Wednesday, September 29, 2010

what am I doing?

in trying to set up a fitness test, I was asked the following question:
what phase am I in? maintenance, working to increase fitness, or recovery?

I was stumped.
I don't know.
I'm just doing what I do, as usual, without too much thought.

and this is why I signed up for power camp: it's really nice to have someone tell you what to do.
the question of what phase I'm in has made me do some thinking. the first line of thought is that gee, I should have a plan. the second line of thought is, why don't I have a plan? the third line is then, if I have a plan, how do I know what to do to stick to my plan?
see, this is why I just get on my bike and ride.

however, I should probably be more methodical about it all. I've been telling anyone who asks, all year long, that my goal this year is to ride less than I rode last year. that usually draws a laugh, and I don't share the rest of it: I wanted to ride less, but ride smarter: make the best use of my time, that kind of thing.
but the problem with that is then you have to be methodical. you need to have a plan, you need to follow formats and be on a schedule, pay attention, and all of that. and while my intentions were good, I kept slipping back into that comfort zone of just getting on my bike and riding.
which is what I'm still doing.
I throw a recovery day in every now and again, and I temper Big Climbs with Not So Big Climbs. but I'm pretty stuck on my favorite emigration canyon ride, and I end up riding that more often than not. it lets me work in every training zone, but what does that really mean?
when I ride that am I maintaining? working to increase fitness? or just being me?
I don't know.

I fear that I will have to continue spending my winters in power camp, receiving guidance and direction, so that I can spend the rest of the year in that blissful state of "don't know."
as long as I can keep riding up emigration, it's a pretty great state to be in.

Monday, September 27, 2010

visiting a parallel galaxy

I am usually on top of things, organized, focused, fairly accurate, all of those things.
but sometimes I slip off into another galaxy, I believe, and can't even remember what day it is. or was. or might be.

yesterday I was certain that it was the 25th, an odd day, and that I would need to post something here by the end of the day.
so when I noticed all the mountain bikers on the trails in millcreek canyon, I was amazed by how many of them were willing to break the rules. you see, bikes aren't allowed on upper canyon trails on odd-numbered days. wow, I thought, all of those bikers are cheating. hard to believe.
it was hard to believe.
in fact, it was so hard to believe that I started questioning it. well, questioning the date. back-tracking then, trying to remember friday's date, and saturday's date. all I knew is that I posted on friday, and that I needed to post again sunday, so . . . friday and sunday must be odd dates on the calendar.
and I really couldn't reconcile this in my mind! no, I posted friday, it HAD to be an odd day.

I'm not sure when I visited this parallel universe or for how long, but I was obviously gone for a while.

sure enough, when I got home and turned on my computer, I saw that I had posted friday the 24th. after posting thursday the 23rd. I deduce that I must have slipped away sometime thursday evening, spent an entire day somewhere else, so that when I returned friday I knew it was time to post again.

the bottom line is this: I now know it's an odd day. and I know I messed up this weekend. and I firmly believe it's because I was somewhere else.
if you can disprove that, go for it.
otherwise, that's my defense.

Friday, September 24, 2010


this past week on my emigration/little dell/east canyon rides, I've seen a million (at least) things. but a few stick out, and I, being me, have attached some significance to them. read on.

a doe, a deer.
we are in hunting season, with archery season ending last friday, muzzleloading just about to begin, and any-legal-weapon season still a month away. this deer crossed the road about thirty yards in front of me, turning to look back at me, pause and assess, then flounce off into the foliage. she has survived, she has managed to outsmart the hunters so far this season. she is a survivor, a beacon, a reminder.

my friend the coyote, twice. or two coyotes, once each.
either way, the message I receive here is continuity. I've been seeing him (them) all season, and I feel a kinship here. it's his (their) canyon, and it's my canyon, and we coexist beautifully. a new day dawns, he (they) forages and follows his instincts. a new day dawns, I ride, I follow my instincts.

a fuzzy yellow caterpillar, crossing the road, not two feet from my wheel.
obvious, the message here, which is don't give up. apparently the universe thought I needed a reminder of last week's message (see september 17 post ) and put another fuzzy little guy directly in my path (or maybe it was the same little guy, not sure how I'd know, especially since I can't even tell two coyotes apart). I will not give up.

little dell reservoir, still as glass, a mirror reflecting everything around it.
the message here I will take this way: we reflect what is around us. thus we are at our most beautiful when we surround ourselves with kind, loving, compassionate, joyful, deep, spiritual, open, passionate people. I'll keep it up.

