Monday, December 28, 2015

Does Santa Wear Boxer Shorts?

I love Christmas. It combines a whole bunch of my favorite things- winter:

Ok, fine, there wasn't any snow, but that didn't stop us from taking a Christmas eve ride, on which Big E managed to take a selfie of me. I guess this is more fun than taking a self of himSELF:
We'll just call this an Elfie.

Now back to those things I love- comfort food, gift giving,

(Many of this year's gifts were handmade, one of which caused a slight hand casualty. The gift survived, however, and now I know KT tape and scotch tape work well as bandaids in a pinch.)

snuggling, twinkly lights, candles and most of all.........STOCKINGS!

It's a Thompson tradition for Santa to place the stocking on the end of the bed for immediate opening on Christmas morning. What was probably a way to keep me in my room until a decent hour as a kid has become my favorite part of Christmas as an adult. It's like breakfast in bed but gifts are involved.

Thankfully my family and perfectly awesome boyfriend humor my love of this tradition, which has clearly gotten out of control. What was once one stocking on my bed has become this:
Yes, I am actually attempting to sleep in that bed. No- those stockings are not all for me. I share them with Big E and Wally, the giraffe who doubles as a Christmas tree:
Needless to say, I was up at 6:30am Christmas morning because there was no longer any room in the bed to sleep. I'm pretty sure I got a glimpse of Santa in boxer shorts at some point. Maybe the yule log in the fireplace made him hot. I also discovered he likes whiskey better than Buckeyes.

Santa has never been normal in my house. When I was a kid he liked bologna salad, now he likes whiskey. I guess he gets enough cookies everywhere else.

Next year I'm gonna leave him the whole bottle and see what happens. (I'll probably wake up and find him naked in the kitchen.)

Other highlights of my Christmas included finally getting something gluten free made with yeast to rise. (Another Christmas miracle.)
 Fun socks.
 Baking my first ham.
 And getting an apron so I can help Big E make candy. (Now all I need is an elf hat.)
Hope your Christmas was awesome and Santa kept his clothes on!

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

My Christmas Miracle

A Christmas miracle has occurred.

No, the miracle is not that our neighbors have managed to fit all of this into their yard because, in fact, they didn't. They've borrowed part of the neighbor's yard as well. At least they're in the Christmas spirit.

The miracle is also not that I successfully made it through three crazy busy work weeks as a result of my recent commitment to saying yes to everything. I don't think I can really count it as that much of a miracle if at some point I ended up at the dinner table like this.

No, the real Christmas miracle here is that I was asked out while running.

Yeah, yeah, I know what you're thinking- why am I so worked up over being asked out when I already have a perfectly good boyfriend. (More than good actually but I liked how that sentence sounded.) The truth is, I'm not actually excited about being asked out, I'm just over the moon that, after four years, a stranger in MN was actually friendly.

Normally on a run here, I say "hello", "hi" and/or "how are you" numerous times without a response. You'd think after four years of being ignored I'd give up, but I'm way too stubborn for that so I just keep on my merry way, day after day, hoping someone will talk to me. I do get the occasional head nod or quick response, but more often than not I return home completely rejected in my quest to make Minnesotans speak to strangers. On Sunday, however, my luck changed. I passed a guy on  my way down the trail. My quick "hi" got nothing, but my more insistent "how are you" at least got a response. It must've also made an impression because on my return home, when I encountered the same guy again, he asked if I'd like to have a post run beer.

In case you were wondering- no, I did not actually have a beer with a complete stranger. I do have a perfectly good boyfriend after all. Instead, I explained that I had to get home and had a good laugh with the guy when he said, "Hey, it was worth a shot."

Yes, yes it was. Being friendly is always worth a shot, even when you don't get the response you wanted, because someday you'll get it and it will make your day.

So- there you have it. My Christmas miracle. A friendly stranger after all these years. I guess I'll keep up my quest to keep Minnesota nice, even if I have to pass on the post-run beers.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

Thankful for the Goodbye

Thanksgiving was an excellent way to begin my goodbye to hate after writing my last post. After all, it was the four year anniversary of the day I met Big E riding with a bunch of people I didn't know on my first Thanksgiving morning in MN. We've continued the tradition every year so we definitely couldn't let this year's muddy snow storm scare us off.
Let's just say Max has been properly broken in.
Overall, the day included an adventure, good conversations and not a bit of hate (even during my heated snowball fight with the niece and nephews). I'd say I'm off to a good start....

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Saying Goodbye to Hate

It's easy to get lost in today's world of social media, to forget who you really are. Every day there's someone, many people in fact, there to tell you you're a "bigot" if you think this or "ignorant" if you think that. People post data before fact checking, pictures they've Photoshopped and quotes attributed to the wrong person.

In a sense, we're losing our facts underneath cute memes and touched up pictures. In an even greater sense, we're (at least some of us) losing ourselves underneath the constant barrage of easy judgment.

Personally, I'm done with it. I'm ready to get back to real life- the one where people actually have a conversation without name calling even if they disagree, the one where adventures happen that involve memories so great you don't need to photoshop a picture, the one where I know the words spoken are true because I'm speaking to the person who thought them.

So no more Facebook. I'm done with its hate. Don't worry, the blog will still continue. Yes, I realize blogging is still social media, but since I write about my life, I know the facts are correct. At least for now. When I'm sixty I can't guarantee I won't be seriously stretching the truth to make myself more exciting. I'll try really hard not to Photoshop any pictures too, but again, no promises since occasionally Big E captures me in a really unattractive moment. Not that that's really stopped me from posting those pictures so far, but you never know when I might need to edit out a boob or something.

If you want to receive a notice when new blogs are up, please use the follow link to the right. I'd love to hear from all of you too so please feel free to comment or email me through here. Or you can always just stop by the pad for a real conversation and a glass of whiskey!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Hookas and Underpants

Apparently I'm off to quite a start with my million yesses, because as I wrote that post, this guy was literally feeding off my blood.
Big E came home a short while later to find me sitting in the bathroom in my underwear in a full on panic because in my attempt to extract the little bastard, who was in my right arm, I accidentally crushed him with my clumsy left hand and he was refusing to back out. Thankfully, after a few tries, Big E managed to remove the blood sucking demon.

