Saturday, June 30, 2012

Southern Comforts

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I was in Tennessee last week, in the swelter and humidity of the South. We honeymooned in the Smokey Mountains three years ago and it was good to return.

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We drove the backroads through the mountains, out of the park, stumbling upon old houses dissolving into the greenery. We found farm stands, stocked with beautiful homegrown produce. We found rivers with lazy white blossoms floating downstream. We found Appalachian folk music and trails winding through the mountains to waterfalls

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We found that blessed kind of slowness and easy living that the south forces upon you whenever you go to visit.. 

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Shirt: Handmade in Senegal
Shorts: Diane Von Fustenburg 
Sandals: Birkinstock


Saturday, June 23, 2012

WORS: Battle of Cam Rock

I visited my family in Wisconsin this past week and managed to go race while I was there. 

WORS - Battle of Cam Rock

Battle of Cam Rock was an interesting race - very twisty, lots of turns, not too technical. I forgot to count how many passed me at the start of the race which was a hill, a little flat, and another hill. I forgot to count how many people I passed as I continued cranking and women were starting to slow down from exerting too much effort going up the hill so I was essentially riding without a number. Later in the race I passed a guy and he said I was in fifth and I thought he was just being silly because I  felt like was going insanely slow. 

WORS - Battle of Cam Rock

Turns out his counting was pretty much correct - after I talked to him another woman passed me and I ended up 6th overall and 1st in my age group.

How's that for a fun podium shot? 

WORS - Battle of Cam Rock


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Snip Snip Snip

I haven't had a short haircut since 2008. When my mom told me that she booked me a back to back appointment with her stylist I figured it was the right time to go chop, chop, chop! 

And chop, chop, chop she did! She probably took off 8 or 9 inches total. I'm looking forward to working with this new haircut and doing some more curly styles since it's short and might actually have   a chance to hold a curl! 

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My beautiful mom also got her hair done as well!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Three Days Across the Country

I'm on the road all summer long. Last week I departed from Denver and left my husband behind to fend for himself. I drove through Eastern Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, and into Wisconsin. 


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(Privately owned...and very difficult trails in Nebraska! I won't tell you who owns part of them but I can tell you they were flippin' sweet :)


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(Beautiful books in a house of more beautiful books. This place I stayed at was a place where my soul felt at rest.) 

I split the drive up into three days -  my schedule went something like this: Wake up, Drive seven hours, Nap, Ride Bike, Sleep. There was eating somewhere in there too, but I was determined not to buy food from the gas stations or fast food places along the way so I mostly ate fruit and nutella sandwiches.


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(Vast and endless driving.)


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(I ended up driving behind the Miss Iowa Rodeo Queen for Miles and Miles. I passed her on the freeway and she looked like a pageant winner even from peeking in her truck!)



Honestly, despite the fact I don't have cruise control, I had the time of my life. I got to ride private trails in Nebraska and a hidden gem of a trail system in Iowa that is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  

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(Campsite in Iowa)

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(Surprisingly wonderful trail system in Iowa)


Honestly, despite the fact I don't have cruise control, I had the time of my life. I got to ride private trails in Nebraska and a hidden gem of a trail system in Iowa that is maintained by the Army Corps of Engineers.  


Finally, right before I went to my parent's house in Wisconsin I stopped at the trails I learned to ride on in 2008. What was at times impossible is now a flat easy race course. I remembered every inch of those trails, too, which surprised me, and I was able to just fly around them. 

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(Guitar on the dock before bed...)

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(Home again, Home Again...)



Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yeti Beti Bash 2012

I finally, after training for two months, was able to race for my new team last weekend. I participated in the 2012 Yeti Beti Bash here in Colorado.The Yeti Beti Bash is an all women's event held at Bear Creek Lake Park. The only event that was remotely similar was a Queens of Cross race that I did last year. 

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When it's a women specific or woman focused event in cycling people tend to come out in droves to support them and for that I was truly thankful. My own little posse included JR and two lovely friends of ours and many of the other racers had their children or husbands around. It looked like many of the guys cheering in the fields raced themselves and they knew exactly where to put themselves in order to make the worst spots fun - around tight turns, on the top of steep hills and in technical sections (of which there were not many...the only technical section of this race was made technical by a man walking his dog on the race course.) 

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I had a great time racing - I was second into the singletrack, a victory for me because I usually am a dead starter. I was passed by two girls and ended up getting a well earned fourth. The field was big enough that I actually got to race and use my brain which doesn't always happen. I feel like technically I've improved enough and I'm fast enough that I'm starting to get competitive in my field. I'm racing in Wisconsin next though, so we'll see how a WORS field is compared to an all women's event in Colorado!

The Yeti Beti's did a great job with the event! There were excellent swag bags (usually I don't like those - I'm not a clutter person but they included a copy of Dirt Rag, a water bottle, and a well designed Twin Six T!), helpful supportive women, and some of the biggest names in women's mountain biking turned out to race! I was so excited to be cooling down while some of the women who routinely race UCI world cups were warming up in the same space. I'm kind of a mountain biking  fangirl (I watch all the UCI world cups online) so this was pretty much the neatest thing ever. 

Highlights of the 2012 Beti Bike Bash from ergon on Vimeo.


Here's a great little video of the race that Jeff Kerkove and Ergon International Put together.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Three Days of Summer

One of the gifts of summer is that we seem to have more time. People move slower. Things seem less imperative. Housekeeping and cleaning is only done in the cool hours of the morning and evening and the middle of the day is given to rest. We measure our time less - it stays light so late that I often forget if it's 6:00pm or 8:00pm

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We've had time to look at book stalls with friends...