Thursday, September 23, 2010

recover, recover, recover

tuesday I rode a recovery ride, 20 easy miles, heart rate controlled.
wednesday I had one of my best rides ever---I mean ever---up emigration to little dell reservoir and back.
do you think I will ever learn this lesson?

recover, recover, recover.

I'm currently involved in a writing project about a man who put his body through an incredibly intense experience last year. One of the many truths that revealed themselves to him over time was that his body needed periods of recovery. He craved days off, and his body rewarded him for them by continuing to function the following day.
his challenges were much greater than mine have ever been, as in addition to the strenuous physical demands he made on his body, he was underfeeding himself, nutritionally depleting every store and actually causing his body to turn and begin harming itself. this was an issue in and off itself, one that I work hard to completely avoid.

but the recovery issue is valid for me, for him, for my children, for all of us.
mentally, physically, emotionally---we all spend ourselves, and we must all be aware enough and kind enough to ourselves to incorporate ways to refuel.
a day off, gentle movements, stretching, resting, sleeping . . .
whatever it takes.
because you are worth it.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010


william ernest henley penned these words 135 years ago, and they have since traveled the globe and been memorialized by book and film. they speak of an innate determination not to be less than what is possible.
today I post this poem with a nod to nelson mandela, to lynn cleland, to dave collins, to frank sutera, and to all of those in my life who refuse to be less than everything they are meant to be.
from one who constantly reminds herself to do the same, carry on, be well, and never let go of your dreams.

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

pressure and the flaw in fundamental economics

tomorrow begins the sign-up for the sleep-stealing, heart-rate threatening, dreaded, infamous Power Camp.
they gave us one week to decompress from lotoja, then they apply the pressure to commit to another winter of intense cycling work; I'm not sure that one week is long enough.
but this is just how it goes ~ companies and organizations hype things up, trying to create excitement and intensity, and ask for commitments well ahead of the actual time of delivery. this is just the way we have trained sellers to operate, because we fall for it all and say "yes, choose me!" entirely too easily.
power camp doesn't actually begin until mid-november, but they want our commitment (and our money) now.
and as I stated, we as a society have created this situation for ourselves, so it's hard to become to frustrated with the sellers of such programs and gadgets who are only playing the game themselves. pre-order this! get on the waiting list for that! be the first on your block to have the new widgit coming out next year by paying now for delivery in six months!
but I do have a different frustration. it has to do with supply and demand and what I see as one of the biggest problems we've created in our capitalistic society.
anyone who's ever taken basic economics has learned about the supply and demand curves. they teach us that price is a reflection of both supply and demand: as supply goes up the price will decrease unless demand increases, and when supply is lessened the price will increase unless demand also decreases.
this is all good in theory.
but you know about theories and reality: they don't always play together well.
this is my complaint, based on thirty or so years of observation: it all works well until greed enters the equation.
there are certain things-items-commodities out there that people are in such need of that they will pay more than they can afford just so they can have it.
and in some situations, companies charge for items just because they can get it.
microsoft is one of my favorite examples here: yes, bill gates created something amazing, terrific, useful, fabulous. but it sells for a pretty hefty price. and he has how much money? and ~ this is my key question ~ how much is enough? what if he sold his software for, say, twenty percent less: would he still be a billionaire? why do companies have to be as greedy as they are? how much is enough?

and this connects to power camp how, you ask?
the answer: power camp classes are offered early morning, noon, and evening. they have approximately 40 bikes in the spin room where classes are held, and they take up to 110 or so registrants.
this year they are selling a pass, for an additional $25, that will guarantee you a spot in the early morning class. meaning, if you purchase one of these passes and you show up to class and the bikes are all taken, you can kick someone off if they don't have one of these special passes.
what are they selling?
what does it cost them?
what is their profit margin on this item?
how do they justify this, in their little ethical mind?
what does this say about us as a society? if you have more money you can take from those who have less?

if I ran the world, things would be different.
I can't promise to solve any of the world's problems, and I really wouldn't want to be the queen of everything, but I can certainly think of a few things to do to make our societies more equitable.
because even though it's said that he who dies with the most toys wins,
he still dies.
maybe someday more of us will come to the realization that to give is to receive, and that in the end, enough is all you really need.

