Monday, August 26, 2013

24 hours of Hell(side)

Four months ago, if you had asked me if I wanted to try to mountain bike for 24 hours I would've said, "Hell no." I'm a lover of sleep so riding a bike for that long seemed impossible. Then I ended up inadvertently riding for over 24 hours at Alexander in May and I got the idea of trying a 24 hour mountain bike race stuck in my head.

I have no idea why I thought riding on gravel for 24 hours qualified me to ride on singletrack for 24 hours. 

Luckily for me, the 24 hours of Hellside was taking place on my birthday so I got my chance. I could eat cupcakes AND ride my bike. Perfect!

We were scheduled to start at 5pm Friday, so I spend the morning cooking.
Don't worry- I shared the cupcakes.
It might seem like a lot, but I assure you I ate all but one piece of that pizza by 5pm Saturday, along with endless amounts of M&M's, Snickers, Dr. Pepper, Gatorade and salami sandwiches. I was still hungry all day Sunday.

By 5pm, I was amped and ready to go. We started with a quick trail run before getting on our bikes so for once I actually got to be ahead of Big E for a couple of miles.  Unfortunately, just before he caught me on lap one, I heard a scream through the trees. There was no mistake it was him. A few seconds later I heard him moan. I was off my bike in seconds charging through the trees following the sounds of his moans. I would like to say I was his hero and made it to his side in seconds. It went nothing like that. I panicked and ran circles in the woods instead, close enough to see him but unable to figure out how to get there.

Clearly I'm not the person you want around in an emergency.

In hindsight, this was probably a good thing because if I'd seen this I probably wouldn't have gotten back on my bike.
Thankfully, Sue had made it to him and they assured me he was okay and I could keep riding. Needless to say I was a little shaky the rest of lap 1.

The first few laps went by fast. By lap four, I needed lights. The fatigue set in right about the time it got dark. With only my single gear, suddenly I was tipping over on uphills I had ridden earlier. So, by lap five, I had switched to flat pedals. I'd brought them only in case of a broken pedal or cleat, but in the end, they were the best thing I brought. I'd completely underestimated my ability to actually handle a bike after 6 hours of single track.  Being able to hop off and run or walk was a life saver.

By the end of lap 7, I was fried. It was after 2am and I needed sleep. You'd think it would come easily, but two hours later, after not a wink, I finally got back up, got back on the bike and returned to the suffering. As I neared the end of that lap, the sun came up, making it worth one more lap without sleep.

At this point, I was discovering just why 24 hour mountain bike races are so hard. I was too tired to ride, but too amped to sleep. I needed all of my brain power to keep from crashing, but only had 50 percent of it left.  Completely delirious, I discovered I couldn't even get my own socks off to put try clothes on to lay down. All I could do was lay on the ground with my legs in the air and laugh hysterically as Big E pulled them off. Clearly I needed a nap.

Two hours, and probably less than an hour of sleep later, I gave up on sleep again and headed back out. Somehow, on and off, I managed  a few more laps, taking solace in the fact that I at least had company frequently since the guys who'd slept at night were now riding circles around me. Finally, just before 3pm, I had to sit down in the middle of a lap.  I'd seen leaves I thought were turtles and nearly crashed crossing the only pavement on the course. When I finally finished that lap, I called it a day. I watched the boys duke it out for a couple more laps and stressed out about how in the heck I was ever going to be able to drive the hour home. All that riding and the thing that worried me most was having to drive me car!

In the end, it was an awesome way to spend a birthday. It was torturous and so much harder than I thought it would be, but it was totally worth it, as all torturous things usually are.

So here's to being one year older....and 24 hours wiser.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

The Girl Unsupervised Store

A couple of weeks ago, I got tired of searching for pictures of quotes I wanted to use on the blog. So I decided I should just take the quotes I wanted and paint them on signs. Somehow, between Big E buying me some wood and his buddy giving me even more, that turned into 51 signs. One of those was a special one I made for Big E. Then the neighbor asked if he could buy one while I was painting my heart out in the backyard so now there are 49.  Of course, I already have a list of more to make because once I start a project, I just go full steam ahead until I drop from exhaustion.

Since all I really want to keep is a picture of each one, they will all go up in the new Girl Unsupervised Store.  There are currently only nine because the rest don't have twine yet. As they come, I'll be adding more.  Hopefully at some point, each one will end up here with a story of its own. Of course, if you have a good quote you think I should make into a sign, I'm always open to ideas. Stealing your genius is much easier than inventing my own....

