Sunday, November 2, 2014

the fat on the inside of my knees

life offers tremendous opportunities for self-improvement, from niggling neighbors who point out the shortcomings of your gardening skills to relationship disasters to hangovers.
there are self-help books, programs, therapists, doctors, landscapers, AA.
but when it comes to our bodies, there exist some tiresome, seemingly irresponsible design flaws, most prominently, the inability to direct weight loss to specific targeted areas.

ask any man over, say, middle age-ish, just how hard it is to lose those love handles.
ask any woman who's ever lost weight if it came from places she wanted (ha!) or didn't want it to.

my impossible zone is the inside of my knees, where my body has retained fat since the day I was born, preparing for that inevitable global freezing.  you know, those little chubby legs every baby is loved for, the ones most people outgrow?  my inner knees refuse to let go.  they are going to hold that fat forever, and laugh at the rest of the world when temperatures drop and everyone everywhere is freezing except me, warmed forever by that extra body fat.

the main reason I started cycling was to firm up my flabby upper legs.  and it's done wonders for that ~ everywhere except for the insides of my knees.
and after 8+ years, I don't see a big change coming.

so I'm prepared.  I'm ready.  let global warming throw it's best at me, because I am ready.  that stubborn, exercise-and-diet-resistant fat is going to ensure my survival in the wickedest winter weather, when all those slender-legged women freeze to death.  ha!  payback!
I will survive!

Monday, October 20, 2014

lessons from bob and andy

there's always something to learn.  a million things, actually.
and as much as I love cycling alone, losing myself in the rhythm of pedaling, the shortness of breath, the blue sky or clouds or mist or blinding sunlight, it's when I'm with my biking buddies that I often  learn something deeply meaningful.

from bob, lately, it's this:  saturday cycling is not at all about the destination, but completely about the company and the opportunity to be outside.  not at work, not performing chores, not shopping for necessities.  outside, away from the city, somewhere where the sky grows wider and trees fragrance the air and hillsides draw the eye up and up.

from andy, lately, comes this awesome lesson:  slow down.
andy is still in recovery from last february's significant back surgery, and he hasn't been able to train, put the miles in, as he has in the past.  he's a bit slower than usual, and to be social, I have to hold myself back a bit and, yep, slow down.
the world, for years, has been trying to tell me to slow down.  I don't listen well.

yesterday, I rode by myself but thought of bob and andy and worked to incorporate---take into the body---both pieces of wisdom.   and my ride was, mm, an experience almost beyond words.

I set off mid-morning, the sky pure blue, the air a bit chilly but fresh, invigorating.  and I rode like I was glad to be outside, and in no hurry.  I climbed a canyon, peacefully, astounded by the trees, the bouncing water in the creek, the silvery waterfalls, the mossy rocks and shining flat stream where fishermen stood in tall boots.  gratitude and restraint combined to make my ride one of the best of the year...
gratitude, and restraint.

there is much to learn from those around us.


Thursday, September 25, 2014


today the coyote feigned nonchalance as I pedaled slowly past, a scant seven feet away, 
silently beseeching him to meet my eyes; 
it is as if by ignoring me he retains ownership of the land, 
the hill and even the asphalt strip on which he stands, casually staring anywhere 
but at me.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

freeze frame

there are moments of my cycling life that I often wish I could freeze:  stop the action, take a 360 degree shot of the moment, somehow distill it into a memory drop that I can access again at any moment, feeling the thrill, the joy, the gloriousness of those incredible moments.

  • swooping down little mountain, headed to the reservoir, after the 10-mile climb is behind me
  • crossing the finish line at lotoja, especially that first year
  • cresting my 6th high mountain pass on day 2 of the double-triple-bypass, knowing that it was all downhill from there
  • riding past the bear, who startles and lopes off into a yard, his brown hind end high and shaggy
  • coasting down into ouray, colorado, from red mountain pass, pedaling through "little switzerland"
  • surprising and being surprised by the coyote the dozen times I have this summer
  • laughing at the oblivious porcupines waddling across the road
  • being face to face with an owl as daylight begins opening up the morning

I don't know the trick for remembering these---and more---extraordinary moments, except that it must begin with acknowledging them for the gifts they are, then writing them down in attempts to capture the essence if not the entire event.  too easily they slip to dark corners, get lost, disappear, much like those of our childhood, of our earlier lives, even of raising our own children.

I hope to hold these forever.  and I hope to keep adding to the list (and not just moments related to cycling) because I've been told there's limitless room in our memory banks . . . we might as well do our damnedest to fill them to overflowing, so that some day when it's dark and quiet we can relive them in our minds, reassuring ourselves of how fabulous it's been to be fully alive.

Monday, September 8, 2014

hair of the dog

lotoja was 2 days ago.
206 miles, logan utah to jackson wyoming, elevation gain somewhere around 8,000 feet, a long day in the saddle.
I completed my 7th, and as always, am incredibly glad to have it behind me.
what I felt at the end this year was not the elation felt in most other years, but gratitude that it was over---safely and completely.  I considered putting my bike away for the season, as quite a few do, or at least for a week, a few days, a while.

today I got back on my bike.

it's the hair of the dog thing ~ the only cure for exhausted, depleted, overly-strained muscles is to put them back to work.

and it was a great ride.  70 degrees, blue skies, cool in the shade up the canyon, a bit of a tailwind up at the bottom and a headwind at the top--both of which reversed for the descent.  trees are turning and the air is crisp, and numerous rainy days of the past month have kept foliage along the route surprisingly green.

those heliotropic (and non-heliotropic) sunflowers are bright as raw egg yolk, cheery and moving gently with the breeze.  we're in this amazing stretch of almost-autumn where the unrelenting heat of summer has passed and many of us creatures begin to revive, soaking in as much sun and air and beauty as we can before winter's hibernation creeps back toward us.

I ache here and there, glutes and hamstrings and peculiarly the instep of my right foot, but I feel strong and capable and the tiniest bit hollow as though I've left something behind somewhere that I can't quite remember.

but the hair has helped.  it's reminded me that life continues, it moves along, whether or not we believe we're ready for it.  it loosened me and challenged me and ultimately, helped me again feel at one with this beautiful land we live upon.

I'm glad to be this far into september, two days past lotoja, ready to welcome what autumn promises to bring.

Friday, August 29, 2014


while cycling, I sometimes yell at cars.  a refined yell, not a scream or shriek.  just loud enough that I feel good about putting energy into the noise, yet restrained enough that I know they're unlikely to hear me.
and what I most often yell is
use your blinkers!

the other day my 18-year-old daughter and I were driving to an appointment and she commented on a motorist who didn't use blinkers to signal a turn . . . I can't believe how many people don't use their blinkers.  I hate it.  
I, of course, had a small moment of parental pride, yes! I've trained my child to use and respect blinkers!
I've spent a bit of time contemplating the blinker situation, why people do and do not use them.  I've decided that drivers who don't use blinkers to signal their intentions are some combination of ignorant, arrogant, lazy, and distracted.
arrogant tops the list.

my other daughter pointed out to me that one can apply for a driver's license and NOT have to take a driver education course if one is age 19 or older.  maybe some motorists are simply ignorant.

distracted drivers?  not too hard to imagine.
lazy?  ditto.

whatever the cause, motorists who don't signal their intentions cause me grief as a cyclist.
just as, I suppose, cyclists who don't signal their intentions cause grief to motorists.

so I try not to be arrogant, ignorant, lazy, or distracted . . . and use my blinkers in my car, and my arms when I'm riding.

there's not one thing wrong with letting the world know where you're going.

see you at the lotoja finish line next week!
and the bestseller list next year,
and at the mini dealership for my new car a bit after that . . .

