Sunday, November 29, 2009

an ode to sweat

rivulets run down my face
drops trickle into my eye
solitary beads travel down my arm
and at my wrist let fly

to fall down three feet to the floor
where they drop onto the mat
and form a slowly spreading mass
that although dark stays flat.

the puddles form upon my skin
from collarbone to wrist,
I use my towel to wipe them off
but all those drops resist

my efforts to keep my skin dry
and smooth and so salt-free,
perspiration propagates fullspeed
and outsweats even me.

my hair turns dark
my clothes gain weight
I itch and scratch and glow
and pray that the spinning class soon ends
so home to the shower I may go.

I know I'll do this once again
and then once more and more
so all that's in may work its way out
and cleanse my every pore.

beware! you who may come to spin
I warn you now so know
that if you sit by me in class
you'll note my ample sweat flow.

yes I use deodorant
it doesn't seem to matter
we sweat, we glow, we spin, we drip
and never cease our chatter

I think it's to distract ourselves
from all the sweat pouring from us
or perhaps it's to keep our minds away
from those saddles that tend to numb us

regardless of our classroom tricks
we perspire and wipe it away,
and perform our rituals once again
when we return the following day.

oh sweat, oh you who cool us off
and keep our bodies steady,
perhaps you might slack off a bit . . .
oh fine, I'll keep my towel ready
to wipe and blot and soak it up
while still new droplets lurk,
while always being grateful for
the sweat, my reward for hard work.

Friday, November 27, 2009

I want to ride my bicycle...

the other day I took my car in for its annual inspection. as the shop I use is only about a mile from my house, I threw (gently placed) my bike in the back, and after I dropped the car off, got on my bike to ride it home.
first of all, I just had tennies on, and had to center those little round speedplay pedals under my big fat tennie treads. my next challenge was trying to pedal. I pressed down hard, the chain slipped and coughed and grabbed, then slipped and gagged, and I almost fell off my bike. and I couldn't remember how to shift.
I kid you not.
I looked on both handlebar hoods, desperately searching for a clue, and finally remembered, oh yes, it's on the right side, I think I'm supposed to push or click with either my middle finger, or maybe it's my index finger . . .
and then it all came back and I remembered that I always look down to my chain ring to see what ring I'm on: oh yes, big ring, no wonder I can barely pedal up the gently sloping asphalt . . .
halfway home I was panting, my heartrate soaring, and I began to get the hang of it again.
that's what 2 weeks off the bike did for me.

so my plan today is to remedy that distasteful situation.
I am going to ride my real bike on real roads in real, fresh (semi, as I live in the valley of inversions) air this afternoon. in the sunshine. with real wind to cool me, not fans.
I plan to enjoy it.
I plan to let my heartrate sit in whatever old zone it chooses to, and I plan to not count my cadence or watch the clock or try to determine how long I'm working in any particular zone. in other words, have an anti-power camp experience.
to allow me to remember what I like best about riding my bike: the freedom, the air, the experience of being out in the beauty of our natural world. the meditative repetitiveness of pedaling, the joy of just being, while being a vibrantly active participant in my own movement.

no big climbs to conquer today, no peaks to rest atop, just a long, steady ride at a pace that will allow me to enjoy my own existence.
and perhaps, as well, work off a few of those 2 million calories I snarfed down yesterday . . .

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


since my kids are out of school today for the holiday, this morning I didn't have to get up and go to class at 5:15, but I actually chose to, anyway.
for a few reasons:
one, I love getting it over with early in the day.
two, I'm still building this new habit, and constancy is the key to its successful development. (oh, pedantic me.)
three, and most importantly, I like hanging out with this wacky group of people.

a few months back, biking buddy andy asked me if I'd be doing power camp this winter. I shared all my reasons why not, and then waxed on a bit about how much better it would be, training-wise, if I did.
andy responded, hey, it's really all about the company, not the workouts.
and today I realized he is right.
however good this class is for my body, it is even better for my soul.

