Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Colorado Springs is on fire.

We woke up to bad news this morning.

The Waldo Canyon fire that started last weekend took a turn for the worse. What was originally a small fire has grown to epic proportions, evacuating and burning the homes of many Colorado Spring residents. The streets where I once did hill repeats are now closed, possibly engulfed in flames. It takes me 20 minutes to ride there from our house. Benjamin's work is under mandatory evacuation.

We received a text from our house and dog sitter asking us what kind of plan we have. What plan? The one where if the fires take a turn and head back toward the city plan. The one where you take any valuables you don't want burned plan.

What about the let's wake up from this nightmare plan?

We just booked flights leaving in a few hours to return back to COS from Palma. We touch down tomorrow night in a city far from how we last left it. Ash and smoke will fill the sky. We will collect our things, hoping things improve and that fire fighters are able to some how and some way contain this fire.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Yeah for remembering my camera!

A beautiful blue ocean reflects the sky.

Oh the stories this tower could tell, I'm sure.

The road I rode winds along this coast for 40 km. Kick ass.

The small coastal town of Estellencs.

I spotted a sweet straw hat here for Benjamin but alas, I had no where to stick it for the return 35km ride home.

This is a two way street.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Encouragement: Pass it on.

The year was 1984. I was in our basement in Eugene, Oregon balancing on one leg, transfixed at our wooden television as Mary Lou Retton vaulted her way into Olympic history books. That year she won the all around competition, something no one outside of the Eastern Europe had accomplished. I'll never forget her steady concentration and focus as she ran down the runway toward the vault, catapulting off the hurdle, flipping around in the air and landing, scoring a perfect 10. Even at six years old, I understood the enormity of what Mary Lou had just accomplished.

I did a couple of round ups on a metal bar placed in the door jam between the family and laundry room. I knew right then and there I would never be a gymnast. No, no. I would out grow most girls by the end of that year and I was practically the same size of Mary Lou at age six! My talent would lie in my legs, undiscovered for several years. But the fire ignited.

It's important to have strong female athlete role models growing up. I wonder if things had been different if we were tuned into "The Price is Right" show instead of the '84 Olympics. Maybe I could have been a world class shopper. Nah, I don't think so.

Seeing Mary Lou do her thing on National television showed me that expressing yourself by moving your body is a good thing. That hard work, determination and sweat should be celebrated and not down played. I didn't think it strange when I was one of a couple of girls playing with the boys during recess and schooling them during kick ball and being the last person standing during dodge ball. Instead, I thought it was strange that other girls weren't playing with us. What could be more important than booting the ball over the fence or hitting all net during a pick up game of basketball?

Don't get me wrong, I had a Barbie growing up. What little girl named Jennifer born in the late 70's didn't? But she didn't hold my attention: not only were her boobs enormous, getting in the way of any kind of sport, her feet were curved for heels. Heels? Those are for the Vanna White types. And they prevent you from running forward as fast as possible.

Thankfully Title IX passed in 1972, meaning more opportunity for girls to play in organized sports. Having an older brother also helped: I wanted to do everything he did. Basketball, volleyball, track and field, soccer - we played them all. And my mom dutifully drove us to practices and games, with my little sister a babe in arms: watching, observing. I enjoyed playing with other girls on teams, but for some reason they didn't take things as seriously as I did. And since I liked sports, I excelled in them. Yet being a sensitive and intuitive child, I struggled with out performing my female peers and hurting their feelings. When I played with the boys it didn't matter. It was athlete against athlete. But with the girls, I didn't want to step on any ones' toes, let alone pull their hair so I pulled myself back.

Flash forward 12 years. I found a new sport. It empowered me beyond belief. I had a strong female mentor and role model and she introduced me to boxing. I was training with the boys simply because very few girls were into the sport. Fine by me. You want to hold back your jabs because I'm a girl? Forget it. I'm going to clock you. I came home with black eyes and a bruised nose but my heart was soaring. I found a sport that spoke to me: agility, speed, aerobic capacity, and a unique skill set. I fell head over heels in love with pugilism.  It showed. I quickly excelled at the sport and was named as an alternate on the first women's world USA boxing team. I was surrounded by tough girls and I absolutely loved it.