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

No Faceplants

Some decisions in life are harder than others. Usually the tough ones are those in which we aren't sure of the outcome. It's easy to be bold when you know the landing will be soft. It's a lot harder when your have absolutely no idea if you're going to faceplant on gravel or somehow sprout wings and soar. (I'm sure there's something in between the two but I seem to be prone to one or the other.)

Apparently I'm not all that afraid of a frequent faceplant because more often than not I make decisions with no idea of the outcome. I'm kind of an all or nothing gal so it's hard for me to do something with less than all my energy. Trust me, there are days when I wish I knew how to half-ass a job. Unfortunately, in my forty-one years of life, I have yet to perfect this skill. So, when I know I'm done putting my heart into something, I tend to move on, even if I have no idea what's next.

I've made no secret my latest job sucked. Finally, one day a few weeks ago, I decided enough was enough. I changed the date on the already-typed resignation letter on my computer and the deed was done. Do I have another full-time job? No. Could this be a really bad idea? Yes.  Does that scare the crap out of me? Uh-huh. Is that going to stop me? Nope, because in the end, sometimes you have to let go of the crappy stuff in life so you can work your butt off toward something better.

Here's to hoping for wings instead of faceplants.....

Tuesday, August 13, 2013


 This weekend was an impromtu girls weekend. The girls being me and Chili Uno.... Since she fits nicely in the new car, I packed her up along with a little camping gear and headed toward Cable and some trails. Friday evening, we did a quick loop of my first CAMBA trail, Rock Lake, and then headed to our campsite for a low maintenance, high-fat dinner to fuel up for some exploring on Saturday.
Who needs a grill?
 Thankfully Big E had warned me of CAMBA's remoteness so I set out well-prepared (for once) on Saturday. I had my lighter, lots of food, tools, toilet paper, maps....

Unfortunately, there was a gap between my maps somewhere around 20 miles in, where I was trying to cut from one trail to another. Of course, I got curious and followed some CAMBA signs and ended up "misplaced." Thankfully, I still had my sense of direction and knew if I headed north, I'd find a road that headed to my next trailhead.  Along the way, I also found a little something (or somewhere) else......
Excellent, now I always have a reason to have a margarita!

Of course, I'll admit, my sense of direction only lasted so long and I spent most of miles 20-40 misplaced and then replaced and then misplaced again.  It's hard to look at the map too long when you're being attacked by mosquitoes....

Mile 40ish brought me back to some familiar territory and since I had over 20 miles to go and dusk was approaching, I figured I should head back and bring this adventure to a close for the day.

I have no idea why I thought I the adventure was coming to a close. Maybe because I finally knew where I was? Maybe because I was too tired to think straight? Who knows. All I know is this- as is usually the case, when I thought my adventure was ending it was just starting.  I was, even though I knew my location, entering what the map called "one of the most remote places in Wisconsin." 

Did I mention it was dusk?

You can probably imagine what happened next. Yes, that's right, the animals came out. I was cruising along, feeling confident that I knew where I was going and there it was- a big cat on the trail. I could only hope it was a bobcat since the only other option was a young mountain lion, which would likely mean Mama would eat me in seconds. 

It scampered off. I started sprinting, hoping there was no mama. Two miles down the trail, I was still sprinting, looking over my shoulder every few seconds, when I encountered a large pile of bear poop.

Excellent. Now there's a bear and a cat and it's getting dark and I'm alone and not very big.

A mile later, heart still racing, I came across the remains of a large bird. The meat was gone. Only feathers remained. 

Terrific. Now there's a bear and a cat and some kind of bird murderer and it's getting dark and I'm alone and not very big.

Needless to say, I discovered I can sprint 7 miles of trail when I really need to. Turns out, there are things that frighten me more than being chased by a dog on a gravel road.

After refueling with more hot dogs Saturday night, I decided to stick to less remote territory on Sunday.
Miles and miles of this.
Too bad I didn't bring my hot dogs...
Not that I don't like to explore the remote stuff, but I can only sprint from the wild animals so much in one weekend.....

Monday, August 5, 2013

All in a Week's Fun

It's summer so we should pack in the fun, right? This sums up the last week or so....

 A 40 mile ultra marathon:
Ultramarathon food. The 5 hour Energy was the greatest thing ever....
 The garden bounty:
Peppers, anyone?
 Chasing dragonflies in the yard:
Do you think he's getting a suntan?

 Backyard art project in the works:

Half the paint ended up on me.....
Massive driveway bonfire:
Multi-purpose grill
 Driveway s'mores:
Who needs graham crackers when you have marshmallows and chocolate?

Livin' Large!