Thursday, October 15, 2009


I'm not always sure which phase I'm in: build-up, back-off, full-out train, push, rest, recovery, or something else. they all blur.
as well, I often just ride, without making my ride fit into how I should be training.
perhaps in my next life I'll be better about that.
for now, I just love to ride, and I love to ride certain places, and I go where I want when I can fit it into my schedule. this time of year it's emigration canyon 8 times out of 10, and I like to think I get a pretty challenging workout from the ride. there are rises and dips, and steeper long lasting sections, and plenty stretches that can be worked hard either going up or going down. unless I'm facing a ferocious headwind on the way up I can usually make my round trip in 90 minutes, which is a reasonable amount of time to carve from my day and devote to physical, mental, and spiritual health.
an emigration canyon ride can fit in a few different categories: build-up, full-out train, and push all can happen during that ride. back-off and recovery need a more mellow route. and rest, well, that would be the route that doesn't include my bike.

I've been thinking a great deal about recovery lately. I seem to need more of it than I want to need. I don't want to need recovery at all. that doesn't mean I don't want to have any of it: I very literally mean that I don't want to need it. I want to be supergirl; I want to be wonder woman. I want to be indefatigable.
and woefully, I am not.

it's not just that I need a recovery ride every week, it's also the feeling that I needed a recovery period after my season. say, a month or so. I tend to focus on something and work, work, work, and probably push just a little bit too far. that's when burnout sets in, and recovery time lengthens. supergirl could just keep going; I can't.
and when I hit the wall, I fall into the despairing self-talk that tells me I'll never be able to do it again. I'll never be that strong, I'll never feel that good, I'll never have the energy to tackle everything I've tackled in the past.
thankfully I have finally learned that this phase doesn't last: the energy, vitality, and desire always return.

after some recovery.

this isn't just about biking.
all things that we devote ourselves to have the tendency to eat up more of us than we planned. and often the best way to rediscover the fire is to have a bit of respite, a taste or two of recovery.
my yoga classes end with a few minutes of shavasana: corpse pose. we are asked to still the body but more importantly, still the mind. the purpose is to harmonize our energy, to rejuvenate the body, mind, and spirit. it is a time when the intense practice of the prior 55 minutes is allowed to sink within and become a deeper part of our experience.

it's time for some tao of cycling shavasana.

for the past few months I've toyed with posting less often. if I cut back, would it be to 5 days a week? every other day? odd days? even days? every third day?
I've awaited inspiration, and it has yet to come.
but as of today, what I know is that I need some recovery.
my desire is to structure this, but since that concept hasn't yet revealed itself to me, I am letting myself flow into a recovery phase.
during the next week I will post when inspired, and not commit to posting at all.
so . . .
if you don't see anything new for a bit, know that I am in recovery, that I am resting in shavasana so that I can return fully awake, alive, energized, and in harmony.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

the final mile

why is the final mile of a climb always the most difficult?
is it because you know you're so close to the end that you start to realize how hard you've worked and how tired you are?
or is it because you feel the pull of the end, you start to envision it, and your body reacts by trying to act out what it will soon be doing?
or is it because the last mile is always the steepest?

big mountain is the starting point for a few significant running races, and thus there are distance markers painted in white on the road. they continue all the way down emigration canyon as well, and they are such a familiar part of the terrain that I know them all by heart.
it helps that they go in order, of course.
the first one that really jumps out at me as I'm riding up big mountain is the big "5k" that tells me I'm five kilometers from the top. this is when it starts to get serious. I'm usually grinding away in my lower gears, sailing along at an exciting 7 or 8 miles an hour. the marker, which I always convert in my mind to miles, is soon behind me and I can look forward to the next one, the big 3.
3 miles, that is.
[I really don't know why we get to jump back and forth between miles and kilometers: are we just trying to please everyone? I could handle strictly miles or only kilometers, and just do the math on my own. or maybe there is a reason, and it's written in that rulebook I haven't yet read.]
next comes 3k, then 2, then 2k, then 1.
and then about a mile later comes 1k.
at this point I am aching for the ride to be over, for a gentle downhill glide, for a bit of rest, for anything but the damn hill I'm on.
and then about a mile later comes 500m.
and then after another kilometer or so I see the 200m written in barely visible, weathered white paint.
and then after about a kilometer, I reach the summit.

