Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Ah, the Methow.

This photo was taken on Highway 20, approaching the hairpin beneath the Liberty Bell group. The North Cascades highway links the west to the east side - and travels through the "American Alps." It is breathtaking and in the warmer summer months a kick ass road ride. With about 3,000 feet of elevation gain from my cabin to the top of Washington pass, I've probably ridden it a dozen times. Alas with no shoulder this weekend, a summit attempt was not in the cards. Instead, Jocelyn and I rode from Winthrop to Loop Loop pass. 8 miles of 6% grade: aligning with my motto - go big or go home.

Allow me to introduce for those who haven't met her yet: Makiah Blue, my trusty companion in life. She is an amazing dog. She's super mellow, especially as she ages. But she's wise and smart - and in this photo reminds me always to look up.

We hiked to the base of Goat Wall and took a few moments to remember Ryan. Makiah's aging - leaping from from boulder to boulder in the scree field took its toll and she was exhausted by the time we reached the base of Prime Rib. We soaked in the view, loved on one another and the best word I could use to describe the feeling: honor.

The spot overlooks upper Methow Valley. The spring greens are showcased below and Lost River winds its way down to join other tributaries on their journey to the mighty Columbia, which empties into the Pacific Ocean. I counted three waterfalls across the valley and Goat Creek raged next to me. It's hard to imagine any where more beautiful.

I felt strength, love, sadness, happiness, calm, and how being there felt so right. Wow. It was nice to take a moment out of life's whirling pace and acknowledge how touched I was by another person, one I was lucky enough to marry.

The rest of the weekend was filled with fat tire single track action on Buck Mountain, Sun Mountain and road riding up to Loop Loop pass with Jocelyn. And connecting with my sister Marcy and Sam cooking smores, hanging out around the camp fire and laughing. Wally the wild dog did his best to scale the trees on my lot - making it about 9 feet off the ground. Makiah and I both passed out each night, bellies full and new memories created.

Mazama holds a very dear place in my heart. And I'm pretty sure Makiah likes it too.

Rest in peace, Suzanne.

My heart and prayers go out to friends and family of Suzanne Allen.

Suzanne and I worked together at REI in the rentals and repair department for three years. She was the first vegan I ever met and left a lasting impression. She will be missed, beyond a doubt.

Thursday, May 26, 2011


Rain showers, narrowly avoided.
Dinner, in the belly.
Dog, licking up my plate.
Legs, throbbing slightly.
Body, thankful I'm sitting down now.
Mind, in a zen like state and reflecting with a smile spreading across my face that today I got to do what I love.
Dog, now laying down next to me.
Eyes, starting to drift closed.
Smile, permanent.

Positive Vibrations

My mom's side of the family is from Hawaii. A smidgen of Chinese/Hawaiian ancestry courses through my blood and even deeper in my mom. Family vacations growing up were spent on the Big Island at Mahaiula - now known as the Kona State Park, just north of the airport. The bay was ideal for fishing, surfing and living off the land.

When my mom grew up, Mahaiula was only accessible by boat. They'd load a month's worth of supplies into the Liki-tiki and navigate through the open ocean currents toward the bay. Family history says my great grandfather acquired the land from a Hawaiian for $1,000. It is the only white sand beach on Big Island that isn't a multi-billion dollar resort.

Anyway, this is where my mom, as well I as, learned to fish. Armed with a bamboo pole, grass sun hat, and small hooks, we both would scramble on the lava rocks and drop our lines in the water. I remember singing to the fish - and bringing back humuhumunukunukuapuaa.

She told me a story this morning that her dad took her, Keoki (my uncle), Denise (my aunt) and Gam (my grandmother) out fishing one day in the Liki-tiki. The waters were somewhat turbulent - enough that Denise and Gam abandoned ship and swam to shore. Keoki and my mom were both using hand lines as they sat over a Muu hole - a fishing hole where a certain type of fish that only has molars to chew on seaweed. As soon as she stuck her line in the water, she would hook a fish. One after another, after another and another. Keoki's line was cold. His bottom lip started to protrude. Her dad was cracking up in the back of the boat. My mom recalled handing over her line to her brother - thinking it was just that line. And of course, that line went cold and her new one was hot.

