Sunday, July 31, 2011

a missed anniversary

I can't believe myself sometimes.

I missed my own darn anniversary not quite 2 weeks ago, and didn't realize it until just now.
they say the mind is the first thing to go, don't they?

july 19, 2008, the tao of cycling launched itself into cyberspace, and here I am, three years later, still experiencing new events, seeing life through new eyes, viewing new fawns each spring, listening to a new generation of crickets each fall.
I began by posting every day, and made it through over a year that way, but then settled into my "odd day" posting pattern.

many days I ponder my purpose here (both on earth and in cyberspace), consider going on hiatus, and find myself unable to give it up and walk--I mean pedal--away.

today, as I reflect upon the past 3 years and 12 days, I'm not committing to another year; I'm simply committing to doing what I believe is best.

it's not yet time to stop riding,

and I think it's not yet time to stop writing here.

training is good.
training keeps us from resting on those prickly laurel wreathes (like those strewn all about my home.)

so happy anniversary, belatedly, to me,
and happy (and healthy, though weary) return to slc, to me,

and I think tomorrow I'll share my story of pedaling with 300 or so other slightly-wacky people from saintville to sinville.

Friday, July 29, 2011

allez-y !

and off we go,
toward the bright lights in the middle of the desert. which probably won't be so striking when we (hopefully) arrive in the middle of the day.

however, we are ready to roll, ready for what I call the grand adventure.
catch the updates on

and I'll be back sunday!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

the message

I intended to preface the passage below by stating, this isn't about biking.
but then I decided that it really is.
it's about biking, about life, about being. because who and how we are as we ride along, is who and how we are.

for the past 4 weeks we've had a 15-year-old northern irish girl living with us, participating in the Ulster Project with one of my daughters. it has been an amazing, beautiful, incomparable experience. it has touched us all deeply, and extended our community across the atlantic to that fragile island. the 14 irish who were here with the project left yesterday morning to return home, but the evening before that we had a "closing ceremony" at a local church. the pastor of this presbyterian church shared with us a passage from Romans, both in its TNIV (today's new international version) form, and in a form from a book called The Message: an interpretation/translation of the new testament directly from the greek, put in today's words.
I'm copying it here, sharing it, because I thought it was some of the best guidance available for teenagers, cyclists, and all human beings:

Love from the center of who you are; don't fake it. Run for dear life from evil; hold on for dear life to good. Be good friends who love deeply; practice playing second fiddle. Don't burn out; keep yourselves fueled and aflame. Be alert servants of the Master, cheerfully expectant. Don't quit in hard times; pray all the harder. Help needy Christians*; be inventive in hospitality. Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath. Laugh with your happy friends when they're happy; share tears when they're down. Get along with each other; don't be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don't be the great somebody. Don't hit back; discover beauty in everyone. If you've got it in you, get along with everybody. (Romans 12:9-18, The Message)

(I want this changed to Humans)

if you've got it in you, get along with everybody.
and if you don't have it in you, never give up the goal of someday finding it within you.

Monday, July 25, 2011

what to say

squirrel girl, hamstring, firecracker . . . the girl has a few nicknames.
if I could come up with a new one, it would simply be supergirl.

supergirl, aka ivy, rode her 520 miles this past weekend, ending at 3:30 this morning. as our biking buddy bob put it, she rode more this weekend than he's ridden all month.

I rode over 50 miles this morning, climbing about 5000 feet, and that was one-tenth of what she did.

so, I have little to say today.
every ride I've ever done pales (bleaches itself to nothing) in comparison to what this girl has done.
but perhaps this will be helpful: whenever I begin to feel tired, weak, sore, hungry, thirsty, hot, cold, miserable . . . I can just think of ivy and what she survived, riding straight through for 46 hours.

then I can just tuck my little head back down, suck it up, and---in ivy's infamous words---HTFU. (I'm too good of a girl to put the words out there, but maybe you can figure it out.)

I'm still glad to me, but I admire the squirrel girl like no other.
go, ivy, you are my hero!