I have no problem letting you know where I'm going.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

under the perigee moon

last sunday night's perigee moon was one of three perigee moons this year, the moon appearing 30% brighter than normal and appearing 14% bigger as it reached the point of its orbit closest to earth - 221,765 away, but the closest it ever comes. 

this perigee or supermoon was the second, and biggest, of a trio of supermoons to appear in our skies this summer.

on july 12, a smaller supermoon occurred, while on september 9 another is due to appear.  the next after that will be september 29, 2015.

and isn't perigee a cool word?  peri-near, gea-earth.

well, guess what a big, huge, full, super moon means for this early-morning cyclist?
yep, you're right:  an incredible ride without a headlight.

last monday morning I walked my bicycle out of the garage and was confused by how bright it was outside:  had I somehow lost an hour?  usually 4:50 is ink dark, and it was lit as though by street lamps everywhere.  I grinned and looked up, and saw the moon grinning back at me.  everywhere.

I must have smiled the entire way up the canyon, riding through moon shadows made by trees lining the road.  I'd turn my front light on whenever I saw or heard a car approaching, and then quickly turn it off once they passed.  

the question, of course, is why.  why is this such a delight?  and the only answer that will unveil itself to me is that the absence of artificial light draws me that much closer to the natural world.  the real world.  the earth, rocks, hills and trees that surround and support us.   losing my battery-powered light allows me access to the authentic dawn, which comes subtly and particle by particle as I move slowly through it all.  I myself become subtle, I blend into my surroundings.  I am one with the morning, more peaceful, more delighted by my moon-given opportunity to shed edison's invention.

Monday, August 4, 2014

when sunflowers follow the sun

years ago I fell in love with heliotrope:  the word, the color (purple), the flower (sweet, delicate, and purple.)
over time, heliotrope faded into a fold of my memory bank and I hadn't thought about it until today when I began researching sunflowers.  no, there isn't a purple sunflower, but sunflowers do possess the attribute of being heliotropic, which sounds suspiciously like heliotrope but like many things in our intriguing english language, has nothing at all to do with being purple.

sunflowers have popped.  it's august, it's hot, and these cheery tall plants gently bend and wave along the sides of emigration canyon road as I bike past.  it's only been a few weeks since they burst forth,  and they've brightened my mornings as their little heads catch my light beams.

the first clump I noticed had blooms facing east, and I remembered that sunflowers follow the sun ~ facing east in the morning and west in the afternoon.  in the early morning dark they'd already turned their heads toward the sun that hadn't yet risen, and I thought, these flowers are just like me.

at night before I retire, I pull together the biking gear I'll need in the morning:  shorts, top, heart monitor and socks in the bathroom, cyclometer and lights on the bike, shoes, helmet and glasses by the door, water bottles on the counter next to a protein breakfast bar.  I prep before the sun comes up.

so too the sunflowers.  I thought.
until I noticed that some sunflowers, in the early morning dark, were still facing west.
and then some faced east.  random?  or was the story that sunflowers followed the sun just a myth?

to google I went, and while googling I bumped into a tweaked version of my old friend heliotrope.

heliotropism is a trait of moving toward the sun.  and sunflowers are heliotropic.  well, the actively growing parts of sunflower plants are heliotropic.  young leaves and buds still in need of photosynthesis are heliotropic;  once the leaves and flowers have matured, they no longer chase the sun because their needs have been met.
and this is how they do it:  during the day, the stem on the side away from the sun elongates, tilting immature flowers and leaves toward the sun.  as the sun moves, the stem adjusts, which allows the flowers to face first east and then west.  in the dark, the process continues, preparing the plant by pulling it back into position for the next morning's light.

mature flowers no longer need to follow the sun, and will face any direction, often hanging their heads from the weight of seeds.

I guess I'm like the young, immature sunflowers, preparing ahead of time for what's to come.  stretching one part of myself to help another, keeping a vision of something bright always in view.  knowing what I need, and availing myself of that:  bikes rides, great conversation, a few baked goods,  fabulous books, strong coffee, hot showers, plenty water, productivity, a goal or two.
friends, love, hugs, a good chamois.  google.

and bike rides in the dark so I can learn about things like heliotropism.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014


the who-who astonished me.  sunlight not yet peaking over the mountains to the east, the air was thick with lingering strands of dawn and the edges of each shrub, rock, and gambol oak were gently blurred and softened.  looking to the sound, I saw nothing unusual, no oval feathered silhouette, no winged creature flying from roost to roost.
just the call, the greeting.
that was six years ago, and I didn't hear another call or see an owl for the next four years.  they were there:  I didn't possess the ability to see them.

there was a time when humanity recognized itself as part of nature, and nature as part of itself.  in the past, shamans, priests, and priestesses were the keepers of the sacred knowledge of life.  they helped people remember that all trees are divine and that all animals speak to those who listen.  to them, every species and every aspect of its environment had the power to remind them of what they could manifest within their own life . . . an aid to bridge the natural world to the supernatural, awakening the realities of both within the environs of their own lives.  we can use animal totems to learn about ourselves.*

in the world of animal totems, the owl symbolizes the moon, the night, the feminine, and is believed to have great healing powers.  the owl is a bird of magic and darkness, of prophecy, and of wisdom.

a magic window exists for spotting owls, a window that coincides with my early morning rides during the summer months.  nocturnal hunters, owls are most active in the dark and most reclusive during sunlit hours.  therefore, my early morning rides that begin in the dark and take me up a wooded canyon as the sky begins to lighten are perfect for sighting owls.

I've learned to scout for a shape, perched atop a utility pole or barren tree, elliptical and motionless.  I keep a vigilant watch on the sky to catch one in flight, its significant wings silenced by the fringe on the front.  and I listen for a screech.

a year ago I saw two smaller owls perched on a utility pole, and I heard screeches.  I thought, screech owl, and began investigating when I returned home.  I learned that screech owls don't screech, but adolescent great horned owls do.  
so now I listen for screeches, and am often able to find an owl hidden in a tree or taking off in flight.

the other morning an owl flew across the road dozens of feet in front of me, landing in a tree on the hill to my right, where I stared directly into its eyes from perhaps 8 feet away as I passed.  I count myself as one of privileged few who are able to have so many close encounters with these winged creatures, more this summer than in my entire life before.

I don't know that they have particular messages for me.  but if they did, I'm certain the messages would be to carry on, to believe in my own magical powers, to embrace the beauty of the night, to always remember that I am one with nature, one with this amazing world, one with those who live alongside me . . . whether or not I'm able to see them.

