Thursday, December 29, 2011

The throb routine.

The throb is back. That steady, dull leg ache that remains throughout the day and into the night. Once I lay down to go to bed, they really start barking at me and it puts a smile on my face. Why a smile instead of a grimace? Because I know that the throb means I did my work for the day. I battled the inner demons, put on the spandex and got out for a ride.  Three and a half hours later, lunch and then into the gym for some lifting and dinner - and I was out cold by 8:30. I tried to watch Lost, I really tried. But my eyes were just too heavy and the couch was just too comfy...


Admittedly, it is hard to get back out there. It's hard to get back into the routine of riding when it's cold and windy. It's hard to get back in the swing of things after moving, the holidays, the steady interruptions. And it's hard to get back after such a relaxing Christmas. Benjamin and I headed up to Beaver Creek and although they only have a 18" snow base, we skied as many turns as possible in a short amount of time. We also spent a lot of time on the couch playing Mario Kart Wii. Somebody was a good girl this Christmas and got a video game or two. Yes, we are big kids.

It was almost 60 degrees outside today. Perfect riding weather. Except the mountain bike trails were filled with snow slog slush. The kind that requires big power output, determination, balance and down right grit. Sometimes I'd bog down, make a bbbbbbaaaaaaapppppp, bbbbbaaaaaapppppp, bbbbbbbbbbaaaaaaaaaapppppppp noise and power through. Other times I'd dab the foot down in 8" of snow that left my feet cold and wet by the end of the ride. Was it worth it? Absolutely. For the throb is back, again.

Time to fall asleep to another episode of Lost...

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Pikes Peak

It's been snowing off and on all day today, a perfect way to bring in the winter solstice. I love how the snow blankets everything in a quiet stillness. As we start to get to know this house, its 106 years of character and charm, we notice how quiet it is. There's no freeway noise from highway 24, like on Lovers Lane. It stands strong and sturdy, not built on stilts like the old house. No rascals breaking an entry into the pantry (yet!). It is so incredibly warm - so inviting. We even caught Moonli howling in his sleep last night while eating dinner. And Makiah is using the dog door! Just goes to show you can teach an old dog new tricks.



I'm sitting in my new periwinkle office with boxes everywhere and a faint smell of baby diapers. The previous owners bought this house 10 years ago and completely rennovated it and remodeled the kitchen. Then they had 4 children. The dragonflies on the walls means those little ones slept in this room - and it's no wonder the room has such good energy.

On a clear day and in the winter, you can see the surrounding mountains when you look out the window to the South. Yep, it's still snowing.

Our new kitchen is nothing short of amazing. The only hick up is that my big plates won't fit in the dishwasher. That's it though! It is a dream. Last night we toasted our first meal and know this home will bring years and years of happiness. 



I have so much to be thankful for right now. This is a winter solstice I will never forget.


Monday, December 19, 2011

Updates coming soon, I promise!

Just put the keys to the new house on my key chain this morning!

Benjamin and I start moving tomorrow and are super duper excited but also swamped, leaving zero time for blog updates. But they are coming, I promise! Along with photos.

If you would have told me a year ago I'd be moving from Lovers Lane to Old Colorado City I would have thought you were insane. Yet it's really happening. Wow.

So much to celebrate! Winter solstice, 30 years of debt, amazing new neighborhood, a kitchen that puts my old one in Seattle to shame, 2012 just around the corner, a happy home - yeah, I'm pretty lucky.

Monday, December 12, 2011

Life is long.

Group rides rule.

As a true Seattle native, I never understood what the hype was all about. For the past seven years, my weekend group ride existence was composed entirely of team rides. We'd meet at said designated point donned with buddy fenders (to keep the rain spray at a minimum) and do the same routes week in, week out. Occasionally we might have a guest rider join us, but only after the group was first asked if so and so could join.

You'd pass other team rides out on the road, all in matching kits. Not once do I recall a giant group of people with various kits riding together, especially around the south end of Lake Washington. Oh wait, yes I do! The Seattle to Portland ride and the Chilly Hilly. Apparently cross contaminating kits may result in labeling riders as clubers, not racers. And there will be none of that.

The only ride close to a group ride that goes on in the rest of the country is David Richter's Rocket ride. But even still, if the weather is that crappy out the ride is canceled and the battle of who can hang on the longest resumes the next weekend. And seeing someone show up to the Rocket Ride in a non-recognizable team kit means only one thing: stir clear of the Fred.

I had to move half way across the country to really understand why group rides rule.

Don't get me wrong, I love riding with teammates. But we know each others strengths and weaknesses a little too well. You can't exactly apply team tactics to your own team. You can't test your strengths against other competitors and judge fitness levels. Sure you bond with your teammates and I absolutely believe in team rides but group rides are different. They are open to everyone. They add a couple layers of mystery to the ride. Similar to racing, you need to be able to figure out on a whim who is riding strong right now, whose wheel to be on, who is a dark horse that will pull you up to the break.

Group rides provide not only a killer workout sprinting for the top of hills, street signs and other random macho marks through out the ride, but you also gain a sense of camaraderie of belonging to a pack. You latch onto a group of people who like you are out to get a good workout equipped with spandex, power bars, sheer grit and two wheels. The fact that you go beyond your normal comfort zone and into the red multiple times is without a doubt. You suffer, you breath hard, you occasionally win a sprint, you go cross eyed. And yes, often times the pros come out to play.

Here in the Springs there are two options for group rides, one on Saturday and one on Sunday. They both leave at 10am from the Starbucks on the corner of Tejon and Bijou and are open to anyone who shows up. The difference between the two rides is simple: flat vs. hilly. Saturday's ride goes into Kansas. (You know - the Kansas that runs directly east of the front range?) The relatively flat, slightly rolling terrain and wind provide their own set of challenges. Sunday's ride does a loop through the Air Force Academy and then through the west hills of the front range.

This week was my first time making the Sunday ride and it provided everything I needed: lung bleeding, foaming mouth, determination check, sprint points, etc. Except today I got an extra bonus: I received affirmation that what I'm doing is right on.

On the return trip from the Academy, I rode next to Todd. Unassuming as Todd was in his black tights, wind jacket, steel frame and larger than average cyclist body type, his handling was pretty remarkable. I could tell he had been riding a while. Turns out he was a racer in the 70's and 80's. He followed his heart which was set on riding in the outdoors, not with his nose stuck in law books at Stanford. He quit law school to race his bike. I liked him immediately.

"Life is too short!"

"On the contrary, at 22 I thought quite the opposite. Life is too long! I want to be doing something I love because I have a really long life to live. Call me a forever optimist but that's the world as I see it."

Todd had a great perspective. It was refreshing and inspiring. And it proved to me two things: one, group rides rule. And two, life is long. If you're not following your heart and doing the things you enjoy then it's time to start. Quit your law school and race a bike. Follow your dreams and push your limits. And make sure what ever it is that you're doing puts a big fat grin on your face and make those smile lines permanent.


Thursday, December 08, 2011

Sometimes feeling blue is okay.

Today was a cold, blue day. I didn't wake up that way, in fact, far from it. But as I got out on my mountain bike and soared through the cold, crisp air, I could feel the blues arriving. Trying to prevent them from settling on my consciousness, I rode and rode. Up and up I went, through cold canyons and icy deserted trails. Slipping here and there in deep sand, breathing heavy and trying to ride away from them.

But the harder I rode, the deeper the blues sank. Every song I listened to ushered in memories.

Some days it's best to let those feelings fly. It's best to let them come in waves. It's best not to deny them and just to acknowledge them, to feel them. To let them come and then go. And if they decide to stay for a little while, invite them in, find out what they want and then ask them to leave.

I came across this old post from another online journal and thought I'd share it. It definitely goes along with the blues....

I will say that after some time has passed, and several moons have circumnavigated the earth, you start to forget that you are swimming. Or at least you start to take treading water for granted.