Friday, September 17, 2010

don't give up

yesterday I rode my bike for the third time post lotoja, and I felt better than I did the day before, which had felt better than my previous, first-post-lotoja, ride. I think this is how it's supposed to work.
I cruised up emigration with a sweet little tailwind, and was just past ruth's diner and camp kostopulos when I saw a bike on the ground off to the right of the road and a cyclist walking across the road back toward it, a phone in their hand. as I drew closer I could see it was a woman, and it didn't appear she was in any distress. she had a slight smile on her face, and as I pulled up to her I asked if she needed anything.
"what?" she asked, pulling an earbud from her ear, turning her head to me with a smile.
"do you need anything?" I repeated, slowing to a crawl.
"oh, no, I was just riding up and I saw this caterpillar," she said joyfully, a slight accent blurring her consonants, "so I was taking a picture of it, it's so big, just working its way across the road."
at that I had to start circling, realizing this was too good to just pass by.
"I have a bunch of friends on facebook," she continued,"who are having a hard time, and I thought I'd send them this picture of the caterpillar going across the road, you know, don't give up, keep going!"
searching for this big beast, I circled again and low and behold, there I saw it, this hugely fuzzy bright yellow thing creeping across the chip seal. it must have been two inches long, and its fuzz must have stuck up about 3/8 of an inch: it was possibly the largest caterpillar I've ever seen.
and it was determined.
it just kept scrunching its way across the bumpy road surface, heading to greener pastures on the other side, I suppose.
and my cyclist friend was just tickled that she'd gotten a picture of it.
I wished her well, thanked her for pointing the critter out to me, and headed on up the hill.
thinking to myself, I don't want to check for a big yellow squish when I come back down the hill: please, let him make it to the other side.

it's terribly easy to get caught up in our own stuff, and it's also easy to think that everyone else is handling life better than we are. there are hundreds of millions of us here in the states alone, all with our own stories and aches and pains and challenges. I'm certain a large portion of us suffer through that I want to give up feeling weekly, if not even more often.
this little yellow fuzzy caterpillar gave me an opportunity to check my own reality (pretty darn good) and increase my empathy for those who are struggling.
I'd say that between that, being photographed for distribution on the web, and making it across a busy road, that little yellow guy had a darn good day.
and part of his reward is that someday in the not-too-distant future, he will take flight and see the world from an entirely different perspective.

(ps: I think it was a Lophocampa maculata, which takes flight as a spotted tussock moth, for you curious readers out there.)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

the state of not knowing

I am in this grand place of not knowing what my next adventure is.

it's kind of fun being here, knowing that eventually plans will fall together and some new experience will enter my life, but not having any concrete idea of what that might be or even when it might occur.

I've been thinking about this for two reasons. first, because lotoja is now over, and life opens back up again. second, because it's possible that my lotoja-phase-of-life might be over; I may have finally hit satiation level with the whole program. (please note that I say may, being the ever-equivocal person I am. it's much too close to the event to have any real understanding of my feelings about it all.)

and although I have three children in high school that keep me tethered to a certain kind of existence, a company to run, and a writing project to research and write, I feel a general sense of openness to whatever new adventures want to enter my life.

it may be a new riding adventure, something stimulating and challenging and altogether different from lotoja.
it may be something new about business, some renewed interest or intensification of what already exists.
it may be about writing, or cars, or my house, or just about any aspect of my life.

I just feel this great sense of possibility, of hope, of, well, faith in what's coming down the pike. (writer's note: I just did a little research on the phrase "coming down the pike" and find that there is great disagreement about whether it's "pike" or "pipe" and even greater disagreement about where it actually originated.... my choice is that it's from the 1904 world's fair in St. Louis, where a walkway known as "The Pike" was filled with mind-boggling sights and experiences, leading visitors to wonder what would next be coming down the pike. other explanations involved mailrooms and spears and severed heads . . . I'll stick with the fair.)

so, today I exist in this wonderful state of being uncommitted to any specific future, of being open to many optional futures, and of having faith that what's best and right for me will eventually make itself known.