But getting beat in the head took its toll. I suppose part of it had to do with the fact women boxing had a long way to go. In 2001, the chance of women boxing becoming an Olympic sport seemed impossible. I wanted to do what Mary Lou did - I wanted to play my part in the history books. I needed to find a new sport.

Thankfully my sport found me.

I suppose cycling was in my genes all along. My grandfather would go for 50 mile rides on a semi-weekly basis. He would return home, glistening with sweat and peel down to his undershirt, fatigued and barely able to lift his head to shovel in some food. So when a friend suggested I start commuting to work by bike, I promptly bought a bike and thought nothing of it. If Bope could do it, so could I. All I needed was a little encouragement.

(Notice a recurring theme here? Strong role models....)

Encouragement started to come in the form of out riding most men. It also helped that I had a pink bike and would secretly rub it in while cruising by them. "You just got passed by a GIRL on a PINK bike!" I would scream, in my head. That's it - enough shit talking. It's time to test your ability and start racing. I transferred my competitive urge, my fierce determination and soul into cycling. And the sport humbled me, immediately. Or should I say anytime I would point my bike uphill. I loved sprinting and going to head with the best of them, but anytime we would have a gain in elevation, I was out the back quicker then getting a flat. Sure I could win all sorts of flat road races, crits, track races - you name it. But throw in a significant hill and my weakness would come to the forefront.

Hills challenge me more than any other terrain. At first, I would mentally quit before even going up them. Then I started practicing them. And I got better. Then I pulled my hamstring and my confidence went out the door. Every year I would do the same hilly stage races, thinking something magical may have happened over the winter and every year I would curse myself for not losing those extra kilos. Eventually I gave in and focused entirely on flat and fat, I mean fast. Sure it made me feel better, but I still wanted to climb. Or at least be a contender. I wanted that overall title.

Eight years later: thousands of miles ridden, hundreds of races, wet, cold training rides, pasta feeds, and humble pies. I'm diligently working on climbing. I set new realistic expectations and moved to the mountains. And it seems to be working. I may not fly up the hill like Jimmy Cricket, but I get up them. I also ride with the guys, a lot. They push you. And I ride outside of my box. I cross my eyes that much longer, ignore the seething pain in my legs a little longer and I'm starting to get to summits that much quicker. Hard work. Determination. Strong role models. Strong training partners. And listening to goats while you climbed never hurts.

I am so thankful for the strong role models throughout my life and their unsolicited words of encouragement. They make up an important part of the female athlete I am today. Thank you to the Mary Lou's, Bope, Mom, boxing clan and cycling peers. And the countless other people who have contributed big and small in my pursuit of sweaty-ness. Don't worry, I will pass it on.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Paddle Balls

I could live here.


 Despite being thousands of miles from home, not speaking the language let alone understanding it. Actually, why not have a house based here in Mallorca and one in Colorado? Forget flying south for the winter - let's fly half way around the world. A diet built on fish, olive oil, rice - yes, please. Roads so twisty and curvy they are built for bikes and nothing else. Everyone's car bumper tell the story - these roads were built for carts not cars.

Today was an "easy" ride. It had 15 switchbacks, 35 bleating goats, roughly 10 cars, 5 cyclists going the other direction (including Marianne Vos!) and about 3,000 feet of climbing. It was also cooler - only 95 degrees instead of 115. The ridge line summit between Valledemossa and Esporles had an ocean breeze from both sides of the island, making it feel like a refrigerator at a balmy 85 degrees. It felt amazing.

Today's solo venture made me realize just how much I've come to love group rides. The hours and watts tick by, pushing you to greater heights and effort without thinking about it. I looked down a couple of times at my power meter only to think, "that's it?!?" I can push that much harder with other people around... competitive much? Not only am I hitting new max power numbers but my LT has increased by 10%. The other day we did a 40 minute climb and I stuck with the group for all but 800 meters from the top. No doubt about it, it probably would have taken me double that amount of time solo.