When I finally calmed down, Big E asked what I would've done if he hadn't come home soon, to which I informed him that I would've driven to the PIC's house in my underwear and asked her to pull the damn thing out.

She has 2 boys under the age of 5 so I figure she's used to people melting down while in their underpants. 

I never realized it would be such a positive thing to have friends with children.

Anyway, despite my utter loathing of anything that extracts my blood,  (Big E and I have mutually agreed that if I ever find a leech on myself I would instantly pass out) I've been doing my best to say yes to some outdoor time. Of course outdoor time near our house isn't often what you'd think it would be.

For instance, my find from last Friday's run,

which I actually thought was part of a bong until one of my clients informed me it was part of a hooka.

Either way, who the hell hikes into a trail carrying something like this? Wouldn't it be easier to carry a joint? 

All of these questions, of course, reinforce why I venture onto the "trails" by my house armed with pepper spray.

Don't judge- when you're busy saying "yes" to everything you can't always be picky.  

Hope you're getting some yesses in too. Even if there's pepper spray involved....or hookas....or underpants.

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Hey Dickhead, Back Off the Nice Folk

In keeping with my vow to speak my mind here on my blog, I'm going to embark on another rant. Again, as I did last time, I'll clarify that what I write here is my opinion. I don't profess to speak for anyone other than myself nor do I intend to speak about everyone in a particular group, in this case, Minnesotans. So, please, all my Minnesota friends, understand that when I speak of "Minnesotans" I don't necessarily mean all of you. Instead, what I say is a generalization meant to describe my personal encounters with many, but certainly not all, people from MN.

Clearly, based on the entire paragraph I just wrote in an attempt to make sure I don't offend anyone, I need to work on speaking my mind without worrying so damn much. So let's get on with it.

When I read this piece, I was furious.

Hey, Minnesota Transplants: Back Off the Locals, OK?

 Why was I furious, you ask?

Hmm, let me count the ways.

1. This guy writes like he's speaking for all Minnesotans. Thankfully, they're not all like him because if they were no one would ever get a parking spot anywhere. Sure, maybe a lot of Minnesotans can relate, but I can assure you, I live with a man who was born and raised here and I'm quite certain that he's never once in his life sat in the back row so he could leave without speaking to anyone. On the contrary, the man some call "Everywhere Eddie" because he knows someone everywhere he goes would be much more likely to sit in the front row so he could speak to everyone twice on the way out. That is one of the many things I love about him. He understands that human connection is infinitely more important than mowing the lawn.

2. This guy implies those of us who crave a little human connection aren't productive. Personally, I think that's bullshit. Somehow, every week Big E and I manage to mow the lawn, clean the house, wash the dishes, do the laundry and finish numerous other "productive" tasks and guess what- we manage to do so without being antisocial pricks. Apparently the author hasn't yet quite figured out how to do this.

3. This guy also implies that the reason Minnesotans aren't "coming out of their shells" around those of us who aren't from here is because we aren't doing something interesting or productive. Oh really? Is he under the impression that those of us who move here do so and then just sit around on our asses waiting for someone to invite us over? When I moved here, I went to a bike or running race nearly every weekend. The first three months I was here, the closest thing I had to being invited to do anything was a guy who, upon seeing my vehicle after a race said, "I was going to ask you out but then I saw that you drive a minivan." That's right, three months of getting out there doing something "interesting" and that's the best anyone here could do. Did I bitch and moan about how unfriendly people here were? Of course, but thankfully, I persisted with my quest to be interesting enough and the awesome Rebecca Sauber finally noticed me and introduced me to Big E. Good thing, because if she hadn't I'd probably still be busting my ass trying to be interesting and productive enough to be worthy of someone's attention.

4. The author seems to think those of us who think Minnesotans aren't the friendliest people in the world aren't trying hard enough. According to him, we move here, take advantage of all there is to offer and give nothing back. Wow. Way to piss off anyone who had ever moved here and volunteered for anything. Harsh words coming from a man who professes in his article to parking as close to the door as possible so he can get home and do "productive" things like snow blow his own driveway. Way to give back, buddy.

I can't speak for anyone else who are the "outsiders" this guy seems to dislike so much, but personally, his article pretty much said this me, "Fuck you for saying I'm not nice. Really I am nice, but only once you've earned my approval by being "productive" and "interesting" to my liking. Once you have, I might smile at you and mean it, but even then I'll want to rush off home because, well,  you're still not as interesting as my snowblower."

So to this douchebag I have one thing to say:

I hope like hell you get your name on a parking space someday, because without a little human interaction, you're gonna need something to make you happy as you grow older.

And to those Minnesotan (and other, of course) friends who actually are nice:

Thank you for not being like this guy. The door to my office, my home and my heart are always open (and I'll gladly give you my parking spot any time you need it).

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The Life of a Million Yesses

I'll admit it- I'm a dork. I name my bikes. Sometimes the name comes right away. Sometimes it takes years. My first road bike, for instance, didn't really get a name until it was replaced with something flashier. It stayed as the trusty commuter bike and picked up the name Old Blue.

I wasn't expecting to name my newest bike right away because, quite frankly, I wasn't even expecting to get a new bike. To be even more frank, I wasn't expecting to get a new bike because I had no money to buy one. However, when Big E, who is definitely the more rational and less likely to jump into a decision of the two of us, told me he thought I should buy his buddy's frame, I listened. (Write this down Big E- I just admitted to the whole world that actually I listen to you sometimes.) Two weeks later, thanks to the generosity of Big E, his buddy, and Ramsey Bicycles, I had sold my trusty Mini Muk, Gracie:

and the new frame had been built into this beauty:
Finally a fat bike that doesn't weigh 1/3 of me!
Thankfully, after I finally bit the bullet to buy it, I picked up some extra work so hopefully I won't be paying it off for too many years! 