Monday, September 13, 2010

tactile experiences

not only did we not earn hangers this year, we earned an even-better cog/gear/ring than those we've earned in the past: this year's cog/gear/ring has bike chain around its edge, which is not only cool but three-dimensional, adding another tactile experience to the ride.

like I needed another tactile experience.

let's see, it was 36 degrees at the start with a relative humidity of 93 percent. I could almost feel the air, it was so thick with moisture.

along with the cold comes, guess what, Susan's Gigantic Goosebumps. fortunately this year's pelaton from logan to preston was so mellow that no one was sitting on my wheel consistently enough to comment on the prevalence and size of the goosebumps on my calves. this was the most leisurely ride to preston I've had in my four years of doing this.

next would come the numbness in my right hand and the blister/callous/owie that developed on the base of my right palm.

then the leg cramps. I don't get leg cramps. (this is a statement of fact like I do not have allergies, I don't get sick, I am healthy, and no, I don't know why my eyes and nose run when I'm outside . . . ). riding up to the geneva summit this incredible pain went shooting through both of my quads, like little bolts of lightning flashing up and down and across and I was stunned. this doesn't happen to me. bill told me to gear down and spin it up, so I did, then I chugged my gatorade and chewed a couple shot blocks (just how quickly do those electrolytes jump into your muscles??) and within a few minutes the lightning bolts backed off, and a mile or so later I was back to "normal," whatever "normal" is after one has ridden 90 or so miles.

next, let's see, that would be the tailwind. oh, the tailwind. what a gift, what a treat, what a kiss sent across wyoming. it tickled the back of my arms and pushed my bike ever northward as I tried to control my giddiness. if you don't ride, I don't know how I can explain this other than to say it is better than the loft that takes your golf ball directly to the green, the still water that welcomes the cut of your paddle or arm, and a gentle decline in grade no matter what you're doing, all rolled up in one.

sometime in here comes the "saddle interface." this is an extremely tactile experience, one that is capable of contributing significant misery to one's ride. I'd like to just leave it at this: ow.

then the feet. no matter how terrific your shoes, how smart your wool socks, how lovely your pedicure, after ten or so hours your feet just hurt. hot, fuzzy, numb, throbbing, pulsing, tingling . . . pain.

next came the return of the cold. up near the top of the canyon above alpine junction we rode in the shade of the pine-covered hillside, and goosebumps revisited every inch of skin. twenty-five or so miles left to go . . . I was grateful to round one last hill and return to the land of the sun.

all this time I could have been mentioning the tactile experiences of eating fig newtons that have been air-dried in my jersey pocket (yes, the fig part stays moist but the rest certainly doesn't), chewing shot blocks, slurping Gu's, swishing and swallowing warm gatorade/powerade/goodness knows what concoctions, squeezing well-ripened bananas past my taste buds (if only), and ~ finally something positive ~ savoring, and I truly mean savoring, the half a turkey-lettuce-and- sweet-mustard-on-wheat-bread sandwich that I had in Afton that I'd been dreaming about since shortly after Montpelier.

but the best tactile experience of all was probably this: slowly swinging my leg around and off the bike, and clomping along in my bike shoes, crunching and relishing the feel of terra firma underneath my feet, after sitting atop my buddy ruby and letting two skinny rubber tubes count off the 206 miles of extremely firma terra that I'd just traveled.

