Bacon Betty Rides Again

30 05 2011

I feel like I’ve written that title before…

Maybe I have, but that’s how it feels every spring when I get the Genesister back out after a lonely winter in the garage. We’ve had so much rain and flooding this year that it’s taken me way too long to start my season.

I set out this morning with Natty Light and our pal Tabitha to kick off the summer with some singletrack, rock gardens and tons of mud.

For the first time ever, it felt so natural to be clipping in to my pedals and heading off into the woods. You see, I’m usually a little nervous and cautious on my first ride of the year, thinking silly thoughts I don’t need to mention here. I think today was different because I was leading the ride and feeling responsible for two less experienced riders who are unfamiliar with our trails.

I’m crediting this feeling with an experience I just had in Florida that changed my outlook on leadership.

When it comes to mountain biking and snowboarding, my husband is usually the one who leads, taking chances on new tricks and encouraging me to do the same. I watch and follow him because it makes me feel secure to see someone else do something that I can’t visualize or that makes me uncomfortable.

But, when it comes to any water sports, I’m the part of our duo that takes charge. Chris is generally, shall we say, not at home, on the water. It physically pains me that he doesn’t like the beach or boating as much as I do because salt water and a little bay muck course through my veins. So while we were visiting my Dad on the Gulf side of Florida the other week, you know I wanted to get Chris out on the water.

I couldn’t wait to take him on a paddle out to Shell Key and the private beach there, knowing that he would enjoy the adventure of it.

I said I was very comfortable being on the water… What I’m not familiar with is getting TO the water with all of the gear. The way I grew up didn’t require anything more than walking out the back door with your paddle or cooler and shoving off the dock. So when my dad entrusted ME (and Chris’ muscle) to get two kayaks securely on top of his SUV, drive across a very long suspension bridge to our drop-in spot 30 minutes away, get them off the truck without damaging anything, and do it all in reverse, I was very anxious. But having lunch in this spot was enough to assuage my fears in setting off:


I very nearly wussed out of getting to that spot, partly because I could tell Chris was a bit wigged over the fact that I’d never been responsible for the technical details. A few things dawned on me as we were about to load up the last bits of gear for the day. 1) I couldn’t show that I was a bit weirded out because then Chris wouldn’t have confidence in me (or himself). 2) I recognized that I had to push past feeling uncomfortable if I wanted to get the most out of my day and grow my inner strength. And 3) the reason I believed everything would turn out great (read: no smashed kayaks laying on the highway or busted truck windows) was because my dad had complete faith in sending me on my novice way.

The moral of my story is this: when you believe that those around you trust in your ability to be successful, anxiousness falls away and you ARE successful.

Thinking of my ride today, I remember something my friend Chris M. says – “It’s not a successful mountain biking day unless you draw blood.” Check.


What is mountain biking?

26 04 2011

Awesome video posted on the Sacred Rides site:

The Rainbow in My Pants

21 01 2011

If we’re friends on Facebook, you might recall the “there’s a rainbow in my pants” photo from several months ago. This is what happens when you do an endo on narrow singletrack, going downhill, and planting your quad – not once, but twice – into your handlebar. Two days rest with constant ice later:

I still have a visible dent in my muscle.

So, when Outdoor Divas launched their Damaged Diva photo contest yesterday, I was in. The other chicks have some pretty gnarly photos entered. Alas, I didn’t snap mine while I was still bloody and pissed off…

You can “like” my photo here in the contest’s photo album. Even if I don’t win, it makes me feel better to know that I’m not the only one crashing.

BB Tip: Staying Sane on the Trail with Your Significant Other

30 09 2010

I’m the type of mountain biker that is completely satisfied in heading out once or twice a week for an hour-and-a-half’s ride. I do really enjoy being on my bike, being in the woods, and exercising outside, but I’m not in it to do epic rides for the most part.

I have a tiny problem. My husband only likes epic rides. Needless to say, I do not ride with him very often. When I do, here’s how I keep from going crazy:

  1. Tell myself that we’ll be riding for at least 4 hours. If I’m comfortable with that, I’m still golden at 2 1/2, when I tell him I’m winding down. It’s sneaky, but we’re all happier in the end.
  2. I don’t lie to myself anymore about being able to hold out or that I won’t bonk. Before I start feeling hunger pangs, I take a quick break and eat half a Clif bar.
  3. Take the second position. Downhill never works when I’m in front because I don’t bomb down. I’m cautious – unlike you know who. I’ve been over the handlebars one too many times. Perhaps you never saw the “rainbow in my pants” photo…There's a rainbow in my pants.
  4. Enjoy my time. While I’m riding, I remind myself how lucky I am to live where I live, that I’m able to take advantage of afternoons in the woods 10 minutes from home, and that I’m hanging with my best friend.
  5. Last but not least – don’t complain. About anything.

Love Restored, Bacon on the Side

3 07 2010

Headed for the ‘shed last Sunday morning with Natty Light, early to beat the dorks (wasn’t so successful on that front – more in a minute). We were out for a girls-only ride – my first ride of the season. Nat warned me that she “wasn’t as good as” me on the way over to the trail. I ashamedly reminded her that my only biking lately had been on my cruiser…

As soon as we took off for the trail head, though, giddy-ness washed over me. So comfortable to be back on my bike. Ahhh!

