Tuesday, August 28, 2012

eating cake

last saturday biking buddy bob and I rode our bikes to sundance and back.
as we passed through a neighborhood on the southeastern foothills, bob said this is the 'let them eat cake' part of town.  communities set apart with guardhouses, four-story mansions on the hillside, private gated homes . . . this is an area of "haves".  or at the least, "hads."  homes built during the years of bigger is better, of if one is good three is what I'll have.
it's difficult to imagine what I'd do if I had oodles of money.
it's even more difficult to imagine being so out of touch with reality that I didn't know people in my own community were poverty-stricken and starving.

and this all began, today, because I decided to have cake for breakfast.  well, not really for breakfast, because I considered my wheat-toast-with-peanut-butter breakfast.  cake was more like a, um, post-breakfast snack.  then a pre-mid-morning snack.  and now it's my mid-morning snack.  soon it will be a before-lunch-snack.
perhaps it's time to stop eating cake.
I'm not quite sure what's going on for me today, but it's possibly connected to the fact that I'm in taper mode.
last saturday's ride to sundance and back (114 miles, 8 hours of saddle time, 10,300' of elevation gain) was my Big Final Ride of the training season leading up to lotoja.  once that peak is reached, I move into taper mode, where my miles-per-week are lessened, I try to rest more, I do more yoga.  the theory is that after one trains all summer, increasing the challenges to a peak, it's then time to cut back and rest up before the big event.
if I haven't trained hard enough yet, it's not going to happen in the last 10 days.
time to ease off.
relax a bit more.
and eat cake.
oops..... not sure about that last one, but I can't seem to convince myself that cake isn't part of the plan.
I hit taper time and think it's indulging time.
the right thing to do would be to eat more vegetables, dark leafy green things, protein, some fruit, drink lots of water.....
but I seem to want cake.

I'll never live in a ten-thousand-square-foot home on the hillside;  I'll never be an over-consumer.  I'll never forget that there are people who can't afford bread, let alone cake.

but I fear I'll always love cake just a little bit more than I should.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

diana, yoga goddess

it's my belief that we, as humans, aren't really sure how to be.
witness the unending shelves of "self-help" books that guide us through everything from childbirth to composting.
witness the unending laws that govern our daily activities, from driving a car (and riding a bicycle)* to how we marry and pass our worldly possessions on to others.
we listen to pastors, we attend cotillion.
we hire trainers and coaches and consultants and therapists.
we commit to diets and classes and training programs.
we turn to google with questions and take what we find as the truth.

some of us are experts in our own fields, and most all of us find patterns and programs that work for us.  we establish systems and frameworks, and choose guiding philosophies which help us navigate what the world throws our way each day.
we also become possessive of our ideas and beliefs about these structures, and sometimes even rigid.  we can begin to believe we know what's best for us, and become irritable when forced to do otherwise.  when the universe throws curve balls after we've planned on balls coming low and straight over the plate, we can become prickly.  we have our two hands placed firmly on our handlebars, gripping and steering.

this morning in yoga our towhead blonde bohemian instructor, diana, began a routine which I've become familiar with.  it's not a routine I enjoy.  it's one we do so often I am a bit bored with it--although it's challenging--and I was wanting something different.  I was resisting.  going along with it anyway, but inwardly entertaining a thought process which went like this,
oh no, not this again.  I want something different.  I think I should be working on different things, not these same old positions.  why can't we be doing something else? I need to be doing other moves . . .
and then, shazam!
like a knock on my skull, I remembered the age-old message of the universe:
we don't always know what's best for our own selves.

who I am to think that I know exactly what I need for my best growth, development, and richness of experience?
I think I want instant gratification and success, but is that what will serve me best in the long run?
why do I think I know what is best for me?
why don't I just relax into the fact that my job is simply to show up?