The frequency of the sobbing subsides, your emotions become more even and steady and time starts to heal your open wound a little bit more.

And just when you think, hey, I’ve got the hang of this – something will whisk you back. I know that drudging up my journals, going back through them and putting those feelings up is a sure fire way to wade through that sorrow again. But I’m also doing it as a way to accept they happened. That I’m recognizing the strength I’ve gained from going through them and that rather then ignoring them or filing them away, I’m putting them out there to chalk up to experience. 

Sometimes feeling blue is okay.


Sunday, December 04, 2011

All is right in the world.

Today was incredible. I mean seriously. I got 8 hours of solid sleep last night. I woke up for an hour, read my book and then fell asleep for another 2 hours. Then I got to go mountain biking instead of riding the trainer for three hours. Shawnee and Joey were game to join me despite the 20 degree high forecast. We avoided any snow showers or crazy blowing wind and I got home just before the snow did hit.

Then I went back to their house for some chicken, lime and tortilla soup followed by tree decorating with their two year old, Eve. And I am happy to report I am in Eve's inner circle. How do I know? She called for me from the toilet to help her. I am so in.

Wait, wait. It gets better! (How can it possibly, right?)

I stopped by King Soopers on the way home to buy some mint M&M's only to discover Cadbury has a Christmas version of their Easter milk chocolate mini-eggs. Do you know what this means? I don't have to wait till Easter to eat my favorite candy in the whole wide world!!!!

I scored a 111 point word on Words with Friends! Somebody stop me!!!

My friend Laura sent me a picture of my old VW bus, Maggie decorated for the holidays. I heart Maggie.

AND THEN! I read a post on Facebook tonight that my friends Ben and Danielle were reunited with their dog Pepe, who has been missing since July! Truly a miracle. Check out my profile page for the remarkable full story in Danielle's words.

And the real topper? The icing on the cake?!?! The cherry topper on my ice cream sundae?!?!?!?!? Benjamin gets home tonight after being gone for three weeks!

I just hope I'm not all cracked out on chocolate mini-eggs when his flight gets in. ;)

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Snow cooler anyone?





It's snowing!!! And not just a little, a lot! I was trying to think of what people do with snow if they don't ski and came across this photo.

Ingenious.

Friday, December 02, 2011

The Art of Happiness

1. Live your passion. 2. Dare to dream. 3. Write your dreams down and post them somewhere you can see it everyday. 4. Tell your dreams to a friend. 5. Surround yourself with positive people. 6. Get outside. 7. Listen to what others have to say. 8. Send letters to your grandparents. 9. Tell your parents you love them. 10. Eat whole foods. 11. Climb a mountain. 12. Ski downhill. 13. Challenge yourself by trying something new. 14. Go somewhere new on vacation. 15. Watch Muppet movies. 16. Have potlucks with friends. 17. Ride bikes. 18. Laugh often, especially at yourself. 19. Do something adventurous every week. 20. Bake cookies. 21. Play ping pong. 22. Read books. 23. Cook! 24. Play with dogs. 25. Be creative. 26. Be scientific. 27. Drink water. 28. Sleep well. 29. Go see plays. 30. Eat desert first. 31. Brush your teeth. 32. Go skinny dipping. 33. Giggle. 34. Get into flow. 35. Forgive quickly and often. 36. Become an expert. 37. Go to Hawaii and stick your toes in the sand and swim in the Pacific Ocean. 38. Love fearlessly. 39. Send friends birthday cards. 40.  Be kind. 41. Open doors for others. 42. Smile. 43. Let those in your life know how much you love them. 44. Suck on chocolate. 45. Listen to jazz. 46. Share your story. 47. Exercise frequently. 48. Live life to the fullest. 49. Be optimistic. 50. Express gratitude. 51. Smile at strangers. 52. Ride your bike! 53. Listen to music and sing out loud. 54. Walk or run or ride in the rain. 55. Give and share. 56. read JT's Blog! 57. Color "out side" of the lines or doodle. 58. Just say "doodle" repeatedly. 59.
Watch birds. 60. Read a frivolous book under a tree with a drink that contains an umbrella. 61. Share your "signature dance" move as frequently as possible.

What would you add?

Thursday, December 01, 2011

Todays motivation courtesy of that white fluffy stuff falling from the sky.

It started slowly at first. A few flakes here, a few flakes there.

As they start to come down with regular frequency, I snuggled deeper into bed, pulling the blanket up to my chin. My hand would creep out from this warm cocoon to turn the page every 60 seconds or so.

Makiah heard me rustle, attempted to get me out of bed to feed her. This is our morning ritual. She starts pawing the side of the bed at 6am, like a child crying in the morning for comfort. Thankfully she’s a dog and sort of listens when I tell her to go lie down. I turn on my iPad and start reading – blog posts, random entries from strangers and friends, morning news. When I tire of short entries, I turn on my kindle and start turning pages. Every half hour Makiah gets up and scratches at the side of the bed, ever hopeful that I’ll get up right then and feed her.

But not this morning. Like the snow, I’m starting slowly at first.

For with the snow comes riding the trainer. And today’s scheduled 3 hour can be put off until I’m good and ready. More like good and motivated. Trainer rides. A sure sign winter is here. A true test of dedication, determination and stamina. I used to be able to count on two hands the number of trainer rides I did in Seattle in the past 7 years. Regardless of how wet or cold it was outside, I’d always gear up. I’d always brave the inclement weather, always be the lone wolf out hunting watts and heart rate zones. Unless of course it was icy.

Since I prefer keeping my fingers and toes, I happily opt to ride the trainer, despite its boring nature. Three hour endurance rides. Those are barely fun when you have to do them outside, let alone perched in one spot, strapped down to a torture device. But my affliction is slightly different this year – Benjamin set up a Tacx system for me. Similar to a CompuTrainer, it simulates real riding. I’ve already logged time on the Amstel Gold race course, San Sebastian and Milan-San Remo. And it makes 3 hours of endurance riding possible. Dare I say I’m starting to enjoy them?

The snow is starting to fall faster, whitening out views of Pikes Peak and Red Mountain. I make a mental note to make some butternut squash soup. Maybe I should go grab some boxes out of storage to start packing. Maybe I’ll have my biggest day of writing yet – nailing down three chapters in one day. How many chores can I do before I succumb to my inevitable three hour crucifixion?

And then I pull out a mantra from memory: A champion is made a day at a time.

7 Foods So Unsafe Even Farmers Won't Eat Them - Planet Green

7 Foods So Unsafe Even Farmers Won't Eat Them - Planet Green

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Dare to dream.

As I age, my purpose on this planet becomes more and more clear. As I discover who I really am, what makes me happy, what I love to do, what I feel passionate about, what makes me tick - I start to realize those dreams I had as a little kid are coming true.

It can be hard to admit what those dreams are.

(Cue Monster music....) What if someone thinks they're silly? Who cares! What if I can't make them come true? Won't you always wonder if you don't at least try? Am I afraid of failure or success for that matter? Wouldn't you rather risk happiness then be stuck unhappy for the rest of your life?



I'm about to do something crazy. 

I'm going to share with all of you my childhood dreams.

Drum roll, please........

I dream of being a professional athlete.
I dream of being a motivational speaker.
I dream of being a writer.
I dream of helping others admit their dreams and go for them with gusto.

There. I said it.

If you don't admit your dreams, if you don't take a risk and go for it - then you'll never know if they can become a reality. So, what are your dreams?

Monday, November 28, 2011

Tsunami Flash Flood.

I couldn't walk down the street fast enough. Tears were coming, and they were building quickly. I didn't want to run into anyone, didn't want anyone to see me. I tried thinking of things that would make me immediately happy - riding, sunshine, Colorado.... anything to not feel the depths of grief coming at me in tsunami proportions.

But they still hit.