*ted andrews, author of Animal Speak: the spiritual & magical powers of creatures great & small

Tuesday, July 22, 2014


ruth's diner---established 1930---sits 2 miles up emigration canyon, in what used to be an old trolley car which over time has been remodeled into much more and somewhat less.  it has a large patio in the back dotted with space heaters for days that begin and end in goose bump temperatures, shaded by a dozen trees, and focused, on just the right evenings, on a small three-sided building where musicians perch on stools and strum guitars and sing into perfectly calibrated microphones, clear and of a level that slips smoothly under conversation yet above dish clatter and birdsong.
in the morning they serve biscuits with raspberry jam:  I could live on these alone.
over the years the recipe has changed and although I would choose those from 10 years ago over what they are today, I am still inordinately pleased by the crumbling pale flesh streaked with bright red jam thick with tiny seeds.
the coffee is coffee.
most menu items are unspectacular but highly edible and two giant leaps above true diner food.  my favorite salad was removed from the menu half a dozen years ago and I pine for it every time I visit, then settle for something else because it doesn't matter too terribly much what it is I eat.

ruth's is 4 gently uphill miles from my house.
which is also 4 miles from home at the end of many of my rides.
I think, often, of stopping at ruth's on my way home to celebrate the early morning, the conclusion of a long ride, or simply the fact that I'm alive.
we've even discussed group rides that pause at ruth's on the way home, for sustenance or spirits and a more relaxed version of our camaraderie.
it's never happened.

I've planned, a time or two, an early morning ride to the top of big mountain---14 miles beyond ruth's---that would put me back down at ruth's shortly after they open at 7 am.... where I would stop for coffee, a biscuit and jam, and ambiance.
I haven't done it.

great big metal bicycle structures stand on the side of the building, a place to leave your real bicycle, and at the hostess station they'll lend you a bike lock if you leave them your credit card.

it's doable.

but I always want to get home.  strip off my sweaty cycling gear and pull on something comfy, make a cup of coffee and curl up on my couch to read or watch the world outside my windows continue to waken and come to life.  home seems to pull me more than ruth's does.

but someday.
someday I will make the plan, firmly, and stick to it.  I'll remember to bring a credit card, I'll remember an extra layer to pull on so I'm not cold.  I'll plan to embrace the new experience instead of missing my own couch and dry clothes.  I'll look around, observe and absorb, and make up stories about everyone I see.  I'll meet the servers whose cars I cycle past time and again.  I'll drink coffee from a fat white mug and I'll eat a biscuit, slowly, with fresh raspberry jam.

ruth's is a reality, and a fantasy.  the sturdy building and solid patio host hundreds of people daily, and its aura hosts me every time I pedal past.  up, then down.  a friend, a constant, and someday, a place I'll visit 4 miles before I finish my ride.

Monday, July 14, 2014

the goodie tin

so I've been cleaning out my biking goodie tin.
you know, the container that collects all the treats you buy in anticipation of future rides or receive in pre-race bags, and everything left in your pockets at the end of those rides.

my goodie tin included:
  • a honey stinger waffle, expiration date 08/2012
  • a honey stinger waffle, expiration date 10/2012
  • a honey stinger waffle, expiration date 04/2014
  • 4 packs of cliff shot bloks: tropical punch, strawberry, citrus, black cherry
  • 11 assorted Gu's,  citrus, vanilla, lemon sublime, raspberry, montana huckleberry, razz, chocolate outrage, and the only one I really like:  double expresso.  
  • a baby ruth candy bar, best by 06/2011 ( just kidding, I can't find a date.  it's been in there forever.)
  • a snickers bar almost as old as the baby ruth.

and by "cleaning out" the tin, I mean using items on my rides.

the old honey stinger waffles went first.  mm.  they get hard after a year or two.
the april 2014 waffle was excellent:  soft, yummy.

then the strawberry shot bloks:  strawberry is my least favorite flavor.  shot bloks are these chewy half-inch cubes packed with electrolytes and some calories.  think "dots" candy but softer.
they come 6 to a pack, and I worked my way through the other flavors, ending with the tropical punch, a flavor I like even less than strawberry ~ it comes in blue packaging, which is why I saved it for last, thinking it was something yummy like blue raspberry.  my bad.

I've had two Gu's.....  and will eventually force myself to have some vanillas and chocolate outrage (best by 11/12).  expiration dates here range from 09/12 to 11/14.

what's still in the tin:

  • honey stinger fruit smoothie energy chews (2/14)
  • two packs of 100% all natural new zealand whey protein powder, chocolate, exp. 4/15.  
  • a pack of strawberry "heed" sports drink powder, exp. 4/14.  I will never use this.
  • a pack of lifesavers.  don't know why this is in here.
  • a pink lemonade "zip fizz" energy drink powder in a cute mini tube.  3/12.
  • a pack of "endurolytes" electrolyte replenishment capsules.  made with natural ingredients!
  • 4 packs of electrolyte stamina "power pak" powder:  2 acai berry, 2 raspberry

oh, and one packet of "bioZzz instant alpha-lactalbumin supplement," which I think is to help you go to sleep the night before a race.


by the time I work through all this stuff, my body will probably hate me.
2012? it will say.  what are you thinking?  throw it out!
2013? well, maybe.
2014?  getting closer.

the only 2015 item is something I can't imagine ever using: chocolate protein powder from new zealand.    geez.

well, after all this writing and detective work (finding those expiration dates is not an easy thing to do, as buried and as undecipherable as some are), I'm worn out and need something to pep me back up.
I could go for a low-cal energy drink powder in a tall glass of water . . .
or I could check out the snickers.

chocolate wins.
see you on the road!  I'll be the one pulled off to the side, probably vomiting.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

the coyote in my canyon

approaching the final curve before the hill’s crest, the sun is moments from advancing the sky from dawn to day.  particles of the night’s darkness hang in the air and everything—rocky hillsides, trees, the road itself—blurs gently around surfaces and edges and my headlight throws a fat cone of weak light that illumes naught but hovering molecules of night.

nothing is sharply defined, and all is tinted by the watery mutedness and appears mottled green or one of sixteen shades of earth.

when a dust brown creature suddenly appears at the far reach of my vision it shifts from apparition to solidity slowly, my revolving wheels lessening the gap between us and changing fuzz to fur, brown, mottled, four legs, a slender torso, a long and narrow tail.

it is my coyote.  he has crossed the road south to north and disappeared into the tall grass and scrub edging the asphalt.  I watch the spot with intensity, wondering if he will wait and watch me pass as he often does.  the steep grade retards my approach and I am still half a dozen yards away when a howl shatters the air.  bark, bark, howl.  I see him now, he sits in the sage and cheatgrass, his back to me, and howls.  another bark, and a long howl sent out over the valley opening below him.  the sound dancing on those lingering particles of dawn, dropping on trees and shrubs, falling on leaves, tickling the ears and minds of squirrels and rabbits. 

