Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Time loops

It's amazing how songs can transport you through time and space. They trigger a memory or a feeling - making you pause in your busy life and travel to a distant time. Listening to Jose Gonzalez reminds me of going to Banya 5 last year and treating myself to a massage. The woman who massaged me was playing this album and I got lost in space and time for an hour. I remember thinking how good it felt - the simple act of human touch - and how much Ryan and I used to simply hold one another.

Then it just as quickly transports me to the disbelief that he's gone. Some how I've been living in an altered parallel life and that he's really still here. But those irrational thoughts have been revisited hundreds of times and in a way I've gotten used to them. Sometimes I let the fantasy play around in my head, sometimes I let it go right back out that revolving door. And sometimes I don't have a choice.

Funny how some conversations, however brief, leave a lasting impression on you. On Friday night I saw a friend at a party on her way to the airport. She stopped by to give everyone well wishes and caught me a little off guard by asking, "you doing okay during the holidays?" Up until that point I thought I was. But when I stop the holiday whirl and constant motion the emptiness quickly creeps in.

Everything happens for a reason. Or at least that's what I tell myself. Having a heavy training week leading up to the holidays and then having some down time the week of was planned. And in more ways than one. Right now I need the mental and physical break to prepare myself for the weeks ahead. Not to mention this week. Every ounce of my energy will go toward putting myself in that happy spot. The one that transcends time and allows me to create new memories when listening to music.

Friday, December 18, 2009

"A highly trained aerobic athlete can get away with doing absolutely nothing for nine to 12 days before there will be an appreciable loss in fitness. However, it can take between eight and 12 weeks to regain fitness lost after taking four weeks off. That means if you don't exercise for the month of October, sometime in January you could be as fit as you were at the end of September. It is difficult to make significant strength and power gains from year to year if you spend three months losing and regaining fitness."

- Chris Carmichael, On the Road: Building the Foundation of Success.

Thursday, December 17, 2009

Random thoughts

That was silly of me. I showed up to work today with no lunch. And now I'm torturing myself by looking at food blog after food blog. I could eat the stale organic trek mix sitting on my desk or I could continue to starve will dreaming up meals for when I get home. Just took a bite and am reminded again of why it's stale. BLAH!

Do I open the chocolate orange I bought for a coworker? Nah. That would make those hard earned winter miles a waste. And I'd either give it to her with a couple of slices missing or have to buy another one.

Just realized 2010 will mark 6 years of blogging! Six years! What a trip.

Yesterday whilst riding through the strongest head wind I've encountered in a long time and rain that was pelting my face with a vengeance, I once again realized that you have to absolutely love this nomadic sport in order to get any where with it. You have to be open to the hours of grueling repetitive motion with inclement weather and do so without remorse or a grudge.

For if you think about it, there is no good reason to be on your bike past dusk in the dark winter months. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

What keeps me lifting my leg over the saddle time and time again? The possibility of wins 6 months from now. Ride on nomadic solider, ride on.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

As 2009 comes to a close, I can't help but think back to this time last year and marvel at how far I've come. Last year nearly broke me. The dark months were really dark and grief penetrated everything. It left me without the desire to ride or race, broke me down into less than half of what I was. But I think part of the healing process is going down into the dark depths of your soul, to depths that are not normal and consuming in order to feel what it's like to be normal again.

I think back on this year and remember some difficult times - times when I couldn't move or get out of bed, immobilized by loss of my partner, identity and part of my soul. To go to such depths make you realize how fortunate you are when things are normal and going according to plan. They paint the bigger picture in such clarity that I couldn't help but scoff at people sweating the small things in life. But we need those small things when things are going according to plan - to remind us that life is short and unpredictable.

This winter, which won't be officially winter until the 21st, I've been attacking my training with the passion I once felt. Pushing through the dark, cold, wet miles with goals in mind and keeping my focus. Grief no longer penetrates my every thought or move, but allows me to keep it at bay and acknowledge on my terms.

Last New Year's I felt like I HAD to get certain things done. Had to travel, visit the places to make me feel a little better. Spend less time at home with the constant reminders of what was missing. And the only thing that really helped was time itself. Time to repair my mind and soul.

Slowly I started to feel like myself again. Two steps forward, one step back. And in this slow fashion, when I look back at the past year I realize I climbed a mountain. An impossible mountain with lots of unforeseen challenges and false summits. I am thankful for this journey and the lessons it has taught me and continues to. But dammit, I'm STOKED for a new year, let alone a new decade.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Holy cow. Check this out!

(Oh cow? Didn't realize the typo until just now. Ha ha!)

Whistling in Winter

Ah, winter's back. Not that east coast cold ass ice so you have to ride your trainer inside bull shit. Instead we get the lovely incessant 38-42 degree drizzle that dampens your layers and sinks into your bones. But you can ride in it! And I'll take that misery any day over putting hours upon hours on the trainer. (I say that now at the beginning of a 16 hour road week...)

So with this week's training on tap - I cooked some food during my rest day to stock up for when I come home ravishing and ready to shovel some calories into my gullet. It's much easier to grab some roasted veggies out of the fridge and reheat them or throw in a little diced turkey and make a wrap. Instant gratification.

Time put in now in the cold months is money in the bank for later. It's important to make things as easy as possible to jump on the bike. Be that preparing food in advance, doing those neglected maintenance items on your off day when you don't want to think about the bike, etc - it'll pay off. Consider it a job - one that you're lucky enough to be passionate about and what once seemed a tedious task will give you freedom on the roads and in your heart.

And whistling always helps.

If anyone wants to ride this week - I'd love company!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

After experiencing screaming barfies in my feet from last night's two hour jaunt in arctic temps, I'm more than looking forward to heading down to Bend and checking out Bachelor's cross country scene. Two hours of skating a day will keep that aerobic engine purring like a kitchen and surely my tootsies will stay warm!

And I'm so excited to be skating for the first time this season! Tela is going to join me between cheering on our friends at cross Nationals...

Hope you're staying warm!

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Death by trainer

Oh the hours logged in one solid position on the bike, stationary in front of the boob tube watching hours upon hours of winter world cup events.... hopefully someone will check on me before I keel over from sheer boredom.

But there's hope! Tomorrow I head to Bend to watch cyclo cross Nationals and I'm bringing my skate skis to get some skiing in between cheers. Should be a good time!

Had a crazy dream last night that I had to escape a house before someone was coming to get me - and had to grab things that I absolutely couldn't leave behind. I remember thinking that I needed to make sure to grab my iron and wax for skis for my life depended on it. What about those old family photos?

And on another completely different note - I had HSP do a bike simulation for a new position on a Blue bike to make sure it fits before I pull the trigger and treat myself. My position is so different and BALANCED - it should make for a great change for the new decade....

I'm selling off a ton of bikes - anyone interested in 54cm? They'll be priced to move!

Monday, December 07, 2009

Clamming, Crabbing, Christmas Trees, Bike Rides, Clam smoke and more!

My friend Andrew has been clamming for quite some time. He's a connoisseur of all things seafood and is always up for fishing, clamming, crabbing, etc. However for the past decade plus since I've known him, pinning down a time and location to go clamming has been pretty much impossible. It's mainly due to the fact that state regulators open up specific areas for clamming only a handful of days at a time throughout the year. And you also have to time it with the low tides, busy city schedules, etc. We finally pinpointed a time - this past Friday night.

At the last minute I was able to take my six year old nephew Coleman with us too. We showed up in Tacoma to carpool with Andrew down to the Westport area on the coast. He brought some hip waders for Chris and I to wear since clamming is a dirty, sandy, wet excursion. Coleman got some last minute warm boots and gloves and thankfully brought his ski coat. The temperature on a reader board in Aberdeen boasted 29 degrees!

We drove for about 2.5 hours through the dark, cold night. About 3 miles south of Westport, we took a right and headed toward the beach. Much to our surprise, there were hundreds of lights along the tide flats. We parked near a house that had its lights on so we could find out car later and then started putting the gear on. We also fired up some coleman lanterns to begin the hunt. Armed with a clam gun and shovel plus a big 5 gallon bucket, off we went toward the ocean.

Thankfully we didn't have to go far. We were able to immediately spot some depressions in the sand and with the careful instruction of Andrew the digging began! We were hooping and hollering and making a big commotion as we brought in clam after razor clam. The clams were so plentiful that we limited out at 60 in about an hour!

Smelling the clear air, watching the hundreds of other lanterns dance along the tide flats to the slow rising moon and listening to the shore break not far from where we harvested the clams made for great memories. And something I'm sure Coleman won't forget for a long, long time. He slept the entire car ride back to Tacoma.

