Tuesday, May 29, 2012


Do you ever have those days when you wake up just stoked? Stoked to be alive. Stoked for the things that are coming your way. Stoked from recognition of all the amazing things going on in your life. Stoked from all the love surrounding you. Stoked just for the sake of being stoked?

Me neither.

Just kidding. Today is totally one of those days. And I'm pretty sure I know why - in roughly 48 hours I'm leaving on a big 5 week adventure. First stop - Philadelphia to race in the Liberty Classic on Sunday. I'm guest riding for a team called Cawes based out of DC. My friend Jocelyn hooked me up with these ladies and I can't wait! It's going to be hard, challenging and fantastic, all at once. Going to battle on this level is a new experience and I'm looking forward to absorbing, learning and seeing how I stack up.

Then come Monday afternoon, I continue my journey East over the big pond (Atlantic Ocean) and fly into Benjamin's arms on the Spanish island of Mallorca. He's over there doing pre-Olympic training with the girls and I get to tag along. For a month. Yippee!!!

See? Lots of things to be stoked about.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Coal Miner's Daughter

Wearing pink shorts, corn rose and a stocky frame, Christi Martin is my idol. "The Coal Miner's Daughter" was her nickname and she without a doubt helped legitimize women's boxing. She had 57 fights in her career, with 49 wins, 31 of which were by knock out.
This montage is from the Laila Ali vs. Christi Martin fight. You read that right: Ali has a daughter, in case you haven't heard. She towered over Christi. And knocked her out. Did that keep her from getting back in the ring? No way.

 With a career spanning from 1989 to 2011, her last recorded fight was in 2011. It stopped in the 6th round because she broke her hand. Read: Tough Cookie.

The reason I bring her up: yesterday was the Coal Miner's Race in Louisville. Around and around we went on a 2 mile circuit. Blows were traded - attacks and counters. Keeping your head in the game and your wits about you is crucial to succeeding. In a small field of 15, there's no room to hide. You have to work. You are also going round and round with more than one opponent. You must calculate the risk of break combinations that go up the road. You must calculate your tank and its reserves, monitoring it's levels and knowing how many matches you have. Thankfully, you aren't getting punched in the head. Instead your legs are taking the blows. 

Final lap - judge decision time. No TKO's today - the field is compact and together. Jockey for position, sitting fourth/fifth wheel before the final bend. It's show time. Time to demonstrate your tactics, your sprint, your power. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it doesn't. Yesterday it worked. Another win. Another set of goosebumps so big and then a wave of nausea - making me feel so alive. So thankful for the opportunity to compete. So grateful my sport no longer involves broken noses, black eyes and constant concussions. 

I may have stopped boxing a decade ago, but the competitor never faltered. I love this shit.

Friday, May 25, 2012

R. Triplett Tribute #4

This is the fourth year since Ryan's passing. In commemoration of his being, I'm putting out a series of 5 tributes: a collection of short true stories of experiences we shared and in essence, give you a glimpse of his unforgettable character. With his 35th birthday coming up on June 5th, and going into the fifth year of his absence, I wanted the world know what a big impression he left on my life. 

Every time I hear the Postal Service, I am transported back to 2001. We had just married and had so much adventure and life a head of us. A honeymoon in Yosemite, nearly dying, bringing Makiah into our lives, moving to Seattle, starting new.

Death Cab for Cutie blossomed out of Bellingham the same time we did.

Flash forward to September 7, 2008....

When Ryan passed, word spread like wild fire. The outpouring from the cycling and climbing communities was huge. 300 people showed up to his memorial, a testament to the people he touched. I was speechless. One person after another got up and told a funny sweet story about Ryan.

I feel for those who never met him. Each person who spoke said they felt like Ryan was their best friend. He never judged anyone, always made time for those he loved and listened well.

Josh put together an amazing compilation of songs. Songs that Ryan listened to, songs that embodied his spirit, songs that remind me of him that I swear he's in the room with me whenever I listen to them.

I haven't cried like this in a while. I actually have more snot on my clothing from my own nose then Moonli's.  I know it's part of the process - part of the healing and remembering and love.  Oh, the path of life. Sometimes it rips your heart out. To have found love again is such a gift. Something so unexpected and wonderful. Thank you Ryan.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Porsche 2012 Track Day

Today was like a powder day on the slopes. You don't mind that you're getting up super early because you know you are guaranteed a shit eating grin from ear to ear, all day. I even woke up before my alarm went off - impressive!

