawings, and I, today, am rounding out my collection of 365 postings.

which pulls me toward a discussion of where in the world I am headed with this? why am I doing this? is there an end point? how long will I continue to feel that a daily posting is necessary? will there come a point where I will pace myself differently?

all along, the one year mark has been my carrot.
and you know how I like carrots.
I've reached the magical 365 number before reaching my one year mark, allowing me to ponder what comes next a while before "next" begins.
and these are my thoughts.
this format has allowed me to exercise my writing skills on a daily basis, which is what my initial intent was in creating this web log. it has challenged me to formulate my thoughts in an at least somewhat cohesive manner, and to present ideas in ways that have some freshness to them. my commitment to daily posting has kept my nose to the grindstone, and has resulted in a deeper internal understanding of just what makes me tick.
always an observant person, I have become even more so as I drink everything in in hopes of sparking my creative wires into a conflagration.
I have become less concerned with how others view me, as I continue to put myself out there, realizing I have no control over what happens in anyone else's mind.
each time I have censored myself I have questioned the need for it, thought through possible outcomes, and made a decision based on the good of all, not just my own.
I love my commitment to this practice, and I love the freedom of occasionally "pre-blogging" so that I can take a day off.
I will never know who is touched by what I have to say and how they might be altered, but I believe in the process of planting small seeds everywhere and in every way I can.

I have 18 more days in which to ruminate about what it is year two will bring to this quiet little site. it may change very little, or I might make a more dramatic decision about how to move forward. regardless, it will continue on in some fashion, as it has become entwined with the core of who I am.

three hundred sixty five means, to me, a circle of movement in which millions of small things change, a handful of elements rotate through predictable passages, and a small number of core facets remain deeply and wholly true.
at the end of my first 365 days as a blogger, it will hopefully be apparent to all of us which are which.