I haven't been in my old house in three months. Not since I packed up the uHaul and headed east. I thought I had said goodbye to my old attachments. Thought that the furniture I left in the house wouldn't weigh me down. Thought that having my sister live there with her things inside the house would make everything okay. Thought that dealing with Ryan's clothing in August and separating myself from constant daily reminders would make things easier.

But it didn't.

I walked right into this one. On a whim last night a friend mentioned she's building a massive climbing wall for her husband and children to enjoy. Thinking of the thousands of holds that fill my basement where Ryan poured hours of blood sweet and tears into his passion, I wanted someone else to use what he had left behind. She showed up this morning and as we took down two dozen jugs and wooden holds, my protective wall started coming down.

I've dealt with a lot of shit since he passed. A lot of shit. But that doesn't mean that you're over dealing with stuff. It doesn't mean that feelings and emotions won't resurface. It doesn't mean that your immune to tears, immune to feeling loss. It is always there. It just visits with less frequency.

After she left, I couldn't get out of the house fast enough. I know I'll need to come back. I know I need to deal with what remnants I left behind. I know that if I really want to close that chapter in my life, then I'll need to get rid of as much as possible. And it's not going to be easy.

Sigh.

And to think, this morning as I was driving back to my mom's from the gym I felt so incredible. So happy that I did the right thing by moving. So excited about what's to come and the possibilities that lie before me. And I still am - I just got sucked into a flash flood of emotions.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Boo!

I spun down Gap Road,  heading south on wet pavement. The horses and cows  sometimes jump in fright as the sounds of my bike were carried down wind. I assume that not many cyclist roam these parts, or at least not lately. I play a game with each one, hoping I'd spook them and then regret that I had, pedaling toward the next innocent bystander. One time I scared a flock of 50 sheep and watched as they moved like the wind away from me. When I ran out of livestock, I started counting electrical poles. I neglected to bring music today and found my mind wandering.

Winter  is well on her way, despite some trees having most of their leaves still attached and just now starting to change colors. Oregon sure is green. And wet. It's been a while since I've brought a bike down to these parts and roaming the quiet country roads is the therapy I was hoping for.

Three plus hour rides whirl by and not a single route repeated and only a handful of trucks zooming by. I roll through the hills and bank right, heading toward the wide open and often windy Willamette valley. These were my stomping grounds as a kid. Except my road rides were from our house in south Eugene to the river and back. A far cry from the open country roads I play on today. The land is so fertile here. It is no wonder my brother calls it home, its natural beauty easy on the eyes and sweet on the soul.

I look down valley toward Eugene and see Spencer Butte, the biggest mountain we had around growing up. Its summit is probably 700 feet. I smile, knowing I require bigger mountains and now I have them. In fact, my new Spencer Butte has been super sized with Pikes Peak measuring in around 14,400 feet. I also realize this mountain fixation has been with me since I was a child.

Today we head back up to Seattle, where i'll spend my last couple of days here hanging with friends and figuring out what loose ends to attack on another trip. My sister loves living in my old house and I am happy for her. But it's time for me to deal with things since I left in such haste, such a whirlwind of packing and sorting. It was so worth it. I love where I call home now and I love who I can call home with.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Family.

We walked into a spotless house. George and Jaimie had put everything away, vacuumed, and thought of every detail - not a small task with two kids and an army of toys. I have a hard time keeping my own house clean when it's just me so I can only imagine what it is like for them. Even with toys scattered about and things out of place, their house is so welcoming, so warm. I love it. I love them. Family.

My sister and I made the five hour car trek south early this morning from Seattle to Brownsville, Oregon. A stop here and there, three naps later and only one ten mile stretch of bumper to bumper traffic in the pouring rain saw us entering Linn County, the grass seed capital of the world.

Oh, Brownsville. A town of 1,500, where the movie, "Stand By Me" was filmed and where the town mayor was once arrested for her husband growing pot, employing the local high school students to distribute and within 1/4 mile of school grounds. Dave Letterman caught wind of that story, aired it on national television and this sleepy little town added a little more to its claim to fame. My big brother was one of the arresting officers and has his own stories to share.

But normally it's so quiet here you can hear the crickets chirp and count a sky full of billions of stars.

Tonight I sleep in Coleman's room, with a ceiling decorated with model airplanes and gadgets and gizmos covering the floor. He's nine now and growing so fast, as kids always do. We giggle and laugh as I tell him stories about bears and raccoons in Colorado and his eyes widen and a smirk spreads from check to check when I tell him my only weapon to fight them off is a plunger.

"Oh, Jenny!"

It's good to be here. There's so much to be thankful for. I'm savoring each moment, each story shared and getting soaked in the rain. I knew a month of no rain would eventually catch up...

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Bona fide bad ass.

I reconnected with a friend from another lifetime last night. A world filled with jabs and upper cuts, of pink gloves and sparring matches. Fancy footwork, jumping rope, and exhaling with each punch. Two minute rounds and broken noses. Titles, national championships, world's.

It was so good to see her. We talked non-stop for three hours. Ten years of catching up.

Oh boxing, my first serious athlete pursuit. I miss parts of it, that goes without question. I don't miss the head trauma and injuries. But being that kind of all body fit definitely has its allure. And a lot of the mental fortitude crosses over into competitive cycling.

Ten years.

My head is still spinning from all of the stories we shared. Of all the things we've experienced that shape us into the strong women we are today. She's still heavily involved in the boxing scene. In fact, getting female boxers into the 2012 Olympics is in large part due to her unrelenting efforts. Talk about a bad ass.

The night flew by.

She moved to the Springs at the end of August and I am stoked to have an old friend in the area. Someone who shares an old love and understands the boxing world. Think track cycling is a small niche? Try women's boxing.

And yes, I'm grabbing my wraps and gloves when I come home this week for Thanksgiving....

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Monsters

They lie hidden beneath the bed.
They lurk behind a closed cabinet, waiting.
They spring up on you when you least expect it and grab hold so tight it feels like they may never release their grip.

We all have them. The little monsters of self doubt. The demons of self destruction. The wizards that freeze you to inaction.

Why do they hold such power over us?

And why is it the closer you get to a goal, especially big ones, the monsters rear up louder than before? Testing your strength and will to accomplish what you set out to do. Do you listen to them? Do you heed what they say? Or do you take what they say and make it work for you? Do you go somewhere that summons more strength so you can stare those monsters straight in the eye and let them know they hold no power over you?

My personal monsters flared up the other day. The one's that insist I get a serious job. That insist I stop doing what I love and am passionate about all in the name of conventional "happiness." And in the moment when those voices are loudest, they're hard to ignore. But after the simple passage of time, they die down. I regain my strength. I visit powerful places in my head and exorcise what ever may be left.

I am doing what I love. I am living in this moment and I am happy deep down in my bones.

What are your monsters? And how do you fight them?

Differences

I don't mean to rub this in but it hasn't rained here in over a month. Unless you count the snow. Each morning I wake up to brilliant blue skies and a UV level no lower than 3. Yep, that big old dose of Vitamin D does make a difference. Usually I'm singing the blues this time of year - praying for an escape to sunnier locales. Not the case this year.

Granted it is COLD in the mornings. Last night temps dipped to 11 degrees. Moonli crawled between the sheets and refused to get out. It was like waking a dinosaur. He was so sound asleep, snoring up a storm and I couldn't stand it any more. The puppy is LOUD! This morning he gave me a look of "why'd you kick me out? I thought we had something special?"

The sheets went straight into the washing machine.

Makiah is stoked on her long fur coat. It's stained with red rock but she's warm and happy.

I've been going to 24 Hour Fitness twice a week for several weeks now. And every time I'm in there, no matter what time - it is packed. This is one fit city! I got spoiled at Sound Mind and Body when I was one of twelve people in the entire facility. Now I'm one of 50-75. And surrounded by muscles upon muscles. It's inspiring.

I don't wear nearly as much dark clothing as I used to. When I throw on dark jeans, a black shirt and dark sweater I feel out of place. Bring on the color!