But the adventure wasn't over yet. The next morning we woke up, made some pancakes and sausage for breakfast, hoped in Chris's boat and dropped crab pots. It was so beautiful being on water in the early morning as the fog was evaporating into a clear blue sky. Birds diving for fish and sea lions poking their heads out of the water while hunting for salmon. We even saw a few fly fisherman on the shores of the Narrows on our way to Wolochett Bay. Coleman was a little freaked out at first to be in such a small boat with lots of crab gear. But he got used to hanging out and snuggling up to Makiah and I ducked his head inside his oversize life vest and trying to stay as warm as possible. After I we got back to Chris's house we quickly hiked the hill, got in the car and dropped him off at my mom's to go to his next adventure.

I jumped on my bike as quickly as possible to get my 3.5 hour ride in before sunset and hopefully avoid any icy conditions. I jammed down the Duamish Trail toward Tukwila and hit some ice on the Interurban trail but still kept it upright! Made to Tacoma in record time on the bike and had enough time to stop for some well earned chocolate milk. We then cleaned 15 clams and make both New England and Manhattan chowder that was amazing! I was pretty pooped by the end of the night.

Sunday brought more fun as Chris and I connected with Jennie, Tela and Mary for our weekly mountain bike ride at St. Edwards. I decided to drink a double cappuccino and was FLYING! We had so much fun thanks to a slightly later start and dry conditions. I swear, mountain biking reminds me so much of skiing. Half the time I'm on the verge of being out of control, but then I'm able to stick things since I have maybe at times a little too much confidence. It makes me giggle like a little kid!

And to cap the weekend off - I got to help Shelley, Lincoln and their two little girls Olivia and Alice decorate their Christmas Tree. It's becoming an annual tradition for sure. Oh and one more adventure - we headed over to Ben and Danielle's to smoke 30 of the clams and hang out with them the rest of the evening. Whew, what a weekend!

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Go go gadget arms!

Well I finally did it. I finally pushed the envelope and stretched the boundaries. In retrospect I should have known this day was coming. But instead it has me slouching into my office chair, with little to no movement. I have to will myself to move every 20 minutes or so because my body is actually exhausted.


What is it that I did? Simple. I changed my weight training routine today. After 5 weeks of the same motions, I switched it up. I hefted heavy weights overhead. I did squats with more weight than before and I made my neck muscles flare like the Incredible Hulk.

And now? Well now I'm paying for it. Hold on, must move.

Much better. Don't get me wrong. The previous routine was good too. But after 5 weeks, my body had completely adapted to its moves. My core strengthened, legs toned and focus sharpened with each movement. My butt gained some serious strength and my chest press was starting to give me some serious pecks and arm definition.

However, today was a big reminder that you need to switch up your routine every so often. For doing the same movements, time and time again will only strengthen your strengths and leave your weaknesses withering. And what is so sore this time? Well after only 4 hours of recovery, I can't really lift my arms. I mean I can. But it takes considerable effort and concentration to levitate them from my keyboard.

Like I said, I should have known this day was coming. There were warning signs - practically sirens for that matter. Even last night as I briefly spoke with Jennie about the new program and how I was adapting to it, her quiet comment about how she didn't understand where I had all of that extra energy... well now I know. I should have been saving it for today.

Monday, November 30, 2009

It's not rocket science

I've been racing and biking for a while now. Over the years I've probably spent close to $2,000 or more on shop labor alone. And thankfully I've found a great shop who is willing to answer my questions about this and that. I've been picking up tips and tricks throughout the years. But tonight was special. Tonight I changed my own cables and rear ceramic pulley's and tuned up the rain beast.

The poor thing needed it - after the past month of record setting rain and hours upon hours resting upon her frame, her bearings and spinning parts needed some love. She also developed a creak, which meant only one thing. It was time I tried doing my own cables.

Armed with the road bike mechanics bible, I was pleasantly surprised that is a relatively an easy task. Now I'm not claiming to be some mechanical guru - the fact couldn't be further from the case. But if I can do my own maintenance then why not? It sure will save me some cash in the long run.

I am feeling more confident that if I do seriously break down on a long ride, as long as I'm armed with a multi-tool, I should be able to fix anything. For everything else - there's Mastercard.

Now if I can just get this black shit off my hands....

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Like my friend Michelle, food has been on the brain lately.

Sauté crumbled sweet Italian sausage with cubes of butternut squash in a bit of oil. Toss in cooked farro and dress with more oil and lemon juice. Serve as a salad or toss with grated Parmesan and use as a stuffing.

Toss chunks of butternut squash with butter and curry powder. Roast until half-tender, then stir in chunks of apple and some maple syrup. Cook, shaking the pan occasionally, until everything is nicely browned and tender.

After reading hordes of recipes, I've found bacon and butter to be the common theme. Why bacon? Because it enhances the flavor of everything. And butter? Well butter just tastes better. Ask Julia Child.

Cook chopped onions in olive oil until soft. Add chopped spinach and a handful of raisins — maybe a little port, too — and cook until wilted and almost dry. Roasted pine nuts are good on top.

Damn! Why didn't I think of this?

Steam and salt edamame. Whisk soy and honey together in a small saucepan over low heat. Add grated ginger and a bit of cornstarch, stir until slightly thickened and pour over edamame.

Buy some cheese. Unwrap it and put it on a plate with some walnuts and fruit; let come to room temperature. Serve with good bread.

Need more ideas?

A heavy hitting Whirling Dervish

I often struggle with what to say. How to take the millions of thoughts that pass through my brain and convey them to anyone near. It's hard to just shut certain feelings and thoughts out - how to let go of silly things that have no bearing on the big picture. And I suppose this is my brain's way of coping and avoiding sad and negative thoughts.

Try as I may with keeping ultra busy - hosting back to back dinner parties and trying to stay on top of everyday tasks, it came to a screeching halt last night. I was flipping through a cook book to look up roasting a chicken when I came across a list Ryan wrote for things for the cabin. Seeing his handwriting so unexpectedly made me pause, for I don't know how long. I ran my fingers over his distinctive script, as it transported me to another time and place. But I couldn't take a moment then to cry and remember just how much I miss my soul mate because I knew the floodgates would open. I had mouths to feed and friends on their way - that grief would have to wait until later.

Dinner went well, laughs were shared, conversations ensued. My sister was there with her boyfriend and their dog Wally and it was really nice seeing them so at ease and relaxed. They are really happy together and I am really happy for them. Lips were smacking, fingers licked and both Erik and RMiller went back into the kitchen later to polish off any scraps left in the dishes (the ultimate compliment to the cook!).

And after everyone had left, the dishes put away, the extra chairs and leaf to the table stored downstairs - and I hoisted Makiah up onto the bed and crawled between the sheets myself, that little bit of grief came crashing in.

I keep a picture of Ryan on the wall in my bedroom. It's one of him at the crag in New Halem, looking up (as he always did) with a slight stubble on his face, warm clothes wrapped around him. His face looks like he's concentrating on something - either running a climbing problem through his head or coming up with some witty comeback for the camera man. I stare at this picture every day. But last night it sent me spiraling. I long for him. Long for his touch, to feel his face, hear his laugh. We could be any where in the world together and completely in bliss. To just have him around. I miss him so much.

The holidays can be tough. They bring together families and traditions, which I am very thankful for. But for some they are a reminder that life can change in an instant.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Let the Hibernation begin...

So this is why people start taking anti-depressants. The sky hasn't changed color for days and the last of falls leaves cling tightly to the branches, threatening to fall completely off in the next wind storm.

It hasn't stopped raining since the last storm blew into town last night. The parking lot at work is backed up again with a knee high puddle threatening to enter the building if a car decides to pass too quickly.

The rain is officially back. The west side of Washington has been slammed by 4 storms in the last week - bringing with it wet, damp weather and wind gusts up to 60 mph. Power outages litter the metro areas, a reminder to make sure you have an alternate heat source if and when you lose power. It's as though we're paying our dues for one the best summer's ever in the Northwest.

Every where I've gone lately - from the climbing gym, weight lifting gym, Albertsons, etc - I can't help but notice there's a running theme between them all - people are missing.

It's as though the rain, a steady and constant companion in the winter months, has got people barricaded up in their homes, protecting their homesteads and sanity. Indoor projects take precedent over playing outside in the monsoon. Gatherings are thought of - and then banished if that means leaving your warm abode.