Flash forward 50 years to the present. Except exchange the warm Hawaiian waters for the cold Queen Charlotte ocean. My mom, up to her old tricks, hooked fish after fish. The men on their guided fishing trip claimed beginners luck. Then they watched in amazement as she hooked a 79 pound halibut, a 34 pound King Salmon, a 30 pound ling cod and then had to start throwing anything under 20 pounds back. She nearly won their fish derby and limited out, bringing home a total of 258 pounds of fish after 3 days of fishing.

When I asked her what she thought it was - she said it must be her positive vibrations and that fish respond to it. That and fishing runs in her blood.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

It never ceases to amaze me that a short conversation with a friend can turn your perspective back toward its sunny disposition. Tela's old coach had a one water bottle rule* and honestly, I was nursing that bottle for well over 24 hours. But now it's empty and my physical and mental strength are returning.

Remember the cookie cravings I mentioned? Well, I traded it in for Chocolate Gelato instead. Those cookies will just have to wait until after I'm done crushing. I've got goals to accomplish, pedals to turn and kilojoules to burn. And with each workout an opportunity to get closer to my long term vision, I am carefully monitoring everything I put in my body.

A champion is made a day at a time.

(Thanks Amara for the great photography this weekend.)

*The Water Bottle Rule: If race outcome doesn't go as planned, you have every right to be upset. But you can only be upset for the time it takes to drink one water bottle. After that you chalk it up to experience and don't let it bother you.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Mud Mountain remains my nemesis.

I alone in my office today. And good thing - my body is wrecked and I'm sure my face is puffy and swollen.

I exposed a weakness this weekend. Actually, a big weakness. Luckily, the strength gained from seeing that weakness and pinpointing how to address it will help me become more successful. But the sharp sting of feeling weakness still hurts.

Oh the ups and downs of bike racing. A blessing and a curse. Our little team had many triumphs this weekend - some PR's, some ass whopping and some humble pie. Thank goodness for rest days.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

The unexpected

I sensed something was about to happen, yet I didn't know what to expect. I strive to keep my mind open to new experiences - never turning something down out of fear or because I haven't done it before. In fact, I do quite the opposite. I seek out adventure - choosing paths less traveled and welcoming them into my life with open arms.

So when I emailed my friend Cari to find out if she was going to be track racing in Minnesota in a little less than a month and she said no - but was going to focus on the road - I asked more about it. "What races are you doing?"

"Tulsa Tough and Tour of America's Dairyland. You should come!"

I booked a flight within an hour. Suddenly, summer got a lot more fun.

The game plane: Fixed Gear Classic, June 10, 11 and 12. Then 10 days straight of roaming around the land of great cheese and bike racing.

Now all I have to figure out is what to do with Makiah.... any body up for some dog sitting?

My next roller workout won't be the same....

Or maybe you find inspiration by coming up with the wackiest thing you can do on a bike?

Check out that chain ring! MASSIVE!

Where do you find inspiration?

"It was my good fortune to be covering cycling events at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, when Hughes blazed onto the scene with a pair of bronze medals, lighting up the podium with her red hair, quick humour and ebullient smile. Watching her willingly suffer in the time trial, cycling’s so-called ’Race of Truth’ in thick 30 C Georgia heat, it was obvious Hughes was going to be something special.

“I was seeing double,” Hughes told us after the event. “I have a friend who used to say she’d see Elvis when she got in that zone. I think I saw Elvis at the finish line.”

Rozdilsky says the ’96 time trial was classic Clara, a “massive result from wanting it more than anybody else. The mind can do amazing things if you have that super focus. And you just kind of dig, and pour every molecule of your body into that effort — that’s what she did there. That was all guts, that ride.”

