Friday, October 21, 2016

Aligning Your Energy

Make sure to surround yourself with people who think like you. For me that means those that laugh, have a good time, don't let the little things bog them down and making the most of every opportunity they're given.

Sometimes we're challenged by those who come into our lives and it can be a mystery as to why they're there. Stick with it though - you never know what valuable lessons you can learn from those people who waltz into your life.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Riding blind

I knew the lead group pulled away even though I can't see them. I couldn't hear the whirl of their rear wheels, the galloping of their bikes and heavy breathing. I't wasn't until we rounded a corner that my suspicions are confirmed and they were 50 yards in front of us and growing. The view from the back of the tandem is limited - mostly of Ben's butt and back and if I'm not bleeding out my eyeballs trying to push as hard as possible, I occasionally glance around.

I feel a sense of shame when I know we're no longer with them. The competitor in me longs to be  - so I keep pushing. I don't give up. I keep my head down, focused on the pain and continue to strive for more power. If I had been on my own bike, I'd likely have given up long ago - but on the tandem, I keep pushing.

That's the strength and beauty of riding the tandem. The knowledge that your partner is reliant on your effort. I will fight to the very end for Benjamin. And I love that even if that's not enough, even if we fall off the lead group and have to chase like hell, he's there for me.

It's funny how self-doubt and criticism seats in when you least expect it. How I genuinely felt let down we couldn't keep pace with guys whose power output is double, if not triple, what I can do. Even when you combine our power and Ben's strength - it's still not enough. I'm the weak link. Ben made a comment about having a guy on the back and how fast they would go and a sense of panic sets in - I don't want to be replaced. I know that's irrational but the doubt starts as a seed and from that continues to grow.

Do you ever feel like you're not good enough for your partner? That you're letting them down not rising to their hopes and expectations? And do you let that little demon of debt snowball into other parts of your life?

Me neither. Ha! (Just kidding.)

It takes courage to bring up what makes us vulnerable. To have those conversations - with our self and others - so that you end up giving voice to the monsters, which in turn shrinks the power they have over you.

Ask the questions. Bring up the subjects that seem silly and petty. Even if it's from the back of a tandem where you can't see much.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Tandem Training - Tour de Tucson

Ben and I rode the tandem on Turnt Up Tuesday yesterday - a notoriously difficult "all drop" ride originating at Stages Cycling every Tuesday at 12:15. The route varies from week to week - from flats to hills and the goal is to be the last person standing. This week we headed out the Diagonal, up 63rd to Nelson, toward Highway 36 (where this picture was taken) and back down St. Vrain, (topping out at 50mph) and winding our way back to 63rd.

We're prepping for the Tour de Tucson - a 110 mile jaunt through the mostly flat portions of Tucson in November. Last year we stepped onto the scene as newcomers and won the mixed tandem division - camelback clad and all - beating Travis McCabe and Norene. Norene has held the tandem title for the past 10(?) years and usually partners up with her husband Paul, but injury prevented him from racing. Thanks to social media - we know Norene and Paul have been training... gulp.

Due to our inexperience at "The Tour" (as the locals call it and not to be confused with the Tour de France), we stared way back in the first corral and fought our way to the front in the first 6 miles having to dismount in the first sandy wash section and then fight our way back onto the chasing group.

It was SO much FUN!!!!

It was our somewhat maiden voyage on the tandem last year and since then we've logged 50+ hours in the saddle together, dialing in our standing, sprinting and tucking techniques. We'll be duking it out  again in about a month from now. Oh and because of our placement last year, we get to start at the front of the corral.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

Back to it...

I know, I know. I've said it before to myself at least a hundred times. I NEED to get back to regular blogging. And after listening to an inspiring conversation between Marie Forleo and Seth Godin (two of my favorite change agents) - I'm ready. Let's do this.

It doesn't have to be pretty or perfect. But what it be me. 100%. Vulnerable, strong, passionate.

I've been practicing since we last met. My shelves are lined with hand written Moleskin journals. I've collected thoughts, observations, opinions, perspectives - you name it. Yet something prevented me from sharing them. I started becoming a very private person. Or on second thought, was it a sense of self-doubt?

Either way, I'm getting my voice back out there. I want to leverage this platform that grew undoubtedly bigger than we could have imagined. And while my posts may no longer be about cycling or grief, they will be about the real live connections that I share with people, with the world in which I live.

Let's do this.

Monday, August 08, 2016

Life Keeps Marching On

It's been a while....

I read a post my friend Cassie wrote on Facebook last Tuesday that kept referring to her husband in the past tense. He was this, he was that... surely she was battling with grammatical issues. I didn't want to believe that the past tense was referring to his death. It couldn't be true.

And then it hit me sideways - Sol died. Sol, Ryan's childhood friend who became like a brother to me while we grew up together. Sol, who struggled with life as we all do but always had a smile on his face and was quick to make a joke. Sol, who never stayed angry as he battled with relationships and things that challenged him. Sol, the father of Regan and Sawyer and the little miracle baby growing in Cassie's belly. Sol, who's cerebral palsy outwardly appeared a limiter but inwardly seemed to help him blossom and sculpted him into a loving, caring and accepting person.