parallel to him, now uphill of him, he howls again, ignoring me, or perhaps serenading me with nonchalant neglect.  I pedal, he howls, I reach the top of the climb after his vocalizations have ceased, their reverberations no longer trembling blades of grass. the air is still, and the sun, lifting itself over the furthest eastern mountain, has removed the last vestiges of dawn and what had been soft is now sharp, what was unclear is now illuminated.

this morning’s sighting is my seventh, and each has brought me as much delight as the one before.  it’s an unspoken hope each time I ride, let the coyote cross my path today.  he is curious and, other than the single concert, silent.  for a canine he is surprisingly cat-like, his paws like fog.  he has dashed across the road behind my descending wheels, he has hovered on the side of the road.  he has feinted toward me like a pugilist, then apparently thought better of it and retreated to the shoulder to watch me pass.  I’ve been studiously ignored; I’ve been studied as though I’m the first human he’s encountered.  he brings what’s untamed, wild, to my border and dares to cross into my land.

great horned owls hunt in my canyon as the sky releases its deepest ink and the world becomes one of silhouette, their wings spread wide in flight, to scan, to attack.  I look to treetops, utility poles, seeking that familiar elliptical shape focused on examination of the shrubs and ground below.  details cloaked, it is shape, silhouette, everything dark against a sky of baltic blue.  porcupines amble and deer startle, bounding up hillsides of scrub oak and balsamroot.  a stretch of road is silent, then the cacophony of bird song reigns for the next mile.  raccoon eyes shimmer between scrubby brush, a rabbit turns tail and runs.  but not a creature is anything like my coyote.

perhaps it is the teeth, its predatory nature, the fact that it is only size that keeps me from being at risk.  or perhaps it’s that he is only evolutionary steps away from being a household pet.  that my mind and heart think dog when he trots across the road or seems to consider interaction.
or maybe it’s the howl.  a howl that send shivers up spines, that declares desires and needs, that energizes air and speaks to all within earshot.

the canyon is not mine, nor the coyote. but at the edge of dawn and day when all is dirt brown and muddy green, I am transported to a world of deepest truth and being by four-legged creatures that leap and amble, bound and jump and trot, and, when all my stars align, occasionally and resonantly, howl.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

at odds

I have this thing about honoring commitments.  doing what you say you're going to do.  integrity.
so when I fail to keep my word, I am at odds with myself.

I'm at odds with myself.

which means out of sorts, in conflict, not in integrity.

the reason I'm there is because I've committed to posting here regularly, and I haven't been.  I'm in one of those phases that most writers eventually move into (and hopefully through) where writing isn't coming easily.  the phrase I'll never write again dances through my mind, dipping and twirling and taunting; flirting.

in the past few weeks I've ridden a 140-mile fundraising ride for cancer research, a self-made century following a route I've wanted to ride for years, and multiple terrific, awesome, beautiful, challenging, and difficult rides.  I've seen owls in flight, listened to crickets and grasshoppers, stared a deer in the eye, and had a coyote howl and bark and yip as it sat fifteen feet away from me.
I've sweated and glowed, ached and revived.  I've laughed, smiled, and sang as I pedaled.  I've sworn.

but I haven't been able to come home and write about it.

so I'm apologizing for not keeping my commitment, because it doesn't sit well with me.

july 19, 2008, I began writing here and committed to posting daily.  eventually I pulled back a bit, and committed to posting only on odd days.  then I wanted more freedom, and agreed with myself to post weekly, or more often if spirit moved me.
and now, almost 6 years into this blog, I am again negotiating with myself for an agreement that allows me to be in integrity . . .
so I will post when I do.
no more, no less, no conflict, no being at odds with myself.

I'm making peace with myself, and hoping that when the world ~ spirit, nature, what is ~ moves me, I will find a way to share it here that will make it worthwhile for both you and me.


Monday, June 2, 2014

hand shadows

my babies are graduating high school, one last saturday and one this coming wednesday.
this is a big deal.
I've been parenting for over 23 years, and although I won't stop being a parent, with these events my role changes dramatically.  in a way, I'm done.

yesterday I rode up millcreek canyon.  the upper half of the canyon is gated and closed to cars from november through june, and during those months the road is used by hikers, cyclists, walkers, dog-walkers, and when the road is covered with snow, skiers and snowshoers.
not long after I'd passed the gate and begun the second half of the climb, I noticed a little boy toddling along with his father, coming down the road.
it was still early in the morning and the sun was before me as I rode up the canyon, eastward.  the dad was behind his son, his hands up above his head, thumbs entwined, hands together, and it hit me: he's making shadows on the road for his son.

I haven't made shadow pictures for my children in years and years.
my children haven't toddled down roads in years.
my children aren't children anymore.

it's been a long road.
there have been seemingly unending climbs, and gates.  some swooping, a few crashes.
stunning vistas and bleak, gray mornings.  ferocious winds, headwinds, tailwinds, crosswinds.  astonishingly calm hours, easy flat stretches, gradual descents filled with coasting.
bumps, rises, uneven pavement, frost heaves, terrible patch jobs, litter in the lane.
sightings of wildlife, fear, pure joy, apprehension, loss.
rewards, accomplishments, peaks, certificates of completion, medals, hugs.
more bumps.
glorious unending tailwinds, crisp air, joyful descents.

and through it all, a constant commitment to pedaling.

we, like most every family out there, have had our ups and downs.  it's virtually impossible to have one without the other.  and we're now here at the next milestone, where paths spread before us, options, choices, decisions to be made.  one of my daughters will soon be heading to the north northwest, and the other to the south south west.
and I'll be here, still pedaling.  still being a parent, but in a very different way.

still pedaling up, still swooping, and always--forever--holding them in my heart with me as I pedal along whatever roads rise up to greet me.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

can't we all just get along?

I did not see my coyote friend this morning.
but over the hill and down the other side

I saw two little deer.

I hope my coyote friend doesn't see the two little deer.

Monday, May 12, 2014

common sense, gut, instinct, desire

the forecast was rain.
it rained, then it slowed, then it stopped.  the roads began drying.
the hourly forecast said that at 11am there was a 0 % chance of precipitation, and at noon there was a 30% chance of precipitation.
I hopped on my bike.

I rode up the canyon, mostly under blue skies with sun on my head and a tailwind at my back.
at the top, I turned to look behind me and saw, mmm, clouds.
common sense:  says turn around and go home now.
gut: pulls me back home
instinct: gonna disregard it
desire:  tells me keep going, go to the gate, what's another 15 or 20 minutes?

I rode to the gate.
turning around, the wind slapped me and the clouds had piled heavily and darkly above the summit, the place I was headed.
at the summit, I pulled on my rain jacket, watching the rolling, misty clouds hang over the road I was about to descend. then thunder clapped its gleeful hands, and I wondered just what a cyclist is supposed to do during thunderstorms.  lightening, rubber tires, hmmm.
ten yards down, the rain drops started splatting on my helmet, my shoulders, my hands and knees.
I started singing My Girl, the part that goes, I've got sunshi-ine, on a cloudy day....
I kept singing and smiling and laughing as rain drops kept falling.
the first two miles were fine.
and then all hell broke loose.

wind screamed and whipped, sleet-y hail-y rain came down in a torrent, the road quickly began flooding in spots and edges. I slowed, gripped the handlebars tightly with one hand so I could hold the other hand above my eyes, trying to protect my face from the onslaught.
I stopped singing.
gusts caught me, and I slowed further. I thought about finding cover, but more than anything just wanted to be home . . . so I kept going.  hail pinged my helmet and dashed my face.
six miles to go, then five.
my feet squished with each pedal crank, and I was so thoroughly soaked I could feel the weight of water in all my clothing, pulling me down, maybe stabilizing me as cross winds shoved.
four miles, three, out of the canyon, two.
I took a shortcut, one.