yesterday morning our instructor, L, was walking around the room during the mellow parts, asking each of us a fanciful, hypothetical, get-to-know-your-neighbor question. you know, like if you were given a million dollars, what's the first thing you would buy? or, if you were stranded on a desert island, what one accoutrement would you want with you? or, what is your one indulgence?
it was great fun watching people struggle to come up with answers, while internally trying to arrive at my own, as well. little bits of personal info were thrown in, too, as L introduced each person and told what she happened to know about them.
now everything in power camp is about timing, and L was doing her questioning during our "recovery" periods, 10-minute segments pocketed between the harder work efforts. as a result, she had to be reminded of the time once or twice, which caused a little good-natured ribbing.
this morning's instructor, B, had been in class yesterday, and L was in our class today, so B was going overboard in his punctuality, constantly announcing the remaining minutes before and during each segment of class. of course he let L know why he was doing this . . .

there are two men who are good friends and power camp alumni, returning this year for their fourth session. they sit in the same place each morning, and for the past couple years have won the "cutest couple" award at the end-of-camp celebration.
one of them received the "if you were stranded on a desert island what's the one thing you'd want with you" question, and his response was Walmart.
it's amazing how witty people can be at 5:30 in the morning.
a few instructors work hard to bring good, clean jokes to share ( two guys walk into a bar. one turns to the other and says, you didn't see it either, did you?), or trivia questions, or other interesting stories that may or may not pertain to cycling life.

but what I like best is the banter that flows back and forth and around the room. people new to camp step into it quickly, and those who've been around a while get better and better at their gentle ribs and pokes. I daresay we all know each other more intimately than we even realize.
and what I like best is that we all are seeing each other sweaty, tired, and often, working to our capacity. it's difficult to put on an act when you're in that place.
and this creates a powerful bond.
one that allows banter to be compliments, and ribs to be salutes. one that makes it a lot more tolerable, and even acceptable, to get up at 4:40 in the morning.

Monday, November 23, 2009

decisions and routines

one of the first rules parenthood teaches you is that human beings like routines. we humans like patterns and predictability, we like knowing what comes next. we have a tendency to lean into our activities so far that we fall into habits, where we become comfortable and accustomed to the order.
this is not necessarily a negative.
my routines structure my life, and I find that the predictability eases my decision-making, which in turn eases my entire life.
and this is why the past two months have been challenging me: my routines get out of whack during spring and fall, when my rides are so weather dependent. thanks to the flexibility of my work, I can ride when the weather is best and work when it's rainy or bitterly cold or dark, or any combination of the three. but this adds uncertainty to my life, a variability, which leads to a sense of instability. and the need to make decisions.
freedom is liberating, but constancy is soothing.
and a reduced need to make decisions is absolutely divine.

my life has now returned to certainty. which results in fewer decisions to make.
every morning except saturday I now get up, pull my cycling clothes on and head off to class. mondays and fridays I go to the weight room after an hour of class and cycle through my weight room routine. wednesdays and sundays I blissfully get to go straight home. tuesdays and thursdays have a 90-minute class, after which I also trudge home.
and then I'm done for the day.
no wondering about and waiting for the weather.
no getting too busy and not finding time to ride.
no decision making at all.
because sometimes it's comforting to just flow, without too much thought, through our daily schedules. without too many decisions to make.

do you remember the line about starbucks in the movie You've Got Mail? Tom Hanks' character describes the coffee shop in this way: "The whole purpose of places like Starbuck's is for people with no decision making ability whatsoever to make six decisions just to buy one cup of coffee."

I like getting up at the same time every morning and heading off to a routine where my decisions are made for me.
and when I go to starbucks, I order a small cup of decaf.
because I'd just as soon not have to test my decision-making abilities any more than I have to.

Saturday, November 21, 2009

those who I know

the other day I realized that I know quite a few people.
and quite a few of those people I know are taking power camp this year.
quite a few more aren't, but I've been (pleasantly) surprised to see so many faces I know.
when I did this 3 years ago, I knew no one except a slight acquaintance who signed up, came half the time for the first half of the program, and then gradually disappeared.
of course many of the people I now know are those I met during that first year. but an interesting number aren't: they are people I know from other phases of my life, or that I have met through fellow cyclists.

my circle of acquaintances is widening. stretching. expanding . . . I visualize this elastic and liquid boundary that easily absorbs others of its same makeup. like a small puddle of water that moves toward a droplet of water then slurp! the droplet becomes one with the puddle, joining and mixing in to create a new body of water.
there was a time in my life where I didn't want any more friends. I felt I had enough: I was actually overwhelmed by how many friends and acquaintances were circulating through and around my life. we were constantly socializing, having people over, going places with others, talking, scheduling, gathering . . . I was filled, overflowing, unable to expand any further to accept anyone else.