I decided to let diana be in charge of my yoga experience this morning.  maybe her asanas and movements were exactly what I needed.
I got myself to class, brought a mat and a willingness to do my best, and that's really all I needed to do.

there are so many options in our lives, so many opportunities, choices, decisions, paths.  and if we show up, enthusiastically, with a willing heart, most of these paths will lead us to the same place.  it doesn't always have to be "my way":  often the best experiences we have are those that we fell into, those that someone else planned, those that were the last thing on earth we thought we'd do.
we don't have to be in charge of everything.

let go and let God, they say.

this morning I let go and let diana, goddess of yoga, determine my path.
and it's been a darn good day.

so I guess the only thing I need to do is keep on letting go . . .  while keeping at least one hand (the hand which is willing to show up and do my best) on the handlebars.

* there is a law on the utah books that says a cyclist must ride with at least one hand on the handlebars at all times.  really.  yikes.   

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

not just a new chainring

this is a month of new additions for me.
I had a new chain, rear cassette, and middle ring put on my bike.  (sure shifts better now.)
and a new cable.
and I bought new footbeds for my biking shoes, too.
I'm thinking a new pair of bike shorts is due this month, as well.
oh, and I've added three new members to my household, and a new surname to my signature.
and a new blog.
let's see, is that all so far?  guess so.

sometimes we add things to our life because they're needed, sometimes because we want to, and sometimes, because we know it's the right thing to keep us headed on our path.

my drive train was worn and rife with noisy complaints . . . it was time to replace worn components.
the screws from my shoe cleats had dug permanent holes in my old footbeds . . . it was time for new ones.
as for the dog, the man, the man's son, and my new surname . . . I can simply say I wanted to, it's the right thing, and it's time.

that leaves the new blog, which is the right thing for me to do to keep me headed on my path . . . not my cycling path (which is pretty easy to stay on) but my writing path.  while the tao of cycling is a forum for both practicing the craft of writing and sharing my joys, trials, and understandings of the world, the new blog is a statement of who I am as a writer.  it holds excerpts of my written works and my "writer's cv," and will be a receptacle for brief essays and posts about my writing life.
my cycling life and writing life cross paths frequently, and when you visit my other blog you'll know it's still me typing away in both places.
so when you want to explore a bit, I'd love you to visit susanimhoffbird.wordpress.com

as it takes a while to adjust to newness in one's life, I'm still on a restricted posting plan  .  .  .  don't give up on me.  I have faith that I'll figure out a way to keep everything moving and in balance, for as albert einstein stated,

life is like riding a bicycle.  to keep your balance you must keep moving. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012


two weeks ago I rode with a group of girls (okay, women) who are training for lotoja.  I've known a few of them for a while, but haven't ridden with them other than in big group rides with the bad ass team.  they are terrific people, and our support team was unbelievably awesome.  we started in preston, idaho (the site of the first lotoja rest stop), and rode all the way to afton, wyoming.
it was a great experience, made even better by the fact that it was something I don't usually do.  I ride by myself most of the time, and on my group rides it's mainly men who want to do the ridiculously long rides I do.  additionally, we drove two hours to the start and about three and a half hours back home, things I never (ever) do.
it was a grand day.
and these are a few of the things I learned:

  • the stretch of country between preston and afton is much greener in july than it is in september
  • riding this stretch in july was a great deal hotter than riding it in september
  • even though I've ridden this route 5 times, there were miles and miles I didn't remember at all
  • mindy is absolutely terrific and if I only knew an amazing 40-year-old lds man I'd connect them pronto
  • rosie, at 60+, has more energy than I think I've ever had, and I can only hope to be like her down the road
  • riding rollers with others puts the pressure on, and causes me to visit zone 5 almost every time
  • all of these women use (and swear by) sportslegs, doping tip number one
  • they also use (and swear by) optygen, doping tip number two