I unpeeled in the laundry room, wrapping myself in a spare towel, wet footprints following me directly into the hot shower.

sometimes I need to honor common sense, and tell my desire to keep quiet.  feel my gut, listen to instinct. if only I could teach myself to do that while I'm on a mountaintop, in fresh air, surrounded by nature, flushed with joy and accomplishment . . .
perhaps next time.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

death of a banana

before my ride, before it sat in my little bento box for hours, this banana was bright, cheery yellow, with the tiniest bit of green still hovering along the edges of its ridges.
I'm sure it still tastes good . . . to someone who likes bananas . . . but I can't even stomach the thought of peeling it open and eating it.
all that potassium gone to waste.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

sea legs

I finally have them.
my cycling legs.
it's taken a few months, but they are back.
thank goodness.

every spring, no matter what's taken place over the winter, it's like starting from the beginning.
the first month's rides are almost full of zone 5, my heart pounding like crazy with each little rise and hill.  then it settles a little so that only 80% of the time am I up in zone 5.  then it backs off a little more, and I'm only in zone 5 half the time.
the rest of the time I'm in zone 4B, just a few beats lower than zone 5.
then comes a day when I am more often in 4B than 5:  the scale tips,
alerting me to the fact that one day, soon, I'll have my cycling legs back.

according to most every source, the roots of the phrase "sea legs" come from seafarers being unable to hold on stably while a vessel constantly rollicked on the water, recognizing that they needed to develop their sea legs.  it's believed the phrase first came into use in the early 1700s.

a period of adjustment exists for every sea-goer, allowing them to get used to walking, sitting, and simply being on something that rolls with the motion of the water.  and when the sea-goer spends time on land again, the sea legs gradually disappear, until they return to the vessel and adjust again.

the same thing happens for us cyclists who are unable to ride our real bikes during the winter months... we lose our cycling legs, and have to earn them back.

I think I've finally earned mine back.
I ride up hills and rises and just barely touch zone 5; I feel I'm back in control.
I have my cycling legs back.
thank goodness.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

a capricious wind

a cycling mentor of mine says she loves the wind.
I am constantly trying to incorporate---bring into my body---that attitude.  I think about it, I tell myself I love the wind, I say I am grateful for it . . .  and it still, almost always, gets my goat.*

some days are excellent for riding east, some for riding south.  occasionally, we'll get a day that's perfect for riding north.  and sometimes it's a pure pleasure to ride west.

today, however, was a perfect day for riding, and I loved the wind.
it was behind me, then beside me.  it was in my face and then on my other side.
and then it was behind me again.
then in my face.
and it was all good.

and I'm going to work very hard to remember my enjoyment of the wind today, to remember that wind isn't evil, to remember that it's always a gift of one kind or another.  I know that what made it better today was its fickleness, the fact that it wasn't continuously against me for any significant length of time.  the longest stretch of in-my-face was perhaps 4 miles, which is tolerable.

so, outside of having a tailwind my entire ride, my next choice is a capricious wind.  here, there, leaping from side to side, playing catch as catch can with leaves and with soaring hawks.
and with cyclists.

*if you want to have a little fun, try to find the origin of this idiom.  

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

go ahead, make my day

6:15 am, heading down from the little mountain summit, rounding the first curve, a friend was waiting for me.  haven't seen coyotes in the canyon for years . . .
great way to begin my day!

Sunday, April 13, 2014

reasons to ride

it's nice out.
it's not raining.
it's only raining a little bit.
it's not snowing.
it's not coming down very hard.

it's calm.
it's only slightly windy.
it's only windy in bursts.
they aren't gale force winds yet.

the road is dry.
the road is drying.
the road is just wet in places.
the road only has snow in the gutters.
the bike lane is almost clear.

I feel great.
I feel pretty good.
I don't feel well, but exercise will help.
this cough is nothing, and I can breathe through my mouth.
I'm not on my deathbed yet.

my knees feel great.
my knees only bother me a little.
exercise will help my knees.
I can still make the pedals go around, slowly.

it's so nice I don't need toe covers.
I've got toe covers.
I've got booties.
these neoprene, fur-lined booties keep my feet almost dry.

it's monday.
it's tuesday.
it's wednesday.
it's thursday.
it's friday.
it's saturday.
it's sunday.

because I want to.
because I should.
because it keeps my heart healthy.
because I'll feel great when I'm done.

because the guy with only one leg is out there riding, too.

because I'm darn grateful I can ride a bike.

and the ultimate, final, always appropriate, real reason:

so I can eat more cake.

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

not riding

last weekend I went out of town.
I took my bike.
I packed a bag with appropriate biking wear, helmet, shoes, treats for the ride, sunglasses, gloves.
I'd been there before and knew plenty good routes, and had scoped out a new one, too.  I had my garmin, and was eager to keep adding miles to my training, to my workouts, to my life experiences.

my bike never left its spot in the back of my car.

saturday, well, I was busy with some writing work, and it was on the cold side, and there was always sunday.

sunday, well, it looked cold, and the wind was strong, and . . .

when I came home I unpacked.  I took my bike out of the back of the car and put the front wheel back on. I hung up the jacket, and put the gloves and hat in the drawer with the helmet and glasses.  the shoes went back on their shelf, and the treats back into their tin above the fridge.

and life goes on.

Sunday, March 30, 2014


when I was gifted with it last spring, I named my new bike couer, the french word for heart.
this morning while I was riding in a wicked-lovely pre-storm wind, which fought me on the way out and pushed me all the way home, I kept thinking about that name.
I'm all about heart.  about love, compassion, connecting, empathy, deep heart-to-heart relating.
and it seems like life has given me both great opportunities for this and in-my-face walls preventing it.  and I think---I believe---it's my job to learn from both kinds of experiences.  it's my life journey to follow a path full of heart, and to learn to handle what happens when that's denied.

this morning I thought about my bike.  it's a beautiful bike, a fabulous bike, one that looks sleek and performs incredibly well and takes everything that's thrown at it: wind, dirt, grime, sleet, potholes, cracks and bumps and jarring changes in pavement surface.  it also receives caresses, cleaning, lubricants, and some good rub-downs.  but more often than not it gives a lot more than it receives.

sometimes this happens to real hearts, too.

the amazing thing is that we---like my bike, couer---carry on.  we give, we ache, we hurt, we revive, we become stronger, we love.  again.
however, it does---like a bike---take upkeep, attention.  cleaning, lube, a new chain now and again.  a new tire, a tune-up at the shop.
for the human heart, attention, cleansing, new education--awarenesses--instruction, time, space, tenderness.  

hearts are precious and vital.  and they will do their job for a long, long time if we take care of them.  ask a cardiologist:  the human heart, given proper attention, can last a century or so.  ask a therapist:  the human heart, given proper attention, can survive any experience thrown at it.

couer has given me a year's worth of rides so far.
my human couer has given me five decades worth of experience so far.....
and I plan to keep taking care of both of them, whatever comes our way.