I still have limits as to how many others I want or need to be in my inner circle, but I find that my outer circle can hold more than it has been able to, and it holds them differently than it used to. they are held more gently, viewed with more wonder and appreciation. perhaps this is aging. perhaps those others are becoming more important as kids grow and get closer to leaving home; perhaps they are viewed with more respect for the myriad and varied experiences they've all survived.
what I do know is that I value them all. the man whose name I used to hear on the Nordstrom paging system 25 years ago, the woman I've always admired since we worked across the aisle from each other those same 25 years ago, the woman I socialized with at various parties but never knew well, the woman who married my good high school friend.
the circle is widening yet drawing nearer, and its nebulous form is ever-shifting, gracefully allowing for ebbing and flowing and acceptance of those from the past as well as those from the future.

Friday, November 20, 2009


I promised scintillating, didn't I?
not titillating: get your mind out of the gutter.
scintillating, sparkling, brilliant . . . coruscating . . .

I fear I will let you down again.

here is the truth: this week has taken its toll on me. ridiculously early morning awakenings, no increase in caffeine intake, too many sweets, kid things here and there and now over there as well, phone/email/fax, mental musings, and those never-ending errands, have all joined together to create a melting pot of too much.
well, too much to leave me time to ponder and create coruscatingly brilliant writings. scintillatingly stunning essays. sparkling, brilliant and witty prose.

instead, this is what I've been writing this week:
  • please excuse my daughter's absence from school as she . . .
  • please dismiss my son at 1:45 today for his appointment with the doctor . . .
  • enclosed please find your check for . . .
  • please accept my apology for taking so long to get this to you . . .
  • enclosed please find my daughter's application for your program . . .
  • yes, my son has my permission to be given the H1N1 shot . . .
and most significantly, I have been writing an X in the spot by my name each day this week in the power camp roster.

phone calls I've made this week:
  • to my son's doctors and school.
  • to my other son's bus company and nurse.
  • to my daughter's potential school.
  • to my other daughter's other potential school.
and a phone call every evening, to the 3rd district court to see if my number has been called to report for jury duty. thank goodness, the answer each evening has been no.

thoughts I've had this week:
  • I'd sure like a nap.
  • I wonder if more caffeine would help.
  • is it time for more ibuprofen yet?
  • I think maybe I'm caught up on everything. oops, never mind.
  • I wish I were riding my bike outside.
  • I don't care for the weight room.
  • gosh I ache.
  • am I really 3 years older than last time I did power camp?
  • is 7:30 too early to go to bed?
  • I'd sure like a nap.

so perhaps sparkling, witty musings will pour forth tomorrow.
because, you see, tomorrow I get to sleep in.
no alarm, no power camp, no weight room, just a leisurely arising whenever I darn well feel like it.

may you have the same.


yes, I know I blew it again.
this time I can blame it on power camp.
except that would be me not accepting personal responsibility.
I, me alone, forgetful me, just blew it.
so I promise to think of something absolutely scintillating and be back soon.

after my nap.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

power camp update

two days into power camp, I have the following information to report:

  • I am tired.
  • spin bike saddles are not like my favorite on-the-bike saddle. in other words: half of my class time has already been spent in, well, discomfort.
  • at least 37 of my muscles are screaming at me, as hitting the weight room is part of the program. I barely remembered how to use the free weights, and they've moved the machines around so that I didn't recognize half of them. what are lateral rows, anyway? and does anyone out there really like doing lunges? hard to imagine.
  • I am tired, and
  • that alarm at 4:40 has already become my enemy.

yes, two days into power camp.
and goodnight.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

imperfect offerings

one might not bicycle every day, but one can be every day. this one is about being.

Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That's how the light gets in.

this stanza has been running through my head these past few days. I was first introduced to it at Liz Johnson's memorial service 15 months ago, when her sister read these words of Leonard Cohen's. perhaps they've been front and center because last night was a fundraiser for the company Chris Johnson directs, the company with which Liz was traveling when her life was so abruptly ended.
regardless, these words have been floating within me, and they jumped up, shouted, and rung vibrantly when two days ago I read the seven social sins once proclaimed as how not to be by mahatma gandhi:

wealth without work

pleasure without conscience

science without humanity

knowledge without character

politics without principle

commerce without morality

worship without sacrifice

bells rang and clattered and rejoiced when I read this, imperfect bells, all. we are all made with small cracks and slight imperfections, but we are also all given the ability to stretch beyond what we believe to be our limits. to live by simple truths, and to recognize the pulling power of guidance informed by wisdom, not ego. to seek and find those subtle and often invisible maps that delineate our paths, and to accept the challenge to be who we are meant to be.

what we are asked to do, more than any other thing, is to remove our bushel baskets and veils and masks and let our inner light flow forth and out and beyond. to listen to our inner truths and dig down deep within our souls to find the answers we seek. to proceed with courage and dignity and help others release their own versions of the same.

to ring our bells, to let light shine, to be blissfully imperfect and welcome the humility that comes with that realization.

to find our own way, guided by that crooked and sometimes fragile but always present light that slips in through our cracks.

I send much love with my friends who are boarding a plane tomorrow that will begin their journeys to nepal, to the visionary souls at Choice Humanitarian, and to Liz, who is watching over us all, smiling and gently, gently, prodding.

Friday, November 13, 2009

symphonies and silence

this morning:
alarm at 5:19 am.
out of bed at 5:22.
into bike shorts, top, heart monitor and socks by 5:27.
ipod out of charger and strapped on bicep by 5:29.
water bottle, bag with towel and shoes, car keys, license, phone: out the door by 5:33.
spin class season is officially here.

indoor workouts are the only time I use my ipod, and each fall I am once again grateful for that tiny little computerized music system.
there is something both soothing and exhilarating about having your own private stereo connected to your ears. you can be in your own world, having your own internal experience, and no one need know it or be bothered by it: what a gift our ipods give us.

what I lose, however, is my outdoor riding silence.
I know many cyclists (and joggers, runners, walkers) use their ipods while riding (jogging, running, walking) outside, but it doesn't work for me at this point. maybe someday. but for now, I love my ability to hear the universe speak to me, whether it's through nature's sounds, human voices, or mechanical beasts. I want to hear the wind and feral cats and scampering chipmunks. I want to hear crickets and barking dogs and my own heavy breathing.
and even more importantly, I need the opportunity to disappear within my own mind. it's challenging enough to do this in silence; given music, I will sing along and change the lyrics and think entirely too much about the first/last/best time I heard each song.
disappearing in my mind, that meditating thing, is a crucial part of my riding.
a friend reminded me of this today, of how my cycling sessions enable me to turn the thinking off for great chunks of time, chunks that I sometimes don't even realize I've had.
this is a gift.
I do not meditate well, sitting on my couch.
but sitting on that saddle, working at the point I can no longer keep and hold threads of thought, allows a certain slipping of consciousness that qualifies, at least in my book, as meditation.
and meditation allows a reordering of our internal selves that leads to peace and harmony.

as in everything, I'm once again confronted with trade-offs. I can have my own private symphony, or I can claim my silent chunks of meditation.
the best thing of all is that I have the desire and the time in my life for both.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


two weeks ago I pushed my way through and survived my VO2 sub-max test, a prerequisite for participation in power camp.
I do not like that thing.
as much as I try to talk myself out of it, I suffer from test anxiety, and all 3 times I've done this test I have had moments where my mind tells me I'm going to die.
yes, die.
now I know that this is ridiculous, but I cannot seem to stop the process.
all the positive affirmations and self-talk in the world cannot keep my mind from sending out death warnings.
you've got to stop, you can't do this, your heart is going to explode, ooh, we don't feel good . . .