you do the math.

that last mile lasts forever, and it's relentless.
it's not just the last mile up big mountain, either. it can be the last mile up millcreek, or city creek, or big cottonwood, or any mountain I choose to climb.
metaphorical mountains, as well.
is it that we've worked so hard for so long, and still aren't there?
is it that the entire road has been littered with potholes and obstacles and challenges?
is it that it's truly steeper at the end, the final test?

all I know is that the last mile is part of something much larger and longer than a mere 5280 feet.
and it's okay to be tired, to go slowly, and to feel as though it will never end.
to watch the markers change from 2 to 1 to 1/2 to 1/5, and know that you still have to pedal.
because as long as you keep pedaling, it will eventually be whittled down to less than zero.

and then you can swoop.

which could never happen if you gave up at some point along the way, if you gave into your mind's math instead of the actual numbers painted on the road.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

walking the dog

I've been holding a vision of a woman I saw the other day, walking her dog.
I was riding my bike and I caught a brief glimpse of her off to my right. she was taller and slender, well but casually dressed, holding a leash on the end of which was a large, sedately strolling dog. the two of them both strolled, actually, looking relaxed yet energetic, and decidedly peaceful.
walking is good for one, I've heard.

my friend holly is a cyclist and runner, and she found that she didn't lose the weight she wanted until she slowed down and started walking.

oprah touts walking.

I have this dream that someday I will slow down and begin walking.
stop pushing so hard, stop trying to climb every hill and peak I see or hear about. just walk, walk the dog, and go to yoga.
so I can be like the dog-walker I passed the other day. serene and clean. not covered in sweat with salt streaks on her cheeks and dirt caked to her shins. no chain marks on her calves.
I could walk, and not have to wear beanies that make me look like an androgynous cyborg, or padded shorts that enlarge and emphasize my rear while sporting tight strips of elastic that cut into the chubbiest parts of my thighs.

I could walk, and look better while doing it.
my heart would still be happy.
my dog would be happy.

I might not be able to experience the thrill of swooping, but I'm sure I would discover other joys. I would see things I don't take the time to notice now. I wouldn't earn any more Queen of the Hill prizes, but I'm sure I would find other things to give myself awards for.

I would slow down, breathe more deeply.
and walk.

oh all right, and perhaps I've just have a cruiser or a fixie so I can still climb up little hills and inclines so that I don't completely forget what it's like to swoop.

Monday, October 12, 2009


I went to yoga this evening and my yogi guru sam was teaching.

one of these two following things is true:

people look different in the evening than they do at 6 in the morning, or

sam got his lip pierced.

regardless, he closed class again with this deeply important phrase that I have to share again because it will always be worth repeating:

we see things not as they are, but as we are.

now re-read what I wrote above, and make your own decision about when it was that sam got his lip pierced.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

heading south

I had planned to do a long ride today, just because it's fall and the snow hasn't covered us yet and it should be a beautiful time to ride.
but after yesterday's cold and gloomy-sky ride, all I could think about was the desire to not be cold today.
I awoke to the sound of car tires on wet pavement, and a part of me just smiled and curled up more tightly. ahh, can't ride in the rain . . .
of course when I looked outside I could see that it had finished raining, and all a serious cyclist needed to do was wait a bit for the pavement to dry.

I had to force myself out the door today, and I headed south with bill. canyons seemed too iffy for the warm-weather gal I was impersonating, so we settled on a ride to draper. wasatch boulevard carves a pleasant path across the eastern foothills to sandy, then there are just a few little jogs that keep one fairly close to the foothills the rest of the way to the big Chevron station at the base of Traverse Ridge Road.
now anyone who's anyone in the salt lake valley cycling world knows where Traverse Ridge Road leads. I know it, bill knows it, and its vibes started pricking their way through my layers of gear as soon as I was within 5 miles of the road. come, they said. come on, keep riding, come further, yes, come, come . . . you must be tired of this boring ride out south, you must be ready for the crowning achievement I can offer you . . .
Traverse Ridge Road leads up (very up, sometimes with a 10% grade up) to a development called Suncrest. this summit can shake fear into a cyclist early in the spring, bring one to gasping lungs and burning thighs come summer, and sucker one up come fall when said cyclist has the (sometimes false) confidence that they can handle the climb.
I started it resolute.
it was there in front of me: I was going to climb the damn thing. I knew the grade hadn't lessened in the past 2 months, and that it was going to hurt as much as it ever did. I could only hope that it didn't hurt more.
what I can say about this climb is that it has one of the most graceful, hill-hugging, sweepingly curved roads I have ever ridden upon. I love to see the arc of the rising road from below, then slowly make my way up and watch the curve bend back upon itself widely, gently, oh so gracefully.
it almost makes the pain tolerable.