On a sunny note, while the weather has most people scurrying indoors, the weather has had an opposite effect on me. This is the time to put money in the bank for training and getting after it. It's also a reminder that snow is falling in the mountains and winter play is the best way to cure the winter blues. I can't wait for skate and tele skiing! I'm getting winter tires put on my car as we speak and putting on my rocket box tonight... yahoo!!! Anyone interested in learning to skate?

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

"Risk more than others think is safe. Care more than others think is wise. Dream more than others think is practical. Expect more than others think is possible. "
~ Cadet Maxim

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

On a side note...

So I'm outside between rain showers, raking up the leaves from my multiple trees in the yard and scattering them on the areas where I plan to plant in the spring. And suddenly, I start getting swarmed by yellow jackets. Thankfully it's cold outside and they're moving sluggishly - but they're still moving and coming right for me. When I finally figure out that I disrupted a nest in the fern on the side of my house, an angry lone bugger stings me in the butt!

In the house I go holding my ass and hoping I don't have to use my epi pen. Who would have thought of getting stung in November? Unless those pests serve a useful part in the local food chain - then they're getting exterminated. Oh well - wishful thinking for trying to spend more time outdoors.

Smaller footprints...

Just finished up reading a book titled, "Plenty" written by two authors out of Vancouver, BC. This thought provoking book had me re-examine my own eating habits and cooking patterns. If you're looking for some food for thought (pun totally intended!) then check out this book!

The basic premise - this couple decides to try living off of foods found within a 100 mile radius of their home in the city for a year. Their quest starts in October. At first they had a hard time adapting their meals to stay within these boundaries. How many ways can you cook a potato? Where does wheat come from? How about rice? Or pineapples or oranges? What about wine or beer? They had to say goodbye to several things they became accustomed to. It really made them examine in fine detail about where all of our foods come from and how we can survive if the global economy comes to a stand still. It also gives some interesting history facts about the Vancouver area and the sustainability practices of Native Americans.

Once spring and summer rolled around, they were able to grow their own sustainable garden and use canning and root cellar techniques to get them through another hard winter. And once the year was over they actually continued to use truly local products - not only because of the ethics involved but also because they taste way better than anything imported.

And it made me think of my old next door neighbor Jo, who one summer taught me how to make black and blue berry jelly and tuck them away in the cupboard for times like today when you need a little something sweet on your toast.

Thankfully I live about a mile away from a PCC. For the most part they stick to local crops for their produce. But if you roam the isles of breads, crackers and frozen goods - you'd be amazed at how far some of those products travel to make it into your belly. Next time you're on the hunt for crackers - I dare you to find a single one made in Washington. It's harder than you think!

I guess I'm become more and more a hippie as I age. Bring on the quinoa and hairy pits! Anyone have any old overalls you'd like to get rid of?

Friday, November 13, 2009

Built to Spill

Oh yeah, Built to Spill is coming to town next week! Just bought tickets and am excited to shake my booty at the Showbox. Tickets are still available for Thursday's all ages show....

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Staying busy

Oh man the past few days have been so busy. From team meetings to discussions, training twice a day to cooking lessons to dodging sheets of rain and figuring out what to do with the 25 pounds of veggies I just had delivered to my house!

It's nice to stay busy in the darker months. It makes me appreciate those rest afternoons in my training schedule that much more and helps me to fully utilize that time by kicking the feet up.

Another added bonus about being a bike racer - you quickly become an expert of chilling out. Time off the bike is taken with as much dedication as being on the bike. If you don't then you're compromising your training efforts. And if I'm going to be pedaling in puddles then I'm going to make it count.

And count it has. 6.5 hours in the past two days. That's what I'm talking about.

Thursday, November 05, 2009

Seasons chaning

Down come the leaves in rapid succession as the steady November rain drizzles from the sky. I'm sure the landscape will look a lot different after the next 4 days of solid rain. Yesterday's dry weather was a blessing, that's for sure and Karen, Tela and I made the most of it by riding to visit Liz and new baby Anna. Liz is so happy being the proud new mommy and Anna is a sweet, sweet baby.

It's amazing to me how babies help you forget about pain and loss - even when they cry for some small comfort, it reminds you of the circle of life. Another generation on its way while another one fades...

Monday, November 02, 2009

While the rest of my friends were out and about on Halloween, hooting and hollering and carrying on, my brother and his family were putting his kids to sleep. Laurel (aka Ladybug) had been on a serious sugar high all night from the candy she collected, which she refused to let go of her clutches all night. George had Bug bed duty that night and as he was calming her down, he heard a "pop, pop, pop" noise.

Out of the house he rushed, in his socks, sweats and t-shirt - doing a 100m dash to his side garage to grab his police car. He nearly knocked off the siren lights on the garage door as he chased down and caught the eggers. (Picture Dukes of Hazzard, gravel peel out and all!)

Well you bet your bottom dollar he caught those little buggers. You'd think this was masterminded by some teenagers who don't know any better - but as it turns out the Sutton casa had been egged by two 20 year old guys. One of which is the son of the local fire chief and another one who thinks George has it out for him.

Gooooo Goooo Roscoe!

Well that off duty deputy called dispatch and had someone on duty come pick them up and haul their mischievous little butts into jail. Too funny.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Something to work on

I think I figured out my number one goal for the 2010 season - how to hold back. I know, sounds silly, right? But for some reason, once that gun goes or that whistle blows - I come shooting out of the gates like a rocket and then BAM! Get nailed later by the build up of lactic acid. If I can just figure out how to pace myself.... then look out!

I was reminded of that this very weekend in fact. My first cyclocross race of the year - second ever. I decide to jump in with the cat 3 women despite my lack of obvious skills but figure, why not? My license says I'm a 3 (thanks to the automatic road upgrade) so I dabbled in it. In classic form, I take off like a rabbit on the first lap. I'm feeling good - sticking with the lead group. And then the barriers come. Uh oh. Suddenly I was off the lead group. And each time I would come upon those minor obstacles, I'd find myself further and further back. Thank goodness my mind set was solid - I was just there for the workout. And workout I did! Each time I would encounter the barriers, I would automatically start laughing at myself - thinking about how funny it must be to watch someone who has zero skill at doing trying to gracefully dismount and remount my bike. I will say this - I didn't fall. But I did belly laugh an awful lot despite being deprived of oxygen.

The past few days have been filled with scouring the Internet trying to learn from youtube examples of how to do this essential act. Just goes to show though - watching someone do something is no substitute for actually doing it yourself. So tomorrow night - rain or shine, I'm going to practice at Marymoor. Bring on the mud!

Oh - and here's proof that I suck at barriers - look how fast the dude next to me is cruising! My camera is notorious for NEVER capturing moving objects in focus .... enough said.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The leaves are watching....

Today I felt the cool wind on my face, damp with recent rain falling down from the gray sky. My wheels rolled over billions of fallen leaves, matted down to the trail like paper mache. Relying on the fact that I know the bumpy Burke Gilman trail by braille, it was easy to avoid known obstacles despite their disappearance.

Today was the first day of training for 2010. I dug out my winter clothing - with each piece tried and carefully selected for one purpose - warmth. Six seasons of winter training and I think it's safe to say I'm dialed in for the weather ahead. Now I have to maintain the delicate balance between staying motivated and not over doing it.

I thought of Ryan a lot today. He's been on my mind a lot lately and a frequent visitor to my dreams. I'm always thankful for his presence and absolutely miss him. But he also keeps me motivated because I know he's always watching and won't let me slack one tiny bit in my quest for pedaling circles on a world cup level.

Friday, October 23, 2009

New Traditions

Now that one year has come and gone and all of the firsts, as far as the calendar is concerned, are now seconds, I get to focus on creating new memories and traditions. My friend Sharon provided me with that key insight and it renewed my spirit for the upcoming holidays (which I dreaded last year) and thinking of ways to spend them. The more outrageous the better!

So thrown into the mix for Thanksgiving (which is a 4 day weekend!) and Christmas include...

Another Rogue River Rally
Mazama Mania
Smitten for Smith Rock
Curious for Coastal Cruises
Ping Pong Punishment at the Lodge

What to do, what to do...

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


I'm the first to admit that time spent off the bike means I start obsessing about other things. But my current obsession on Facebook and privacy is definitely warranted... and you should be paranoid too.

Identity theft. Ever heard of it? Ever dealt with it?

The Federal Trade commission estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identity stolen each year. Sure you've probably heard of someone having their social security number lifted and then found out later some impersonator had opened a credit line in their name. Then that person probably bored you with the details of all the hoops and red tape they had to ensue to clear their name.