it is always, always, good to be done.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

yoga nidra for real

okay, I'm finally back with the story.
you must realize that this is all my interpretation of someone else's explanation of his interpretation of a concept . . . so you must not pick apart what I have to say. please just accept it as information that came into my brain then was tweaked by all of my inner workings and is now being relayed to you through my quirky style of writing and relating.
enough qualifiers.
I was introduced to yoga nidra the other evening as it being just one more form of yoga. remember yoga itself is a way of life, and the "yoga" I often refer to here is a physical practice which is just one manifestation of the concept of yoga.
yoga nidra is a relaxation which involves meditation or visualization work, and in its true form is very deep and can lead to great insight. it is sometimes called sleep yoga, as its practitioners can become so still and deeply meditative that they may appear to be sleeping.
what our speaker the other evening referred to, though, was a lighter form with greater emphasis on visualizations. he spoke about using this form to work on enhancing performance, and strengthening our ability to endure what our body goes through during these long-term physical activities we undertake.
this is what I loved and grabbed onto: he discussed limiting beliefs, and learning to reconfigure them.
he discussed developing the ability to visualize yourself at your peak, on your best ride ever, the feelings, the experience, the awareness of how you experienced such a time. then he also talked about visualizing yourself at a difficult, trying, challenging time, and focusing on the awareness of those feelings, that experience and how it felt. next came the activity of switching back and forth between those two visualizations, experiencing both, and learning to hold onto the fact that it is you, this powerful being, that is larger than either experience and able to have an awareness of both.
this is powerful.
I have been working on visualizing myself, and working on dissolving some of my limiting beliefs, and I am quite excited about it all.
it's always good to get a little refresher course in how to be your best, for as much reading, studying, and practicing as we do, we still tend to fall into those little self-defeating ruts that run in every direction, all over out there in the real world.
I feel powerful, I feel capable and strong and ready to experience the excited energy of lotoja this saturday. I will have a great ride, and although I have a few personal goals I'd love to reach, I will reach jackson a healthy, happy, empowered being no matter what transpires between the start and the end.
I plan to take saturday the 11th off from posting here, so, once again,
see you on the flip side!
(sure hope they don't try to give us hangers again... I'll be sure to let you know.)

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

yoga nidra tease

last friday I attended a yoga class where the instructor talked about Effort and the Relinquishment of Effort. about the fact that without the relinquishment, the rest, the recovery, we are hopelessly out of balance and will ultimately fail in our missions. (okay, that last part was my little addition ~ I'm sure her words were much more gentle.)
and then tonight I listened to a yogi speak about the concept of yoga nidra.
and between these two gifts, I have found something beautiful.

but because I am balancing my efforts today with my body's requirements for rest . . . I will have to write about it all tomorrow.

Sunday, September 5, 2010


I've just returned from spending a few days in huntsville. we stayed in a condo which had a balcony on its backside, overlooking pineview reservoir. the weather was perfect, the views gorgeous, and the neighbors.... well, we had neighbors.
interesting neighbors. those to our east spent their days going for rides, taking picnic lunches. the first afternoon I overheard the woman making plans: she was speaking (loudly) on her phone, out on the balcony, and I heard "going for a ride" and "pasta salad" and "jello salad" and meeting at nine the next morning.
now there are many different ways to go for a ride. could be on a bicycle.... but probably not, given the salads for lunch. could be on a motorcycle.... you never know. turns out, it was by car. which is probably the safest way to transport salads to a picnic.

the neighbors to the west were an interesting group as well. we were unloading our bicycles while they were doing the same, and since all of the bikes were Specialized bikes, a conversation began. turns out that one of the gentlemen works for Specialized in their salt lake warehouse, and then we had all sorts of fun things to talk about. his wife told us that he'd lost a hundred pounds last year, and had become quite the cyclist. (his calves were almost as big around as my thighs wish they were.) he is riding lotoja next saturday, and he was in his taper mode as well.
then he told me about a ride he'd done this past May, a 333 mile, 3-day ride in central-ish utah. it begins in fish lake, rides to brian head on day one, rides to escalante on day two, and continues from escalante back to fish lake on the final day. I believe this neighbor said the total elevation gain is about 24,000 feet for the three days, but to be honest, the facts just slid through my brain because it was a bit astonishing. the ride is called the Tour de South, and you can find their website at www.tourdesouthcom.

so, there are rides, and there are rides, and even within the category of bike rides, there are a thousand different lengths, difficulties, and forms. what I know for sure (thanks, oprah) is that just as I was thrilled to ride to causey dam and snow basin this weekend, there are thousands of other beautiful places I would be every bit as thrilled to ride to.
and next may, you just might find me hopping into my car and driving down to central-ish utah and jumping on my bike one morning by the side of fish lake . . .