Today, I took my first ride. Less than an hour in, I was coming around a sharp corner and realized how easy it was. Cornering has always been my weakness, but suddenly I was where I wanted to be and I thought, "This moment is like a little slice of heaven." I have no idea why I thought that because, as far as I know, it's not a phrase I use often. All I know is that after a couple rough months that involved a lot of tears and frustration, I was finally having a moment when all I wanted to be was right there, right then. I wasn't worried or overthinking things or sad or frustrated. I was just living. 

The next thing I knew, the new bike had a new name. 


I met Max Lyon over 20 years ago when I went to work for the outdoor education program he ran at The Chadwick School. Like nearly everyone who met Max, I was inspired by him. He was the epitome of an adventurous spirit. Shortly before Christmas 1996, Max offered to drop me off at the airport when I flew home to visit my family. I drove from my place in the desert to his place near LA the night before my early flight and we headed out to see the movie, Jerry Maguire. I'm sure you all remember the movie, especially the scene where a desperate Jerry runs out and asks Dorothy to marry him. Max had seen the movie before so he knew this was coming. He was nearly bouncing out of his seat with excitement when it did. He instantly looked over at me with a gleam in his eye and asked, "What would you say?"

We both knew this wasn't just about what I'd say if someone asked me to marry him. It was about more than that, about what I'd say to life, to risky choices, to big decisions, to loving without regret, to adventures that might change me forever. 

I looked him dead in the eye, laughed and said, "Of course I'd say yes."

That night, when we got back to Max's place, as I headed to bed, Max was still wound up, inspired by the movie and our lively conversation that had followed. He poured himself a glass of whiskey and settled down to write. I have no idea what he wrote that night, but I hope it was all about saying yes. 

Max dropped me off at the airport early the next morning. I never saw him again. A few weeks later, on one of his grand adventures, he died in an avalanche. Like his many hundreds of friends, I was devastated, but grateful to have known him, grateful to have that last conversation with him, grateful to have the reminder from him to say yes to chances.

To be honest, I hadn't thought about Max in years until today, but thankfully, for whatever reason, his spirit was there for a moment to bring me out of my funk and remind me to let the worries go and embrace life. It's only fitting that a bike so perfect for adventures should be named after him.

So here's to new adventures- and a life filled with a million yesses.

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Love Fests and Bobcats

Due to an ear-attacking virus, not a lot of excitement has happened on the bike or running trails lately. Of course, true to form, this does not mean our lives have been dull.

First up, we had a visit from this lovely lady.
Well, actually, we had a visit from Pop and Mama Liz, but they stayed in a hotel while Amanda, the world's most lovesick dog, bunked with us. As you can see from the photo, she was clearly thrilled about it. Basically, she refused to eat, poop or do anything without Pop. When he did stop by the house, she demonstrated a love fest, complete with crying and back flips, like one I've never seen from any creature. At least I know Pop is well-loved.

To add to the excitement of their visit, we happened to be in the midst of having the sidewalk and driveway redone. Twice. Yes, that is right. Big E now owns the world's most expensive driveway. Based on how much this thing cost, there better be some gold buried underneath it. The highlight for me was this addition to my morning coffee.

Who doesn't love a Bobcat outside the kitchen at 8am?

To add even more excitement to this whole process was the ear-attacking virus, which led to two trips to urgent care, an EKG, a CT scan, two blood tests, a dose of Predisone and two B12 shots. The good news-  I can now stand up without tipping over. The double good news- At least we know there is nothing wrong with my head or heart. I have a feeling the bad news will arrive any day now in the form of a bill for all that crap. When it arrives, hopefully I can focus on the triple good news- after nearly a month off, running and biking again is a special treat. Maybe I just needed a gentle reminder to appreciate the small stuff...and big stuff... and everything in between.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Trails, Trips and Tractors

Now that I've finished my rant, we can catch up on what I was really doing the last couple of months. 

After the DNF of crabbiness, I decided if I was going to complain about races and trails too hard to ride, perhaps I should take some action, so I took the IMBA trail building class. In case you're wondering, the boys stood around all day while I built the whole trail myself.
Ok, fine, that's a lie. Someone just happened to catch the one moment all day when I was working and DG wasn't. Truth be told, he built that whole section of trail himself. I spent most of the day learning how to use a shovel.

Two weeks later, I took a trip back to my favorite place on earth, this time to relax instead of race. First, I hijacked this cushy ride to have some mimosas on the beach. (Turns out you aren't supposed to bring glass bottles to the beach. Good thing the champagne was gone when we found this out.)
Then, I raided the coolest little library ever.
Finally I did at least one serious ride to prove to myself that I've picked up enough skills in the past year to ride stuff I used to walk.
 Oh how I've missed these trails....
 Our final trip of the summer took us to a friend's lake house, where Big E made himself right at home on the tractor.
 We also nearly sunk a pontoon boat, shot lots of cool guns and drank way too much whiskey. Never a dull moment.

Seriously, even at home there's never a dull moment. I'm just sparing you the blackmail pics I'm collecting of Big E to get him back for his late night antics.....

Thursday, September 17, 2015

It's Not About the Socks

Disclaimer: I do not have any affiliation with Save Our Soles. All opinions here are mine, not theirs. In fact, at this moment I don't even have permission yet to use the pic I stole from one of their reps on Facebook. So, please don't take it out on them if you disagree. That's all on me. 
When I don't blog for awhile there is always a reason. I love it when that reason is because I'm busy living hard. Unfortunately that is not always the case.

This last blog silence has been a long one. To be honest, I wasn't even really sure why I had nothing to say at first. I like writing. I compose blog posts in my head during runs and rides. Then I come home and don't write them.


Because I'm afraid of offending people. Every day I read something new about someone, somewhere who's offended about something and I think to myself, "Wow, if they were offended by that, people are REALLY going to be offended by what I was just going to write." So I don't.

That's a problem. It's a problem for many reasons, but the main one is this- this is MY blog and I've let my fear of the haters of the world, the easily offended, the whiners, turn me into a pussy. Yes, that is right- I just called myself a pussy. I'm really disappointed in myself. I've always considered myself a strong, independent woman and in the last two months I've become someone who is afraid to speak.