the miles heading back north disappear much more quickly than those out south, save for a few climbs, and the "back to the barn" energy always helps me cover the final miles eagerly and relatively rapidly.
because I know that among other things, what waits for me at home is that soft couch with two warm blankets and a welcoming pillow.
and a warm shower.
and my favorite yellow, orange and red striped pajama pants.

oh, and perhaps a cookie or two.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

today's best thing

one hard climb up big mountain under gray and gloomy skies.
fifty degree weather.
a cold and hard downhill into the wind.
freezing hands and nose.
one tired being.

sometimes the best thing in the entire world is a soft couch, a pillow, two blankets, and the time to take a nap.
deep sigh, contented smile.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Winnie the Pooh and Tigger, too

my children used to love watching Winnie the Pooh movies. my second son, especially, loved Pooh. and Tigger, too, of course. and all the rest.
we owned a few of these movies, and must have rented others, but the only title that remains in my mind is Winnie the Pooh and the Blustery Day.
as you can probably imagine, every time I ride in powerful wind I think of how blustery it is, which in turn makes me think of Winnie the Pooh.
I often wonder what life would be like if my mind wasn't so ridiculously busy making esoteric connections like that.
now what leaps to mind is the fact that one man created a quite successful little book off of connections like the above, and you can find his book in stores just about everywhere: just ask for benjamin hoff's best-selling book, and the bookseller will hand you The Tao of Pooh.

back to my topic.
today was one of those days that are so full of wind you wonder what could possibly be up. a number of times as I was heading up the canyon there were leaves acting bewildered by the confusing gusts, dancing forward then to the left then to the right, before they flipped around and headed back down.
I felt for them, but thought perhaps it might be fun to dance around like that, pulled by the wind.

then I headed down.
the uphill tailwind was of course my downhill headwind, but I was prepared for that and didn't mind too much.
but then the universe decided to give me a sense of what it was like to be a leaf.
a huge crosswind nailed me, then whirled around and whipped me from the opposite side, before disappearing and reappearing as a headwind.
I barely remained upright, emitting a swear word and feeling my heart drop into my toe-cover wearing shoes.

my blustery day then settled back down into gusty headwinds and less creative crosswinds, and I thought again of Pooh, who would have consoled me with the reminder that what is, is.

but Pooh, Piglet, and even Rabbit would have considered today to be a Very Blusterous Day.

Thursday, October 8, 2009


stress manifests itself differently in different people. tight shoulders, tense neck muscles, back pain, nervous spasms . . .
I get a twitchy eyelid.
my right eyelid has been twitching this week. and then my left joined in today.
it only happens once in a while, maybe 8 or 10 times a day, and it doesn't last long. just long enough to remind me that something's a bit off, that something is bothering me.
I don't know what it is; I often don't know.
but apparently my body is reacting as if a stressor exists in my life.

I was thinking about this as I was riding today underneath an alternately dark and pleasant sky. thick gray clouds hung about, leaving plentiful blue sky visible, and the clouds moved constantly across the sky so that I would cast a shadow for mere moments before it disappeared, leaving me in the windy cold.
the clouds to the northeast, up ahead of me, loomed dark and heavy, and the word portentous leapt to mind.
my right eyelid twitched, and I immediately connected the clouds, my twitch, and the word portentous to whatever it is that must be causing me stress: there was a portentous feeling hanging over me.

not necessarily a good thing. so I tried to trick myself by running through a list of other words, attempting to take my mind off the thought of something portentous confronting me.
hemophiliac, ethereal, esoteric, parsimonious, pusillanimous, gargantuan, geometrical, ephemeral . . . all this during oxygen depletion, no less. I kept repeating every word I could thing of, using them as shields to protect me from fixating on the word portentous and bringing doom and gloom to my future.

my left eyelid twitched.

and I gave up the word game, as rain sprinkled my jersey, my helmet, and the asphalt in front of me. the clouds let go a bit of their heaviness, and I decided to do the same.

haven't had an eyelid twitch in a good 5 hours now.

aeonian, mythical, gelatinous, gossamer, extraordinary, onomatopoeia, genuflect, titillate . . .