Saturday, July 23, 2011

solidarity and night lights

my friend ivy is riding the race across oregon today.
and tonight.
and tomorrow.
and possibly even part of tomorrow night.
520 miles: she began at 5 am this morning and by 4 pm had 145 miles behind her . . . can you imagine having ridden 145 miles and thinking to yourself, gosh, only 375 left to go?

the thought alone exhausts me.

I, in solidarity, am going to join her spirit out on the road tonight, in the dark.
okay, it's only partly about ivy, with the larger chunk being about my upcoming relay race next friday/saturday. race, hah. event, better.
since I will be riding during the day, then during the night, then during the day again, I decided that it would be good for me to experiment with a little day riding/night riding.
so . . .
today I rode 80 miles. and now I've had a break for (more than) a few hours, and I'm getting ready to head back out again as soon as it gets dark.
I've got my super bright tail light, my mega-watt front light, my reflective vest-thingee (which looks more like a super-sized bright green upper-body jock strap than anything else), two water bottles chilling, and, well, a slightly-anxious me.
I've ridden in the early-morning dark many times, but it always lightens up by the end of my ride. and I've usually had a healthy(ish) amount of sleep before heading out.
this will be a new experience.
I'm going to head up the canyon so it will be nice and dark, like the highway we'll be riding next friday night, and so that I'll have a descent to learn how to navigate without sunlight.
right now the trick is mostly about keeping myself from falling asleep before it's time to leave.

and then there's ivy.
who will probably finish her 520-mile race in about 40 total hours (that's my guess).
the least I can do is go ride for two hours in the dark tonight, sending positive energy and good vibes up into the night sky, directing it in a north-westerly direction, asking that it float down and find her wherever she may be, and give her just a teeny, tiny little boost.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

what I'm grateful for this morning

cool air
smart wool socks
playful, soaring, dipping birds
all birds, really
quick-footed chipmunks with those vertical tails
beating the sunrise at the top of little mountain by 90 seconds
being able to stare a young deer in the eyes from 12 feet away
gradual inclines
tailwinds on the way home
a warm shower

and what brings even a greater rush of gratitude is the knowledge that
I can do it all

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

forced recovery

ruby is in the bike shop.
and has been since yesterday, post my early-morning emigration ride.
I told the bike shop boy he could keep her until today, and, (wince) possibly until tomorrow, if he really needed to . . .


last weekend was tough. I rode 250 miles last week: up emigration three times, millcreek twice, big cottonwood once, and little cottonwood twice. by sunday, when I simply rode out to the mouth of little cottonwood and back (1700' elevation gain), I was Pretty Darn Tired.
then came yesterday's ride, then yesterday's trip to the bike store, and now doday: Forced Rest Day.
so I went to yoga, then for a two-hour hike.
and at the moment, I'm not feeling too bad about not riding ruby tomorrow.

I'm sure you're concerned: my bike is just having a little issue, completely fixable I'm sure. bike shop boy suggested it's likely time for new cables, and I'm hoping that's the fix for the problem I've been experiencing. I feel like the prototypical female talking to a mechanic:
well, when I pedal it goes around like it's supposed to and then it kind of slips, makes a little hiccup thing where there's just air for a minute, and then it's right back to normal. and it does it sometimes, more when it's flat, but not all the time, and it makes me pedal funny. then there's this little whirring sound, and a clink, and I think it might be coming from somewhere on the left side, except sometimes it sounds like it's on the right . . .
okay, I made that last part up.
but it's difficult to explain some of these things when you're a female like me.

so, my hope is that ruby will come home tomorrow, and that by thursday I'll feel like taking her back out for a spin.
she gets a little recovery, I get a little recoery, my saddle interface gets a bit of recovery . . .
it's all good.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

the outcome

110 miles
12,123' of elevation gain
8.5 hours riding time

no stops on the way up the 3rd canyon to keep myself from dying this year

bottom line: better than last year

woo hoo!

I Think I Canyons is now behind me . . . and I'm just darn sure I'll never want to do it again.