Please notice how I worded that- I said, "I've become," not, "The world has turned me into." I'm owning this because if there's one thing in life I've learned, it's this- there is really only one person in this world I can change and that is me.  I can sit around and whine and blame the world for my pussiness or I can accept that I chose it and start to change it, right now.

So, that said, you have been fairly warned. I am now going to speak my mind.  What I write is my opinion. I won't hate you if you disagree. I won't propose to write anything here and speak for "all women" or "all cyclists" or "everyone" because what bugs me the most about the issue I'm about to address is that other people are doing just that- and I can assure you they don't speak for me.

Now, let's get to the hot topic so I can piss some people off.  Over the last two days a certain pair of socks that was handed out at Interbike has caused quite a stir in the cycling community.
Photo: Lauren Swigart
The sock company, Save Our Soles, is taking a lot of heat for using "sex" to sell their products. Quite frankly, I think the socks are funny.

Why? Because I also think these socks are funny:

And I actually own of pair of these. They happen to be my favorite socks:
I get it- neither of these actually shows a man's body and the Save Our Soles socks do, in fact, show women's butts. However, my point is this- not every product that alludes to sex or naked bodies is targeted at women.  Sex obviously sells, whether it's a product with humping bunnies, jokes about weiners or women's butts. It's all in good fun.

One of the main outcries over these booty socks is that they objectify women, they create an environment where we love women for their bodies and not for what they are on the inside. 

Wow- that's a lot of weight to put on a silly pair of socks.

I'm going to propose a different take on this "environment" and how we, as women, can change it instead of expecting companies to do it for us. The outcry seems to be that we want to be equal. So, if that's the case, let's start acting like it. Let's try a few of these:

Let's all learn to work on our own bike. Let's stop batting our eyelashes and hoping some dude changes our flat tire or gives us a discount. I've worked in three bike shops so yes, I've seen this happen. More times than you could possibly imagine.

Let's stop bitching about equal  prize money and show up in overwhelming numbers to the races that do offer this. I made over $900 racing my bike in June and I'm not even that fast. Want to know why? I showed up to six races that offered equal prize money to women. Guess how many times we had enough women to fill the money spots. One.

Let's stop showing up to races with our guy and riding with him the whole race.  If we're all equal, then we shouldn't need a guy to let us ride his wheel so we can win the race.

Let's quit dressing and acting in ways that objectify our own selves. If you don't want booties and boobies used for advertising, quit using yours for attention. Trust me, I've seen some of you toss yours around plenty of times at races.  Personally I'm not offended by this, but if you are, don't put it out there and then be mad because someone shows appreciation for it.

Let's treat each other with respect. Nearly every time I race, a fellow female competitor (or, I hate to admit, occasionally myself) trashes another female behind her back. The men notice this and trust me, the don't respect us for it.

So, if you still don't ever want to buy Save Our Soles socks again, that's your right. Trust me, there's a certain bike company out there that lost my business based on their reaction to the situation. However, that said, I hope you also take a good hard look at your actions and make sure they're not part of the problem, because in the end, the only one you can change is you, and you might be surprised. When you do, people just might start to notice how awesome you are. On the inside.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

The DNF of Crabbiness

To help you fully appreciate my recent DNF at Tatanka100 (or Tatanka75ish to be more precise), I need to supply a timeline of the month or so prior to the race.

Saturday/Sunday, June 13-14- Race 25 Hours of Hellside to culminate the DirtWirx bike week. Sleep 0 hours from about 7am Saturday to 10pm Sunday (except for some sort of nap Big E says I took in the car on the way home.

Tuesday, June 16- Ride for an hour with legs so swollen I could barely bend my knees. Get a massage. Eat. Work. Come home from work so grouchy all I could do was drink whiskey.

Thursday June 18- Eat. Drive 9 hours to MI with compression tights on, eating all the way. Stay awake all day, thankfully. Ride for an hour and actually feel good. Nearly fall asleep at the table while out with friends.

Saturday, June 20. Race Lumberjack 100. Drink whiskey and eat 1/2 a bag of chips.

Sunday, June 21. Eat the largest breakfast of my life. Drive 9 hours home. Search every gas station in the UP for more of the chips from the night before.

Monday, June 22- Friday June 26. Eat. Sleep. Work. Maybe ride a couple times. Maybe?

Saturday, June 27- Attempt to show off for Big E while riding and launch myself over my handlebars.

Sunday, June 28- Whine all day about my sore arm.

Monday, June 29- Ride on the road with my shock unlocked because bumps hurt my arm.

Tuesday, June 30- Panic about what gear to ride at Tatanka. Stalk Ben from Mountain Bike Radio on Facebook and ask for advice. 32-21 it is.

Ride the rest of the week with 34-20 on my bike....on the road with my shock open.

Saturday, July 4- Tape up my arm and brave the trails, still with 34-20 on my bike.

Sunday, July 5- Decide I should probably actually ride with 32-21 on my bike for a few days.

Stress about the race for the next few days.

Wednesday, July 8- Panic about the water crossings on the course and email the race director.  Receive confirmation that I likely won't die in waist-deep moving water.

Thursday, July 9- Find 20 other reasons to panic. Swap my tires from Thunder Burts to Rocket Rons (that extra few millimeters might help) to calm my nerves. In the process, discover I hadn't put my rear cog on tight. Pinch flat my front. Beg Big E to give my bike an inspection before I leave.

Friday, July 10- Drive 9 1/2 hours to South Dakota with high blood pressure from anxiety. Ride for 30 minutes and panic about my crappy new front brake pads. Search for the packet pick-up. Hear one word and one word only during the pre-race meeting- "enduro-style". Ask someone to explain what this enduro-style stuff is. Panic about the answer. Consider not starting.