But what about the current form of identity theft taking social networks by storm?

Did you ever stop to think when you signed up for Facebook or MySpace that you should deselect certain options - like not allowing non-friends to view information about you? Or how about when you download a "fun" application (who doesn't have the food throwing ability on their profile?) that this was allowing third party applications to view ALL of your personal data? Unless you have specifically gone through the myriad of security measures (that are NOT user friendly, by the way) then you are opening yourself up for potential identity theft.

I hope this is common knowledge for most. I hope I'm just preaching to the choir.

But let me back up a bit and put into context my recent paranoia.

A few months ago, I was surfing FB at work. On my home page in the friend suggestion box a name popped up that has ZERO connection to anyone anywhere within my social network. He was someone I only contact in the professional world. I immediately grew suspicious.

A few weeks ago, a friend of mine mentioned that she thought we were friends already on FB and that she keeps getting a friend request from me. I thought nothing of it, and so did she until she kept getting the same request this past week. She forwarded me the profile and this other "Jennifer Triplett" has lifted 7 photos from my profile in attempt to gain access to my friend's profile. She knew it wasn't me when that fake profile only had two friends on it. We both immediately reported the profile.

Then later that very day, I receive an email from "Microsoft" reporting that my email server is changing and it needs me to update some information. I contacted my friend Josh who hosts my site to let him know about the email and he said it looks like fraud.

Three instances that have sent me into a serious paranoia and serious contemplation of shutting down and closing all of my social networks.

I suppose the moral of the story? Keep tabs on all of your stuff. Set your privacy settings to Fort Knox proportions. Don't let it happen to you. And make sure your friends and family are doing the same.

(PS - I get back on the bike next week. :)

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Nationals 2009

And now, the long anticipated race report....

Tela, Wheeler and I flew down on the Saturday before racing started on Wednesday to get some track time before the big day. Even though I have gone to nationals 4 times in LA, the track still freaks me out! I probably averaged at least 25 mph during our first "get calmly used to the track" session. Why, you might ask? At 250 meters and 45 degrees in the banking, you have to maintain a minimum speed of about 17 mph or face the humiliation of sliding down the track. It also helps to have new, gripping tires - wearing the same tires you've raced all season at Marymoor simply won't work. Add that with nervousness of the event and a week of taper - you bet I had the fastest warm up of my life! (And yes, I did spend hours of gluing with Jennie by putting on new tires on all of my race wheels.)

A couple more days of track time definitely calmed my nerves and by Thursday I was ready to go. First up - scratch race heats with the top 10 of each qualifying into the final. Shelley Olds proved the right wheel to be on in the final laps and we easily cruised through for top placements. But as long you achieve a top 10 placement in the heat is insignificant.

Next up - the 3k team pursuit. This is the event we've been focusing on. Unfortunately with Kendi away at Whitman for the past month, Wheeler and I had been doing the efforts minus one person. Once Kendi arrived in LA, we were able to nail down our exchanges in the training sessions a couple days before and went into the race confident and ready to go.

I started, Kendi second and Wheeler third. Call it nerves or something but my start was blistering fast and I looked back to see I had created a small gap. I toned it down to make sure we didn't blow up in the first lap. This is an event where you have to finish with all three women - if you have gaps between you then it makes it that much harder and slower. Toward the end of our go, a little gap started to open between Kendi and Wheeler once I pulled off - so I slipped in between them, giving Wheeler a little more time to rest the finish. We posted a time of 3:54 - a 3rd place podium finish! (First consisted of World Champ Sarah Hammer, National and Pan/Am champ Dotsie Bausch and National Champ and Junior World medalist Kim Geist with a time of 3:34, setting a national record. Second was the Proman squad (Higgins, Olds and King) with a time of 3:41.)

We still had business to do - the scratch race final. I'm not sure what the rules are as far as team tactics in a track race - but if you could have seen the scratch race in person you might have mistaken it for a crit. Proman was countering attack after attack and sitting in the chase group and slowing down any forward progress of catching those off the front. In a well timed attack, Shelley Olds went off the front of the group solo and lapped the field, securing a consecutive scratch race national title. Even the announcer was calling the obvious team tactics and as a rider in the field, it was frustrating. But that's racing and lesson learned - if you can't beat them, keep trying.

On the way back from the track, we gave Bobby Lea a ride back to the Redondo Beach house we were staying at and he offered some amazing advice into track racing. Coming from an Olympian and Scratch race winner that night, I really took to heart what he said. I find myself in complete amazement of being surrounded by such accomplished track stars - I can't think of any group of people who could possibly lend more insight into this sport.

Friday was the individual pursuit. I had a good ride and did a personal best - placing me in 5th! A couple of things to note though - my opening lap is as fast as Sarah Hammer's. I've tried and for some reason can't dial down my opening effort. I have two options - either figure out a way to start slower so I can have a more consistent effort for the entire 3k or build up my capacity so I can maintain the blistering fast pace I start out with. Option B sounds better, what do you think?

After a solid night's rest, it was back to the track for the 50 lap points race heats. The first heat was stacked - with Hammer, Olds, Cliff-VanRyan, Williams, and several others battling it out for the top 10 spots to qualify for the final. Kendi and I were also in heat 1. A decisive mid-race move containing 5 women who lapped the field, left the rest of us to qualify by sprinting for points. With 3 laps to go, I came up to the front of the field alongside Hammer. I could sense her getting ready to take off and as she sped up, I fell in line right behind her. Rounding corner 2 seated right behind Sarah in the last lap was the hardest I think I have ever gone on my bike. The last few laps were definitely a highlight of my season.

The 100 lap points race final was a few hours later and the plan was to watch the main players and wait for the move. With 10 chances to gain points, I sat in for the first couple of sprints and then watched as a perfectly timed attack from Sarah and Shelley went right before my eyes. I was on it - but with the slight hesitation I had, couldn't quite close the bike length gap between myself and Shelley for a decisive move that cost me the podium. I spent 3 laps in la la land - spending a HUGE amount of energy and couldn't quite close the small gap. Sarah and Shelley ended up lapping the field. I drifted back to the field exhausted, deflated and generally bummed out. Negative thoughts started drifting into my head - I was emotionally ready to break. But then I was able to gather myself back up, thanks to Jennie shouting encouragement from the side line, and scored a few more points. I ended up getting 9th. Looking back on it now though - I was so close to the podium that the woulda coulda shoulda's have been played over and over in my head. But at least I went for it.

The final day of racing had a demonstration women Madison. Another 100 laps. Christine and I partnered up for the event and, how do I put this lightly, got creamed. We finished 6th out of 10 teams. Unfortunately we weren't really in the mix with the top 5 teams to contend for any points - so it came down to the final placement on the last lap. It was fun participating in the first event for women at Nationals but my competitive edge has left me hungry and eager for more.

All in all Nationals was very successful on multiple levels. I made the podium in two new events, had several personal bests and learned some tricks to stay calm while inside the 'pressure cooker.' I also had the opportunity to watch my teammates express their abilities on the track and cheer them on. Wheeler's first go at it was amazing - she definitely has a future in this sport. And Jennie's support and coaching was world class - she deserves a National Championship for that in itself.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Thank you...

I am absolutely certain life's trials attributed to my success this year at Nationals. Being able to make the most of your time on this planet - especially when focused on an athletic endeavor makes the time pass quickly and easily. Now that I've had some time to reflect at home, this past year was one of the best performances I've ever had and fuels my fire for the years to come.

Having something to focus on while experiencing a year of firsts since Ryan's death was a God send. It would have been far to easy to slip into grieving unconsciousness, letting the blues consume me. Instead I found the right mental and physical support group that pushed me to new levels and helped me realize that I can do this.

I'd like to personally thank Jennie Reed for being a world class coach, mentor and friend. Her commitment to coaching me was beyond the call of duty and I feel so very blessed to have been coached by her. Not only did she provide kick ass workouts, but she also spent nearly as much time at the track as I did - providing lap times, effort explanations, encouragement and laughter. I learned how to give each effort 100% and go beyond what I thought was possible.

I'd also like to thank my mom- who was flexible with work, life and time throughout my demanding workouts and quick dashes to the track when the weather was dictating what could be done.

And of course all of my friends and family who provided tons of encouragement and cheering while I pedaled several hundred miles in circles.
Wow - what a great past two weeks it's been. Not only was Nationals a highlight of the year - but I also got to top it off by spending a week in the High Sierra's. There's nothing like climbing at 10,000 plus feet to get your mind off things.

Race report to come....