My cycling clothing has to be modified. Instead of being dialed for the wet and cold, now I need to dial in clothing for the seriously sub-Arctic temps experienced here on the front range. I can tell you this right now - riding outside after dark is not really an option. I prefer to keep my fingers and toes attached to my body. But I have a secret weapon.

But there are days, several of them, where the daytime temps reach the upper 50's. Combine that with sun and well you've got one happy girl.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Musings

Teenagers occupy the couches next to me while two women chat it up in the window booth at Marika's coffee house in Manitou. Pearl Jam plays over the stereo and if it were raining outside, I'd swear I was in Seattle. Except I'm not. The air is brisk and smells of wood burning stoves. The wind cuts through my wool layers and I've been stoking the pellet stove every night for the past two weeks.

I picked this seat so I could observe what's going on around me- to soak in the happenings of this little community. I should have gone with the caffeinated version of my drink as I can barely keep up with the whirl of conversations going on around me. It's giving me energy though and for that I'm thankful.

The sun set over the mountains as I walked here - it's 3:15 and already starting to get dark. Being at the base of a fourteener provides multiple reminders a day of who's boss. Yet I couldn't shake this undeniable feeling - the pinch me, I must be dreaming feeling. I've written about living in Colorado for ten years and to have it become a reality still seems like a fantasy.

Now, if I can just figure out some sort of work situation, I think I'll be in business.

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Jiggidy jo jammin- JIVES!

I promised myself that I'd get out in the community more - and Jives is the perfect spot to start. It's located in the new neighborhood we'll be moving to next month and right across the street from the library. They have an open mic night every Wednesday and as soon as I polish one of my short stories, I might find enough courage to tell it in front of an audience.

Big, comfy winged back chairs, the kind you'd find in a study, the Carpenters playing over the stereo, soon to be new neighbors going about their lives.

Wait, hold the phone, you're moving next month?

Yep, you heard that right. Less than a week ago I was on an innocent recovery ride, cruising through Garden of the Gods, down Pikes Peak and saw it - a perfect house for sale. Tons of curb appeal, a fenced back yard, garage (let's be honest - read: bike corral)... it peaked my curiosity. I grabbed a flier, stuffed it in my jersey pocket and forgot about it for a couple of hours. Later that night I showed it to Benjamin.

"That's nice."

The following day I called the relator, scheduled a 11:15 appointment to see it. On a whim, Benjamin decided to join me. Things just fell into place. The interior matches the exterior. Built in 1904, the house retained a lot of its original character - crown moldings, hardwood floors, funky door knobs and thresholds. Except it's been completely updated. Gas stove, stainless steel appliances, granite counter tops, honey-comb tiled bathroom with Kohler fixtures, breakfast nook, lots of storage, more storage, a full basement.

We. Fell. In. Love.

Less than a hour later, I called the relator back and started to get mortgage broker numbers. Two hours later after a pre approval, we put an offer down on the house. Later that night the seller had another offer. Because of our timing, we were given priority and the following morning we found out the seller accepted it! And we've been over the moon ever since.


Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Catch up

The book is coming along. I've been busy working on it for the past few weeks along with training and with the change of daylight savings it feels like the days are whizzing by. I suppose they always do, especially once Halloween has come and gone and the holidays on its tail.

The intro came to me today like a light bulb being illuminated. It is so powerful.

More to come - life is whirling right now!

Friday, November 04, 2011

Back in the swing

Oh, October. I miss you already. Your non-commitment, your lack of discipline, your easy demeanor. But it's November now and it's time to regularly move my body and get it ready for a long season ahead. Hello prescribed workouts!

Suddenly my laundry and appetite has doubled. My free time is spent recovering. My meals are planned around my workouts and I am back into the swing of hydration and walking as little as possible.

It feels good to be back on the straight and aero. I mean narrow.


Thursday, November 03, 2011

Left field.

I had a rough night last night.

It sneaked up on me without warning.

But in retrospect, I know why it came. Why it still makes me tear up this morning. Why it paralyzes me. Why I have puffy eyes that aren’t suitable in public.

When you miss someone so much and you don’t give it time and space it will force you to recognize it. Some turn to booze, some turn to drugs, some turn to self inflicted pain. Some just cry.

I just cried.

It’s a new day today. And I’m summoning all my strength to find the beauty in it and not be sad.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Emma Crawford Coffin Race

The two pooches are still adjusting to one another.

On Friday morning, I woke up to sunny blue skies (are you picking up on the recurring theme?) and a mission - to hike up Red Mountain. Why Red Mountain?  Legend has it Emma Crawford, a 19 year old in the 1890s, died of Tuberculosis was buried up at the top of the mountain. She had moved to Manitou Springs with her family as it was believed the clean mountain air and the natural water springs would cure her fatal disease. She survived a year in the mountains and met a railroad engineer who worked at Pikes Peak Cog Railroad. The two fell in love and were going to marry, except Emma passed away. Her dying wish was to be buried at the top of Red Mountain and her lover completed her request.
 
Her coffin was carried from town and hoisted up the steep trail and buried at the top of the mountain. Who knows her motivation, or her lovers for that matter, of why she would want to be buried up there since the top of red mountain is granular granite and somewhat unstable. Not to mention the serious burden of carrying a coffin to the summit of a mountain. Sometime later, after a serious storm, Emma's coffin was exposed and washed down the mountain. Her remains were found by two children playing in the creek below. They identified her and then reburied her in an unmarked grave in the local cemetery some years later. 
Red Mountain






From the summit of Red Mountain
It became crystal clear why someone would want to be buried on the summit of Red Mountain. The 360 degree view is breathtaking. With Pikes Peak keeping an eye on the town below, it seems like a perfect spot to spend eternity. But something about this mountain must be cursed. Not only did Emma's coffin wash down from the top, but a dance hall that was constructed as a tourist attraction, similar to the Incline, lasted less than two years. Both dogs were acting a little strange at the top too.
The only sign of something amiss, other than an abandoned foundation, was this dead tree - keeping a strange guard near the top.


Trees of this color are somewhat of an anomaly here. 

In honor of Emma Crawford and her unusual story, the city of Manitou Springs created a coffin race through the heart of town. (Just a small example of this towns flair.) Now in its 17th year, hundreds of people line the streets and watch as 50 teams race down Main, attempting to deliver their "Emma" to the line first. Of course the race is governed by a set of rules and competitors are not only judged by speed, but also by costume.
It was hard to see what exactly was happening with so many people there, but the people watching was just as enjoyable as the race itself! Yes, that's a coffin on a drag car chassis. Klassy. My question is - does this guy only drive it during Halloween? Or does he break it out on all special occasions?

Rushing at us at the speed of light, blurred by their flash of white and black polka dots, is the Dalmatian team with a bone coffin. Original, for sure! But the local fire department ruled the competition. I'm sure Emma would be proud. What a legacy, eh?

Oh, Manitou. I embrace you and all your weirdness. Well, almost all....

Friday, October 28, 2011

The Clearing After the Storm.

On Thursday morning, we woke up to blue bird sky and the first serious dusting of snow. It weighed down the tree branches that normally block views of Pikes Peak from the bedroom window. On the right you'll notice a railroad grade that cuts through the mountain - that's the infamous "Incline."
It is only a 20 minute walk through the heart of Manitou to get to the start of the Incline. Moonli came with me and stopped to smell the scents throughout the shopping district.
The trail starts at the beginning of the Pikes Peak Cog Railway. It's an old abandoned tourist attraction that gains 2,000 feet in 3/4 of a mile. It's a butt burner.
The views were stunning and Moonli had a ball for the first 1/4 mile.
The sun is trying its best to melt the fresh snow down the hill.
This pooch sure likes bounding down the trail!
Kind of icy in spots - but nothing the Yaktracks couldn't handle!

The views from the top are always stunning. It's also the perfect spot to catch your breath.
Porcupine covered snow drift.