Saturday, July 11- Start, but only because the awesome Doc Whitney, who saved me from dehydration at Hellside, dropped us at the start and promised she would pick me up if I panicked about the "enduro-style" downhill, my brakes or the water crossing. Arrive at the trailhead, after 3 miles of downhill on the road, in last place, with my own police escort. Carry my bike for 1/2 of the first 11 miles. (Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating...) Come across a guy on flat #4, give him my spare because I'm pretty sure I won't make it past the first cutoff and attempt to help him put a tire on a deep rim, which really just leads to me humping his wheel. Arrive at aid station #1, 15 miles in, in over 3 hours, to a volunteer who made it clear she needed to leave so she could go do the timing. Get pissed off, ride a few miles down the road and call Whitney. 

There you have it- the mindset of a DNF due to crabbiness. I'll admit, I tried to blame it on the race at the time, but in hindsight it's clear I pretty much DNF'd before I left home. I was tired and burnt out and spent only a few hours on actual single track in the 3 weeks before the race. Not a good lead-up to a 100 miler that turned out to be 75 miles of the most technical singletrack I've ever seen. Perhaps I should space my races out a little more? Or quit showing off for Big E? Or suck it up and learn to ride more technical terrain? Or ride a little with the gear and tires I plan to use in the race? Or deal with my pre-race anxiety?

Or I could just eat more ice cream and drink buckets of margaritas at Kenny Chesney concerts.

Thursday, July 2, 2015


At some point, back in the winter, it seemed like a great idea to sign up to race Lumberjack 100 a week after the 25 Hours of Hellside. What can I say?  One race on my favorite local trail, the other near my favorite place on earth. I couldn't choose.  So, I was left trying to figure out how to get my legs to recover in five days.

Let's just say, I wore my compression tights so much, one of my clients is now referring to them as my "tight black pants".

Thankfully, by the time I arrived in Petoskey (that favorite place on earth, which was on the way to Lumberjack) on Thursday (after wearing compression tights most of the way there in the car) I was actually itching to ride. Of course, that was probably because I knew my ride would take me here:
A few drinks with old friends, topped off with a late night rummage through old Playboys
(of course the Playboy from my birthday month and year would have a bike on it) completed my recovery.

I topped it off with a final Friday ride in Petoskey, during which I, of course, got lost at Boyne Highlands like I always do.

I swear someone changes the trails at that place before I come to visit.

Saturday morning I lined up, pretty stoked to ride 100 miles. After a quick prologue down the road, in which I'm pretty sure my heartrate reached its max while I tried to keep up with those with gears, we entered the singletrack and then promptly came to a near standstill.

Have I mentioned how much I dislike waiting in line to ride my bike during a race?

While I practiced my trackstands, the guys behind me for some reason decided that, despite the fact that I was also stuck behind 100 other people moving the same 1mph I was, they should ride off the trail to pass me and then cut back in in the small space I'd left between myself and the bike in front of me.

Unfortunately, I'd removed the douchebag bell from my bike after Hellside so instead of bell-ringing, I had to resort to sarcasm and public shaming these idiots. 

Based on how quickly this douchebag behavior stopped, I think I'll stick with this tactic from now on.

Also unfortunately, my body was not fond of this whole, sprint, wait in line, sprint up a hill, wait in line, sprint up another hill thing that was happening so I ended up feeling like poop for the first hour of the race.

Thankfully for me though, after a two hour argument between my body and mind, my body realized that my mind wasn't going to quit and suddenly I felt pretty darn good for the next eight hours, four minutes and 59 seconds.

Yes, in case you were wondering, I sprinted the last few miles to keep it to 10:04:59, and yes, I would've loved to have kept it under 10 hours, but in order to do that I need to figure out how to avoid the four pee breaks I took. 

While our podium picture looks as if only two of us raced singlespeed and I was last place, I can assure you there were more than two. I promise. We just happened to ride so fast everyone else dropped out. At least that's how I like to think of it....

I even finished in time to head back to Petoskey that night for some more good friend time, complete with whiskey, ginger ale, spicy potatoes chips and a Sunday morning breakfast with more grease than I normally eat in a week.

How's that for the start of some good recovery?

Of course, my recovery also needed to include some riding so I ventured out on the weekend with Big E. Confident from my few weeks of podiums, I thought I'd show off my jumping skills for him.

Let's just say I put on a show, but it wasn't the really the show I'd intended to put on.
I do believe that, although I didn't impress him with my jumping skills, I may have impressed him with my ability to biff it so hard I ended up with leaves and grass between my tire and rim.
I guess I'll be recovering from a bit more than Lumberjack before Tatanka next week. 

Anybody got any ice cream?

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Butter Pecan Ice Cream, Chipotle and 25 Hours of Hell(side)

We were told at the beginning of Dirt Wirx Bike Week that by the end we'd hate Richie and the crew. It's hard to hate a crew that puts so much into their trail and races, but then, Hillside is one hell of a hard trail, so I knew anything was possible. Plus, you never know when this crew might make you try to ride up the stairs instead of down, chug a beer for a time bonus or carry a log for your Le Mans start.

The set up for bike week was this: Time Trial and Short Track Saturday 6/6, Cross Country Race 6/7, Dual Slalom on the evening of 6/10 and 25 Hours of Hellside on 6/13 and 6/14.

To be honest, I started out just wanting to race the 25 Hour race, but then I got excited and wanted to try for the overall win for the week. This meant a lot of firsts. I'd never done short track or dual slalom. I'd never raced expert in cross country, which I needed to do to win the week. Technically, I'd also never ridden singletrack for 25 hours, although I guess 24 is pretty close.  So, I prepared myself to spent the week nervous and hoping not to crash.

Saturday, June 6, 11am: Time Trial, one of my favorite kinds of races. Didn't hate Richie.

Saturday, June 6, 4pm: Discovered the expert women had to race the short track with comp men. Thought about hating Richie.  Tried not to throw up on the start line. Thankfully didn't get run over and actually had fun once I could breathe. Decided not to hate Richie, especially after he raced the expert men's race like this:
Sunday, June 7: Cross Country Race. Again, terrified at the start. I'm not a fan of starting in front of the comp men. I don't like to be run over. My douchebag bell was installed on my bike, just in case someone tried to pass like a moron. Thankfully, I never needed it and once I relaxed I actually had a blast.
Photo by Joshua Stamper
No hating on anyone.