Monday, March 24, 2014

woodpecker weekend

I'm reading a book about mountain biking.
well, mountain biking people.
mountain biking people who share their thoughts and discoveries as they ride--and sometimes don't ride--and explore the world around and within them.
Wild Rides and Wildflowers, a book penned by two men who formerly taught at BYU and formerly believed in the mormon religion, shares their botanical and philosophical observations, often humorously and never without that fascinating perspective that comes from being marinated in testosterone.
I love this book.
perhaps the most fun of all is that they keep falling off their bikes, endos and sideslips and full on tumbles, feet still clipped to pedals.
but it also makes me think even more deeply about all that surrounds me when I'm out on my bicycle.

I rode saturday and sunday, following the same route each day, up emigration canyon and down past the now ice-free reservoir, past the still-locked gate and up toward big mountain.
saturday I made it 2.5 miles past the gate.
sunday I made it 2.6 miles past the gate.
and both days I heard woodpeckers.

I rarely hear woodpeckers, and to me, each sighting is exciting.  woodpeckers are so clean cut, sharp-edged, spiffy.  they are hard-working, industrious, serious about the work they do.  no messing around, no lollygagging, no leisurely bikerides for them.

my publisher has woodpeckers at his house in torrey and swears they'll be the death of him.

but I was excited to hear them at work this weekend, high on telephone poles, bodies tense and relaxed simultaneously.
and it made me think of Wild Rides and Wildflowers, this book full of flowers and grasses, fox and deer, snakes and rocks and roots.  with a little philosophy thrown in, a bit of angst, the tiniest smidgen of humility and a bit of humus.  a few male jokes, a few tributes to women.  all written with a light but wisdom-soaked heart.

I don't think I'll ever really be a mountain biker.  it's seeming further and further from my path, as I like bumps less and less.  but to read about it and experience it vicariously is a gift.  and to read about it, with a little botany lesson here and there, a few ah-ha's, and a dose of well-weathered testosterone, is a deeply satisfying way to spend a chilly evening indoors wrapped in a blanket on a soft couch.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

landscape lessons

for the book I'm soon handing over to my publisher (I still love the sound of that!) I'm having to answer oodles of questions that will help their marketing team determine the book's marketing plan.
one of the questions is this, how has landscape shaped you?

I could take that literally and say that climbing up all the mountains I do has put more bulk in my quads and less on my upper body...  but I don't think that's what they mean.

I realized that my answers have a lot to do with cycling, and that they have a lot to do with life in general.  which is, in reality, why I call this blog the tao of cycling.  the way, the path, the tao, of cycling....  which has very much to do with the way, the path, the tao of being.

these are what I listed as my answer, and if you read through them slowly and with thought, I hope it strikes you that you've had similar thoughts, feelings, and experiences.  because we're really all very much alike, as different as each one of us is.

landscape has taught me
to honor who and what I am.
to always breathe.
to remain rooted even when I'm soaring and flying.
to do what it is I'm meant to do.
that when I stop and listen the world around me grows deeper and richer and full of song.
that seasons are inevitable and restorative.
that a circle of mountains, no matter how far away, as long as they're in sight, can hug.
that the sound of even an unseen creek heals.
that peaks and summits are places to pause and celebrate.
that every mountain began as disruption.
to accept the purposefulness of all that naturally occurs.
to work hard and then soar.
to be patient.
to let loose and howl.

honor the deepest you, the one who knows you best and will gently guide you when you pause to truly listen.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

the zen zipper

chop wood carry water was one of the first "zen for everyday life" books I owned, a book I purchased over 20 years ago.
its message that I love is this:
     before enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water.
     after enlightenment, you chop wood and carry water.
your external life continues---it's your internal life that's radically changed.

many of my internal processes are related to zen-like or yoga-like thoughts, most of which are rooted in a sense of flow.
of moving with what is, of not resisting.
of accepting and moving through challenges without attaching to the difficulty or the potential outcomes.
of breathing in, and breathing out.
over and over again, reminding yourself to breathe every time you need to do so.


I own a black zip-front jacket that I wear to spin class.  I shed it before I begin sweating, tossing it on my bag behind the spin bike.  then I put it back on after I've cooled down and toweled off after class.  I've only had it a year or so.
a few weeks back, however, the zipper started balking.   you know, when it acts like it isn't going to work, and then, magically, it does.
after a week or two of "will I--won't I" zippering, with its magical resolutions, I finally detected a pattern:
the more thought I put into the process (is it going to work this time or not), and the more tension I applied to the zipper pull, the less likely it was to work.
the more relaxed I was, the less I thought about it or tugged on it, the more likely it was to happily zip its little way up.

it's my zen zipper.
it reminds me to relax, not to stress.  that the more I worry and push and tug, the more resistance I'm going to meet and the less likely I am to be able to close my jacket.
I kid you not.

I still think about chopping wood, carrying water.  I do laundry, walk the dog, clean, shop, tidy up.  I work, I write, I take my kids to appointments and nurture, listen, and love.  I sometimes cook.  it's all chopping and carrying.
and my zen zipper keeps me steady.  it reminds me to breathe, to relax, to trust.  it reminds me that I'm not always in charge, that things flow better when I don't try so hard, when I don't stress and push.

it makes me smile.
and every time it doesn't want to zip up, it reminds me not to argue with my life.
so I relax, I give it up, and up that little zipper zips.


Tuesday, March 4, 2014

wisdom of the wolf

there's an ad campaign using billboards around town focused on character, integrity, commitment, determination.  all those qualities we know to be desirable, admirable.  the ads feature people such as lincoln, churchill, edison, einstein.  the ads have few words, all about character.
one of those billboards challenges me.
the photograph is of winston churchill, and the words are this:  never, never, never give up.
while I'm completely in agreement with this, it's also terrible advice.
sometimes the best thing to do is to give up.

one of the lines in my book about wolves speaks to their nature:
a wolf won't give up until the only thing to do is give up.
this is the best way to prove your mettle, demonstrate character;  this is a better way to be tenacious.

tenacity is the ability to hold on, remain committed, follow through on an idea, a promise, a task or assignment.  it's the trait we access when we ride our bike up a big hill, or on a century ride, or on a trainer through a difficult workout.  it's what churchill was speaking of.  never give up, make it, complete your task, don't be swayed by enticements, naysayers, distractions that might pull you from your path.
but at some point, your inner wisdom might send you messages that it's possible your best option is to fold in the towel.
sometimes the only thing to do is give up.

when? you ask.  I've been taught to follow through, to not give up.
the answer:  when the "giving up" is on a specific task, not the dream.