Friday, July 15, 2011

thinking, hoping, believing

don't have much time to write here today, as I'm busy hydrating (as brad says, a good mountaineer always pees clear), keeping my electrolytes balanced, icing my knees, being kind to my saddle-interface area ('nuf said), fueling myself, and pretending I'm the little engine who could.
I think I can, I think I can, I think I can is the mantra I've been chanting all day.

tomorrow is the IThinkICanyons 4-canyon challenge, and I plan to do it again, with the primary goal of comparing last year's ride to this year's. last year I was 5-weeks post clavicle surgery: this year I have no excuse.
so I darn better think my way up all four of those canyons, hoping and believing that I'll ride all 110 miles, climb all 12,000 feet, and survive to tell about it another day.

back to hydrating (and peeing), ice, a few more carbs, and
I think I can(yon), I think I can(yon), I think I can . . .

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

breaking through barriers

it's a week of barrier-breaking.
as many years as I've ridden, as many hills I've climbed and summits I've reached, as many thousands of miles I've pedaled, I still, at times, question my abilities to reach the top of the hill.

I place little barriers in my mind, rectangular things with signs on them that say, uh-uh, not sure.
it's hard.
it's steep.
it will hurt.
you'll barely make it, if you do.
you're probably not ready.

it doesn't matter how many times I've climbed a hill: each new season brings a slew of barriers and---oh, I so hate to admit this---doubt.

I want to be the person who is so full of faith and certainty that nothing deters her, the person whose lexicon does not contain the word "doubt."

so this week I've been tackling the "first time up this season" barriers. on sunday, I climbed millcreek, and this morning I climbed little cottonwood. neither canyon softened or lessened its grades over the winter, but I made it all the way to the top of each without either dying, stopping, crying, or falling over as a result of my (lack of) speed.
I survived.
and now those firsts are behind me, where they can now hang out with that nebulous, insidious, clammy thing called doubt.

by climbing those canyons I receive 2 gifts: first, the certainty that I can still do it, and second, the rediscovery of the incredible beauty surrounding me the entire time.

sunday morning I left my home at half past six, and the road up millcreek was lightly traveled and damp from the previous night's rain. sun rays threw themselves upward from far behind the hill as I headed east, and the light filtered its way down and rested gently upon the trees. the creek, boisterous and frothy, spread mist for twenty feet above and beside it, where it hovered, sparkling, in the light that sat in the narrow valley of the canyon.
the descent---oh the descent!---was everything I'd forgotten: unbelievably fast, carving it's way down, cold, green walls ebbing and flowing, runoff splashing beneath my tires, the day coming into its own.

today I was on the road at 5:40, hitting the mouth of little cottonwood just before 7. the pinkened clouds of sunrise hovered, teasing, as I journeyed south, and the canyon was well lit by the time I began to climb. huge boulders balance precariously throughout the 8 mile climb, the walls steep and rocky. a shockingly white waterfall streaks down a southern wall, and the relentless climb leads to a lush, green ending where fat wallows of snow still sit, dirty and thick, awaiting just a few more weeks of summer sun.

this beautiful world exists with or without me, but it is only by breaking through my barriers and climbing these canyons that I am able to immerse myself within it and glory in the magnificence of this place in which we so amazingly are blessed--yes, blessed---to live.

Monday, July 11, 2011



I don't think a tire is supposed to look like this.

four miles into this morning's ride I began to hear a rhythmic thump which seemed to be coordinating with the turn of my wheel. there is nothing more lovely than a silent bike, but it's not often that I have one of those for longer than a ride or two. something is always happening. (how zen a statement is that?)

so, this morning when the thumping began, I just smiled, rolled my eyes, and thought, okay, something new to challenge my not-so-highly-evolved mechanical skills.

after a minute or two of cyclical thumps and a visual inspection that saw no culprit lodged between the brake pads and the wheel or anywhere else that could explain what I was hearing, I pulled over and stopped. leaning over my bike, I lifted the front end and spun the wheel and what did I see? what you see, above.

I don't think bike tires are supposed to look like that.

but, being already out on my ride . . .

yep, of course, I just kept going.

thinking that at any moment I might have a blowout.

or I might not.

I cornered carefully, I braked as little as possible, I tried to ride exactly like an unhappy tire would want me to.

and I made it home, to take this cool pic and post it here.

now I'm going to go fix the darn thing.

then next time I post I can tell you about my incredible, awesome, fabulous season-inaugural ride up millcreek canyon where the hummingbirds, mist, and deer came out to greet me . . .