Yeah, yeah. The riding is good. But what else do you do?

We play paddle ball at the beach. Well, we did once. Fueled by a Tom Collins and at about 7:45pm. We sucked but giggled the entire time.

We eat amazing foods. Food at the grocery store is so much cheaper here! 100 Euros buys you a weeks worth of food for two people. Actually, it could probably cost less than that, but we are putting in some mileage here. On Benjamin's birthday, I bought 4 pounds of mussels, 2 bottles of white wine, a lemon bigger than my hand, 2 loaves of bread and parsley for 11 Euros.

I've been writing a ton. It's quiet around here, especially when Benjamin heads to the track. I spend my time writing and fine tuning things for my book. The clarity is unparalleled. Things are flowing. And I'm getting that much closer to having a due date.

I got to witness my first Euro bike race! Holy shit it was chaotic! 140 people started and only about 40 finished. One thing's for sure - no matter where you are in the world, a bike race is a bike race. Tires being pumped and numbers being pinned. The biggest difference, other than the narrow roads and hundreds of people mulling about is that the announcer only spoke Spanish. It's nice to know our breed transcends cultures.

The girls are getting super fit. It's really an honor to see them prepare for London. The excitement is building. Get ready world!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

BIG training.

Oh the places I have seen, the roads we have pedaled, and the pounding heart rates and heavy breathing. If you want to ever go on a cycling holiday, Mallorca should be on the top of your list. Miles and miles, or excuse me, kilometers and kilometers of smoothly paved roads, twisty fun summits and daring fast descents. Courteous drivers, cheering bystanders, and town sprint signs. Couple that with several Olympic cyclists and well, you have yourself a pinch me, I must be dreaming opportunity. It baffles me how the series of life events has lead me here - roaming the Spanish hillside and chasing watts and personal bests up climbs.

Today we visited the Orient. Don't let the name fool you. I think it should be renamed the Disorient - as going above Super LT for 15 minutes straight, turning back around and then doing it again two more times left me drained. And try as I did to sustain that power, it was no match for one of the guys who cruised by me like I was standing still. So that's what 400 watts looks like. Well done, sir!

The only thing that got me up the last one was the fact that I would get to descend it.

Pushing yourself to your physical limit came with a reward today: an afternoon nap in front of the fan. I passed out, book open, legs curled up and woke up to an ache. The hams are getting a workout and are starting to scream in protest. Today was a short day - only 2.5 hours in the saddle, tallying 22 hours or so of saddle time this week. My tan lines look sweet on the beach and I'm not self-conscious about them at all. Ha!

Next up: a solo venture to the supermarket. I'm picking up some mussels tonight for a certain somebody's birthday celebration. Super stoked to be able to spend this time with Benjamin in paradise.

Thursday, June 07, 2012


I came to Spain eager to get back to writing. I've been pent up lately, mucked by work and other obligations taking priority. But now I have time, between epic road rides and recovery. The life of Riley, eh? I know, lucky indeed.

My journal is filled with wet ink. Words are spouting out with such urgency, such flow, that hours whiz by. My shoulder is achy and hand arthritic from scribing my observations out. This is what work should be like: where you get lost in time, lost in thought, lost in the passion of what you are doing. It's nice to be reminded that it's time to eat or sleep - you were just too absorbed to notice.

It's nice to find yourself.

I remember feeling lost at a young age. Sitting around and doing nothing always bothered me. Something was stirring inside of me, something I couldn't put my finger on. Something that left me troubled yet unable to come to action.

Thirty-four years young, I've come to recognize and accept that feeling. The one where I must be doing something to feel connected: to feel like my soul and mind aren't being wasted in time. If I just sit there, soaking in nothingness, I get restless.