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

The calm before the storm

I'm sitting in the rental house right now in Redondo Beach, throwing distance from the Pacific Ocean. Everyone staying at the house, which appears to be growing by the minute, is gone watching the first day of competition at the track. I opted to chill and enjoy a little beach air and relaxation before being stuck in a fish bowl in Carson. We've put in a couple of efforts at the track the past couple of days and tomorrow will be day one of some serious pedaling. I'm looking forward to it and expressing 110% of my ability. Team Pursuit and scratch races kick off the extravaganza.

More to come...

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Let the Countdown begin...

It seems like during the past week, every minute has been accounted for in the count down to departure for LA. Wheels have been glued, trued, and pumped. Bikes have been polished, tweaked and loved. Skin suits washed and kits selected. Meetings attended, food consumed, rest and recovery put in the utmost priority.

Not to mention all of the prep time that's been put in at the track. The hours of sweat, lung pumping, leg screaming pain is about to be put on display while pedaling circles on an indoor track. No head winds to contend with, no rain clouds to dodge. No 98" gears.

It's all coming to a head starting next Thursday with Team Pursuit kicking off the action. We're ready, that's for sure.

For the first time in awhile - I'm getting nervous. I feel more prepared than ever before and can't wait to see what happens!

And to sweeten the deal? I had a dream encounter with Ryan the other night. He gave me the biggest, warmest smile and I remember thinking what a beautiful man he is.

After Nationals, Chris and I are headed on a road trip - Yosemite bound! A great way to celebrate some down time. Looking at doing Snake Dike on Half Dome....

Monday, September 21, 2009

15 Seconds of Fame

Got a call Saturday morning from Sena, a friend of Jonah and Annie's. Sena's employer is looking for someone with toned, athletic legs to ride a bike and be showcased in some upcoming secretive project. All I had to do is show up for the interview wearing shorts and let them film me. Oh if I get the job it pays $1,000 for one full day.

Sena text me the address and Sunday after our track workout I headed to said address on Capital Hill. The receptionist buzzed me in and then had me fill out a form with basic information but also included agent name, height, weight, bust size, shoe size, etc etc. Oh and I can include a head shot if I brought one.

Head shot?

Um, the last head shot I had was in boxing when some 14 year old kid threw and landed a devastating blow to my nose and ego.

The holding area, where a dozen or so interviewees sat looking the part was interesting. Apparently the company had contacted 3 casting agencies as well as ran an add in Craig List to get more participants. They were flooded. I ended up waiting about 40 minutes while a steady and constant stream of applicants came through. Luckily I had a book and was more than happy to sit on my duff trying to recover from our 2k pursuit efforts.

Finally my time was up to walk downstairs and do the screening. And that's where I ran into Sena, frantically working away on their project. She apologized for the delay and then I sat on a bench while waiting for my 15 seconds of fame.

I got to run in place and have a guy video me from left to right, and then a back profile. Then I ran on a tread mill for 10 seconds. And then they put me on someone's clunky mountain bike attached to a trainer for another 10 seconds. It was weird.

Next time I'm making some stuff up on my fact sheet - such as an agent. I could have put anyone down - so why didn't I get creative? And head shot? Would my face book photo work? Hopefully my legs did the talking and we'll be called back for the second screening....

Friday, September 18, 2009

Heavy Night

Every year the Rock and Reel film selections is shown at the Neptune on 45th. A nice group of climbing friends get together and go to dinner at Cedars before and then walk down to the movie and follow it up with beers at a pub. Ryan used to refer to these films as "rock porn" and anxiously would await their debut.

So last night after dinner, we sat upstairs and I only made it through 1.5 of the first two films. The first was a feature on a soloist who recently completed half dome, a 2,000 foot wall of sheer granite in Yosemite Valley. It is hard to even comprehend the enormity of the wall - unless you see it in person. And this kid decided to do it without a rope. There were some difficult moments in the film and as the audience nervously laughed at some of the jokes about certain death, I couldn't help but wonder if they were laughing for having not experienced losing a loved one. I also thought to myself, okay Jen. This is as in your face about soloing as it's going to get. You can do this. And I stayed in my seat as the credits rolled.

The second film, the one that sent me running out - was a film that hit even closer to home. It was about a couple who were madly in love. The had climbed some of the coolest stuff on the planet. You could see their happiness in every photo you viewed of them. And then one day, while driving down a road in Utah, Stanley lost control of his car and did several flips. Roberta died in his arms. At this point, I'm sitting there pretty numb. But then it starts to talk about his personal journey through the vortex of grief and how he finally felt prepared three years later to travel to Patagonia and scatter her ashes as a means to close the circuit.

And that's when I went numbly into the bathroom and let out loud, long sobs. I live with grief every day. To see it up front and personal and a reminder of the pain? A little to close to home. It really hasn't been that long.

Lincoln and Jonah were there for me when I came out of the bathroom, ready to leave and get out of there. We had only watched 20 minutes of a 3 hour movie. Talk about good friends. And as we sat around the table at the pub, discussing how bizarre it was to see that film and how close to home it was - Ai came strolling in. Turns out she couldn't take it either. After a few minutes of talking about it, we started to gross each other out with rat stories, daddy poop stories (courtesy of Jonah and Lincoln) and travels.

It was a heavy night.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Staying busy

If I sit idle for too long, my brain starts to wander and the ever-present grief starts to wade back up to the surface. I've found the best thing to do is to stay busy. Apparently that need has amplified this week as I find some usually neglected house chores can be checked off my list. I mean seriously - who cleans their gutters BEFORE it starts raining? And getting the hot tub ready for the cold season? Trimming down the ivy hedge and taking out lots of Goodwill items?

I suppose it just goes to show I'm trying to actively deal with the grief then let it settle back in. Those days are unavoidable, to be sure. But I'm trying to save them for when the weather turns crappy.

After the big push for Nationals I'm really looking forward to doing some hikes, climbs and fishing. Fall is such a beautiful time of year to reconnect with family and friends - something I've certainly neglected doing the past several months.

It's also time to start planning some adventures and traveling to places. Anyone got any trip ideas coming up?

Thursday, September 10, 2009

"Last time before Nationals",

Jennie encourages me before my last set of VO2 efforts.

"Last chance to get strong."

And as I rode one of the most solid and consistent over-paced and over-geared efforts, I couldn't agree with her more. I'll try to paint the picture for you.

First you start the first lap from a medium paced roll and sprint up to get on top of the gear for the first lap. The second lap you're supposed to settle into a pace you can sustain for 4 more laps but they way I've been tackling them has been at light speed. That second lap can make or break the entire effort. Too fast and you fade hard in the end. Not fast enough and you try to make up the time in the proceeding laps. But since it's such a short effort (2k) it is critical you nail every aspect of the effort. And doing that at Marymoor can be a crap shoot. Some days are windy, some days are hot or cold and then there's the goose poop to contend with.

But today - well today was shocking. I went into the session calm and relaxed. I dialed in my food today and it showed. My times today were faster than our team pursuit efforts. I bettered my time from last week by over a second per lap.

It's definitely safe to say I'm ready for Nationals. The prep work is nearly complete and in two weeks we head down to LA to win a stars and bars jersey. I'm excited and stoked to express 150% of my ability.

As Jennie would say, "LOOK OUT!"

Tuesday, September 08, 2009

First Year.

Whew. What a weekend.

Through constant thoughts of Ryan, tears shed, laughter shared, food consumed, IPA's tipped - we all survived. Not only did we make it but we did so in style and celebrated the inspiring life of a man who touched so many lives and lives on in the spirit of many, many people. (And dogs too! (That was for Makiah, Riley Jean, Nissa, and Fay-dog.))

The anniversary date of Ryan's death has been looming on my mind for the past several months. As the world kept spinning, I found myself trying to figure out the best and appropriate way to commemorate him. I asked several people - blank looks. I turned to the Internet and surprisingly found little to no information on death ceremonies. Why is death so taboo? Especially in our culture? I mean it happens to everyone - so why don't we deal with it upfront more?

Needless to say, I was on my own.

Trish (Ryan's mom) has been feverishly working on a tribute art show for Bubba. Friday was the opening show at the Blue Horse Gallery. Up until that point I had only seen small thumbprints of the work. And when I walked into the room and my eyes settled on a 48" x 76" piece she did at the base of Goat Wall in such amazing detail and color with such emotion and love I started weeping. Weeping at viewing the pains that she has struggled with the past year since losing her son. Weeping that Molly lost her brother. Weeping that such a beautiful painting could make you almost fall to your knees in astonishment. And that was just the first painting.