Fast forward 15 years. Hughes shares the Canadian Olympic record of six Olympic medals with fellow speedskater Cindy Klassen. Only a fool would bet against Hughes winning a seventh in London."

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Practicing impatient patience.

Patience is the state of endurance under difficult circumstances, which can mean persevering in the face of delay or provocation without acting on annoyance/anger in a negative way; or exhibiting forbearance when under strain, especially when faced with longer-term difficulties. Patience is the level of endurance one's character can take before negativity. It is also used to refer to the character trait of being steadfast.


impatience [ɪmˈpeɪʃəns]
1. lack of patience; intolerance of or irritability with anything that impedes or delays
2. restless desire for change and excitement

When asked if I was patient, my immediate response was yes, extremely. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized how impatient I am. I am eager for change, sometimes to the point of pushing outcomes.

Take bike racing for example. The past year I have been more and more aware of my impatience. I attack in the first few kilometers, wasting valuable energy. I needlessly chase, knowing that "the move" will happen as soon as I relax. And like clockwork, the break that sticks is the one that I am too tapped to do anything about. Gee, I wish I had a little more patience.

But for as often as impatience has done me wrong, it's also provided for some incredible change. So, as much as I value patience, I also appreciate my impatience. The trick will be to master when best to use them.

Unsatisfied with a situation? Let impatience be your guide. Want to win a bike race? Patience, grasshopper. Patience.
Thank you Pandora, for reminding me of this song. Perfect for an early evening BBQ as the sun warms Seattle....

Monday, May 16, 2011

Just around the corner...

A quick glance at the calendar confirms summer is coming quick! And I dislike sounding like a whiny Seattle-ite who constantly complains about the weather... but seriously, I'm still wearing wool socks. And all of the girls I saw walking on Capital Hill yesterday were wearing winter boots.

I digress.....

I'm setting up my summer training plan and lining up drivers for some motor-pacing sessions as well as switching my work schedule around to accommodate middle of the day workouts and it is getting me excited! In my mind track season officially kicks off after Mutual of Enuclaw (MoE) stage race - and that's coming up this weekend. After that I travel east of the Cascade mountains to my rustic cabin to do some mountain biking and soul searching. And that will bring us right into June.

Summer really is just around the corner....

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Mastering life.

A friend of mine quit her corporate day job and decided to pursue a career in life coaching. She's a natural at it. Long before she ventured into this arena, I've always valued her insights, suggestions and mentoring. She's one of those friends who you just click with, like being reunited with an "old soul." We've shared some memories - she taught me how to telemark ski over ten years ago and has seen me fight in the ring. Our friendship has gone through a couple of life cycles - and I feel very fortunate to have her as a friend.

So when she announced to the world that she was pursuing a passion of hers - I started having dreams. I envisioned working with her. I dreamed of meeting up at the brewpub in Twisp. My unconsciousness was revealing something - and I chose to heed its whisperings.

Our first introductory session went great. She's not giving me the path to travel down but equipping me with tools to figure out where I want to go, to do what I want to do. After just one short session and another one planned next week, I feel empowered. And I'm realizing that I have some very unique gifts and talents. They've always been there - but it's rewarding to do some reflection and see that your values align with how you live your life.

I am the master of my destiny.


There's just something about this song that makes me want to get a REALLY loud, bass thumping, ear deafening car stereo. My brother will be happy his influence finally got to me... my windows are tinted and I'm checking out kicker options...

Actually, for that matter - the entire Kraak & Smaak album is good. What are you moving to these days?

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Gut check.

My friend Cindy inquired about my old lady bunion yesterday. We both giggled at the photo (see below) and she mentioned I could try adjusting my diet to reduce inflammation.

That little comment sparked a light bulb. Over the years I've monitored my diet for weight loss and sure I've consciously cut out trans fats and high fructose corn syrup but I've never focused on food for its medicinal benefits.

And like some divine intervention - an email popped into my inbox from Precision Nutrition that detailed an "Elimination Diet" to discover food allergies.