Why, might you ask?
This might have had something to do with it....

Porsche of Colorado Springs sponsors our Pro Design bike racing team. And part of our team membership includes volunteering for various events. Today's event: 8+ hours of track time down in Fountain, Colorado at Pike Peak International Raceway.

It was rough.

I mean seriously. We had to corner marshal, watch fast street and race cars zoom around the track, ride with Fred the professional race driver and then have a turn at it ourselves.

I haven't squealed like that since Six Flags with Benjamin.

Meet my friend, Mr. 911 S. Don't worry, this one is used. You can purchase it for just shy of $100,000.

They actually let me drive this thing. 115 mph (or maybe more? I wasn't looking at the dashboard....)

Porsche of COS rented the entire track as a thank you to its customers and even some upper management came to check it out. Joe Brenner, a friend and GM put on quite a show.

Thanks Porsche. I now have a new interest....

Monday, May 21, 2012

Bon voyage!

It's just me and the puppies this Monday morning. Benjamin left in the wee hours this morning - Olympics bound. Next stop: Majorca, then London. Two and a half months of travel away from COS... a little over 70 days till the USA girls take to the velodrome.

It's kind of a big deal, yo.

What a wild trip it's been.

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Superior Morgul Classic

I'm lounging in Denver right now, at my teammate Therese's house listening to the rain showers pass through. The legs are propped up, the butt nearly asleep, the tummy full and a slight smile satisfaction spreading. Last night I slept 10+ hours, sleep that I apparently needed. And it paid off today. Thank goodness because the day before the uphill TT killed me. Well, nearly killed me.

I definitely recommend pre-riding a TT course any time you get a chance. Scratch that. It should be mandatory. Show up to the race as early as you have to - but make it a priority. Profile views of a course are only so helpful. That being said, the course favored those who have suffered up it before. And guess what? The top several podium spots were all Boulder locals. Flora Duffy, a recent Olympic selection athlete, Heather Fischer, a recent Collegiate National Champion, Cari Higgins, a general bad ass professional, etc - sick competition if you ask me. And that's just to name a few.

Today provided a little redemption. Actually, it provided a lot. I even got into a two up breakaway, then soloed off the front for 4 laps, won a QOM point sprint and then recovered back in the pack long enough to recharge for the final sprint, ending up 3rd. Not shabby!

And now I rest up for tomorrows queen stage - a 54 mile road race that travels up the "wall" 5 times. Perfect practice for Philly. And time to see if those hill repeats will pay off.

Nail. Hammer, hammer, hammer.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

R. Triplett Tribute #3

This is the fourth year since Ryan's passing. In commemoration of his being, I'm putting out a series of 5 tributes: a collection of short true stories of experiences we shared and in essence, give you a glimpse of his unforgettable character. With his 35th birthday coming up on June 5th, and going into the fifth year of his absence, I wanted the world know what a big impression he left on my life.

Ryan was an athlete at conception. He came out of his mother's womb ready to tackle the world. By age two he was skiing down Washington State's steep terrain, skating circles around most adults on the ice and by age four, pointing his skis straight down hill with no fear. In school his drive was recognized as he made All Star team after All Star team, despite usually being the smallest guy on the squad.

His work ethic and natural born talent made him extremely coach-able and dozens and dozens of Most Valuable Player awards adorned his trophy collections.

His mom, understanding his drive and passion, supported him the best way a mother can - driving him to and from hockey practice, to the mountains, basketball courts and soccer fields. But his focus didn't end on the training grounds - Ryan would come home and do hundreds of sit ups and push ups in his room after practice. Tom, his step dad, would walk into his room, hearing Ryan counting and strange noises from upstairs and catch him legs wrapped around his top bunk, suspended in air and doing sit ups, "24, 25, 26, 27..." and start adding in numbers: "8, 16, 4, 7, 23". Ryan would lose track, get upset and then start all over again from the beginning.