After the race we celebrated Big E's birthday. Fun times with lots of fun people. It started like this:
 and ended like this:

Enough said.

Wednesday, June 10: I was so nervous I showed up hours early for the Dual Slalom. Numerous practice runs didn't calm my nerves. Pretty sure my heart rate hit its max on the start line. Didn't crash so I didn't hate Richie, but I'm not admitting it was fun.

Saturday, June 13: The 25 Hour Race, my favorite. I was in second place overall for the week, 34 points down. Points for this race were by lap instead of place. For each lap you completed, you received that many points- 1 point for lap one, 2 points for lap two, three for lap 3, etc.  So, I needed to ride three more laps than the leader, Rebecca, to win the week. A tall task since she'd ridden nearly 10 minutes faster per lap in the cross country race. Lucky for me, she wasn't going to ride at night.

The first five laps flew by. I stopped only to pee, taking bottle hand-ups from Eddie and Joshua, who were riding a four-man team with Richie and the other race director, Dave. After a quick stop at lap five, I managed three more laps before dark, with a brief stop for ice cream at the Super Sue station, at which point I found it necessary to down nearly an entire pint of butter pecan in minutes. (Tasted great at the time, but let's just say it's a good thing no one was riding behind me later.)

 I checked in with Dave after lap eight and learned I had a one lap lead over both Rebecca and Pam, who both appeared to have gone to bed. I switched to the fat bike and kept pushing, hoping to have a five lap lead when they woke up. I figured they both would start lapping me in the morning and I didn't want to leave anything to chance. The first two laps in the dark weren't too bad, despite one too-close encounter with a tree. Lap three, however, brought on what I've decided is the inevitable meltdown that happens in these races. I stumbled in around 1:30, put on my PJs and laid down for what I've also decided is the inevitable "roll around and not fall asleep" that happens in these races.

Two hours later, sleepless, I got back on the bike. As I finished lap 12 the sun came up and as I pulled into the camping area Rebecca was preparing to ride. I grabbed some coffee and prepared myself to get lapped. I just hoped it would only be twice. At the end of lap 14, I was still hanging onto my lead and stopped for food confident that I'd be off riding again in five minutes.

Let's just say a colossal meltdown ensued. The kind where you wonder if you can stand up, let alone pedal. I inhaled some Chipotle, downed some Dr. Pepper and instantly felt dizzy. For about 20 minutes I thought my race was over. Of course, Big E managed to capture the moment on film:

 Thankfully, putting my legs up and chugging some water brought me back to life and I somehow got back on the bike. Of course, by then, Rebecca had gained a lap and was still riding strong. 

The next three laps are a blur. I held on and pedaled. Pam flew by like we were racing just two laps. I drank water, and then more water, praying to hold off another meltdown. Finally, on lap 17, with less than an hour left, I could hear Rebecca ahead of me in section four. We'd both reached an exhausted state, pushing our bikes up the steepest hills. We rode the rest of the lap together, rolling across the line agreeing to call it quits with a four lap difference between us. If she'd chosen to ride another, I would've, but I'll admit, I probably would've hated someone if I'd had to. In the end, I hated section four, but still couldn't hate Richie.

Thanks to the Dirt Wirx crew and Dave Slovik for an awesome race and to Rebecca Sauber for pushing me harder than ever. Now I have to figure out how to recover for Lumberjack 100 on Saturday. This could involve ice cream.....

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Today's Workout Brought to You by

wind, rain, (no)sense of direction and hairspray.

This is sort of how the last few days have been.  Saturday I escaped the rain and actually got in a few hours on the trail. I even survived driving Lil' Dave's car after my workout despite needing to do some serious seat adjustments.
No, I am not sitting on the floor.
Sunday was a different story. I headed to Murphy hoping to ride the trail, only to arrive just as the gate was closed. I decided to do a road ride from there, knowing I'd lose my motivation if I drove all the way home in the rain. I planned to start the week off with an easy 1 1/2 to 2 hour ride so I stuck a single bottle on my bike and some Chomps in my pocket. At the last minute I stashed a 20 in my pocket (just in case I ran out of water and found a gas station) and headed out.

I don't really mind rain if I'm warm enough so the ride went by quickly- so quickly in fact that by 1:30 in I came to a road I recognized and thought I was nearly done. Just a right turn and I'd be headed back to the car. Thirty minutes later I wasn't back at the car. Confused, I finally consulted the map on my phone, at which point I discovered I'd been riding straight south when I'd thought I was riding straight north. Thankfully, I'd finally stopped because I was almost in Iowa, which meant I needed to turn around.

My only excuse for this complete and utter lack of direction is the wind. I was sure it was from the west. Turns out, it was coming from the east and of course, I was not only just south of my car, but west of it, which made for quite a fun ride back. I arrived back to the car 3 hours and 30 minutes later with an empty bottle, an empty Chomps wrapper and my 20 bucks. Apparently there are no gas stations on the back roads to Iowa. Or drinking fountains.

The upside to Sunday's ride and bonk was that yesterday's ride was only an hour and a half. The trails were still too wet to ride, but I lucked out and had a work break right as the rain stopped but before the Memorial Day partiers hit the roads, allowing me a rare city ride without traffic.

The pouring rain returned today, which meant that my mid-day hair appointment would be followed by a run in the rain. Normally I'm a "leave my hair wet" kind of girl so I figured this would be no big deal. I don't own a curling iron or hairspray. However, on the rare occasion when someone cuts my thin, straight hair and is actually excited to try to do something with it, I say yes. So, I ended up leaving the hair salon like this:
I had to take a picture for Big E so he knows it's actually possible for me to have decent hair.
just as I was preparing to go run in the rain.

Since I haven't used hairspray since 1988, I had no idea what would happen when it mixed with the rain. Let's just say this- my ponytail ended up becoming a whole-head dreadlock. I managed to comb it out after about 15 minutes and throw it back into my usual wet ponytail just as my next client arrived. I guess I'm just destined to be a ponytail kind of girl. At least I had an hour of good hair.