As I slowly circled the room, absorbing the enormity of her work while being intercepted by close friends and family, it re-affirmed that all this time I've been struggling, so has she. I feel like words don't do her art show justice. You have to see it in person. You must see it in person. The show will be up until September 25th.

That night we gathered across the street with dear friends and tipped several IPA's back. You could feel Ryan there - in his element around his friends and loved ones. We nearly shut the bar down.

Saturday morning was a little fuzzy so the drive East over Highway 20 was a little rough. Not to mention we had 3 adults in my Golf with way too much gear, food and dog. The plan was to convene with several friends at 20 Skyline in Mazama and hang out. We hung out at Lincoln, Shelley, Jonah and Annie's rental just down the development and simply enjoyed each others company. They had rented the same cabin 2 years prior on the same weekend- and it was the perfect gathering place. Especially considering the cold fall weather encompassing all of the valley.

By Sunday, more and more people had showed up. By Monday morning, Trish, Tom, Dave, Kristin and Heidi showed up. We had 20 or so people in all. Amazing that all these people would take time out of their busy lives to celebrate Ryan. Just shows what kind of guy he was and who he attracted.

Both nights I had trouble sleeping. Grief was ripping through my body. I'd try to sleep and couldn't stop thinking about him. All of the memories I have with him suddenly flooded my brain. It was as though my brain decided to start taking inventory of our life together. I'd wake up in the middle of the night and it took me a couple of hours to fall back asleep. By Monday morning, I was fried. But I was also ready.

Close to 11 am, we all convened at the parking area for Goat Wall and started the strenuous hike up to the base of Prime Rib, the climb Ryan was on. It was hard. Several times I had to stop just to collect myself from sobbing. Everyone took their time getting up to the ledge at the base. Trish and Tom were the last to arrive. Tom read a poem written for Trish that was read at the art show. And then I brought out Ryan's ashes. We passed them around for everyone to get a handful of. To feel him one last time in our hands. And then we released them at the same time.

Although I cried A LOT that day, after ward and during - once I had scattered his ashes at the base of the climb surrounded by our dear friends and family - I felt at peace. I know I still have grief to go through and there will be bumps and setbacks in the road, to make it to the first year mark and have everything come together was perfect. I guess then I realized some things you shouldn't plan for - and that dealing with death is very personal and individual but it certainly helps to share experiences with loved ones. Thank you to each and everyone of you who have helped me in the journey to get to this point - you all mean so much to me.

So if you haven't already - make sure that you drink an IPA soon in honor of Ryan and living life to the fullest. Rest in peace Bubba. I love you.

Friday, September 04, 2009

And when great souls die, after a period peace blooms, slowly and always irregularly.

Our senses, restored, never to be the same whisper to us.

They existed. They existed.

We can be. Be and be better.

For they existed.

- Maya Angelo

Thursday, September 03, 2009

This is just way too funny not to re-post. As seen on the American Alpine Institute Blog. Make sure you watch the videos in order...

Captain Kirk likes to climb mountains.

In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the movie starts with Captain Kirk most of the way up a free solo ascent of El Capitan. Of course, Spock has to mess things up by showing up in his jet boots.

We've posted this clip in the past, but we've never had William Shatner's commentary on the scene before. It's pretty funny. William Shatner is clearly not a climber.

So before we look at Mr. Shatner's comments on climbing, we have the scene from Star Trek V to refresh your memories:

This is the clip where William Shatner explains that mountain climbers like to hug and make love to the mountain:

And this is the remix of the clip fashioned as a musical.


Tuesday, September 01, 2009


We planted two Filbert trees in our front yard several years ago. They were a gift from Tom and Trish - a couple of starters from their beautiful tree. We planted them on either side of the front yard.

A couple of years have passed and one tree is quite large - even producing nuts this year. The other tree is withering and nearly dead. This last year it really took a turn for the worse and I can't help but draw parallels between our two lives.

Tomorrow is our 8th wedding anniversary. This is the song we danced to so blissfully at our larger than expected wedding. And listening to it now rips my heart in half. I didn't think it was possible to miss someone this much.

Every time I listen to it, it transports me into your arms on our wedding day. By your side.

10 pounds for $10 - organic peaches at QFC. They're the size of my head and they're amazing!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Couldn't help but think back to a year ago - this was the last night I spent with Ryan. It makes me sad thinking how a year has gone by without him. His quick wit, funny demeanor, gentle ways and restless personality. Man oh man do I miss him.


Found a breaking point yesterday in training. Which is a good thing to know! We went so hard that I loaded the legs up and couldn't recover fast enough. We were on track for a 3:47 at Marymoor. And then I exploded. Ka-pow!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Do you ever get to your desk at work and feel like your body is exhausted? Your eyes are barely staying open, you're having a hard time waking up. You feel relaxed but each limb feels like it weighs an extra 50 pounds?

Yep, weight training this early morning. Hopefully I can keep my eyes open at work.

Maybe it was the 20 pounds of blueberries and Marionberries that we picked yesterday (a piece!) or maybe it was cooking 3 batches of jam. But I'm pooped!!!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Uh oh...


These fires are getting closer and closer to our cabin in Mazama. We can only hope the wind subsides and things get under control in the Okanogan...



Friday, August 21, 2009

Some times you just need to get away...

After a late night of track racing, Chris and I headed up last Saturday to the Methow Valley for some outdoor adventures. My legs were rocked - and the first day we just hiked up to Blue Lake and check out the scene. I had never been - only up the trail to the climbing area. I don't know why they call it blue lake - it looks aquamarine to me!

Makiah was happy to come along on the first part of our adventure. On Sunday we handed her off to Kyle and Laura for the week while we were hiking the Enchantments.

Since the Blue lake trail is short, we decided to hike up to the Goat Peak Fire Lookout and visit Lightning Bill. He's been stationed at the lookout for the past 10 days and was really looking forward to having a break. For the next three weeks, the Methow is in serious fire danger - especially with thunderstorms and threats of lightning strikes. Local fire crews stomp out any fire whatsoever since the danger is so high for the entire valley to light up. As we chatted with him, his eyes kept moving around the panoramic skyline. He's quite a character and really pleasant to chat with. Turns out he had 34 visitors that day!

We started the descent from the fire lookout just at dusk and the views were stunning. Lightning Bill definitely has one of the coolest jobs out there!

The next day we were fixed upon doing the SW Rib of the South Early Winter Spire. The route serpentine's the southern aspect of the spire and has a nice range of climbing - from cracks, to crimps to massive slab sketchy run outs. Someone got a little spooked on the 5.6+ - I won't mention any names but let's just say I almost feel asleep when the rope didn't move for 20 minutes! Turns out my next door neighbor is a guide and mentioned that pitch spooks her out too! (And threatens to bolt the damn thing!)

And who did we see on the approach and summit? Mr. Bryan Burdo. You can see him just behind my left shoulder - belaying his partner up.

This is a great shot of the spire from the approach/descent trail. You can descend in the gully between the spires or come down the arete, like we did. That night we hustled ass to get back into town before 9 - to no avail. Luckily the brew pub in Twisp still had some tasty soups and salads - even though it was a 30 mile drive from the pass with serious dusk-deer-crossing threats.

On Monday afternoon we met up with Johnny and Chleo in Leavenworth to grab our back country permit for 4 nights in the Enchantments. They stocked up on food while we made some dinner at my friend Karen's house and then around 8pm we started the 5 mile approach to Colchuck lake. Our packs weighed a meager 30 pounds - thanks to Chris's experienced mountaineering tricks. I would find out later what having such a light pack meant.

That night, when we had finally reached the lake with our head lamps guiding us, we hastily pitched our tents and settled down for the night. But about an hour later, huge gusts of winds ripped through the area - making for a short nights sleep. The next morning we made a quick pot of Joe and headed on our way - intermittently stopped by a few rain showers.

The next major hike - up and over Assguard Pass. Also known as Asshard pass. I roared up the trail - passing several descending parties who looked worse for the ware. Two separate parties said they were cutting their stay two days short because the winds and rain were too epic the night before. I can only imagine what it was like at 7,000 feet instead of our 5,000! As I climbed, being careful not to let my heart rate elevate too much - I stopped 3/4 of the way up to wait for Chris, Chleo and Johnny. I waited, and waited. And waited some more. Then I started to worry - thinking maybe they hurt themselves? And I waited some more. Then slowly, they came to my perch where we hung out for a while longer before pushing on.