Saturday, July 9, 2011

psi and a ps about hydroplaning

I do believe that properly inflated tires make a significant difference (as compared to those that are woefully underinflated) when one is riding a bicycle.
especially up a hill.
say, the back side of big mountain.
especially when you're already 65 miles into your ride and you are a wee bit tired.

of course I speak from experience.

I started my morning with a deadline and a flat tire. a phone call and a hurried flat-fix later, I was out the door and on my way.
which ultimately led to my woefully underinflated tire 65 miles later.
yes, the number one rule of changing a flat tire is to run your finger along the inside of the tire itself to see if there's a little thorn/piece of glass/sharp something/owie that poked its way into your tube.
yes, sometimes yours truly, when in a hurry, forgets the number one rule of changing a flat tire.

what kills me is just how long it took me to figure out that my tire was bulging out and gripping 5 times as much pavement as it needed to, dramatically (and exhaustingly) increasing my rolling resistance.

when I finally had to pull over and stop halfway up my climb because I was exhausted, I just happened to notice my incredibly soft front tire. geez. it was hot, I was beat, and I wasn't about to change the darn thing out so I just pulled out my cartridge and pumped the tire up, praying it would get me home.
at the top of the hill the tire still felt firm enough, and at the top of the next hill it felt good enough to get me home, so I let it be and cruised on home.
where I proceeded to do a little research into tire inflation, and learned that I've probably been overinflating my tires for quite some time.
if you'd like to check your own process out, here are some helpful pages:

bicycle tires and tubes with sheldon brown

bicycle quarterly

and to just top off my educational day, I learned (from the first link above) that I don't need to worry about my bike ever, ever hydroplaning.
what a great day.

off to check that my tires are inflated to 96 psi in the front and 104 psi in the back . . .

Thursday, July 7, 2011

the I-can't-believe-I'm-doing-this event

when I first heard of this I scoffed.
rolled my eyes and said, who does this? and why?

and now here I am, registered, committed, part of a team, gonna do the darn thing.
"the thing" is the (excuse me, I just rolled my eyes again) Saints to Sinners bike relay.

I still don't know the answer to the "why" question above, but apparently the "who" in the "who does this" now includes, gulp, me.

and it's really all my fault. because I love to ride, which helped john learn to love to ride, which got his colleague on board with the joy of riding, which led to said colleague looking out for all the great riding experiences he can find . . . which led him to find this Really Great Relay and convincing john's company to sponsor a team.
yep, I take responsibility.

saints to sinners is a relay event, offering teams of 5 or 10 riders the Glorious Opportunity to ride from salt lake city (home of many saints) to las vegas (home of many supposed sinners). the ride is split up into thirty legs, and there is a lengthy "bible" that supplies all the rules and regulations about which team member is allowed to ride when. the relay begins friday morning (july 29) and ends whenever the team reaches las vegas, 500+ miles down the road.
we have a team of 5, which means each of us will be riding approximately 100 miles as the official team rider; we're also allowed to ride along to pace the official rider if it's a leg not directly before or after our own leg.
got it?
so I could actually ride 3/5 of the entire thing if I so chose.
I will not so choose.

the route includes a bit of climbing, and a lot of descending.
and here's the thing: the team rides all day friday, and all night friday night. I've never ridden during the dark of night (5 in the morning doesn't count). and I'm a little apprehensive about this. riding on the flats or uphill in the dark is fine---I'm used to that---but descending makes me a bit nervous!
can you say, big old light?

I think I'm going to have to do a night trial. (luckily I know someone who is well-schooled in night riding: our ivy league friend.)
the colleague who got us all excited about (suckered us into) this event has already done a hundred-mile ride in the dark, just for practice. the thing here is that I like sleep too much. then again, when the event arrives, I'll be riding in the middle of the night after not much--if any--sleep.