sure enough, during my test 2 weeks ago I had my moment of panic. it happens when I hit a high heartrate (zone 4) for the first time during a workout. especially if I have to keep going higher and higher without being able to back off for a while before I do so. once I settle into those higher heart rates I can work there for literally hours; it's just that first time that sends me into a panic.

some day I plan to be different.

some day I plan to ace these tests.

because it's truly mind over matter, mental over physical. I have learned this lesson well, yet I still have internal battles within my mind. it's like there are two of me in there (oh, I am grinning at myself), each completely certain that they are on the right side of the war.
I am going to die!
no, I am fine--no one is dying on my watch!

no, I know best: I'm going to collapse and die right now, watch me!
no, I can do this, I am fine, I am fine.

regardless, I am beginning power camp in 5 days.
with a new set of numbers and zones: my examiner determined that my top zone is 5 beats lower than it was last time.
now I can either woo-hoo! about this as I won't need to work as hard, or I can stress about whether it's right or not and wonder if I'm slipping and losing strength and capacity.
my two of me are battling that one out as well.
relax, enjoy not working so hard, I'll be fine.
oh no, the whole program will be ineffective for me because my zones aren't quite right: I'll end up weaker than before; this is a disaster.

perhaps somewhere between now and five days from now I will come to some agreement with myself and meet somewhere in the middle. a compromise. a truce, an agreement that in return for giving up panic, we will work just exactly hard enough to be the best we we can be.

wish us luck.

Monday, November 9, 2009


yesterday I went mountain biking again. that makes twice in one year.
watch out world: I might be on my way to becoming a convert . . .

not likely.

I still stand by my statements after mountain biking the mid-mountain trail last year: I am too old for this, and too female. I am the slowest one on the trail, and I practically wear out a set of brake pads with each ride.
three or four times yesterday these thoughts moved through my mind: what in the world am I doing here? what made me think I could do this?
riding up (key word, up) dry creek, I hit a sharp turn that flowed into a steep grade, and I couldn't do it. off my bike I went, and up I started walking, pulling my bike alongside me. I could hear voices coming up the trail not too far behind, so I pulled off to the side when there was a small space so the upcoming bikers could pass me. the first guy made the turn and kept pedaling up, but the second guy couldn't do it, and had to dismount as I had.
we commiserated for a moment, and he commented on how hard it is to get going again on a steep hill.
that's a skill I haven't yet mastered, I said.
ha. I haven't even passed Steep Hill Starts 101, let alone graduated or worked toward my masters.

all of that just to lead you into a discussion of another skill I haven't yet mastered: the art of assessment. of assessing oneself.
I am not always right.

example: last saturday I woke up slowly, achingly, a little stuffy and not eager to do much of anything. this lasted through coffee and reading, through housework, and through my entire decision-making process around To Ride or Not To Ride.
it was one of those times I thought I might be better off staying off the bike. resting. letting my body recover from whatever was bugging it.
but I wasn't sure.
do I push through it and go ride?
or do I pamper myself and stay home, maybe sit on the sofa and eat bon-bons?
I had thoughts of riding up to brighton: was that too much? or would it be okay? or should I plan a tamer ride?
how do you know what's best?
because the weather was so perfect, I decided to ride; I compromised and planned to only go up big mountain instead of the more aggressive brighton climb.
and I had one of the best darn rides of the season.
I felt good, I felt strong, I felt powerful, and I set a new Personal Record.
go figure.
of course, it could have been the awesome tailwind and the caffeinated shot bloks . . .

I'm left to wonder, still, how one knows what is best for one. push? rest? push gently? eat bon-bons?