Ironically, I lose myself when I write. The world around me becomes white noise as I frantically try to keep up with my train of thought. If I pause and soak in what is going on around me, it's like taking a deep breath of air and rejuvenates my spirit. I am here to write: to transcribe the world as I see it. To reveal taboo subjects: sex, death, surrender, acceptance. Human nature and my personal perspective on things. I'm embracing the random nature of thought, the chaotic jumble of understanding, the frantic struggle to get it out before it escapes. These are my truths. This what makes me pause during the day, appreciating life and living it to the fullest.


Settling is for people who lost faith in their beliefs. Who lost patience in pursuing their dreams. Who gave up because that was easier and felt safe at the time. Settling is what keeps unhappy in situations long after they've run their course. Settling is an excuse ans seemingly the norm. Screw the norm. Find your dreams, pursue them with passion and stop listening to doubt.


If your heart is telling you to travel, have a baby, fall in love, shoot a basket, then DO IT. What are you waiting for? An invitation? A perfect moment? Are you waiting for it to be safe? Stop joshing around and take the plunge. The greatest risk is the one not taken. Cliche? Sure. True? Absolutely.


And no one else. Got a "friend" who gets you down every time you hang out? Do yourself a favor - ditch them. You must surround yourself with upbeat, passionate people. The ones who are overly optimistic. Who grab life by the horns and boldly laugh. Who ooze good times and happiness, every day. Those type of people tend to attract others of similar disposition - so keep them near. Next thing you know you'll be surrounded by a village of glass brimming with water people. They will faithfully support your decisions, maintain your well being and give you high fives for your accomplishments. It's in their nature.


No joke. I had no idea how much this one would hold true until I finally took the leap and moved out of the soggy Pacific Northwest. NO. IDEA. And now that I have, I feel like a recovering rain-aholic. Seriously. Something as simple as waking up to sunny skies nearly every day puts a permanent smile on my face. And smiles are a display of inward happiness. Need I say more?


Okay, you don't have to become an exercise fanatic (but it wouldn't hurt!). Figure out what motivates you: a race, a group ride, zumba, jogging, hiking, kayaking, paddle boarding, you name it! But take the time each day to fit exercise into your schedule. I've heard and made excuses in my life to do this, or not. But the moment I put my mind to it and took it seriously. I easily made those goals. And once you achieve those goals, don't stop there. Keep going. Revise them so they are challenging and doable. Celebrate your successes. Optimize your pursuit.


Anything you imagine, you can become. What the mind believes, the body achieves. This is such a broad saying, which is why I love it so much. You, and you alone, have the power and key to personal happiness. If something isn't going your way, change it. How? Figure out a way. If that means moving, taking risks, exposing your heart and desires to perfect strangers, so be it. The universe has an amazing way of bouncing back the vibrations you send out. Sending out the positive, open minded and true feelings bounces right back. It allows you to focus on the positive, taking less than ideal situations in stride and seeing the lessons they bestow. This is more than just a saying, it's a way of being and living. The sooner you open up and accept your reality, the sooner good things can happen. Be true and honest in your approach. Be respectful and trust the process.


Some people's intuitions speak louder than others. Recognize when that inner voice of wisdom is speaking to you and trust it. Be patient and kind. Honing this special gift takes time. But once you harness its power, never doubt it. Believe in yourself.


Why place limiters on life or how it "should" be followed? If there's something that is a road block in your life, try figuring out another way around, through or behind it. Inventors make discoveries by attempting the impossible. Take charge of those limits and test their waters. You might surprise yourself.


If you're attempting to solve the same problems, a new approach may be all it takes. Get outside, go for a hike, clear your mind. Remove the blinders and limiters, open your heart and mind and try something new.


They aren't you. They don't know you. Yet why do you think their opinion matters? It doesn't. Worry about your unique experience, your own life and remove any power judgement holds over you. Wear red. Wear pink. Go naked. But whatever you do, don't wear other people's shade of judgement. You're better than that, smarter than that. And your decisions made from clear thinking are sound. Believe in yourself.


Every person on this planet is here to survive, guaranteeing billions of unique views and ways of doing things. No one gave you the right to declare one way better than another to complete a task. Save the judgement, or rather, ditch it all together.  


