Saturday, July 30, 2011

BIG steps

I've lived in this house for 10 years. The gear pile Ryan and I accumulated filed half the basement. It didn't help that we both worked at REI and got a pro deal on EVERYTHING. I swear every paycheck we earned there went right back into outdoor gear.

We also held onto sports gear from our younger years. I've counted 5 pairs of skis over 198 in length, 3 tennis rackets, scores of trophies, dozens of climbing shoes, ski boots, hockey sticks, stinky boxing gloves - and my prize possession rediscovered today: CHUCK NORRIS ass kicking gloves.

Guess which item made the cut?

It's wild going through this stuff. Especially Ryan's. It was from an era long before we ever met. He was so flipping talented of an athlete. Baseball, football, hockey, basketball - anything to do with sports - he mastered. He also mastered collecting cards. I have well over 5,000 of them. I can just imagine him as a little kid - organizing them in scientific fashion and pulling a fast one on some unsuspecting kid who didn't know the worth of what they held in their hands. It's sad, going through his stuff. It's an in your face reminder of how much I miss him and how big of a space he filled in my life. But I was going to have to do it sooner or later. And I'm not carting that stuff with me to Colorado.....

I also sold my motorcycle today. That was huge. It was a gift from Ryan and we used to ride them together. I put it up on Craig's List last week and it sold within 2 days. The truth is I don't ride it. And let's face, I need the cash. Following your dreams doesn't come without sacrifices.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Dream Box

Months ago I read somewhere on how to make a dream box. Basically you take any shoe box or something similar in size and write "Dream Box - what is inside will be."

My original dream box was accidentally used by Jasmine, our office assistant. She had a copy toner crisis and needed a box. So she went into my office, emptied the contents and used it. I didn't realize it was gone until the shipment she sent out was returned to sender.

"Hey! That's my dream box!"

She looked at me wide eyed and slightly panicked.

Thankfully she put its contents aside, which went unnoticed by me in my office for a week or so. So I had to find a new box. Instead of making a cut out and putting signage on the outside, I just used a plain old cardboard box. I put the contents back in it, and it has sat for months in the corner of my office.

Today I rediscovered it.

It was just a plain box, sitting half open on the floor. I thought, what's in here? And started reading my dreams again. As I read them I realized in disbelief that most of those things have come true. Whoa.

I got goose bumps and somewhat emotional.

Inside was a poster from the Garden of the Gods, which I had collected 5 years ago on a track race bike trip with my mom. Something about that place touched me then. I remember feeling overwhelmed and giddy when visiting the Olympic Training Center. The mountains, the dry air - the Rocky Mountain high. It felt so right to be there - and I felt a strong, intuitive connection to the Springs. And now, the big news.... I'm moving there. In two weeks.

This may come as a shock to most of you - but it's something I've been thinking about doing for quite some time now. A fresh start, a huge step, and sun. Lots and lots of sun. Oh and skiing. And mountain biking. And training altitude. And, and, and..... a Big Spoon.

I also put a note in there to have long fingernails. And after 30+ years of biting, I finally quit.

So what's next? Adding more things to my dream box.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011


Big things are happening right now and it's keeping me insanely busy. I will fill you all in when I get a moment.

I will note - that I was cleaning out my gear closet in the basement this morning and got stopped cold in my tracks by a forgotten bag. Inside were Ryan's clothes from the cabin. They still smell like him. And I couldn't move. I cursed myself for holding onto them. For having to endure something that hard - and suddenly being teleport back to day I found out.

Sometimes examining the things in your closet is the hardest thing you could possibly do.

Whoa, that was a rough one.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


I did an hour recovery ride this morning and it felt AMAZING. My legs spun happily along, thankful for the break and are eager to get back to some racing action. Three days off - completely. Funny how in that short of time you can rekindle your love and passion for two wheeled adventures. Being in the saddle is therapy - I spend time visualizing, exercising deep breathing, and living in the now. It's a portal to happiness.

Six years ago I made a wise decision to prioritize my access to pedaling and it has proved, many times over, to be a smart move. Life is too short to be taken for granted and not do the things you love. Live your passion and follow your dreams.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Wow, what a month. 18 race days in the past 30. I should be tired, and I am.

I have three days off in a row - no bike, no pedaling. Just vegging out. Playing catch up on chores, mentally recharging, spa time, berry picking, jam making, walking the pooch and watching terrible Jack Black movies. And then I get to take my 29er to the dirt. Yes, please.

I take this time off seriously. I spend more time on my couch, feat up, tele on and enjoy the sheer simplicity of doing nothing. I am plugging in my rechargeable batteries and waiting for the green light to illuminate before I blast off again on another big block of training.

Ballard, Bellingham, Burien.... I'm seeing a trend with "B" city named races. Derby Days was close - but it's great to humbled by a veteran pro who is one of the nicest people on the planet. Funny, Amara's photos from the event show me smiling through the finish line. And looking back it's because my head is in a great space. I love competition and being tested on my ability is certainly a highlight of racing. And sure, who doesn't want to win every race? But realistically - who can win every race? To me, knowing you gave something your full attention and effort is something to be proud of and happy about. And on that day I did just that - along with my teammates. (But you can bet I've replayed that race finish over and over in my head on how to improve it for the win - come on, I am sort of competitive!)