In high school, Ryan focused primarily on hockey. He spent the majority of his time in Canada - teaching in Penticton, playing with sharp skates, hurling sticks and reaching his VO2 Max daily. Again, since he was smaller than most, he worked even harder. Bigger, slower opponents could send him flying across the ice but they'd have to catch him first. And often Ryan skated circles around them. He also was the one to start the most fights - losing his front tooth before he had his first tattoo.

By the time Ryan and I met, hockey had run its course in his life. Or at least wasn't the dominant drive it had once been. Hanging out with his friends and partying became important. He took a year off from school after graduating high school. Yet somehow, call it fate or destiny, our circle of friends knew one another and as a result we met. But his drive and passion was shifting.

He enrolled back in school and applied himself to his studies. He excelled at math and computer science. And during that time he discovered rock climbing. Or rather, it discovered him. He became obsessed, as only a lifelong athlete can. But living in the wet Pacific Northwest climate is rough for a burgeoning climber. I remember early one summer, I dropped Ryan off at Josh's house for a two week long road/climbing trip, and he returned transformed. That trip cemented his love for climbing.

By default, I started climbing too. I loved spending time with Ryan, in the outdoors and going places only a handful of people on the planet have been. We spent our honeymoon in Yosemite - the birthplace of American climbing. We traveled to Europe to climb Fontainebleu, Ceuse, the Dolomites, the Bavarian Forest, Chamonix. We road tripped down to Arizona, California, Oregon, Idaho, Colorado, and Utah.

During those road trips, we would swap driving but every time rock came into view, either off the side of the freeway or an obscure place, Ryan would forget he was behind the wheel and marvel at the rock, nearly crashing. And if I was behind the wheel, he would glue his eyes to the window asking me to slow down. What did he see? What was this drive?

It was becoming clear to me that Ryan's love for climbing went beyond normal interests. He was so passionate about rocks - the way they form, the way they feel, the way they climb - that I had to find something I was equally as passionate about. Unfortunately it wasn't hauling myself up granite slabs. Sure, I enjoyed it. Especially multi-pitch  adventure routes. But it stopped there. Cycling entered into my life and swept me off my feet.

Even though we were involved in different sports and as a result spent a lot of time apart on the weekends, we both saw the importance of supporting one another in our sports. Not a day went by where he would ask me how my ride was that day, nor I him about the bouldering problem he was tackling. When ever I would ride up to Little Si after work to meet him and his friends at World Wall 1, I would be introduced to people and they would know more about my cycling career then I would. Ryan was so proud of me, and I in turn of him.

I saw and recognized the beauty of following your passion. Of devoting your life toward what drives you. Of being absolutely content because you are following your heart. Ryan's heart yearned to climb upside down. He loved the physical challenge and the mental fortitude required. Any one who knew him saw this about his character immediately.

Every time I see an outcrop of rock (and there are a lot of them here in Colorado Springs), I think of him. I look at the natural climbing lines, its texture and am reminded that following your passion is the only way to live.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Weekend Roundup

I love the feeling of come Monday, you're ready for another weekend to start. Most people recuperate on the weekends, take time to do stuff around the house: projects, cleaning, rest, etc. Not our house. We race our bikes on the weekend and win money! Yay!

Saturday morning we woke up to crappy weather. And by crappy, I mean cloudy with a 30% chance of rain. (My mindset has COMPLETELY changed since living in Seattle. Rather than feeling like I have to get out and exercise in it no matter what, I am now selective. Honestly, there are that many nice days here. I still ask myself, why did I wait this long?!?)

We slowly got out of bed and then frantically packed the car for a double race day. I raced first, starting at 11:35am in South East Denver. The prize list was pretty good - with 3 one hundred dollar primes on the line. Right before the start, Benjamin reminded me that the primes would pay better and my focus was singularly on that bell. The first prime came and I jumped hard. So hard that my rear wheel peeled out. So hard that I had at least five bike lengths on the person behind me. And so hard that when they rang the bell for the second prime on the proceeding lap, I dug deep. Really really deep. And I won another prime. $200!

Unfortunately I tapped into my upper limits, hitting a new max power and unable to recover. It seriously felt like a track effort, I went so hard. Did I need to? No way. I could have razor-ed. I should have razor-ed. But instead I blew my wad going for it. I showed my entire suite of cards. "Look what I can do!" (Dope!)