You are what you eat. Fuel the body with nutritious foods. Whole grains, vegetables, fruits, fish, fats - yes, please. Your body is a temple and the only physical one you've got. Step away from the fast food and refined sugar! Step away from the cookie jar!


Practicing random acts of kindness really does work. It also builds your karma bank. Being kind shows your inner beauty, a testament to your character. Hold open doors for strangers, carry groceries for the elderly, call your grandparents, let someone else go first in line. Life is precious and is meant to be shared with others.


Get really, really good at doing something. Not just mediocre, but great, fantastic, AMAZING!!!! Become a guru in something and do it with passion. Figure out how to make money doing so. The rest will fall into place. But only after you show your unfaltering work ethic and dedication toward something. Devote your life toward it: love, work, play, hobby, kids, you name it. But do that one thing exceptionally well before moving on to master something else.


Again, this is something that if the planets are aligned right, will resonate back to you tenfold.  Take the risk. Hold loved ones near. Tell them and show them your love in thousands of ways, big and small. Cherish your time together, never taking it for granted. Express your gratitude toward them. Write love notes, bestow flowers, give kisses and hugs and signs of affection. Tell them you love them, every day. And never go to bed angry.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

Mallorca, Spain

So this is paradise. Sunny, warm weather, twisty well paved roads, low population (aside from the beaches), olive orchards, happy birds and sharing it with my love. It's better than I imagined.

I can see the Mediterranean Ocean from our terrace. The ocean air is rich with oxygen. The hills are dotted with limestone outcrops and long bands of exposed rock. The roads are never straight or busy with traffic. I feel like my heart was stolen and I've only been here 24 hours.

Yes, please.

R. Triplett Tribute #5

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. 

The Ultimate Birthday Gift.

Given the tragic set of circumstances surrounding Ryan's sudden death, my life was guaranteed to change. Having someone so close in my life, someone who slept in the same bed, shared the same dreams, thoughts, aspirations and friendship, suddenly disappear left me in complete shock.

It is impossible to imagine such loss until it happens to you.

How I managed to get through the year of firsts continues to baffle me. Whole months of my life lapsed in a time warp, lost as quickly and suddenly as Ryan left. During that time, my soul traveled to unmentionable depths, into an unfathomable abyss.

Yet through the slow, steady passage of time, I started to come to a grand realization. Something that without the experience of loss would never have revealed itself. A gift so amazing, so unique, so touching and grand that I thank my lucky stars everyday for becoming apparent to me.

What is that gift?

It's living life to the fullest. It's recognizing and putting steps in motion to make your dreams come true. It's opening your eyes, heart and soul to truly experiencing life. To following your dreams, never settling, following your intuition and loving every minute of it.

After 4 years of Ryan being gone, I can honestly say I've had more growth than I ever thought possible. I"ve moved to a sunny climate, bought a house, fallen madly in love and continue to chase my dreams. I'm not sure if this would have been my path regardless of Ryan's death, but I'm accepting what happened and looking at it as a huge gift.

Happy Birthday, Ryan. You are missed but your spirit carries on in so many ways. Thank you for showing me.

I am the luckiest girl on the planet.

Saturday, June 02, 2012


Let's play a little game called: see how much time you can spend off your feat while you are in Philadelphia waiting for a big race game, shall we? Turns out I'm good, really good at this one. The city is a buzz with the big race tomorrow. Nearly everyone we passed on the mornings recon ride wished us luck. They know it's a man eating course. Smiling at the crazy lycra clad groups who are all getting ready for a gladiator slaughter. Being a virgin gives me some advantage, I think. The lack of repeat demons, the eyes wide open, the unknown. Oh boy. If I can figure out a way to summon all of their energy into getting me over that big ass wall of a climb, I'll be good! Yeah, I know. It's only 800 metres. But one section is 17% grade, gulp. Man eating and baby, I'm fresh blood. Yes, that's a 28 on the back. No, I'm not riding it in my big ring... And I plan on using that pizza pie!