I last saw Sol in Seattle in May. I was cleaning out my house in Seattle, reckoning with the ghosts of Ryan as we put the house in the market to sell. I came across a funny paper from Sol, chuckled and sent him a text. He insisted we catch up in person so I drove over to his house late one night and we hung out for several hours. He opened the door with a smile on his face, kids laughing in the background, so much love surrounding him. He showed me his house - the house he and Cassie had way more vision for than I did when they bought it years ago. He transformed it - into a design marvel - all with his own hands. Sol had this amazing ability to see the best in everything - to polish edges, to apply varnish, to work with his artistic hands and put in the effort to create something most of us would overlook or give up on long ago.

It'd been a few years since we last connected. We picked up right where we left off - catching up on life, asking the hard questions, seeing what each other were up to, really checking in. Sol had a way of letting you put your guard down, opening up and sharing with him your struggles and offering guidance to get through things. He listened, he didn't judge, he offered advice if you asked and gently guided you toward laughing about whatever troubled you.

In their basement is a small climbing wall. He built it for his kids to play with but partly in homage to Ryan. He asked what I was going to do with the climbing holds and asked for a couple to put on the wall - a symbolic act and a way to remember someone who touched us all.

I cried for hours after the news sunk in. And I know I'm not the only one. As soon as Cassie's post went up she received hundreds of messages about how Sol had touched them, how broken hearted they were to hear the news.

It's been nearly a week as I write this and I'm still tearing up. Losing someone like Sol is like losing a spiritual guide. I am so thankful for the time I shared with him and mourn the loss of such a great soul. I'm sure he and Ryan are having a great time together.

On Thursday friends and family are gathering at the house that Sol built to celebrate his life. I'm going, armed with the climbing holds that Sol asked for and sad but thankful for the time we shared together.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Exploring Creativity

I'm fascinated by what makes us creative. What motivates us to change things, create something new and improved? How do we become more creative at work, at play and in life? If we apply that creativity to everything we do - what happens? Does it increase our happiness and sense of fulfillment?

Creativity is a phenomenon whereby something new and somehow valuable is formed. The created item may be intangible (such as an idea, a scientific theory, a musical composition or a joke) or an original physical object (such as an invention, a literary work or a painting).

Creativity is something you produce which in turn creates value. Do you create more when you're incentivized? What are those incentives? What motivates you to create something? A pay check? The impact it might have on the world? 

Do you use your right brain, creative more conceptual side of your mind to solve problems or do you find yourself stuck in left brain mode, doing things out of habit?

For fun, google "creativity" images. Look at all of the colorful images that pop up. Does that spark something for you? If not, what sparks your creativity? What gets those juices flowing?

Friday, September 18, 2015

How to lose 37 years of bad habits

I love cycling: the beauty of a exploring the world by your own two legs, feeling the wind in your face, sprinting against good competition, the friends I've made and the community I've built fills me up. What's not to love?

One thing: wearing skin tight spandex. I don't mind exposing my arms and legs, but when it comes to wrestling my big-boned frame into a super tight skin suit, I get bashful.  I've always had a tummy - like wearing an inner tube around my middle - and I've always been self-conscious of it.

Let's be honest - I've struggled with weight all my life. As it turns out, I really like food. But what I didn't learn when I was younger, were the right types of food to eat.

Over the years I'll get to a breaking point and want to shed some pounds, only to try cutting myself off from all sweets, processed foods, and interior-grocery store aisles binges cold turkey. It'll last for a short time and then BAM! I'm right back to where I started, discouraged by not making in progress and succumb to eating more junk food.

I can make cookies at home and resist them, right? WRONG! At least it makes me feel better temporarily, right?

What I've discovered, as well as hundreds of thousands of other people trying to lose weight, is how difficult it is to change old habits. It doesn't have to be about eating. It can be about smoking, drinking, compulsions - whatever. If you've programmed your body and mind into doing one thing over and over, well, it can be hard, if not impossible to alter that behavior.

Needless to say, I knew I needed help. I knew that in order to really lose some weight, I was going to need to change things up. I will say it's not like I have a ton of weight to lose. My body fat is around 22%, which is slightly below average. But I'm not happy with where it is right now.

My boss has a saying: "What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result."

I'm an action taker. Once I'm ready to do something, I will dive into whatever it is. But this time, I want lasting results. I want long term change. I didn't want to find myself two months later in the middle of the grocery store binging on chocolate bars and ice cream.

So I signed up for a year long nutrition program: Precision Nutrition. Jennie Reed turned me onto the program years ago. And several years ago I bought a couple of their cook books, which jump started some weight loss. But I also started bonking a lot on rides and the next thing I knew, was back to my old habits.

But this time is different.

This time I have a support network of coaches, mentors and community backing my progress. And I am committed (and coughed up $1500!) and am held accountable, everyday with daily checkins and weekly measuring assessments.

I work on one lesson at a time, one workout at a time and one new habit at a time.

We started slow - with just taking a five minute action a day that had nothing to do with food. They were priming me for real change: to get ready to form new habits.

Then we moved onto eating slowly and mindfully and to only 80% full. I started noticing results immediately. And now we've moved onto eating more lean proteins and vegetables.

I've lost 4 kilos in two months and it feels amazing. My clothes fit well, I'm not ashamed to ride in tight fitting spandex and I'm making lasting lifestyle habits. And so far - I've avoided the middle aisles at the grocery store.

I know I'm human and know I'll slip occasionally. But I also know I can fall right back into my new habits and be okay. It's empowering and the simple act of change is starting to trickle into other areas of my life... like writing, creative thinking, starting new habits, etc.

As I continue on this year long journey, I'll continue to update you on my progress. I figure checking in here is also a part of my accountability.

What are you trying to change? And if you have changed something, what advice would you give to others who struggle with change?