Monday, July 11, 2011

Slurpee Day

7/11/11. A cool day as far as days are concerned. And in honor of 7-eleven... here's snap shot Amara took of Jim Flynn and I sporting some sick jerseys in the men's Madison last Friday.

Thursday, July 07, 2011

A different kind of speed.

My track bike's chain stays are pristine. I only ride it in dry conditions on the velodrome. It lacks the missing paint chunks from a chain battering the stays. My bike's pedals are fixed to the drive train so that when it's moving, so do the pedals. I pump my tires in excess of 140 psi. I have one gear.

But my, oh my - do I lust over some down hill adventures.

I watch these aerialists fly through the air with bated breath. My jaw drops observing the impossible lines these athletes take. They fly through the air sideways, landing on 35 psi fat tires, punishing dual suspension, rocking their bodies in a whirl of adrenaline, close calls and hairy descents. They trust their line, their bike and most of all - gravity.

Kona Operator - Shimano Saint from Christopher Halcrow on Vimeo.

I want to try this.

Dirt awaits...

Kona Magic Link Enduro Sessions from Christopher Halcrow on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

I follow several blogs - and discovered the Boring Runner blog by clicking on the "next blog" button at the top of this page. He has quite a following and is constantly adding content. And since I've been traveling/racing a ton I wasn't able to catch up, until today.

The post that had me rolling is linked here.

But the photo itself can stand alone, no problem.

Tuesday, July 05, 2011

Pedaling for Joy

Or should I title this one, the joy of pedaling?

Either way, every time I crank out some revolutions a big fat smile spreads across my face. I am living in the moment, intoxicated with fresh air and endorphins, soaking in experiences and views that life has to offer and Vitamin D. I find so much joy in competition - from mastering the art of cornering, collaborating efforts with teammates, feeling the flow of the group, anticipating the surges and testing the body - and demanding your competitors challenge you and visa versa.

What a weekend. I had my own personal stage race. Track on Friday and Saturday and crits on Sunday and Monday, with a plane transfer. But my favorite part was racing with my teammates who are so savvy and bad ass. I am honored to deliver them a win yesterday. We all had big fat smiles on our faces. And I hope someone caught us doing a four way hug huddle after the race on Monday. Summer bike racing with friends? Yes, please!

Viva Velo!

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Tapping into potential.

I signed up for the keirin with nothing to lose. I am an endurance rider and the keirin certainly falls into the sprinting realm, if you ask me. I went into the race with no expectations or pressure. The first heat I played the patience game and was close but not close enough. I definitely felt like I had a lot more speed and umph to give.

In the rep rounds, the top four advance into the semi-finals. I went in with a mission and accomplished it by making a move long before a lap to go and stuck it to the line.

In the semi-finals I remember thinking, I wonder how many girls make it through to the final? And crossed the finish line in the top four, advancing to the final. I found this out after the race from tela and we both laughed because I had no clue.

Going into the final I was giddy. And relaxed and probably a little annoying. I selected position one from the grab bag of marked golf balls. The gun went off and colleen took the motor and I seeded in to fifth wheel, out of eight. The speed increased, the motor dropped us off at 28mph and all of the girls in front of me moved up track, with the exception of colleen. I didn't hesitate at all and took the pole lane. Dana attacked over the top, Colleen accelerated, I matched her speed and we drilled it. Going into corner three I thought, holy shit! I could win this! But then walker came up and over and I came around Colleen and edged closer to dana - placing me in third. Let me repeat that, THIRD! In the keirin! I think I'm more surprised then anyone!

Next up: the points race. 40 laps with a field of 27. Beth jumped at the gun, setting a wicked fast tempo for the entire race. And letting everyone know we were here to race our bikes this year. Attack after attack snapped the rubber band in my non-existent track legs. I managed a point but had zero left in the tank. I think I placed 8th or so but had a huge smile on my face. Did I mention I got third in the keirin? Ha!

Next up: miss and out and the scratch race. Time to throw down again. Then in the morning I have an early flight home and grab the pooch and my sis as we head up to Bellingham for the state crit. Good times!

Friday, July 01, 2011

Good morning from sunny Caaaaaaaaalllllllliiiiiiifronia!

I'm sitting in Beth newels fabulous house in Oakland accompanied by a fleet of bikes in three of five rooms in the house, delicious food in the fridge, fresh brewed coffee in the French press. The excitement is building for the first of the west coast summer track camps and reconnecting with old friends. And I slept 9 hours straight. Yes!!!

On tap for the weekend: tessarosa velodrome challenge. 25 or so ladies are signed up for the endurance events. Yours truly will be contesting the keirin, points, scratch and miss and out. This is the fifth year running of the event and it's crazy to see old footage from those races - and realize how much accumulated knowledge and muscle memory has developed since then, not to mention hair styles and bike upgrades.

Racing doesn't start until this evening so the morning roller ride is first priority, eating, lounging, sleeping, surfing, you know- the important things. I'm building up my energy for some cheetah action tonight. Focus, speed, and as Anita would say, going for the jugular.