Some people choose to hike back down the incline the same way they came up. But I prefer the Barr Trail, a 4 mile meandering mellow route. You can see Red Rocks in the distance.
Moonli was a little tuckered out after our hiking excursion. On tap for today: a summit of Red Mountain, which is perfectly timed with the 17th annual Emma Crawford's Coffin Races...

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Introducing: Moonli.


I flew home late on Friday night from O'ahu. I got in around midnight to squeals from Makiah and a warm, happy home. On Saturday morning, I headed up to Denver to meet with the Pro Design Women's Cycling team for their annual meeting and ride. To say I was a little hung over from jet lag is an understatement. On Sunday morning, still groggy and still on Honolulu time, Benjamin mused over getting his dog, Moonli. His mom has been graciously watching him for the last year as he traveled 40 out of 52 weeks. I've heard so much about this dog dog dog and how much he misses him.

"Wait till you meet Moonli, Makiah! He snores, he runs into things, he uses the dog door! He gets cold easy, he's a big guy."

We had talked about getting him in December over the holidays. Don't get me wrong - Benjamin and Makiah get along great. But she's a girl dog and dainty. So when he asked if I would be game to make the drive to Indiana to pick him up, driving over 2200 miles and 30+ hours straight in the car, I agreed without hesitation.
We arrived near Indianapolis around 7am Monday morning. Moonli could barely contain himself. He was so excited! Makiah seemed to understand and accept Moonli, even though he was at least double her size, half her age and triple her energy. But they really didn't have a choice - for we had to get right back in the car and drive 17 hours back to Colorado. They got to share Moonli's dog bed and Makiah's back seat. She only squeaked once when he accidentally sat on her.


As the day wore on and the drive continued (Indiana, Illinois, Missouri, Kansas....) they got closer and closer to one another. Not once did they complain. Thank goodness!


You should have heard the giggles coming from our car as we bombed through the mid-west. When we finally turned off I-70 toward Colorado Springs, I got pretty excited. Excited for the joining of four worlds, excited for the memories to share, the laughs to be had and the big dog shit to pick up. Ha!
Yes, I did let him up on the bed the following day. He left little black hairs all over the white blanket. But he likes to snuggle and he melts into back rubs. Runs in the family.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Bottling it up.

Picture this: you are at a new restaurant you've heard rave reviews about. Everything about the food, the service, and the atmosphere has you antsy to try it. You made a reservation a week in advance and are dressed for the occasion. As you walk into the place you notice a buzz as the smells from the kitchen start to intoxicate you.

You order a drink and it is a perfect balance of sweet, sour and alcohol. It goes down easy as you peruse the menu, tickled by the descriptions and excited for new taste combinations. The menu makes it hard to decide what to order with its carefully worded descriptions, and the waiter anticipates this, pointing you in the right direction.

As the food is delivered to your table from the kitchen, you begin to melt into the tastes and can't help but notice the passion someone has put into their cooking. Everything is cooked perfectly. Everything.

The portions are just right and the mouthful of melodies dance on your tongue. Dessert seals the deal and as you take that very last bite, you smile. Your belly is not overly full but slightly bulged, and the last bite lingers on your lips. You do the happy belly dance.

The feeling stays with you on the way home, as you get ready for bed and even remains in the morning. You are still thinking about that perfect meal, telling your friends about it, and sharing it with those you love.

That feeling, that contentment, that perfect balance of being full but not over the edge is how I feel about life right now. I'm bottling this feeling up by recording it, by savoring it, by appreciating it and by sharing it.

Yay for following your heart, taking big risks and following your passion!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Staying connected.

Anything is possible.

I use google reader to keep up with blogs of friends and inspirational people. It keeps all of my reading in one spot and came with a recommended reader section too. I only just discovered this feature, and I love it. It exposes me to a bunch of different blogs, ways of thinking, information, news and ways of looking at life. Recipes, travel, cycling, climbing, world news, Tosh.0.

I love it.

I mean, how else would you find out about the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle fad going on right now? Or read about the woman who discovered her second born child had down syndrome? It's inspiring and humbling and there's a place to share the stories that define us, strengthen us and earmark us for the challenges to come.

For as much as I like to write, I also love to read.

There's something about reading about other people's triumphs, failures and routines that makes me feel connected. I am connected to the 100 year old man who just completed his 8th marathon, shattering age category records and completing it in 8 hours. I am connected to the woman who takes fabulous photographs of her children, appreciates her friends and the millions of small things that make up her day. I am connected to the thousands of other widows out in the world, trying to make sense of the card they were dealt. I am connected to families dealing with dementia, addictions, and disease. I love the accompanying belly laughs, tears and AHA! moments.

And I love stumbling over and over again on the simple fact that anything is possible. And it's nice knowing you are connected to it all.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Crazy for cocoa puffs

I'm all hopped up on Liliha Bakery world famous cream puff pastries sitting at a Starbucks in Manoa valley, waiting for my mom and grandmother to be transported from Queen's hospital to Manoa Cottages. This is the day we've all been waiting for and here's hoping it goes smoothly as possible.

We've been trying to get Gam out of the house she's lived in the past sixty years for several years now and it's been far from easy. In all honesty, she's been kept at home as long as possible by hiring outside help but she's managed to fire them all. She even fired her yard man when he raised his prices. Her reasoning? She'll buy her own lawn mower and do it herself! Can you imagine seeing a 95 year old woman pushing a lawn mower? Stranger things have happened, I'm sure.

There are times when she accepts she needs help and can no longer live at home alone and others when she absolutely refuses to cooperate, saying everyone is after her money. And it's hard, if not impossible to predict which one you're going to get.

Oh boy, the sweetness of the cocoa puff has worn off and the reality is settling in. Let's hope things go well....

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Close to home.

With the world spinning madly on and bills need to be paid, mouths fed, peace to keep, daily routines to keep, just to scratch the surface, it's easy to ignore the long list of degenerative diseases that affect so many people until it hits close to home. 48 million adults from the Baby Boomer generation are reaching their later years and the chances of you knowing someone is increasing with each passing day.

But in our mad world, is there space for the elderly? Do we take the time to make contact with them, reach out and make a difference in their lives? Or is being old and the accompanying challenges shunned and pushed into a corner? Do we become too busy to call our grandparents and parents?

My grandmother has outlived the majority of her generation. She certainly outlived her 5 brothers and 5 sisters. She's outlived her friends, my other grandparents and even some of her grandchildren. Up until 2 weeks ago, she was living on her own in the house where she raised her children and grandkids, with familiar noises and sights reminding her where she is and slowing the stages of dementia.

But then she fell.

Thankfully she had her LifeLine on her and she was able to call for help. It saved her life. Thank you LifeLine.

It began slowly at first, this degenerative disease. Throughout my childhood, she would always mix up our names. Cappy, Kui, oh Jennifer! Since their were 5 Georges within our family, the guys had it easy. But when she started to forget them altogether, it was hard to deny that something serious was going on.

It begins to progress, this degenerative disease, manifesting in daily tasks. Where did I put my keys? Someone must have stollen them. They stop caring about what they look like, how they dress, and their hygene. Complicated tasks, such as taking a shower or making food become too big of an overwhelming burden. It becomes frustrating. Their mood is altered and swings greatly. Anger mounts.

The sweetest old lady on the block suddenly starts screaming and raging, only when asked why, she doesn't remember.

It starts progressing faster, this degenerative disease. Her memory has serious lapses. How did I get in this hospital? Have I been here a while? When am I going home? Patiently, I answer her questions for the 50th time, only to repeat them a moment later. She smiles sweetly, "you have great teeth!"

Then the aid delivers her next meal and she cringes, crying out loud about it. "I'm not hungry," she automatically responds. But what she meant to say is, "this is overwhelming." With so many choices on a plate, it's hard to swallow what to do. I carefully put some food in her mouth, she cries, and then chews. It takes her a while to swallow but I am patient. I know that I'm not ready to let her go yet. I'm not ready for this disease to take a firm footing in our lives.