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...time to enjoy teeny tiny little kittens...

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...time to chase friends into dream blue houses in old neighborhoods...

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...time to sit on creaky old porches in the shade...

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...time to spend in magical overgrown gardens...

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... and time to cultivate my home. 

What have you been doing with your summer time?

...

Dress: Thrifted (Gap)
Pinnifore: Self Made
Boots: Ariat
Socks: Target


Saturday, June 09, 2012

At home at the top of the world...

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Last weekend we climbed Grey's Peak, an easy local 14er. 

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It was a really slow, but great hike. Round trip it took all 13 of us six hours to hike up and back. We started the hike at 11,000 feet, which was all good and well but by 13,400 feet I had to stop about every ten steps to catch my breath.

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Despite that the hike was not technical at all.

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I definitely recommend this hike, after some acclimatization, to anyone who is in good shape and doesn't mind spending a full day on 7.5 miles. 

As usual, Pomplemousse came along!

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Sunday, June 03, 2012

When the smoke blows in from the south...

I mentioned in my last post that Jon and I had gone on a road trip - we drove some 1,000 miles around Colorado in the span of a four day weekend, leaving on Friday after work. 

The first night we drove for a few hours and camped in the Arkansas River Headwaters State Park. It was very, very busy and we were so lucky to even get a campsite. And, of course, it was just in time because I was starting to get rather cranky and tired!

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The next day we ended up stopping at a little cafe in the mountains owned by two of the most spectacular people. They made us breakfast and we poked around their cafe and shop for awhile. I wish I could remember the name of the place so I could recommend it to you! Unfortunately my memory fails me but if you ever stumble across a bright yellow cafe don't hesitate to stop in. 

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After a good and hearty breakfast we headed across the continental divide...

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...and meandered our way down the winding road into the most beautiful valley.

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After that, though, we just drove straight through to Cortez, CO, which is very near Mesa Verde. 

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One of my favorite things about Colorado is the Old West Kitch that is still leftover - this trip didn't have very much of it because we didn't go looking for it but this old gift shop, filled with huge arrows and pretend Teepees did the trick! I'm not sure if you can see how grey the sky is - this picture was probably taken at about 3:00 PM. The winds were gusting at 70 miles per hour and the smoke from the 280 square mile fire in New Mexico, some 400 miles south, was invading Mesa Verde. We were very concerned that we wouldn't be able to see anything all weekend and we had to drive with the internal air circulating in the car to try to keep the soot and smoke out of our eyes. 

We paid the $28 odd dollars to camp in Mesa Verde - very expensive! Most of our camping is under $16 a night! Mesa Verde's campground was huge - almost 300 spaces for camping, showers, a store, a pancake breakfast in the morning, and more RVs than I have ever seen in one place before! 

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The next day the winds died down and we were able to do some hiking along the Petroglyphs Trail (no, we could not find any petroglyphs!) that circles the mesa, and hike down to one of the 800 year old cliff dwellings. Those things are so amazing - the masonry is beautiful and I was just amazed at how teeny tiny the people who lived in those houses were!

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We also went on the balcony house tour, which the guide jokingly (or not so jokingly) refered to as "The Indiana Jones Tour." People who go on this tour climb down a long metal staircase, up a 32 foot ladder, crawl through two teeny tiny tunnels (about 12 feet long, 2 feet high, 18 inches wide...) up another 20 foot ladder, some stairs carved into the cliff side (there are chains to hang onto) and finally up another 20 foot ladder. Did I mention this was done all while hovering 600 feet above the mesa floor? 

After that tour we hightailed out out of there through some of the most beautiful countryside on God's Green Earth...

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We stopped here and there to take pictures and also to hike short distances on trails (by this time I really needed a nap so I was just about useless to go up anything significant.)

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(I'm just going to let you stare at what I was staring at for most of the trip - what a fantastic bit of Earth!)


We eventually made it to Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park and we camped there. It was kind of a strange night for me - too many noises outside my tent and it had dropped below freezing and I was very cold - I didn't rest well but we got up bright and early anyways and applied for a backcountry permit to go down into the Canyon itself. 

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(Warning: Mom don't read this part :)

This particular canyon doesn't have a trail down - instead there are "routes" which are basically suggestions about how to get down and unimproved trails. Getting down was insane. It was less than a mile with an 1800 foot elevation change. I spent most of the trip down climbing backwards or doing a dry version of a glissade (which is a mountaineering term for scootching down on your rear on snowpack - sometimes faster and easier than climbing) down the scree and tallis fields. We took the easiest route and the trip down took about two hours of very strenuous technical hiking and about an hour and a half up of hands and knees climbing. 

The route is not well marked and there were a few sketchy moments where we found ourselves in loose tallis having to reroute ourselves on nearly vertical terrain. The worst part (I would say it was class 5.5 technical climbing - easy when you're roped in, scary when you're loose) had a chain for you to hang onto to assist in getting up. Also, you had to be careful of rock falls and if you moved a rock and it started rolling down you had to yell "Rock!" to warn anyone below you that there was falling rock. I don't think you quite need a helmet for this route, but if you do this hike please be aware of your spacing - don't climb directly below or above anyone! 

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We later found out that less than 500 people a year make the trip down this canyon - and I am not surprised at all. This is a serious hike! I climbed a 14,000 foot mountain today (more on that later) and with the exception of the Altitude headache I got Gunnison's Canyon was far more difficult. 

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Finally, here is a picture of Pamplemousse, our new hiking mascot. We found him during our hike in Gunnison and I'm going to see how many different fun hikes I can take him on!

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