So when Therese's attack came immediately following the sprint, up the hill, I tapped out. I could only maintain 120 watts. The pack was splintered, Benjamin was on the side of the road giving me "what the?!?! go get those girls!" and I had nothing.




$200 bones. And a hole dug so deep, I didn't recover until about 3pm that afternoon. The race ended and I finished- last place.

In the meantime, Benjamin, who for the record has been training since his return from Australia and is racing in the Cat 35+ 3's - crushed it. He won the field sprint for second. Bam! Guess what his prize money was? $20 and a gift card.

We waited to sign up for the last race of the day - the men Cat 3's, which started at 5pm. The clouds were hovering, threatening to dump rain but Philly's coming up and pack maneuvering and positioning practice will always come in handy. Plus I convinced Therese to sign up as well. So the three of us played with the boys, moving around, positioning out of the wind, setting up for the sprint. With three to go, I came to the front and kept the pace up. Benjamin set himself up for the final sprint and managed 2nd - AGAIN! Another $20 in prize money.

We woke up Sunday morning, feeling like a train wreck. The weather did in fact move in as we were finishing the last race and we opted out of a cool down so we could get warm and drink beers. But training was in our cards so we headed up to Captain Jack's on the mountain bikes with Joey. And I swear, that ride is my ALL TIME favorite trail. It puts the biggest, cheesiest shit eating grin on my face than anything else. Plus it's free. We actually were rained on - so we rushed home, ate a plateful of nachos and passed out on the couch for 3 hours. A perfect weekend, if you ask me.

Next week: Superior Morgul. A Colorado classic with the same course as the Red Zinger Classic. Bring back the 80's!

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

Wednesday Workout

Wednesdays rule. And today is no exception.

Not only did I wake up to picture perfect blue skies (for the 250th day this year), had an awesome talk with my friend Laura, but I also got to do 6! Manitou/Manayunk hill repeats.

Why? Well Liberty Classic is in the beginning of June and has a WALL of a climb on the course that we'll be doing multiple laps on. Thankfully we have a hill that's about the same pitch and nearly the same length. Benjamin has me doing full out efforts on it in preparation. And yes, I curse their difficulty but celebrate their result. And I will be oh so thankful for them come June 3.

 (This is looking back down at the climb. At the bottom is a hair pin turn where I start my effort full gas to the top of the hill. It hurts.)

I'll also be thankful for not doing them at altitude on that day. The air is that much thinner up there! But oh my, what an amazing day. And after my sixth set, I was able to stop and soak in the view. Pikes Peak is one beautiful mountain. And that Coco Cola tasted good as a reward.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

Beedeep, beedeep. Yes, I am human.

It was just one of those days.

I woke up normal. I rode with Benjamin that morning and felt okay. But when I took those first 30 pedal strokes of the mountain bike race in Castle Rock, I knew something was up. My body protested. My mind screamed. And for once, after pushing it for an hour - thinking I would come through it, that it was just the cobwebs from resting all week - I gave in. I allowed myself to stop.

That's right, I quit.

I pulled by the finish line for the second of three laps after passing all of the encouraging bystanders, found an open spot, put my bike down and laid down.

"That's it!?" a girl next to me asked.

My eyes were still closed.

"Yep. I'm done."

And after a few moments in the fetal position, cursing my womanhood, and cursing my competitive streak of wanting to keep going, but knowing better - I rolled up on my side and talked to the voice.  Turns out she's brand new to road racing this year and cheering on her hubby who prefers mountain biking. I told her these days are normal every once in a while. That it's normal to have a bad day. That's what makes the good days good.

As Benjamin put it, some days you're the hammer and other days you're the nail (in the coffin).

The next day we had a road race in Deer Creek, a two hour drive from Colorado Springs. Being a new day, I focused on positive imagery and knew that the previous day was a fluke. That I'm only human. And that I have the power to make the most out of the next opportunity. I had five category three teammates toe to the line so the day was focused on mentoring and trying different tactics on the group to see what works and what doesn't. It was a great experience. And as we were setting up for the final few kilometers, I knew something good was going to happen. I had practiced it in my head that morning.

I waited, I was patient and then I sprinted like hell. And guess what happened?

I won. Again. 