I read that in the final stages she won't remember who I am or who she is. She won't be able to function on her own, won't be able to lift her hands to eat, let alone play rummy. She'll stop communicating, either unable to formulate words or say them. And eventually her throat will close up and she'll be unable to get any food down.

Yesterday she didn't remember who I was. Thankfully, she remembered my mom. And it took us a better part of an hour, but she ate her dinner.

It is hard to see someone who you've known all you life and who you love so much deteriorate slowly right before your eyes. It is hard to face this degenerative disease in the face as it unfolds. But I'd much rather face it than push it into a corner.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Small comforts

I woke up in the middle of the night to the pounding rain. It was trying to come in the windows and doors, trying to soak everything in the house. I smile at the sound of its familiarity. Nu'uanu sits in a tropical rain forest and even Seattle's rain torrents can't hold a candle to these incessant downpours. Even with a wake up, I smile. Being at my grandmother's house on O'ahu is like being swaddled in a blankie. I know the creaks, moans and smells of this house like none other. I am happy to be here, despite the ups and downs of Gam's moods. One day she's in a great mood, smiling, cracking jokes and laughing and even eating her meals without too much protest. But the next a complete refusal to cooperate, bossing, not eating and sour puss. Yet she still insists on talking about sex. Oh, Gam!  We played cards yesterday, on one of her better days. Dementia may have taken parts of her memory away but she is still a card shark. The cards are well worn, bent length wise so her gnarled hands can easily grasp them. She has to use her left hand as her right one is clumsy, riddled with arthritis. We play rummy, like we always do, and she sticks me with two aces in my hand when she goes out. She doesn't remember my name today. But she does tell the aides that the secret to staying young is to like men. She says it defiantly, trying to get a raise out of them, hoping that if she says just the right thing they might spring her from this joint so she can go home. But she can't go home. The sad truth is that a 95 year old woman is incapable of taking care of herself. Trying to do so is what got her into this pickle in the first place.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Mindset Change.

Fat-tober* has now become Fit-tober.

Why Fat-tober* in the first place? Because Nationals are done and gone and this is usually the best time of the year to take a month off from a grueling cycling workout schedule. It's an opportunity to press the reset button, both in mind and body. It's time to relax diligent eating habits, frantic heart rate monitoring, geek-ed out speed-o downloads, and planning your life around workouts, etc. Just think of how much time I won't be spending on doing laundry! (2x a day cycling chamois adds up, yo!)

Instead, you should kick up your feet, sip some beer, and bake buckeyes.

Wait a minute! When it is so hard to drop those extra pounds during the regular season, why not keep them off in the off season?

Hence, Fit-tober.

I'm so one dimensional with cycling. It's the only exercise I do during the season. Sure I may throw some dumb bells around on occasion, but getting outside and doing other things I love is easily shrugged off. What about hiking? Climbing? Trail running? Yoga? Skiing? Ah, skiing.

Now is the time to dive back into those other sports I enjoy.

So, without further adieu, I deem October a month of trying something different to get my heart rate up. I will avoid the mixing bowl, baking sheets, etc. and instead break out the climbing shoes, running shorts and fanny pack. My tires will deflate in the bike room and I'll dust off my other gear that has been sitting there since last October. Oh, and maybe I'll wax my skis. Keystone is scheduled to open November 4! And it was snowing on Vail Pass last night on my drive home.

Something tells me I may be missing in the point.....

(The real problem behind binge eating cookies and sweets is that I can't stop from eating them. Especially if they're in the house. I have zero will power. Zero. That batch of amazing Carrot Cake Cookies were gone in one day. ONE DAY! Thanks Michelle, for making it a small batch. Yikes! Oh, and the Buttermilk Chocolate Cake? Gone in four days. A WHOLE CAKE!!!)

*The term Fat-tober was first uttered from the lips of Beth Newell after her double National title wins in the Omnium and Points race. Fit-tober is alllllll me.

Home, or at least for a day.

I feel drunk today.

Thankfully it's from a lack of oxygen of driving from sea level to 6500 feet in a day. I left LA at 8am yesterday and drove straight through, getting home just past midnight. 1,073 miles total, three and a half tanks of gas. No wonder I feel like a train wreck. I'm home for a couple of days before taking off again, this time to visit with my 95 years young grandmother.

I talked to her yesterday on the phone and she sounded little and far away. Getting some one-on-one time with her is priceless. Of course the first question she asked me, "how's your love life?" I told her I'd fill her in on all the juicy details once I get there.

It was great getting some sun and warmth this past week after Nationals in the concrete jungle. To top it all off, on Saturday we went to Six Flags at Magic Mountain. They had a ride called X2 that we waited 90 minutes for and scared me senseless. Actually, I couldn't stop screaming in fright the entire time. And the photo afterward was priceless. Thank goodness they're like a million dollars to purchase so the evidence will be forgotten and discarded. I'm still laughing at how petrified I was on that ride - and I can't wait to do it again!

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

Rain Day

I'm on my second cup of java for the morning and I'm blaming the steady drizzle outside for that one. As I drove down the Pacific Coast Highway (PCH) this morning on my way to a coffee shop, I thought to myself how little I miss the rain. I mean, it's only been a month and a half and at this point it's safe to say I only want to see rain in the form of snow. Bring on the fresh powder!

I know, I know. Colorado has already softened me.

Speaking of the cold months ahead, I've heard a couple of people getting stoked about winter.... seven weeks until opening day at Beaver Creek, Keystone is rumored to open in a month, mountains are being dusted with white stuff and my giddy factor has increased substantially in the past few days. I've also received two separate heli-tour trips in the Canadian Rockies in the last two days. I LOVE SKIING!!!!

I also think that's a sign that I should take some time off the bike.

I'm itching for some mountain time..... I suppose I'll have to get my fix in the form of MAGIC MOUNTAIN. Yep, world class roller coasters here I come!

Now, how about that third cup of joe....

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

Gratitude

I'd like to thank the following people who contributed to my successes this past week....

To all the athletes who have helped pushed me throughout the years....Thank you for providing hard core competition and never easing up. For pushing boundaries, giving it everything and then laughing about our close calls and competitive spirits. For ripping each others legs off in the name of sport and balancing it with humbleness. Don't worry - I'll keep pushing you too!

Laura Todd - for helping my realize just how strong my spirit and passion is, to follow my intuition and guts and become the person I want to be. You are the master of your own destiny - and sometimes you need a little nudge as a reminder.

Jeff Pyatt - for believing in track cycling and garnering support for Northwest athletes. Your constant support both as a leader and friend has been the back bone of what I do - thank you!

My mom - for helping my dreams come true and telling me I'm nuts in a loving kind of way. I couldn't do this without you.

The Marymoor Velodrome Association - for providing a steady platform for racing throughout the past six years since I joined the community. This organization does great work and I'm proud to say I am part of it.

Broadmark Capital Cycling Team - for providing a means to race my bike and rip my own legs off. Thank you to all of the sponsors and contributors both on the bike and off to make this team what it is today. I am very fortunate to be a part of this team.

Benjamin Sharp - for being the best coach an athlete could ask for and for being a rock in my foundation. I can't say enough - and I will gladly bake you chocolate cakes for life.

And to my friends and family who have sent me encouragement throughout the years by either watching me race, sending emails, texts or cards and expressing kudos - your support means the world to me. Thank you for believing in me and nudging me when needed.

Oh - and to my readers - thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 02, 2011

Winning second.

It all came down to the last sprint of the last race. A 2011 Women's Madison national title laid in the balance. Val and I timed our exchange perfectly, putting me for the final sprint with 1.5 laps to go.

I thought I had it.

I gave it everything I had left. I sprinted my legs off and came up inches short, if that.

I knew immediately. There was no question if I had won or lost. I had lost. The titled slipped through my fingers. And the next opportunity? 365 days from now.