Despite Big E's encouragement that training in crappy weather is good for me, I'm looking forward to some drier days. I want my trails back. I'll trade the hairspray for bugspray any day.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Training Brain (aka How to Lose Your Bra)

Remember those old ads- "This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs."? Well, I'm pretty sure they could make one that said, "This is your brain. This is your brain on 15+hours of training a week," and it would be quite amusing.

When I read stories about people who work, train over 15 hours a week and raise children, I'm always amazed because, quite frankly, once the training amps up I can barely take care of myself.  Case in point- it's 11pm and I'm still doing laundry. Two workouts a day has drained the supply of workout gear. I'm not sure the washing machine is going to be able to keep up with this and my never ending pile of massage sheets.
(Yes, Big E is building a wheel behind my wall of wet laundry. Thankfully, this time he's actually working on his own bike at 11pm instead of trying to rescue one of my bike disasters.)

On weeks and days like this I adopt an "in the moment" plan. Basically, this means I go with the flow and focus on what's happening right at the moment so I don't get overwhelmed.  I think about work when I'm working, training when I'm training, eating when I'm eating...and then I pass out and dream about riding with Valentino Rossi. I call this "training brain", which is basically just my term for a brain that can't handle anything more.

Today was one of those days. I babbled some sort of nonsense at Big E when he left early, got up shortly after, ate, prepped food for the day, threw my bike and gear in the car and headed for the office. During my break between morning and evening clients, I jumped at the chance to finally ride some trail after a few days of rain. I headed to Elm Creek and whipped out my usual "stealth change" in the parking lot.

The "stealth change" is my version of getting naked in the car without really getting naked in the car. I prefer not going to jail for public nudity so I've figured out a method to change in which no one would actually see my breasts. This involves putting my sports bra on over my work bra and then slithering out of the work bra and pulling it down my legs and off my feet.

Today, in my training fog, I apparently completed half of my stealth change. I remember the point where I put one bra over the other and then I went through the motions. At some point there was the application of chamois butter, tire pressure fiddling and then I was off onto the trail. Nothing seemed off at the time. In fact, everything seemed completely normal until I returned to the car for a new water bottle and found a bra.

At first, I laughed at the prospect of someone having a little fun in the parking lot and losing her bra. Of course, a moment later I realized that was MY bra and I hadn't had a little fun in the parking lot. In fact, I don't really even know what the hell happened. Apparently in my training fog, I stepped out of the car with my bra still around my ankles. Or perhaps in my training fog, I realized I don't really need a bra and tossed her out the window.  I was so shocked to find it there, I actually checked all the windows to make sure someone hadn't broken into my car and left my bra behind (because, really, who else would even bother to wear a bra this small?), but that was not the case.

Thankfully, the rogue bra was rescued, since I needed it to go back to work. (OK, I could've probably pulled it off without a bra but I like to think I need one.) Now, let's just hope I can keep training brain in check long enough get all my clothes on (and completely off) for the rest of this week's workouts.

Sunday, May 10, 2015

True Confessions

True confession #1: I always bawl my eyes out at some point after a particularly hard or long race. I'm not sure when this whole post race syndrome began. My first memorable experience with it was the day after Alexander when I sat on Big E's lap before I left for work and cried my heart out. I had no idea what was happening and I'm not 100 percent sure, but I believe it was then that he explained what it meant to be "shelled".  Usually this whole post race meltdown happens in the first few days after a race, but for some reason this time it was delayed. I'm blaming the 13 hour solo drive the day after the race. I really wanted to melt down, but it seemed dangerous to bawl while driving. Plus, meltdowns are boring without Big E there to make fun of me so I held out until I got home. Somehow I then held out for two weeks, which, based on yesterday's colossal and ride-delaying meltdown followed by another near-miss this morning, wasn't the best idea.

Note to self- just meltdown as close to the race as possible from now on and get it over with.

True confession #2: I finally rebuilt some pedals with the build kit I bought after Alexander two years ago. You'd think after having my pedal fall off my bike in a race I'd want to fix those things up right away. Oh no. I bought a build kit right away, then spent two years swapping the pedals from my cross bike to my fat bike instead of fixing the old ones. Then, after selling the cross bike and buying different pedals for the fat bike, I lost motivation to fix those Candy pedals. Thankfully, the same build kit works for my Eggbeaters so, as part of my quest to take better care of my bike after riding with crappy brakes and a loose headset at Cohutta, I finally rebuilt the squeaky pedals on my bike.

In case you were wondering- yes, rebuilding the pedals makes a difference. Suddenly I can pedal in circles again.

Of course there's still a set of unusable Candy pedals in the basement.
True confession #3: Yesterday while riding I ate the deformed, once melted Snickers bar I carried for 100 miles at Cohutta. Today, while sitting on the couch, I ate the battered Peanut Butter M&M's from one of my drop bags.

I really need to go grocery shopping.

True confession #4: It took me three years to finally conquer my nemesis, the wooden berm at Whitetail Ridge. I'm not at all saying I ride it confidently yet, but after forcing myself to ride it six times in one day, I think maybe there might come a day sometime soon where I don't stress about that stupid berm for the entire lap before I get to it. That said, I'm just hoping there's never a cow standing on it when I arrive there because then I'll probably be back to square one....

Sunday, May 3, 2015

Cohutta 100- The Epilogue

After collecting my mug, I procrastinated moving from my comfy finish-line chair by chatting with the race director (at least I hope that was him who sat down next to me because if not, I had a long discussion with a random man about how I liked the course despite the bad gear choice). As soon as I could move, my main object was mud removal- from the bike, from my body, from my clothes. I settled for dipping my legs in the water and splashing around, which really just moved the mud around on my body. Truth be told, I didn't really care if I was completely clean- I just needed to be clean enough to convince someone to let me book a hotel room for the night.

Cleaning the bike enough to put it back in the car proved to be more challenging, at least in my zombie-like state. I learned there was a hose in a campground a mile away, but I was too lame to ride there. After a half-hearted attempt to pay someone to ride my bike there and clean it, and a stern warning from another rider that it would be terrible for my bearings to toss by bike in the river, I settled for rinsing Chili down with a water bottle and river water. When she was clean enough to travel, I drove her to the hose for a more thorough bath. (In hindsight that was all probably a lot more work than just riding the mile to the hose....)