The scenery at the top of the pass looks like something from another planet. Here you are perched at 7,000 feet or so and surround by huge granite mountains and beautiful snow lakes. It was certainly enchanting!

On we hiked making our way to Inspiration lake where we would set up camp for the next three nights. And back to why our packs were so light - lack of food! For the record - I wasn't absolutely starving - but we definitely were on a calorie deficit. Breakfast consisted of one instant oatmeal packet with protein powder added to the mix and a small handful of dried blueberries. Lunch was a cookie - or two if you were lucky! Yep, that's it! A cookie. Then dinner was dehydrated meals with cashews and olive oil added. That kind of food might sound nasty - but when you're starving yourself, you'll eat anything! And like it!

But with views of Prusik Peak and the surrounding mountains? Who needs food!

The next day we attempted to climb the West Ridge of Prusik Peak. Here's Johnny and Chris scouting the route.

Two pitches up we ran into some serious rain - showering down on us, making us retreat into a make shift cave, 1/2 way up the route. It poured for a good hour or so - wetting the rock and squashing our summit hopes. We arrived back at camp hungry but optimistic to try it again the next day.

Unfortunately the next day, fate would have other plans for Chris and I to make the summit this trip. While hiking up Prusik Pass, I started feeling light headed and sick. Apparently that morning's two cup of coffee wreaked havoc on my stomach and forced us to retreat from the climb. Johnny and Chleo made it up though - and had a great time on the rock!

That day the temps started to dip and the winds picked up. Our kitchen area where we had set up our stove was somewhat sheltered but it was still chilly for August! So Johnny and Chleo invited us into their tent for what turned out to be a heated game of spoons. The eventual winner? Chris aka the Badger Johns - who despite being kneed in the face from Chleo managed to win. Johnny and I sat out as we watched Chris and Chleo duke it out.

Here's Chleo later in the trip showing the Badger her teeth! Hissssss!!!!

Friday morning we woke up to snow. Yep, that white fluffy stuff. Sticking to our tent but not enough to stick to the ground. So what do you do when the weather sucks? You wait it out. And you hope your back doesn't give out on you for being horizontal for so long. And then you contemplate bring the stove inside your tent to cook some food - but just when you think you're going to start acting on that notion - it clears up! We packed up after breakfast and started the 11 mile descent through Snow Creek.

We got back to the car tired and of course hungry. But at that point my stomach had shrunk and I couldn't eat another single cookie! The guys did the car shuttle (we had left Johnny's car at the Colchuck Lake Trailhead) and we parted ways in Icicle Creek. They were headed to a wedding in Yakima and we headed to one in Plain.

A great trip - and a must do on everyone's bucket list. It left me recharged mentally and physically exhausted. I can't wait to go again! And next time, I think I'll be in charge of food. :)

Thursday, August 20, 2009

I just put on some new aero bars on my bike. It took me about an hour to dink around, twist this, adjust that - but I think I got it.

And as I sat on my bike, in what feels like the best aero position I've ever been in, I couldn't help but wish so badly that Ryan was here. I wish he was here to see me give it EVERYTHING I've got. To go for it like I've never done before.

They say sometimes when you feel sad, it's because that persons energy is in the room. I wonder if he's hid my set of keys again?
Sorry about slacking on the trip report... I've been busy and trying to stay off the computer as much as possible since I got back. So far my neglected yard has had some attention, my car got washed, my bike is going to get some attention next - and then I'm onto planning more getaways.

I will say this though - my pursuit practice has been coming along very well. What we thought would be pacing for a 4:00 at Marymoor is now down around 3:50... 3 seconds shy of the track record. I suppose the altitude training did my body good - and so did losing a few pounds from basically not eating. But that's a whole story in itself and I hope to be able to share it soon...

Hope you're out enjoying the summer days.

And one more mention - one year is coming up quick. If you didn't catch my post before - Trish (ryan's mom) is having a tribute show to Ryan at the Blue Horse Gallery in Bellingham September 4 from 6-10pm. It should be an awesome tribute to Ryan - please come if you're available!

Monday, August 17, 2009

You know it's funny - we even saw that same goat this past week in that exact same location. What an amazing experience. I'm already planning my next adventure - this time to Patagonia!

Once I download some photos I do a trip report. For now, it's back to the bike!

Thursday, August 06, 2009

Stolen from Seth's trip to the Enchantments in June. Looking forward to getting closer to the goats myself!

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

This weekend I'm headed to Mazama to check in at the cabin and then on Monday, Chris, Johnny, Chloe and I are headed up into the Enchantments for a week long trip of exploring the North Cascades. Should be amazing! Can't wait to snap photos and document our adventures....

Tuesday, August 04, 2009

A year ago...

As I sit at my desk and spend time surfing the blogs I enjoy reading, listening to the mellow tunes of Cold Play, I can't help but reminisce. A year ago - with all of the planets aligning - oblivious to outside forces about to rock my world. Life was so easy. I was growing older with my soul mate - encouraging one another to pursue life to the fullest.

Looking back to a post from a year ago...
"Monday, August 04, 2008

So you want to be a mountaineer? Yowsa.

Ryan and his friend Fitz attempted to climb "Vanishing Point" a 1,500 rock race that climbs up Mount Barring in the Index area. They obtained beta from Brian Burdo, a Northwest local who has put up hundreds of climbing routes throughout the North Cascades. There's two ways to climb it - one by hiking to the base of the mountain and the other by hiking up the back side of the mountain and then repelling down, only to climb back up.

They left Seattle Saturday morning and Ryan told me if I didn't hear from him by 2am on Sunday night then to call mountain rescue. (Standard issue for when goes out to climb big walls - but still scary nonetheless.)

So onward they pushed- 4 hours up the back side of the mountain - only to be enveloped in misty clouds - proving for poor visibility and no way to see the climb. He said the route was marked by lots of fluorescent ties from base jumpers who make the venture up - and then jump. They carefully climbed up to the edge of the rock, looking down to where they would have climbed had the weather cooperated. But when the sun didn't come out until 11 am on Sunday - their summit hopes were squashed. It took them just as long to descend the steep trail as it did to climb up it - and now they are both hungry to go back and conquer "Vanishing Point." Pictures to follow... "

Was he trying to tell me something then by mentioning Mountain Rescue?

I got a call later that Sunday from Ryan saying they had backed down and wanted to meet for sushi. I was so relieved. If that's not a warning sign, I don't know what is.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

For some reason all I can think about today is that one day I woke up in January to snow on the ground and had the walk into the gym. I suppose you could say we paid our dues. Now it's nearing 100 degrees and supposed to stay there a few days in a row. I've got a paddle board reserved for mid-day and am smoking the 15.5 pound salmon I caught in the sound the other night. Life is good....

But in the midst of our heat wave - I am hoping and praying our forests don't explode into an epic fire. Lightening strikes have started several fires in the Baker/Snoqualmie forests.... check out this link for aerial photos on the area in question.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

It's 67 degrees in my basement and I'm loving it. Time to work on the office for a change...

Mind over matter

It's interesting how sometimes you can learn and relearn the same lessons time and time again and sometimes in the matter of days.

My last post I mentioned being able to shut out a cracked fork and then come back and place 2nd in the miss and out. Well this year - things didn't go according to plan either. I lined up in a large field of women for the miss and out - typically my favorite race. This year the field would be whittled down to 5 ladies before one neutral lap and then a sprint to the finish. I circulated myself to the front and then got circulated back - a normal position to be in. But then with 20 people left, I got pulled! I had a sinking feeling when I knew I had crossed the line that it might be all she wrote... and into the infield I went. A little upset but also reminded that I shouldn't have been where I was and that you have to always think about position until it becomes second nature.

The great thing about track racing? You get another opportunity to race. Mastering the ability to brush things off is essential.

Up next - a 8x5 points race. Since I qualified for nationals earlier in the day in the pursuit (getting beat by Shelley Olds by .7 seconds! With NO pursuit training!), the pressure was off and I could go for it in the points race. And go for it I did! The pace was super high - the race was super aggressive and I had this monster sprint that shocked even me! At one point I was tied with Shelley for 2nd place - and unfortunately had poor positioning for the last two sprints. If I had just shadowed their wheels during the race, I may have been able to out sprint her and place 2nd instead of 3rd. All in all it was an amazing race - one of my top 3 all time races.

As I pulled over afterward on the back straight to get a congratulatory hug from Jennie, we realized that instead of being in a 51x15 I had on a 51x14! HOLY SHIT. A 98"? Seriously? Talk about mind over matter. At the time I thought nothing of it - just that I had more gear to sprint on. But thinking back - that's why the miss and out was so lame. I couldn't accelerate fast enough! I nearly fell over laughing. 98". Wow. That's a new record. And just goes to illustrate how much track racing is mind over matter.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Whoa, 2008 was f*&^ed up!