Check this out:

For example, food sensitivities/reactions and other gastrointestinal disturbances have been linked to:
  • asthma and allergies[1],[2]
  • autoimmune disorders[3]
  • skin conditions[4]
  • arthritis
  • atherosclerosis and other cardiovascular diseases[5],[6],[7]
  • neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia[8]
  • mood disorders
  • narcolepsy
  • addiction
  • migraines
  • kidney problems[9],
  • bunions (just kidding, I added that)
Apparently this "diet" takes about a 5 to 6 week commitment. The first four weeks you eat super duper clean - avoiding all dairy, red meats, wheat, certain acidic veggies and fruits, nuts, COFFEE!, and sugars (to name a few). Then you slowly introduce a food back into your diet for a day, go back to clean eating and observe how your body reacts.

So why do it? Well according to this article, "If you think you might be suffering from food intolerance, you might want to try an elimination diet. Food has the power to promote health or create disease, and following an elimination diet can be a rewarding and eye-opening experience.

So, give it a try if you think your gut health needs a check-up. What you give up temporarily in creature comforts you’ll gain in lasting and unequivocal knowledge about your own health and well-being!"

Read more about it here: http://www.precisionnutrition.com/elimination-diet

Tuesday, May 10, 2011


It's surprising that a photograph can sweep you off your feet and leave you deep into the bottomless abyss called grief. An innocent post of Ryan and his Mom evokes big alligator tears and sadness. The simple passage of time seems to have buffered the reaction time to them. But you're still vulnerable to their power - for they instantly transport you to suppressed feelings.

It's not that I intentionally shove grief out of the way. It's just that the once steady tidal waves have become regular wave sets and I've adapted to their methodical presence. Yet every now and then a swell will come out of no-where and knock you off your ass if you're not paying attention.

Thankfully I learned how to swim.

Monday, May 09, 2011

My Gammy

I called my 95 year old grandmother yesterday to wish her a happy mother's day. It was a priceless conversation.

The phone rang about 12 times before she picked up. I imagined her - somewhere in the living room, hearing the phone ring and then the doing what probably felt to her like a 200m dash with her walker to answer it.

She lives in Honolulu up in Nuuanu - and has since she her twenties. I admire her in so many ways - she's adventurous, fun, stubborn and I love her to pieces. I wish I lived closer so I could check up on her - as she's still living on her own. At 95!

After she told me about her various maladies, she asked, as she always does - about the men in my life. And how many babies I have. And where I live. And how even though her body is failing her now she still feels like she did when she was 25. She put a huge smile on my face.

Though her memory is fading, her spirit is strong and reminds me of where I get my joie de vivre.

Man, I am going to live a long, long life. And I can only hope it is as rich as hers.

Friday, May 06, 2011

I had to post something else today so that picture is further down on the page.

Lots of fun stuff happening this weekend: F-1 Turkey, local racing, the Giro d'Italia, and Mother's day. Oh - and not to mention the Windemere Cup, which is part of the start of boating season. Hundreds of boats line the Montlake Cut and get boozy all weekend. It's a good idea to avoid all bridges - especially Ballard, Fremont and Montlake.

And apparently it's Friday and I can't seem to get enough of those talking babies. Thankfully I discovered a translated version.

Paul Bunion

I think I'm going to be sick.

I've been having more and more pain in my foot from a bunion thanks to my grandmother's genetics. It's gotten to the point of shooting pain when I wear shoes with too much flex. Thankfully it's no problem inside my cycling shoes - as their carbon soles don't allow for any movement.

So I looked into it - and started to get grossed out.

Wanna see?
Okay - well maybe it's not THAT bad. But the bottom line - it's starting to become something I can't ignore anymore.

But what really gave me the heebie jeebies was the accompanying surgery photos and what they do to fix it. I'm sorry but seeing someone's open flesh makes me nauseous. I get light headed and shivers run up and down my spine.

Kind of surprised coming from a girl who used to get hit in the head for fun? Don't be. I once bolted out of a dentist office after being numbed up and heard the drill come on. Somethings just wig me out.