Friday, September 3, 2010


yesterday I rode around summit and wasatch counties, following bill and clocking eighty-six miles. it was all familiar; I've ridden every bit of the path before, though not all together as the route was organized yesterday.
what was different is that we rode it backwards from the way I usually ride most of it.
first of all, this was a little mental stumbling block to cross before I even began riding.
no, this isn't the way we go! wait, will this give me enough elevation gain? can't we go the other way, somehow, won't it work better? susan's brain screams at her.
I told myself to calm down, that it would all work out, that bill's plan would be just fine.
but part of me was scrunching up its little shoulders, grimacing, anticipating disaster.

I have become a terrific creature of habit.

I don't even ride that neck of the woods very often, so I'm unsure of why I feel so addicted to a certain pattern of riding when there. but apparently I do. and yesterday we changed from our traditional counter-clockwise pattern to a clockwise pattern, and after I released my anxiety about it all and got into the rhythm of it, I experienced one of those amazing things that happens when your perspective is shifted: I saw things differently.
mostly because I was seeing them from the north instead of the south, or the west instead of the east, but still, the landscape changed.
I saw houses I'd never before seen, because they hid behind copses of trees or hills or other natural barriers on the side I'd always approached them from. I experienced inclines and descents from the opposite direction, and gained a new perspective on their realities. certain stretches felt much longer than ever before, and other stretches flew by.
it was eye-opening.

and this is the piece that tells me I need to keep working on me: I was initially resistant to this backwards route. why do I do this? do I simply crave the comfort of what is known? was I just fearful that this change in direction would result in a route that was not challenging enough? do I just think and analyze too much? why do I have to do this to myself?

I had a great day yesterday, a great ride, an easy-ish spin around farmland and nothing land and a big, beautiful reservoir, with a hillside stop for an incredible view of the heber valley. the weather moved from oh-so-chilly to absolutely perfect, the company was grand, the bananas of perfect ripeness, and the perspective backwards and thus incredibly enlightening.

PS: had to look up the origin of the phrase "neck of the woods," because it's really quite peculiar if you stop to think about it. apparently it's an Americanism, developed early on in our heritage, used initially to describe a settlement in a stretch of forested land. apparently we Americans were trying to separate ourselves from the British, coming up with new names for our inhabited areas. instead of moors, dells, and heaths, we chose to call things forks, branches, and necks. and this, folks, is your tidbit of info for the day.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

this time of year

there is something absolutely fabulous about riding a bike this time of year.
it feels like fall, even though it isn't truly fall yet, and we are probably just getting a sneak preview, but I love it.
the air feels crisp and clean, and the sun shines brightly but without the intensity of a just a week or two ago. the temperature allows you to put an extra layer on, but not the two extra layers you need a little further down the calendar road. trees are still green, flowers are still happily blooming, but the pressure of a hot, heavy, dry summer is past.
this is excellent bike riding weather.

this morning I rode after the kids were all gone to school, and it was a blissfully still day. tailwinds and headwinds so light as to be insignificant, the kind of day where you feel like you get a true sense of how you ride. nothing is helping you, nothing is hindering you.
this is what I have discovered lately and confirmed today: headwinds and crosswinds really mess with my riding.
riding down the canyon today, only the slightest headwind occasionally pushing lightly against me, I was able to push my speed and my heartrate. when I have a strong headwind, try as I might, I have a difficult time getting my heartrate high. it's as though my legs say, uh-uh, I can't work one bit harder against this pain-in-the-but wind. I experience a similar situation to a slightly lesser degree on the ascent: the more wind in my face the harder time I have reaching my top heart rate zone.
I'm trying to understand this.
and the only thing I can come up with is that I just need to develop more strength in my legs. that with too much wind (resistance) I just hit a point where I can't work any harder, and that point is lower than I'd like it to be.
now of course this is simply susan's assessment of susan, and a Real Coach might have a much better explanation.

all I know for certain is that today was absolutely lovely, and I loved every wind-gust-free moment of my ride.
blue skies, sixty degrees, green trees and the smell of damp earth everywhere, today brought home to me how much I love riding this time of year.