I lead the ride – which I never do. I’m always most comfortable bringing up the rear of the line. Nat is new to the area and doesn’t know her way through the trails yet, so I didn’t have a choice. It was actually more fun and challenging to be out front.

The route we took has a great mixture of wooded single track, small rock gardens, climbs and open field. Nat was having a great time, and I showed her a few things not to do, such as: getting slapped by stickery raspberry bushes and having fights with saplings.

This blog isn’t called Bacon Betty for nothing!

I didn’t totally kick ass on the climbs for this first ride of the year, but did pretty well on the first two biggies. The last short one restored my faith in myself and I took it without getting winded.

Returning to the parking area, we spotted our two husbands’ trucks, but no husbands. They were off on their own, probably more tortuous, ride. We had made it there early to 1.) beat the dorks and 2.) beat the heat. We accomplished #2.

As soon as we rode up to my truck, some guy in the lot hopped off of his bike and threw his hands in the air at us, yelling, “HEY! WHAT’S UUUUP? YEAH!!” Dude, take it down a notch. We dropped my tailgate to rest for a bit to see if the boys would make it back before we drove home.

The guy decided that directly behind my vehicle was a great place to leave his bike while he took his kidnapper conversion van to “pick up the others”. Nat and I sat for a bit finishing the conversation we’d begun on the trail and tried to cool off, the sweat dripping from us.

A few minutes later… Van comes careening into the lot headed straight for our spot on my tailgate, slamming to a stop about 5 feet away from our nearly-amputated legs. “I’M PARKIN’ HERE IN THE SHADE! HA HA!! YOU’VE HEARD THAT SAYING! MADE IN THE SHADE!! THAT’S ME!” HolyChristwillyoushutthefuckup! The “others” consisted of two guys equally as frightening as the first, just not as LOUD.

Their antics continued while Nat and I decided not to wait for our boys. “WHY IS YOUR BIKE SO DIRTY?!” “IT IS SOOO HOT OUT HERE!!” “HOW ARE YOU LADIES DOING?!” “WOOOO!!” Where did you assholes come from?!

We began loading the bikes to make our escape. One problem remained: we were blocked in by the van. Praying that they were about to leave immediately, we heard: “YOU LADIES DON’T LOOK VERY WET!!” Nice double entendre, dude. With that, they were gone.

Maybe we should start at 6am next time?

Lost & Found: One Eggbeater

30 06 2010

Someone had a sucky day on the trail. I found this one smashed in the mud next to a creek bed. Hope they were parked somewhere close!

Biking in a Wool Shirt: Icebreaker’s Chase Crewe

10 08 2009

I know there are a million gear review sites out there, and I don’t intend on turning this blog into one of them. But sometimes I come across products that aren’t the average fare that seem worth sharing. Here’s the first official Bacon Betty gear review.

Yesterday was a beautiful August day – by Maryland standards – moderately humid and about 85 degrees. So, I was a little reluctant to wear a merino wool performance tee for the long ride we had planned. I’m super sensitive to scratchy stuff next to my skin and clothing that clings because it’s walking the fine line between drapey and snug. (Shut up, you know it bugs you too!)

I was lucky enough to take home an Icebreaker Chase Crewe from this summer’s Outdoor Retailer. The company was part of a media event that I attended and I got to hear the story behind the products and the benefits of using merino wool as a performance fabric. Merino wool, as many are familiar with, is the magic behind several popular brands on the market – it’s what makes Smartwool my favorite sock brand.

In my professional life as the owner of a graphic design firm, I focus on telling my clients’ brand stories to attract loyal customers, so I was particularly interested in hearing about how Icebreaker sources their wool from New Zealand. Each garment has a “Baacode” on its tag which the owner can use to trace the impact of the pieces they purchase, from environmental to manufacturing to animal welfare.  The fiber in my shirt came from farms in Glen Orkney and Stonehenge, both on South Island, NZ.

Performance-wise the lightweight (180) shirt wicked sweat (there’s always plenty of that) better than my synthetic shirts and dried quickly. I was a little worried about the red color bleeding onto my skin when it got soaked, but no color ran.

Icebreaker SS Chase Crewe in Salsa

Icebreaker SS Chase Crewe in Salsa (image courtesy Icebreaker)

There’s a zipper pocket on the right hip, with an eyelet to run a headphone cable through, that would comfortably hold an iPod shuffle or other small mp3 player. I definitely wouldn’t put my heavier iPhone in it, though, as the fabric stretches.

The seams are nice and flat and the fabric wasn’t itchy at all and didn’t creep up my back under my hydration pack (big plus over synthetic shirts).

There are a few reflective bits in the design, but the garment is “designed for high performance mountain sports” and my use only happens during daylight.

At $64.99, the purchase price is a little prohibitive, but I’d definitely recommend trying out this top for summer mountain biking. I also plan on using this for running as the summer cools down and for an early/late season base layer for snowboarding.