I'm sure I will master Understanding One's Body about the same time I master Steep Hill Starts.
in other words, I'm not holding my breath.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

annual events

I have so many things to catch up on here: a two-week absence results in numerous unrecounted and un-documented experiences.
but since it's late and I've had a long week, I will give you an abbreviated version of my great ride two weeks ago today.
to begin with, it was a special occasion in that I dragged my mountain bike from the back of my garage, removed the spiderwebs and dust that coated it, pumped up its tires, and refilled its pack with a spare tube and a few dollars, but forgot the tire levers. (my pump is attached to the downtube, and always ready to go; no cartridges needed. only roadies use cartridges anyway, snooty sniff.)
I was heading out on my annual (as I laughingly call it) token mountain bike ride.
I hadn't ridden my poor, neglected mountain bike for 13 months, and it was time.

bill, kind soul that he is, agreed to ride with me, and suggested a nice, tame route that would keep me from stressing over its technical challenges and sheer drops. he said, why don't we ride from your house up millcreek to elbow fork, and take the pipeline trail down.
sure, I said.
now, just to clue you in, last time I rode a brief section of this trail I spent a fair bit of time hanging upside down (well, okay, in truth, just lying with my head pointed downhill and my legs and bike up above me) off the sloping side of the narrow trail, trying to decide how in the world I could get myself out of that predicament. I knew parts of this trail were a tad scary (as in, don't look down), but decided I could handle it.

that saturday morning dawned cold and overcast, but not even the rain 2 miles from the mouth of millcreek deterred us. I was on a mission. this annual event was happening, no matter what.
rain came and went, and we plowed ahead.
then came the hail.

this is when I laugh.
during the past 3 years I have placed myself (yes, I take full accountability) in the craziest of situations, and have laughed at what mother nature has blessed me with. I cannot wait to tell my grandchildren stories of how I rode in thunderstorms and torrential rains and under moonlight and in the midst of hail storms. I have earned these memories and cherish them. (my son has a t-shirt that says something like this: you can fall off your raft and die, or you can stay home and fall off your couch and die. get off your couch! I love this shirt.)

the hail started reasonably. and then intensified. and started coming down so hard and fast that it hurt.
we pulled off the road and tried to burrow beneath overhanging trees, protecting half of our bodies and bikes from the white iceballs, and watched the road get covered by millions of small white bombs.
I giggled.
it slowed, and we climbed back on our bikes for the last half mile or so of pavement before the trail began.
in this pic, those white dots are hail balls, and if you look closely, you'll notice that the normally black asphalt is light gray, due to being covered with little white hail balls.

the trail was astounding. beautiful. wet. full of mud puddles and sopping leaves. dry in spots mysteriously covered by shadowy trees, and gutted and worn away in others. the trail hangs high on the mountainside for miles, as you gaze out hundreds of feet above the road, staring into deep and dense pine hillsides. I rode over hundreds of thousands of slippery leaves and spent more than a few minutes listening to kris kristofferson singing in my ear, when it's scary...... don't look down.

I ended the ride muddier than I've ever been in my life, I'm sure, and living an adrenaline high.
okay you mountain bikers, I get it.

but I'm not giving up my road bike.

Thursday, November 5, 2009


at the beginning of today's ride I knew the ride would be all about soaking in this amazing fall day:
65 degrees, blue skies, crisp fall leaves on the ground, the earthy scent of autumn everywhere.
I decided to ride as slowly as necessary to allow all of my senses to soak in every aspect of what will soon be a fading memory.
it was all about marinating myself in this unbelievably fragrant and beautiful gift of a day.
but apparently soaking and marinating weren't the only verbs on my plate today: I also spent quite a bit of time being buffeted, sand-blasted, and wind-whipped. yep. in fact, I believe I recorded my slowest speeds ever coming down emigration canyon, and that wind tried with all of its might to push me back up to the top.
which reminds me of aesop's fable of the sun and the wind, and their dispute about who was the stronger:
The Wind and the Sun were disputing which was the stronger.
Suddenly they saw a traveler coming down the road, and the Sun
said: "I see a way to decide our dispute. Whichever of us can
cause that traveler to take off his cloak shall be regarded as
the stronger. You begin." So the Sun retired behind a cloud, and
the Wind began to blow as hard as it could upon the traveler.
But the harder he blew the more closely did the traveler wrap his
cloak round him, till at last the Wind had to give up in despair.
Then the Sun came out and shone in all his glory upon the
traveler, who soon found it too hot to walk with his cloak on.
today I think they were having the same dispute, but this time perhaps the agreement was just to prove strength by causing me to fear for my life.
the sun played its part by hiding behind some clouds, and the wind won, hands down.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009


they say one sign of strength of character is owning up to your mistakes.
taking responsibility.
acknowledging your weaknesses and errors.