  • sometimes the tasks we assign ourselves are ill advised, but we don't figure that out until we're well into them.
  • sometimes our tasks take the focus away from the dream, which we don't realize until later.
  • sometimes a task drains us so completely that we lose sight of our dream.
  • sometimes our task is a step toward our dream, but seductive, waylaying us.
  • sometimes we accept tasks that others think we should do, but they don't further our own progress toward our dream.

sometimes it's okay to give up.
what's important is that we understand why we began, what we're doing, and how it is affecting us . . . and how it is helping or hindering us along the way.  all things that take awareness, insight, thoughtfulness to determine.

when a wolf begins hunting an elk, he is whole-heartedly committed.  when he starts getting kicked in the head, in the ribs, he has to reassess.  if he can't get his jaws on the haunches, on the neck, and keeps getting kicked, he might reconsider his decision.  when the elk is inflicting more pain than the wolf, it's probably time for that wolf to give up.  most will.  and those that don't, usually die.

so, take churchill's words to heart.  never give up on your dreams, your principles, your character, those things that drive you, shape you, fuel you, make you who you are.
but remember that sometimes--when it's necessary for you--it's better to give up.
when the only thing to do is to give up, give up.

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

fear of monsters

so, fear.
we're not supposed to let it bother us, control our lives, impact our decisions, be louder than other voices in our heads.
on the other hand, we are supposed to respect its messages, attend to it, use it to keep us safe.
we're supposed to live fearlessly, go big or go home, be all that we can be . . .
french author and nobel prize winner andre gide said, in an attempt to be helpful,  there are very few monsters that warrant the fear we have of them.

every time I ride my bike I feel fear.
fear of splatting myself on the road again, breaking bones, wounding muscles and ligaments and joints, having bone fragments slice into a delicate, life-sustaining lung.

I'm afraid of
dips and gutters
sand and cinders and salt
uneven pavement
right hand turns
left hand turns

I try to live fearlessly, to have trust and faith and acknowledge my strength, my ability to handle what's thrown my way.  but not right now, not on the bike.

as I am confronted with descents, uneven pavement, sand and gravel and icy patches, I feel fear.  I feel it well up, I know it's there, I ask it to go away, and it remains.  it rests inside me and tells me I don't want to crash again.  it won't let me go any faster;  it squeezes my brakes, gently but firmly.
I've ridden hundreds of miles since my crash, up and down canyons, and the fear remains.

some monsters are worth fearing.  
aeschylus said, there are times when fear is good. it must keep its watchful place at the heart's controls.  my heart wants me to soar and swoop and ride with abandon.  it wants me to slice through corners, leaning, feeling the curve in every cell of my body.  but aeschylus was correct.  I need a little fear right now, on my bike, to keep me safe.  to keep my heart from being carried away.  to help my body again learn to trust itself, to trust the bike.

there may be very few, but some monsters, sometimes, are absolutely worth fearing.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

the back-up bike

a year ago john bought me a beautiful new bike.
it's shiny and sleek, black with subtle bright green and white accents.  it's light and responsive and shifts like a dream.  it has a super lightweight wheel set, and is an all-around fabulous bike.  it takes me to incredible places, and tolerates my getting it wet and grimy and gritty.
it's an awesome bike.

then there's my former bike.  an awesome bike, itself, with a great wheel set.

when I prepare for a ride, the thought to ride my former bike never even crosses my mind.  why would I?

I understand that some people have multiple bikes and choose which one to ride based on road conditions, weather conditions, how long they'll be riding, what their mood is that day.
I just choose the best bike every day.
I don't protect it from elements, hours and hours of work, or questionable road surfaces.
perhaps I should . . . and I'm not being critical of those who make different choices.  I only speak for myself.
because when I think about the end of my riding days, I'm pretty sure I won't be caught saying,
gosh, I wish I hadn't ridden my Time bike quite so much.  I wish I would have saved it for special occasions.  I wish I'd ridden it less.

uh-uh.  not going to happen.
I'm quite certain I'll be thinking, thank God I rode that bike so darn much.  I'm so glad I loved it, and chose it every time I rode somewhere.  I'm grateful for how well it supported me, and all the great experiences it gave me.  thank God I rode that bike as much as I did.

so I don't really need a back-up bike.  it just grows sad and lonely, and dusty.
because why would I ride anything less than the very best bike I own?
I wouldn't.
just as I drink coffee from my favorite mug, sleep on my favorite sheets, use my favorite towels, and treat myself to favorite treats, I want to ride my favorite bike.
so I do.

life is fragile, every day a gift.  I like to make sure I love and am grateful for each day I'm alive, and riding my favorite, most awesome bike is a terrific way to ensure both of those things.

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

#4 through #30

the winter olympics are in full swing in sochi, russia, and I watched a bit of women's ski jumping this morning.
one of the american athletes in the sport is actually the daughter of an old biking buddy, so I have a little personal pull to the event and wish for her success, and it's always a bit of a tingle to watch her.
I watched the trial jumps, where the young women jumped in bib number order, beginning with number 1 and continuing to the final jumper, number 30.
hailing from 12 different countries, these young women, many of whom have been jumping more years of their lives than not, all perched upon the starting bar, awaited the signal, then swooped down the slope and up over the course before touching down ninety, one hundred meters later.  with courage, guts, agility, and grace.
all of them.
and the top 3 were named and medaled and were told to stand on the podium.
the top contender, from japan, placed "a disappointing fourth" according to one news article.
a young woman from germany took the top spot, someone who'd never before even won a world cup in the sport.

so what about numbers 4 through 30?
these young women--like all olympic athletes--devote their lives to their training, forfeit normal relationships and experiences, and frequently receive little more than a mention from the press, from the world.  and they are better at their sports than anyone else in their countries, or they wouldn't be where they are.
to participate in such a worldwide competition that only truly recognizes the top 3 . . .  what must this be like?

I don't think they complain.  I don't think they feel left out or mistreated, but to be that good at something and still not make the cut . . . I can't imagine.
I, of course, feel pretty darn amazing when I reach the top of any old hill on my bicycle.
I'm thrilled when I sell the products I designed and created, every time.
when someone praises my writing, I glow.
when I prepare food and people actually compliment--and eat--it, I'm deeply satisfied.

so I suppose it's all relative.

but today, this week, during this time of the olympics, I have a greater awareness of what it might feel like to be in the bottom half of the best in the world.  to know that you qualified to be there--powerful--and to accept that you are still not as good as the ones who podium.  to be the cream of the cream, and to still have one level left above you.

I hope each one of those athletes who don't podium feel darn amazing, are thrilled, glow, and are deeply satisfied.  because they are awesome.

even if given a number between 4 and 30.

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

150 miles and no major climbs

I have a collection of beautiful, amazing, nutty, a little bit crazy, terrific cycling friends.
I met them through a winter indoor cycling program we've all done over the years, some of them every year, some for just a few years,  and some who did it regularly until they moved out of the state.

we get together semi-regularly for dinner or for events, and the out-of-towners can often fly in to join us.  what's most fun, quite often, is the email chain that builds as we discuss things, and so today, I'm sharing with you a bit of the fun.