Some days you are the hammer.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

ob·serv·ant /əbˈzərvənt/

Is it possible to be too observant? To notice things that no one else does, that to the naked and untrained eye and brain no one else can see?

To look at a piece of art and notice the intricate detail and different brush strokes; to see a lawn and notice the ant farm pulsing beneath the soil; to smell the forest and the underlying scent of morel mushrooms; to notice a squeaky chain and converesly, an oiled one; to notice who's breathing harder in a race and observing their body language; to pick up on someone's emotions; to recognize a moment when a friend needs a hug more than anything; to see that life is full of abundant observations and you get to choose what to do with that information.

Are we trained to observe those things? Is it because we pay attention only to the things that greatly interest us? Or that we are paid to observe?

For some, this observance comes naturally to a wide scope of things. I consider myself one of those people. I notice when life is happening - right before my eyes and from afar. Everyday I observe the immediate world spinning in front of me and choose how to process it. Admittedly, my lenses are rose colored. I definitely choose to focus on the positive things happening: the laughing babies, the happy people, harmony whirling all around. The more I see it, the more it shows itself to me. Doors open, experiences broaden, life is experienced in HD.

I challenge you to be more observant. To take an ordinary task, something you do everyday, and notice something new about it. See how moving something on your desk increases productivity or reduces stress; write a love note just because; how mowing the lawn upsets the ant hill yet frees up a new food source; how nice and quiet it can be without those yapping wiener dogs next door. :)

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

This is Makiah before.... 

I got a little carried away.

I was just going to give Makiah a trim this morning. And I started with the longer attachment on a pair of sheers. When I had her flip to the other side after spending nearly an hour on her right side, I didn't realize I forgot to put the attachment back on. Not until I thought, wow - these things are working much better!

Uh oh. I buzz cut my dog.

Seeing as I still had her head and chest to do, and that I had already spent 3 hours trimming the little fur ball, I made an executive decision and gave her the lion mane cut.

I think she's pissed. But then again, she always seems to be. After vacuuming up enough fur to fill a pillow case, I went upstairs and found her and Moonli cuddling. Those who know Makiah know she doesn't "cuddle." Her exterior fur keeps her extra toasty but being naked she was practically spooning with him.

I'm seriously contemplating not taking her to the dog park until it grows back or once we get a scorcher. Poor dog.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

Little moments in life...

Little moments in life, the one's that normally go unobserved, often mean the most.

...Watching Benjamin mow the lawn for the first time, while Moonli and Makiah watched from a safe distance....

...Buying a BBQ for our kick ass backyard....

...Getting travel plans arranged for this summer's Spain/London extravaganza....

...Playing Mario Kart tournaments and listening to Benjamin dish out how much better he is than me and then rubbing it back when I beat him fair and square....

...Feeling so content just being...

...Loving the spring weather with one perfect sunny day after another (why did I wait so long?!?)....

...Trying so hard to learn Spanish and repeating the words I learn to Benjamin and listening to him snicker as I butcher their pronunciation... and still butchering them when I repeat them back to him (Mr. Triple Major, one of which was in Spanish)...

...Riding Penny, my Felt cruiser, to and from work.... and ringing my bell at people I pass as they smile at me....

See? The little things...

W is for Winner!

Whoa - where did last week go? It's Tuesday already, nearly a week since my last post and things went by in a whirl! Days were filled with lots of work (trying to get as many hours as possible in before heading to Spain), training hard (prepping for Liberty Classic in Philly), house stuff, dog stuff, mountain biking, racing - you name it! Oh, and quality time on the couch with Benjamin playing Mario Kart. I mean, priorities - right?

By the time Sunday rolled around and we were heading out to the group ride, I was overcooked. Probably more mental than anything - I didn't have the desire to push my body any more. And if I did, it came in short bursts of speed that left me gasping for air. For good reason too - I've been hitting it hard since returning from Australia. And all of that work is paying off with back to back wins the past two weekends.

Yep, you read that right: another W. In a completely different discipline. Crit, Mountain, Spring Classic - I like to spread the love!

Now it's a rest week and I'm getting in some much needed rest. I'm working the brain on learning Spanish, the body in yoga class and enjoying one sunny day after another. Stopping to smell the roses is pretty sweet.