I hung my head low, like a dog being sent to the dog house. Replaying over and over those precious final seconds in my head. Did I give it everything? Yes. Did I hesitate? No. Was I tired? Absolutely, but that didn't prevent me from giving it absolutely everything I had left.

But today, that wasn't good enough.

If you think of the greatest sporting moments, when it comes down to the wire - when there's only one winner and a loser, well that one will go down in my personal memory banks to fuel my fire in the season to come, in the long preparation to build up for next year.

In all honesty, I wonder if things were different. What if we had won it? Would I walk away from track racing? Now I'm hungrier for it than ever before. To have something so close be so close you can smell it, taste it, feel it......

Those moments are why I love sport. For all the times you fail, for all the times it stings from being so close.... those are the moments that make amazing individuals. Winning is the easy part. Losing takes more strength.

Friday, September 30, 2011

Howdy!

A quick check in between track sessions at the ADT Event Center in Carson, California.....

Today is day three in a row of double track sessions: one in the morning, one at night. The past two days have been filled with omnium racing and I've already calculated 163 race laps already, with 12 left for today in the Gold Medal final for team pursuit and 200 for the points and Madison races. This does not include the warmups or cool downs. Good thing I like racing my bike!

The omnium was a bit disappointing with a mid-race relegation putting me down an automatic 10 points and killing my chance at a National title. But thankfully there were only 10 women competing, otherwise I could have been down up to 24 places. If that sounds confusing, it is. The bottom line - I still ended up fourth, which is pretty remarkable if you ask me. And yes, I learned a lot.

Talk about a range of emotions that you go through when racing. The ups, the downs - it all comes down to who can hold it together for the longest. And the winner - Beth Newell did a remarkable job! I'm so proud of her and Michael, they are a great team.

Tonight we face off to Sarah Hammer, Jennie Reed and Dotsie Bausch in the team pursuit. They rolled a 3:29 in qualifiers to our 3:46. There's a reason they're one of the best teams in the world.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Chilling.

It's the day before the big show begins. Relaxing on the couch feels like a chore, but you know time with the feet up is time well spent. Surfing the tv helps pass the time, but the racing remains on the brain. How could it not? We've all waited a full year for this. And now it's here.

My mental state, as well as physical, is relaxed and confident. I am ready to race and enjoy the lessons it brings with it. I'm not worried if my preparation was enough, if so and so registered or not, of how I will be compared to anyone else. I am living in this moment, right here, right now. I am ready. I am fit. I trust myself and my coach in my preparation for this event and I am ready to throw down.

Content. Confident. Cool.

Come check it out if you're in the la area at the home depot center. The racing is going to be phenomenal.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

City of angels.

I headed out to Los Angeles a few days early, caravanning the 17.5 hours from colorado to la with Cari to hit up a local tune up race on the velodrome today and get a little track time before the big event this coming week. It was time well spent as I was able to dial in my saddle position, gearing and dust off those racing cobwebs. I was pleasantly surprised by my leg speed and engine and know that I have what it takes, more so than any other year before.

It's nice to be back to the west coast with its salt air, humidity, and mild climate. But it's actually sunnier in Colorado then here! Come on sun, burn off that "marine layer" aka smog!

Makiah made the trip with me and she provides a welcome calm amongst racing stress. Not to mention a guard dog. Ha! You read her prowess against the raccoon invasion, right?

I've got an easy day tomorrow and a relocation from the lovely Extended Stay to Long Beach and then some openers to prep for wednesday's omnium marathon. Bring it!

I trust. I'm fit. I'm confident. Let's do this!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Picture story


Greetings from sunny ColoRADo! Thought I would share some photos of the new digs and the surrounding area. This is the new house, which is directly across from Memorial park. We don't have immediate neighbors but the bears and raccoons have done an excellent job welcoming us.

Yes, the munchkin made the journey. She's happy at the new digs and can't wipe that grin off her face. She's not much of a guard dog though. When we had a coon invasion she didn't even bark, or whimper for that matter. She had good reason to be petrified!
Note the stairs. I calculated an additional 25 feet of elevation to get to the front door, on top of the 6,450 Manitou sits at. Talk about some high altitude training! Moving in was rough. Three days straight with approximately 8,000,000,000,000 trips up and down. And yes, the bikes have to come up and down the stairs. Oh joy!

But when you have this out the back door? Totally worth it. This is Section 16, a 20 minute single track trail from the abode.


Yep, affirmed again. The Garden of the Gods park is a 5 minute ride from the house.


Oh, wait. What is that? Pikes Peak you say? In your back yard? Yep. 14,110 feet to the sky and about 3 miles to the summit as a crow flies. I plan on conquering the sleeping giant soon.


The mountain got its first snow of the season last week and fall is starting to show her colors. This is the spot where I feel like someone needs to pinch me, every time I ride by. Which is every day.



Even Makiah needs to nap from having new surroundings to play in. Man, she's a fur ball!

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

I am committed.

The hardest step was making the move to Colorado. To pack up my things from 10 years of living a life in a Seattle craftsman house and put it all in a U-Haul truck. Going through the objects in my life was a journey in itself. I had to put some things to rest, honor others and down size, a lot. But I had committed to it and there was no turning back.

I've always dreamed of writing a book. And being someone who is keen on following her dreams, I am taking the time to do so now. I am committed to it - giving myself a due date of February 14, 2012 and allowing myself the time to give it everything I've got. It is a self-discovery process and I hope that by sharing my life experiences it will inspire those who read it to follow their hearts and dreams and also know that there is potential in finding love, life and laughter again after losing someone dear to you. You are the master of your destiny.

So, dear readers, I hope you are doing exactly what you want to be doing at this very moment. And that you commit to live each day to the fullest.

(PS - Writing outside is RAD. Thanks Laura for the suggestion.)

Rainbow jersey wearing heroine: Judith Ardnt.

When I first started racing 8 years ago, Judith Ardnt was having an amazing season. She got silver and bronze that year in the road world championships and sported a super hero cape for women's cycling. Of all the female cyclists competing at the time, she stood out to me due to her calm demeanor, fierce competitive spirit and professionalism.

Not only is she an amazing athlete, but she has continued plugging away at the sport's top tier of racing, through the ups and downs of life and results. I've kept an eye on her throughout her career and today she road a perfect time trial, winning gold at the Road World Championships in Copenhagen, Denmark.

Wow. A well deserved journey and rainbow jersey. Congrats Judith!

Monday, September 19, 2011

Joey are you okay? Joey are you okay? Are you okay Joey?

You've been hit by, you've been hit by a smooth criminal!



Can't get that song or the flip out of my head....

Thursday, September 15, 2011

I be Manitoid.


I've been inducted into the weirdness that is Manitou.

Try as I may, avoiding the bizarre happenings in this little corner of the world was absolutely impossible.

I should have seen the signs - the Wizard shops, the trinket stores, the arcade with nickel games, even rumors of a coffin race that runs through the middle of town. But Adam's Mountain Cafe threw me off with its orgasmic organic foods and the easy access to trail upon endless trail.

It rained hard last night. So hard it brought down mounds of red rock, staining Lovers Lane and causing a morning closure of our street. We woke up to down right chilly temps - in the mid-forties with no sign of warming up. A quick check on the webcam for Pikes Peak and yep, there's snow up there.

I had to turn the heat on even with layer upon layer of wool. I drank a second cup of coffee, broke out the slow cooker, bought squash that was on sale, and baked banana bread. All in vain attempt to delay the inevitable goodbye to summer. She may return and kiss our checks soon - her overnight departure a shock to the system, for sure.

As the clouds lifted, slightly, Makiah and I both needed a walk. On our stroll up the lane to the post office, we stopped to chat with two people looking intently up a tree 500 yards from the house. Perched in the tree, soundly slumbering, was a mama bear and her two cubs. We snapped photos and the couple asked me if I was a Manitoid - and my response, "only for the past three weeks!" Apparently Ray, who gave me his purple "Satellite System Repairs" business card enjoys chasing bears in his free time. He had kind of a crazy look in his eye - and told me the bears around here don't hibernate until late November, depending on the season.