J (in seattle):  hey superfriends!  while I sit here in rainy seattle, I dream of both skiing and summer bike rides so....   check out this 150 miler near sandpoint, idaho,

L:  tempting for sure and definitelly amazingly beautiful there... however, same weekend as Wahsatch steeplechase and I might want to do that this year...

J (in seattle):  you can fly into spokane, lots of commercial flights into there.... just sayin'..... M and I are registered.

A:  in the mean time, you can all learn "how to be a road biker,"

B:  150 miles and no major climbs?  why not just go to a movie?

L:  the bike seat might be more comfortable than a movie seat...

B:  what about the gran fondo in moab...anybody up for that?

S:  this sounds better than the sandpoint 150.... not sure if it's better than a movie, though.

B:  oh, it's NOT better than a movie.   but you do have to exercise sometimes, you know.

B:  hey all, it snowed and the air cleared!  we're thinking of having a celebratory dinner this saturday, let us know if you're interested.

T:  we have symphony tickets, but if others can come I will change the date of the tickets.

B:  symphony?  why not just go on a 150 mile bike ride with no hills?

A:  it's a toss up on which seats are more comfortable...

R:  dinner sounds better than 150 miles or symphony.  I'll bring wine.

J (in seattle):  seattle kids are out, can't make it.  hopefully we'll be back soon for more skiing!  miss you guys!

L:  not sure we can make it... we're going to have 6 kids under 9 years old at our house this weekend... I'll let you know.

B:  wow.  6 kids < 9 years old.  I'd rather ride 150 miles with no hills.

L:  or we could watch a movie.  or go to the symphony.

R:  I'll bring wine.

what I have to say is this:  thank God for friends.  

friends are more fun than 150 mile bike rides without hills.  or the symphony.  or a movie.   just sayin.

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

wherever I go, this must be the place

david byrne wrote the lyrics to a song I love, a song I sing all the time, a song that has somehow penetrated my soul and taken up residence there:  this must be the place.

he also rides a bicycle.

and has this to say, which is all you're going to get from me today:

cycling can be lonely, but in a good way.

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

dog stars, bicycle stars

it's been a rough little while around our house, and I don't have a lot of oomph left over to come up with a brilliant post this week,
so I thought I'd search for someone else's fabulous quote about cycling to share with you.
well, I found one.
and it related perfectly to something that just entered my life and took up residence in my heart:  a book.
peter heller's the dog stars.
published in 2012, the book has been selected for book clubs, has become a bestseller, has been featured in plenty advertisements, but I've never felt drawn to it, didn't even know what it was about.  however, while picking up a requested book from the library a week or two ago, I saw a display of the dog stars, and thought, what the heck, I'll give it a shot.

I started reading it, then went to the back cover to see what in the world I was reading:  a post-apocolyptic novel set twenty years or so in the future.... not my typical fare.  but I liked it.  I liked it a lot.  so I kept reading it.
and soon I fell in love with it.
then I cried.
and kept reading.
there were no bicycles in it at all.
but a dog, an airplane, and a handful of crunchy characters.

I love this book.

the title is simply about a constellation, the possibility of naming your own constellations for those beings who matter in your life.

fast forward to today and my search for a meaningful cycling quote.  I'll put it below, and let you draw your own conclusions about why I chose it.  there are no hidden meanings, no puzzles to figure out, just a nice synchronicity between my thoughts and feelings, and the author's.  my quote is one of carl sagan's:

If constellations had been named in the 20th century, I suppose we would see bicycles. 

think of all those wheels we can draw up there in the night sky . . . and all the places they could go . . .

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

control of pain

one of our coaches likes to bring in tidbits of information about cycling, exercise, and nutrition.
he also likes to tell stories about his adventures, and we've heard all sorts of things from his riding a bike home---with numerous painkillers on board---from an emergency room visit, to assorted different crashes, to his bonking and occasional vomiting during cycling events.
he's got a great, self-deprecating sense of humor.
but last week he told us about an article he'd recently read that stated those of us who like high-intensity workouts like them because they provide for us a pain that we can control.

we humans experience a lot of pain in our lives.  physical pain, emotional pain.  although some of it may be in our control, most of it isn't.  a loved one dies, someone jumps and lands on our foot.  we slip and fall.  we break a bone, we break a heart.  we disappoint someone, we let our own self down.  we stub our toe or sprain an ankle.  pain happens.  and although we often have some warning, we often don't, and we have very little control over it all.

enter the hardass workout.
the workout where you can control just how much pain you suffer and for how long.

I'm not sure about the science behind this concept.  I'm not sure that we like our hardass workouts because they are situations where we can control our pain.

what I find more important through this process is that I learn that I can tolerate/manage/endure amounts of pain that I might not have thought possible.

I don't think I'm enduring the pain simply because it's under my control;  I think I'm enduring it to prove to myself that I'm stronger than I think.

because this is the gift I've received over the years.
this morning's workout was a tough one---named the "l'alpe d'huez climb" by our program's creator---and after it ended the coach came around, asking each person how it went.  my response was,
I just do what I'm asked to do.

and this is what I've learned through my years of cycling training:  I can do whatever I'm asked to do.
pain, tolerance, tedium, endurance, fatigue, everything, it's all manageable.
for me, it's not about controlling it, it's about learning that I can endure it.

but the greatest truth is probably best stated by arthur golden:

I don't think any of us can speak frankly about pain until we are no longer enduring it.

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

music world

every year one of our power camp coaches holds a music competition.  she invites everyone to submit a song, then she places them all on a playlist that she plays during class one day.  after listening to all the songs, everyone in class is asked to vote for their favorite song;   the top song wins a prize for the person who submitted it.
winning songs over the years have not always been the songs you'd expect.
one year the winner was barry white (my everything), and another year it was grace potter and the nocturnals singing paris (ooh la la) . . . one year it was jewel singing her morning song.
we as a group are completely unpredictable, and I've heard it's possible to bribe class members for their votes.  and remember, we start class weekday mornings at 5:10 am.  it's understood that we're all a little wacked.

this is submission week.  I have 5 more days to come up with a song and submit it.  and I'm stumped.
I don't listen to enough music, apparently.

so this morning I decided to cheat.  I sent an email to a friend who is a spin instructor in another state, asking her for her latest and greatest songs.  and she gave me a few ideas.  as did the internet, where I searched for popular spin and workout music.  hmmm.

I do love music.  I love the rhythms and harmonies, and I love both upbeat songs and those that are slow and heartfelt.    this morning in class the coach played ike and tina turner's "proud mary," the long version, a song I never loved and haven't heard in years and years . . . and it was great.  then came the phantom of the opera's theme song, and then some pop.  erasure was in there somewhere, and jack johnson, too.  it's all good, it's all wonderful, it's all terrific at distracting you from your discomfort.

and after it all, I've made my selection.  it's bright, fun, energetic, and has the best title in the world.
you can click on this link to hear my 5 am spin class song.  forget the love part, just sing the chorus.

again and again and again . . .
and then you'll know what it's like in our workout room every morning in the dark.

there's truly a song for everything, isn't there?