I just rolled my eyes again.

so back to the never say never thing.
although I did say "never" to this, I am now apparently doing this. so I've reframed it into "wow, what a great opportunity I have now for this grand adventure, doing something I've never before done."

grand adventure, yep. lucky me, uh-huh. wow, can't wait!
see you at the bike store: I've got to go buy a really big, really bright light.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

rocks and mountains

there are two haitian proverbs I am sharing with you today, both which can--of course--be related to cycling. and if you're stumped while trying to make the connection, you could turn on the tour de france and look at those cyclists, then reflect on my experiences . . . it's good to be who and where I am, and it's right for them to be who and where they are. and as I said in my last post, I'm glad I have--and know my--limits.

first, this:

the rocks in the water do not know how the rocks in the sun feel.

and then this universal bit of wisdom, so gloriously true:

beyond mountains there are mountains.

may we all keep climbing our mountains, and meet new ones beyond.

(with thanks to tracy kidder, mountains beyond mountains, 2003)

Sunday, July 3, 2011

ivy leagues and layne lanes

many, many people ride harder than I do. harder, longer, faster . . . all of those adjectives. they are gnarlier than me, they are twice as tough, and they sign up for events that I'd like to think I could do but in reality, should never even consider.

I rode with two of them yesterday for a portion of their training rides.

and when I got home after my 6 hours of riding time (layne's target was 8, ivy's was 16) and stood under the pummeling shower, I thanked God that I wasn't training for anything remotely like they were.
my 90 miles were hard enough.
my body was beat-up enough.
and I was so very, very grateful to be off my bike and inside, drinking water from a glass and stuffing my face with (recovery) carbohydrates.

the sole point of my missive today is simply that I have limits, and I'm pretty aware of where they are. I don't mind pushing them sometimes, but I'm really not as crazy as a lot of people might think.
I'm pretty sure I'm never going to sign up for the official Death Ride (129 miles, 15,000' elevation gain over 5 mountain passes) like layne did.
I'm positive I'm never going to sign up for the Race Across Oregon (520 miles, something like 40,000' elevation gain over numerous mountain passes...) like ivy did.

however . . . there was a time, not so long ago, when I described a ride as crazy, absolutely nuts, and something I would never do . . .
and now, it appears I will be doing it. I know, I know, never say never.
stay tuned; more coming about my ridiculous upcoming I-know-I-said-I'd-never-do-it-but riding adventure.

I know my limits, I know my limits, I know my limits . . .

Friday, July 1, 2011

gearheads and toys

I am not a gearhead.
I'm the kind who wants to know the minimum capabilities of a gadget, how I get said gadget to do those things, and where the on/off button is.
I'm the terrible kind of person who never, ever learns to use all the functions on a calculator, a phone, a computer . . . or even an alarm clock. I place my hands over my ears, widen my eyes, and shake my head back and forth, no, no, don't tell me, I can't retain that kind of information.
I am not a gearhead.

but I am friends with a few.

in fact, I think "gearhead" is such a large subset of "male" that they could almost be one and the same . . .

this is leading up to the fact that I received a toy for my birthday.

from a gearhead, oops, I mean a male, the cute one named john.

it's a thingee. you know, one of those cyclometer-thingees. a gadget. the kind that keeps track of 18 million things from outside temperature to heartrate to cadence to what time it is in france. (if you want to set it to french time.)

and not only does it keep track of all these things, it will upload this information to your online database when you finish your ride, so you can view your stats.

you can name your ride.

you can see if tuesday's ride was stronger, faster, more productive or mellower than wednesday's ride along the same route.

you can compare your average and highest heartrates.

you can watch your cadence, comparing it to the elevation changes.

you can match your heartrate to the climb and descent, and pinpoint the spots where you might have opportunities.


and I'm sure there are hundreds of uses of this gadget-wing-ding that I can't imagine yet.

so far I've mastered the Power and Start/Stop button, and I'm improving my functioning with the Reset button.

I can read some of the numbers on the screen when I ride, and am learning where to look for which tidbit of information.

I haven't yet learned how to page through the different screens while I'm riding, so I can't tell the time or temperature while I'm pedaling, but I can reel off my cadence, speed, and heartrate . . .

I don't think I'll ever be a gearhead.

but if I work a little harder, I might learn a little more about my new garmin toy.

power, start, ride . . . then stop, reset. bring inside, connect to computer, upload, then stare in wonder at pretty little graphs.


okay, this is a little bit fun . . .