I met myself a bonafide Manitou bear scarer. Or as his card says: Duckman.

Hmmm.

And I thought I had seen it all yesterday with five Segways cruising through the Garden of the Gods.

Something tells me this is just the beginning.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

It rains in paradise, too!

Dodging thundershowers but not escaping wet pavement, this morning I smiled realizing I haven't pedaling in the rain since June. That's got to be a record. Spoiled. Rotten.

The sun slips out between the showers - making colors pop and drying the porch. I look up out the window in my office, peaking West towards Pike Peak in hopes clear skies are to come for the second ride of the day.

An even bigger smile spreads as I think about now tacky trails beckoning me in the surrounding hills.

Those early morning pain cave intervals are quickly becoming a distant memory....

Monday, September 12, 2011

Getting settled

With the last of the boxes gone from the front porch, I think it's safe to say we're settled. Makiah has a perma-grin and bounce in her strut that's nothing other than happiness. Come to think of it, so do I.

The tan lines are deepening, the hair getting blonder and the lungs adapting to the 6,500 feet of elevation. The days are shortening, ever so slightly, and I'm ready for the flip side of summer knowing that I'll have more Vitamin D than Miami. Yes, you heard that right. More sun than Miami. (Not as warm, but those are minor details.)

Reading through an old journal from 2001 revealed my desire to live in the Colorado Rockies back then. It only took me ten years to make it happen! But better late than never. ;)

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Jones Downhill

Thinking of yesterday puts a smile on my face. It was a lazy but early morning, starting with breakfast at Adam's Mountain Cafe. We got there close to opening so the world famous cinnamon rolls were available and they did not disappoint. Mmmmm. Whole wheat cinnamon rolls with honey icing, which practically makes them guilt free! It didn't matter though - we had our work cut out for us that day, with a 5+ hour mountain bike ride on tap.

We loaded the car up and hit the trail right at noon. Let the 12 miles of climbing begin! We both rocked our hard tail 29ers (I finally chopped 2" off the handle bars and it no longer feels like I'm maneuvering a low flying aircraft). Opting out of adding on an additional 1.5 hours of riding from the house and roughly 1,500 feet of climbing, we started at the Gold Camp parking lot at around 6,500 feet. From there the route climbs over 12 miles to roughly 10,400 feet, where the air is cool and thin. At that elevation, it's important not to put yourself in the red zone where recovery is non-existent.


The first part of the climb is a hiker/cyclist/equestrian only trail that links to a red neck/biker/gun shooting crowd. As we were plugging away at the first section, Chris Carmichael came bombing downhill. Up, up, and up we climbed. At the half way point, we came upon a lookout where we felt silly in our spandex/camel back outfits compared to the gun rack welding, muddy jeep driving "YEEHAW!" screaming crowd. Shortly there after, we saw two guys pulled off on the side of road, having target practice at various bottles aimed toward the road. Sweet. I was very thankful to see two Forest Service patrol cars cruising the area.

We kept climbing. Two and a half hours later, we found our trailhead - 701. Just as we got to the top, three dirt bike riders from Pennsylvania crested and were friendly enough - but also a reminder that we were going to be sharing this single track with bikers as well.


I'll put this out there right now: this single track downhill is TOTALLY worth every single minute of uphill climbing, at altitude!

The trail was a little technical for me in some rocky sections but as the day wore on and I got sick and tired hiking my bike, I grew some heuvos and clipped in, rolling over the majority of features. That's actually when the real fun began - when I didn't give a shit anymore about whether I crashed or put a foot down and just went for it. Suddenly I was clearing stuff I would have hesitated on before and hooping and hollering about it. Thankfully the boy waited for me at certain points throughout the ride - and at one point was starting to get worried only to see me pop out with a big smile on my face with satisfaction of NOT un-clipping. YAHOO! He had been waiting about 15 minutes. Ha!

After 2 hours of single track, we came out onto High Road and decided to continue climbing up to the parking lot. And who did we see coming down High Road at the exact same time? The guys on dirt bikes from Pennsylvania. We all did a double take. Nice!

We were both blown by the time we got back to the car. A quick stop at the store on the way home for hamburger fixings and beer and we were in bed, sawing logs by 9pm. I think that's the trick to living in this area: play so hard during the day that you have to got to bed by 9pm. Done.

Yep, I still have that pinch me feeling.

Friday, September 09, 2011

As a kid growing up, I remember my grandfather would routinely go on 50 mile bike rides. At the time they seemed like an impossible distance. He would come home, sweaty and salty from roaming the Eugene hillsides and sit down at the kitchen table in black spandex shorts, wife beater undershirt and start inhaling anything within reach. I still remember the way he smelled.

It took a while, and unfortunately my grandfather passed a couple of years ago, but I too share his passion of long road rides, coming home too tired to shower before cramming in as many left overs as possible. I thought about what I was going to eat the last twenty minutes of my ride, willing myself to go faster so I could get that much closer to eating.

As I go back for my second helping of mushroom risotto, I think of you, Bope. And toast the next big spoonful of goodness to you.

Long live long road rides!

Thursday, September 08, 2011

The book is coming along.... and it has been hilarious to relive my boxing days. Wow, it really was my first love in sport. It's crazy to think that the majority of the women who I boxed with are all now professionals and have continued killing it in the sport. That's ten years of getting knocked upside the head!

I miss it. :)

Wednesday, September 07, 2011



Three years.

The time has flown by, and at other times come to a complete stand still.

It seems like I found out just yesterday, yet ions ago.

And I get teary eyed and sad at times but know it's better to have known love then not at all.

Tuesday, September 06, 2011

Pedaling out those demons.

There's nothing flat about where I moved. Manitou is literally in the foothills of Pikes Peak. To start any ride, I head down Lovers Lane through Old Colorado City and the options start from there. Do I: a)ride through Garden of the Gods (hilly), b)head over to Gold Camp (big hill), c)ride into town via Colorado and head east (flat but exposed and usually windy)?

Today's ride contained the first two options and I'm blown. Throw in multiple world champs, pan am champs, world record holders and Wheeler and well, you've got yourself a world class group ride. Too bad not many of them are competitive with one another. Ha! It was a queen of the mountain competition up anything resembling a hill.

At the top of Gold Camp is a 3k dirt section that's a little dicey at times on the road bike. You definitely have to navigate around any deep gravel sections and today my navigator skills failed me - I took a big slide on the bike eating serious dirt and banging my right wrist. Dope! Nothing like a little bruised ego to keep you in check.

The prep for Elite Track nationals is in full swing and I'm looking forward to the venture West at the end of the month. The track here is fast and the community has been really welcoming and inviting. I got rid of the last box in the living room and our space is starting to look habitable. Things are starting to come together, that's for sure.

Sunday, September 04, 2011

Breaker two niner

Rad weekend filled with track racing, followed by more track racing, followed by three hours of fat tire action on the 29er with the boy. HUGE, big smiles were had. And the best part? Along with those smiles came a realization that I am right where I should be, enjoying this moment and living it to the fullest.

YES!!!

Friday, September 02, 2011

10.

It would be impossible not to cry today. My tears came early this morning as I looked out East to a sunny sky.

Today would/is? have been our ten year wedding anniversary.

And in a few days marks the third year since Ryan's death.

Big sigh. Big tears.

Last night I raced my first night at the 7/11 velodrome. Corner two wasn't haunted with his presence. And when I struggled from digging myself into the red, I used my own strength to finish the race. I was frustrated at not having the strength to hold on from an early move in the point a lap - and I know better. But sometimes you have to struggle just for the sake of struggling.

Guess what? It's sunny. For the 12th morning in a row. The sun is great for drying tears.