Recovery time from surgery if I end up going that route is 6 weeks to 6 months. Sounds like an off season proposition if I can wait that long.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

I belong.

My workout started long before I got to the track.

Up and down the stairs to the basement I scrambled - retrieving miscellaneous parts for my track bike. The poor thing has been hanging in my office and collecting dust since December - disassembled from the last trip we took together to Colombia. It took me a better part of an hour to get her up and running and primed for tonight's spin. Handle bars, stem system, seat post, seat, wheels, cogs, track shoes (which I had completely forgot about!) and Smarties. Lots and lots of smarties.

I got a little giddy on the drive over. The nice weather and seeing the mountains put me in a place I haven't been since last September when the regular local season came to a close. I arrived a half hour early, took Makiah for a walk around the park and sat for a few minutes in corner two - soaking it all in. The steady drone of commuters heading home on 520, the high pitched whine of the model airplanes flown across the park, the climber commands being communicated at the outdoor wall and Mt. Rainer poking her head through the spring haze.

And now it begins.

Tuesday, May 03, 2011

Hello, hello.

My dog and I have been on a steady diet of Greek yogurt this past week. I eat an individual sized serving and she retrieves my empty container out of the recycling, drags it to her dog bed and licks away. It's gotten to the point of just putting the container down on the floor once I've polished all that I'm willing to scoop out with a spoon - saving her the trouble of waiting until I'm out of the room before rummaging through the recyclables.

We definitely have a morning routine established. She whines as soon as she hears me stir, and I dutifully get up and put food in her bowl. As she chows down, I get my spandex on to do my morning spin and by the time I've strapped on my heart rate monitor strap, she's ready to go outside. I let her out, fill up my water bottle, fire up the tele and get my rollers set up. She scratches at the back door, I let her in and she puts herself back to bed thanks to her food coma.

This morning I caught her in her favorite spot - in the hamper on top of my dirty clothes. I couldn't resist catching her in her natural habitat. Next thing I know I'll be picking out yogurt containers out of my dirty laundry.

Monday, May 02, 2011

I have BIG hair this morning.

It's Monday morning. Do you know where your legs are?

If you're lucky and were diligent about proper hydration and nutrition and slept like baby - their steady throb will have disappeared by the morning from yesterday's race.

Oh, Elma. Supposedly the inspiration for Matt Groening's Simpson cartoon. And the locale of our Washington state road race championships. The leg throbbing is the reward from pushing yourself for 66 miles around and around a pair of nuclear silos.

A field of 15 or so category 1/2 women showed up to contest the title, with HB having the largest representation: Jocelyn, Julie, Brook, Liz N. and myself. Both Bikesale and Keller Rohrback had three ladies a piece and then a few singlets - Cucina, Olympic Orthopedic, Athlete's Lounge (out of Portland) and Alison Beall (awesome to see you racing Alison!).

The course favors an all around rider, with a little bit of climbing, descending, flats and head winds. The weather forecast for the day, for once, was sunny and 65 - perfect bike racing weather. Not to mention there was a tailwind on the climb.

Things were going peachy until our first climb up the hill and Liz suffered a mechanical. We found out afterward her front derailed broke off - and she was suddenly on a fixed gear of 53x11. Ouch. (But being the badass that she is - she continued riding the course for three or four more laps.)

Second time up the hill - Brook's chain had a mind of its own and leapt off her bike. Dang, second rider down. Our field advantage vaporized. On the second to last lap, a move finally stuck with each team having a rider in it. Let the knitting begin! Or let me rephrase that, let the knitting begin until Tricia slowly and steadily ripped everyone's legs off on the hill the last time up to separate from the rest of us, riding in for 5th. You know you're in trouble when you stand up and then sit right back down from the searing pain the legs transmit to your brain. I was pretty happy with a top ten (despite our low turnout in numbers) after being in a break, attacking and racing my bike.

Stephanie (KR) won, Jocelyn silver, and Cathy (Cucina) bronze. Well done ladies, well done. Next up: Ravensdale.