Wednesday, October 7, 2009


Day planners became a big thing about 20 years ago. at that point in my life I was working for a large, soon-to-be national retailer, and they sent us through a management seminar based on organizing your life with a Personal Resource System. PRS. we were given these beautiful leather planners, replete with dividers and sections and page after page that we were to fill out and use to keep track of every aspect of our lives.
I write this with tongue in cheek, and probably sound derisive, but that seminar provided one of those pivotal life moments for me.
goal setting was the hot thing in management those days, and we were asked to set goals for each of 7 aspects of our lives: work, financial, physical, emotional, family, social, and spiritual. I found that I could do this relatively easily for 6 of the categories.
but the remaining category challenged me. I struggled to harmonize where I was currently with what my true goal was: they did not seem to mesh. and of all things, that category was work.
this led to enlightenment. I obviously needed to rethink my career, and possibly move toward a path that was a better fit for who I was.

I believe in setting goals, and striving to reach them.
but I don't always write them down, and I find that I can even be relatively wimpy about them. it's as though I fear committing to them because . . . why?
this is the truth, as far as I can figure out: I am afraid that I won't reach them, and then I'll be devastated.
and never try again.

geez, I don't seem to have much faith in myself, do I?
I do know better. I won't give up, just because I don't reach a goal. but I am more encouraged by the times I hope for a good outcome and receive one, than by shooting a little too high and missing. the trick, I suppose, is in learning how to set goals that are perfectly aligned with the slightest stretch in your abilities.

sometimes what I truly desire--my loftiest goals--seems too much. too big. too impossible. too far from where I am. is it humility that keeps me from shouting them from rooftops and letting the world know what I want?
or is it fear of appearing greedy and/or ridiculous for wanting too much?
or, perhaps, I've realized that the goals most essential to my life aren't easily quantified and will not confine themselves to dates and measurements and timelines. these goals include such achievements as to be at peace, to live a life that is filled with harmony, to exude compassion and acceptance, and to help my children grow roots and wings.
everything else is just a decoration.
not that I don't like decorations: I do.
finishing a bike race, moving to a new home, buying a new car, making a certain income, producing a specific number of widgits ~ these are all decorations, all things that are worth setting goals for and about. riding a certain number of miles each week, practicing a little yoga each day, remembering to always have my reusable grocery bags in the car . . .

so for some things I set goals, and let other things flow and happen when they are meant to.
it doesn't mean I'm not working toward what I want; it just means that I acknowledge that I'm not always in control of where my life is supposed to flow.

Monday, October 5, 2009

another first

my first thought was this:
if you're going to ride a bike in snow, this is the kind of snow to do it in.
it was widely spaced, a handful of seconds between each flake, and the flakes were small and light and dry, the kind that piles together and forms that perfect Utah powder our ski resorts brag about.
that thought actually remained with me for a good 5 minutes or so, as just a few dozen of those perfect little flakes drifted into my face or helmet or legs.
I was grinning, soaking in another new experience for me: riding my bike while it was snowing.

my next thought about snow, however, was that those sparse and dry little flakes had somehow changed into larger, wetter, more populous flakes. that were now slamming into my face and body, pelting me with little wet, sharp bombs, causing me to dip my head and squint behind my glasses and basically, feel just the teeniest tad short of miserable.

I decided I didn't like riding in snow.

the good news, however, is that this is Utah (where it's said that if you don't like the weather, just wait 5 minutes), and that snow only lasted for a couple more miles, and the cloud-dappled blue sky to the northwest remained cheery throughout the divebombing. no, it wasn't very warm out there, but the 40's are better than the 30's.

and now the clouds have lightened and split apart to reveal blue skies all over, and sunshine is beating down everywhere. sigh. some lucky people are just getting on their bikes, now, to head out on a snowless ride.

well, they won't be able to claim a snowy canyon ride today, and so I (in that sick and twisted way) get to stay one up on them.

not that I'm keeping score.