I have never been a supplement-taker.  although there have been many times I've wished for a course of steroids, I've never taken more than ibuprofen, a vitamin D/calcium pill (when I remember), the occasional multi-vitamin (I know, bad, bad, bad), and an electrolyte capsule about once a year when I'm depleted and a friend offers one.
but the day after this group ride I went to REI and bought a bottle of sportslegs and a bottle of optygen.
I've been taking the optygen every day (as recommended), and the sportslegs each time I've gone on a ride longer than 35 miles.
and I think . . . it's possible . . . that they are making a difference.

sportslegs capsules essentially add lactic acid to your system, which has been determined to perform as a fuel for your mitochondria (the "energy factories" in muscle cells), according to research.  sportslegs sells itself as a tool to help you train harder and recover faster...  helping reduce the "burn" by priming your muscles with lactic acid, inducing them to produce less as you ride (or run, or climb, or whatever you do.)

optygen claims to increase exercise capacity and muscular strength, and of all the reviews I've read, my favorite states that all of optygen's ingredients are harmless to helpful, but none have been proven to boost performance. there are claims of increasing oxygen utilization, increasing the body's ability to adapt to high physical stress, increasing aerobic threshold, reducing lactic acid, and naturally increasing endurance. 

and more than one woman on my preston-to-afton ride swears by it.

so, for this month, I am a legal doper.
I'll probably finish my bottle of optygen and not replace it, but I might keep on with the sportslegs.  

I am feeling strong when I ride, and not feeling as depleted at the end of rides, or the day after a killer ride.  this could be a result of consistent, serious training, or it could be that training enhanced by a little calcium, magnesium, vitamin d, chromium, cordyceps cs4, rhodiola extract, and atpro matrix.....  
or a really good placebo effect.
if I think I can, I can . . .

Wednesday, August 1, 2012


I spend a lot of cycling time anticipating.
it's all part of the vigilance plan I use to keep myself alive:  constantly observing my environment, assessing obstacles and potentialities, and anticipating what other environmental participants might do next.  I watch what's around me, and if there's any chance it's a moving object I try to anticipate in which direction it might move and what that might mean for my own trajectory.
cars, trucks, deer, porcupines, squirrels, rabbits, snakes, runners, other cyclists, motorcycles, parked cars harboring bodies within, dogs on leashes, dogs not on leashes . . . and, this morning, the man out in the middle of emigration canyon road blowing the biggest soap bubbles I've ever seen.

I slept in this morning and didn't leave home until 5:30, so by the time I was heading down the canyon and back toward home it was a bit after 7 am.  I'd seen four deer, two of whom I braked for, and a few runners, a handful of cars and trucks, and a dozen cyclists.  no dogs, no early morning walkers, and as I rounded the big U-turn that sends the road back toward the city I sped up, pushing my legs faster and faster to take advantage of the decreasing grade and the gentle tailwind behind me.
not half a mile past the turn I noticed something strange in the middle of the road, something large and iridescent, shimmering and moving sideways and possibly connected by a long stick to the shirtless man standing five feet from the shoulder.
nothing in my memory bank shouted in recognition of itself, and I was completely perplexed until the man moved to the edge of the road as I drew closer and I could see the wet road, the large wand in his hand, and the bucket by his feet, at which time something in that memory bank shouted bubbles.

now, truly, I have no idea why a middle-aged man would be out in the street creating huge soap bubbles at 7 in the morning.
it was definitely a sight I was not prepared for, nothing I would usually anticipate as I headed down this quiet canyon road.  I smiled as I passed him; I'm still smiling as I type this.

eight days from now the tour of utah bicycling race will pass right before the spot this gentleman was decorating with shimmering and bursting bubbles:  maybe he was practicing his own unique welcome for them.
which leads me to wonder what these cyclists might think if they rounded the U-turn, headed down toward the city, and were quickly confronted with a shirtless middle-aged man waving huge soap bubbles in their direction.
forewarned is forearmed:  pass this along if you happen to know any of the riders so that they'll be prepared, just in case, to anticipate such a greeting.

I know that from now on, as I near that stretch of road, I will always anticipate a huge, shape-shifting iridescent bubble that I will quite likely never see again.