So today I was recalling what happened last year at FSA and realized things didn't go so smoothly. During the team pursuit, our team caught and tried to pass another team on the track and they did an exchange just as we tried coming around them after yelling at them to stick. Not a big deal except it was our last lap and it caused big confusion for all of us and I gaped off the other two riders for the finish and they rolled in a couple of seconds behind..... if it wasn't an event I feel passionate about I wouldn't have cared. But since we were going against some top talent and I wanted to see how we would stack up - I was a little upset.

No big deal, shrug it off, right? It's just a silly bike race.

Then as I was changing my bars, I had a friend help me put them on. I struggle with putting the bars back on the right way - so as I watched him crank the stem clamp onto the fork and then crack the fork - I panicked. I may not have shown it on the outside, but on the inside I was screaming! It's just a bike race, just a bike race. I proceeded to race the Miss and Out on a cracked fork regardless and got 2nd.

It just goes to show that sometimes don't go as planned. And sure it would be easy to play the victim and get down, letting those hick ups disrupt your concentration and efforts. But shit happens in this world far too much and if you can't laugh at the stupid things then you'd be stressed out all the time.

So I hope and pray that I ironed out all the kinks before the competition tomorrow. But if not - then oh well! You've got to be able to roll with the punches and have faith that some day the planets will align and everything will be okay.

If you're looking for something to do this weekend - come check out the races at Marymoor both Friday and Saturday nights. The pony show starts at 7.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Upcoming show September 4, 2009

Larch, 4′x6′ oil by Trish Harding

more www.bluehorsegallery.com

I want to thank my “friends in painting” for all the support that you have given me since Sept 7th 2008; the day my world came to a halt and I was cast into a strange and different one. My saddness has been lessened by all of your incredible concern and kindness. Thank you, I mean that with all of my heart.

As some of you know, I am working on an extremely important show (for me) that is called Altitude which will appropriately open in September at the Blue Horse Gallery. Appropriate because Ryan’s accident was in September 2008.

This show has been very difficult to work on for a couple of reasons. For one it was really hard to see. Since I wear glasses, whenever I would be overcome with grief while painting, my glasses would get tears all over them and I would have to take them off, clean them, wipe my eyes, blink alot and try to focus my eyes again before I could but the darn glasses back on and get back to work. Wearing glasses, you see, has become more of an inconvienience than I ever thought possible. Second, it has been an intellectual struggle of mammoth proportions to try to understand why I was allowed such a short time with my son. Is it because he was an old soul, a brilliant star or was it just the way it is? It has been an emotional yet cathartic experience trying to learn, through it all to revere Ryan’s world. It has, on the other hand, been cathartic because I think that I have come close to understanding how he felt sitting way up there after the climb…incredible! And I am happy that he got to feel this, something that many people never experience in their lifetime!

Come with me to Mazama, Washington! Come with me on this visual trip and see the places that Ryan loved! I not only want to share it with you but I want you to experience, just one more time, the spirit of our beautiful son, Ryan, the only way I know how to express it as I come to some sort of closure and I move on with my life without him.

My promise to you is that it will be a celebration and not a sad affair! Eventhough I feel life has cheated me somehow, I still hold on to how lucky I am to have had him as long as I did. I truly believe that he is a star in my night sky.

I now focus on the great luck that I continue to have. The brilliance that flashes at me when I look into our daughter Molly’s eyes. How very much she means to me and what a miracle that she is. And our daughter-in-law, Jennifer. I believe that Jennifer was the missing piece to the complex puzzle that was Ryan. She made him complete before he had to leave. How lucky was he?

Now, as I take off these darn glasses again and wipe my eyes I am posting my artist statement and remember, “you are expected”.

Altitude is a show that is inspired by a road trip to Mazama in the Fall of 2008 as we drove from Bellingham which is sea level and traveled steadily up and over highway 20 to end up at over 6000 feet at Hart’s Pass, literally, sittin’ on top o’ the world!

Through the use of light and value my aim was to capture the feeling of an other-worldliness that sitting on a mountaintop brings. I carefully constructed the compositions to give a sensation of vertigo that I experience when I am at high altitudes. I used circular under-paintings that would influence the direction of bold, colorful brush strokes to create a feeling of motion, completeness and connection, all adjectives, which have often been used to describe our son, Ryan.

With these paintings I am taking the viewer on that road trip with me during a magic autumn day of excited anticipation to see Ryan & Jenny’s new cabin at the base of Goat Mountain and to experience with me the feeling that I had that day which was…”The world around me is incredible and my children are amazing. My husband is by my side and I do not require one more single thing or circumstance that will make me any happier or more fulfilled than I am right now!”

That feeling was to change. By the next autumn we were traveling to Mazama again but this time heading East on Highway 90 and for a very somber reason. The second part of the show depicts the emotional journey back from retrieving our beloved Ryan’s ashes.

I am convinced that Ryan’s belief that he was and remains a critical piece in the larger scheme of Mother Nature is what enabled him to experience life with no fear and no greed. But the feeling that he experienced when he had climbed to the top of a 1500-foot face of granite under his own physical prowess was the ultimate.

The artistic journey that I have taken to put this show together was extremely difficult and cathartic at the same time. I now revere the places that Ryan loved, I understand that risk was a huge component of Ryan’s rock climbing experience and this risk was indeed the biggest component of Ryan’s prelude to the mystery!

More about Ryan

Our beloved Ryan Alan Murray Triplett was born in Bellingham, Washington on June 5, 1977. He died September 7, 2008 on Goat Mountain, near Mazama, Washington long before we were ready to let him go. Ryan was an accomplished athlete in hockey, canoeing, backcountry & downhill skiing, and is well respected in the cycling and rock climbing communities. He was a hard-working software developer with many ideas for the future, but his true passions were his wife and rock climbing. He was an adventuresome soul devoted to his beloved Jennifer, with whom he shared the fairy-tale love. Ryan had many passions: friends, traveling, family, his wonder-dog Makiah, and the outdoors. Ryan could often be found on Turn 2 at the Marymoor Velodrome cheering on Jennifer, a national track champion. Ryan and Jennifer met as college students at Western Washington University, where he graduated in 2001; the couple was married in Bellingham on September 2, 2001.

Ryan is survived by his loving wife, Jennifer Ann Sutton Triplett and dog Makiah Blue Triplett; mother & stepfather Trish and Tom Harding of Bellingham; sister Molly Harding of Bellingham; sister and brothers Tammy, Garrett and Wyatt Harding of California; father and stepmother Gary and Anita Triplett of California; grandmother, Annamae Murray and aunts Donna Erickson and Judy Walston of Bellingham; aunt Barbara Chevalier of Arizona; uncles Bill Murray of Bellingham and Darrell, Wayne and Jim Triplett; several cousins; in-laws Caprice Magoon, and George, Jaimie, Coleman and Laurel Sutton; Marcy Sutton; and friends too numerous to mention.

Ryan died pursuing his passion for rocks and heights in Mazama, Washington, a special place for him. We shall all miss him, but he will live on in the hearts of all those he touched and we will always remember his words, “Live Your Passion”.

For more information go to http://www.supertopo.com/climbing/thread.html?topic_id=672814

More info about Ryan: Rock and Ice, issue 179 / July 2009, Cliff Notes

Monday, July 20, 2009

Alpenrose is like an ancient wooden roller coaster. Sure there are newer, safer models out there but it's still fun as hell and contending with the G-forces in the corners puts a smile on your face afterward. Maybe it's the feeling of skating fate from the rough corner transitions or the bumpy track - or maybe it's because you're surrounded by people who love this sport equally as much - but regardless come Monday morning after the AVC, nothing can move me from the couch and put me back on the bike.

We, being Tela, Kendi, Christine and I had a very successful weekend. Each of us brought home a little cash and had a great time. Highlights include winning the women madison (with Christine!), Kendi winning the points race, me third and Christine 4th, Tela and I getting 2nd in the team sprint, Tela placing 3rd in the sprints, 6th in the Kierin, having Jennie Reed around to tell me to attack in the scratch race and nearly holding off the hard charging field for the win and 3rd in the Miss and Out.

And of course reconnecting with friends you haven't seen since the previous year and creating new memories is always a blast. Seeing some track records get broken and watch everyone's hard work and dedication pay off. I can't wait for the event again next year!