Sunday, October 4, 2009


I reached deep, deep, far down inside last week, and made a commitment.
I registered for power camp.

which means, come the middle of november, I will have to begin arising at ~ eek ~ the ridiculous hour of 4:40 am. yes, am.

which also means that between now and then I plan to sleep a lot.
the weather is complying with that plan, as it is cold and wet out there, and the overnight lows for the coming week are hovering right around the 40 degree mark. and a 40 degree overnight low means that an early morning ride up emigration will result in a freezing susan.
so I might as well sleep in and ride later.

and I plan to savor that luxury while it lasts . . .

Saturday, October 3, 2009

if today were my last day

yesterday was a blustery day. coming down emigration the wind was beating me up as I pushed my way through it, and I was teetering on the edge of not having fun. (from biking 101: downhill is supposed to contain some element of fun.)
then a thought blustered into my mind: what if today were my last day on earth? would I still push this hard downhill, or would I relax just a little, ease off slightly on those pedals, and breathe a bit more slowly? would I look around more than usual, and with each breath, pull every bit of that beauty inside me?

I slowed down.
a bit.

I lightened my force on the pedals, breathed more deeply, soaked in a little bit more of the vibrantly orange trees, and smiled. my heartrate dropped and my entire body eased its grip on my bike, on my mind, on my life. I was deeply at peace with the world, the gorgeous world that surrounded me.

until I looked behind me and saw a guy in blue sitting on my wheel.
and I'm sure you know what happened next:
I sped up.

but for five beautiful moments I rode my bike, thinking about the sheer pleasure of an easy downhill spin during the fall on a sunny, chilly, absolutely perfect day.
I may have to do that more often.

Friday, October 2, 2009

hangers, revisited

just a little informational bulletin:

john received a phone call from a person at the company who is making the replacement Lotoja "finisher" awards. you know, the ones those of us who don't like our hangers have ordered. the sprockets, the award that we've learned to expect, the one that makes us feel like we walked away with something meaningful after our day-long ride across 3 states.

apparently we will have to wait a little bit longer than expected, as the demand has been overwhelming for the sprockets:
"we have to schedule an entire plating production run AND order in more material to make the awards . . . it caught us by surprise . . ."

I am SO not alone.
thank you, all of you who feel the same as I do. you made my day.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

gumby and elastigirl

sam taught yoga this morning.
he's the ashton kutcher look-alike, though I'm not sure if ashton owns a pink knit watch cap like the one sam wore this morning. but it's certainly possible.
I like sam.
and this morning he had me grinning as he talked about super bendy people.
now if you're super bendy you'll be able to do this easily, but for those of us who aren't......
I fall into the latter category, the "aren't."
I'm not a gumby.
I creak when I bend, and there are some directions in which I just don't fold.

his talk about super bendy people led me to think about gumby, and elastigirl, from the incredibles.
once in a while our dinner table conversation gravitates to which super hero powers you'd want to have. would you rather be able to move from one place to another in an instant, or be the strongest person on earth? would you like to be invisible, or would you like to be elastigirl? one of my daughters always chooses elastigirl, though, to be honest, I think that's all about being lazy and wanting to have things without moving to go get them.

sam's yoga practice brought to mind gumby and elastigirl, but this had nothing to do with being lazy. it was all about having a body that moves and flexs and bends gracefully and easily: no small goal, however natural it might seem to be. being bendy either comes as part of who you are (gumby, elastigirl, ballerinas, gymnasts), or it's something you work at constantly.
I work at it for my body, but I think I work harder at it for my mind.
I believe I have a super bendy mind.
this is a mind that can flow and adjust, can stretch and bend, and yet always retain its healthy self. it likes exercise, it likes to flex itself. it's comfortable with backbends and leaps (especially those of faith) and truly loves to be twisted and then right itself again.
it can listen to opposing opinions, it can take in new information. it can expand and swell and push itself all the way around to the other side, and see two visions simultaneously. it can accept dichotomies. it's comfortable with gray. and most fabulous of all, it knows that the more it exercises itself, the more gumby-like it becomes.
sam has no idea what he started when he spoke of super bendy people this morning.
but my mind heard those words and took off running. and twisting. and bending a bit, too.