here goes: I blew it already.
I lay in bed last night, lightly reflecting on my day, when suddenly I realized that I hadn't posted anything here.
you know how I feel about honoring commitments: I was appalled at myself.
I thought about getting out of bed, turning the computer back on, and writing something quickly and posting it. just so I would honor that commitment I made.
but I couldn't do it.
primarily because my alarm was set for 5:13 and it was already after 9:30 . . . and I love and need those precious hours of sleep.
my alarm was set for 5:13 because I had a morning ride planned. yep, you bet, even in this cold.
because, you see, last year when the time change happened I was all geared up for a few more early morning rides in partial morning light, but the weather turned wet and bitterly cold and those morning rides never happened.
this year, I was determined to have at least one.
and then we had a full moon, to boot . . .
so I couldn't resist the pull of a moonlit ride that ushered in the early morning sunrise, even if it was not quite forty degrees.
and that, my friends, is the story of my non-posting odd day and my even-day post today.
as my kids would say, TMI, mom.

my hands have finally thawed, though my toes are still a bit frigid, and I have once again been filled with the confirmation that there is just no better way to start my day than a pre-dawn ride up emigration.

happy trails!

Sunday, November 1, 2009

some days are more odd than others

today I rode because it was too beautiful to not ride.
I didn't ride because I wanted to, or because I ate too many cookies yesterday, or because my training schedule demanded it.
it was purely because a sixty-degree, sunny, november day with nothing but painfully blue skies up above is too good to pass up.
big mountain called me, as it is close and demanding and when I finish that ride I feel like I've accomplished something significant. even on a too-beautiful-to-not-ride day I like to accomplish something significant.
and I had a new experience on this ride.
a few miles up emigration I was passed by two chatting women who breezed past me as though they were riding on a flat road. I was breathing heavily and my leg muscles burned, while their slender, sleek bodies floated by and their conversation filled the air.
a minute later I heard another bike approaching me from behind, and I steeled myself against that inner shame for being passed again, and turned my head to see another woman pulling alongside me. we exchanged hellos and I realized I knew her, saying "wendy? it's susan!"
she slowed a tad, I sped up a tad, and we rode hard and chatted for the next mile or two.
she was trailing the fast duo ahead, and I didn't help her gain any ground, but we got to catch up on each other's lives, as we hadn't seen each other in a good year or so.
wendy is one of those salt of the earth people. grounded, reasonable, focused on what matters, kind, humorous, loving. one of those people you know you can count on, someone who keeps her word, someone I keep in that little mental pocket of people who would help me if I ever really needed help.
she eventually pulled ahead of me, but the four of us leapfrogged a bit all of the way to the top of big mountain. there we all paused, downed a quick snack and some liquid, layered up for the cold downhill rush, then took off together.
and this is where I had my realization: I've never ridden with 3 other women before.
I watched them from my position in the rear, and felt this powerful, slightly odd, kinship with these women. they swooped down the winding road gracefully and a bit more cautiously than I'm used to, and I felt surrounded by this beautiful, feminine energy. from a woman I'd just met, another I've only been introduced to once or twice, and a woman I've known for years but never spent much time with.
okay, weird, I know.
but it felt really good.
and when the swooping ended and the road rose again, my leg muscles complained, just like they always do, and I was once again on a normal ride under an endless blue sky on a perfect fall day.

best of all, I felt a desire to write about it.

so here I am, back, and with a new plan:
since I have my own quirky view of the world which I and some others consider to be, at times, a little odd, I have decided that for the next bit of time I will post on odd days. odd-numbered days of the month, as well as any additional days I consider to be odd enough to warrant a posting.
and there you have it.
the way of cycling is not always simple or predictable. or fun. however, I believe guidance is always given to those who seek it, and yesterday I was given some from a sign I saw while riding on the narrow track that leads up and over our freeways, connecting our north-eastern foothills with those more central and southern:

stay on path.