Since I still had daylight and no hotel room, I decided to start the trek homeward. When a sheriff in a small town a couple hours later went out of his way to inform me of an impending storm, I drove to the nearest place with a nice hotel and called it a night. Yes, I see the irony in waiting until AFTER I was covered in mud to finally stay in a nice hotel, but then I probably wouldn't have splurged even then had I not still been worried about diseases from the hotel the night before.  Of course the entire room was white so I tried not to touch anything until after my shower, at which point I then had to clean the entire bathroom. Thankfully, I passed out quickly with no interruptions from fire alarms and no nightmares about cockroaches. (Unfortunately no Rossi dreams either.)

The 900 miles left to drive on Sunday actually went by fast. I've always said I learn more from my rough races than the easy ones, and the 13 hours in the car was my time to process the whole experience. Obviously, there was lingering frustration with myself. It's always tough to stomach a rough race when you realize it was made difficult primarily by your own silly choices like the wrong gear, too much tire pressure and a backpack the size of yourself. (No wonder some guy asked if I had a hair dryer in there.)
This is just what I took out when I got home. It doesn't include the phone, 2 King Size Snickers, 2 King Size Salted Nut Rolls, 2 pieces of pizza, GU and salt tabs I started with. It also doesn't include the raincoat, vest, winter hat and gloves I added after a few hours. Oh- and the 100 oz. of water...     

I have no idea why I found it necessary to carry the instructions for my hydration pack for 100 miles. That said, let's just say, my ride home included a little introspection about choices. (And perhaps some acceptance of the fact that I should actually listen to Big E when he talks to me about tire pressure.) However, in the end, I also learned that I can tough it out for a lot more miles than I thought possible. The way I see it- if I can suffer through 100 miles with those bad choices, the next 100 ought to be easy...

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Cohutta 100: The Sufferfest

If there's one positive to sleeping in a nasty hotel room it is this:

Waking up at 5:30am is a piece of cake.

The alarm went off and I had my belongings in the car in minutes, wanting nothing more than to escape without any contagious diseases.

Since it was still pouring rain, I hung out in my car until right before the start, leaving just enough time to throw on my pack and helmet and extract Chili from her comfy spot in the back of the car.  After running into a guy at packet pickup who was riding with an easier gear than I'd chosen, I'd been worrying all night about my gear choice, but the first uphill eased my nerves and I settled into my pace.

It seemed like we literally flew through the first 14 miles of the race. Before I knew it, I was riding on a trail along the river back near the start. Had I really thought about it, I would've realized I was feeling so great because I'd just ridden downhill for 10 miles, but that didn't cross my mind until a mile or so later when I found myself struggling to make it up a hill. For the next 6 miles or so I'd ride until I couldn't push the pedals anymore, then hop off and push.  When the trail finally seemed to flatten a bit around mile 20, I was happy to finally stay on my bike for more than 1/8 of a mile. Of course, in my overzealousness to make the most of this, I hit a wet root at the wrong angle and before I knew it I'd fallen off the trail with Chili still hooked to one foot. We both began sliding back down the mountain I'd just busted my ass to ride up until I shook myself loose, threw the bike up towards the trail and clawed my way back.

This was not really how I'd envisioned this going when I was dreaming about riding with Rossi.

When I finally made it through the singletrack and onto the fireroad, I was a bit relieved. I figured it could only get easier now.

My relief lasted about 3 seconds until I realized the uphill was not over. I was 22 miles in, my legs were already shot, I'd definitely made a horrible gear choice and the uphill was not over. I won't lie- at that moment I wanted to quit. Thankfully, instead of giving into the urge I asked myself a few questions:

Am I going to die?No.

 Is everyone else going to have to wait for hours for me to finish? Not unless everyone behind me quits.

If I were to call Big E right now would he feel sorry for me? No- he would tell me I chose to be here and to get my butt moving!

So- since my answers were all essentially no, I pretty much slumped over my bike and suffered along. At this point I could've used some encouraging words. When a guy pedaled up next to me, I was hoping he had some. Instead, he asked if I'd done this race before. When I said no, he explained that he was wondering how the rest of the hills were going to be. He was riding a demo bike and he wasn't happy with the gear ratio and he wanted to know if the hills were all this steep.....

I'm not sure if I gave him a death look or he just happened to look at my rear wheel, but before I could even answer he said, "Wow, you have no sympathy for me right now since you only have one gear, do you?"

All I could do was laugh and say, "Yes, and it's definitely not the right gear."

At this point I'd like to say we rounded the next corner and headed downhill and the whole day got better, but I'd be lying. What really happened was this- we rounded the corner and headed downhill and I quickly discovered I had some serious brake chatter. After completely losing my brakes the last time I rode in the mud, this did not boost my confidence. Somehow I convinced myself I really wasn't going to die and kept going, but really I spent the next 70 miles alternating between riding uphill until I was so dizzy I had to walk and riding downhill in terror. I told Big E later I'd never ridden that far wanting to quit and not actually quit.

When I finally got to the last aid station, another girl flew in behind me and I realized that I wouldn't even get to take it easy for the last 8 miles of mostly downhill. For anyone who thinks that only the people up near the front of a race are actually racing, I can attest to the fact that this is not true. At least for me it is not true. Ever. I can be dead-dog tired, barely clinging to my handlebars like I was in this case, but if I think I might get caught and lose a place (or catch someone for that matter), I will dig some sort of demon out of the dredges of my soul that will make me ride faster.

Truth be told, perhaps that little demon is why I keep doing this stuff. I hear a lot of people say they run or ride to escape their demons, but I do it to find mine, to make sure I haven't lost her or him or whatever it is that lives deep inside me that seems only to escape when I think I can't take anymore.

So, the little demon and I sprinted to the finish line, probably close to the back of the pack, but who cares? There was a mug and lemonade....
To be continued....