True to Form

12 03 2012

With the temperature topping out at 69 degrees today – and in celebration of the first day of the year without socks – I had to break out the cruiser. I headed out for a quick ride around town to enjoy the sun granted to me by daylight saving time.

But not before I treated myself to this:

First of the year.

First of the year.

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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:

20110530-111056.jpg

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.

20110530-112655.jpg





What is mountain biking?

26 04 2011

Awesome video posted on the Sacred Rides site:





Bits of Winter – Part 2

17 04 2011

Many a snowy hike were had this winter, all without snowshoes (although, I wish I had a pair). I actually perfected the art of not slipping through the snow crust by the aid of my trusty Keen boots.

You see, they are so wide that they actually distribute my weight across a wider platform, preventing me from sinking through – so long as I’m making my own tracks (that goes without saying, if you know me). I play a game with myself to see how long I can go without stepping in someone else’s footprint. Hey, when you hike as much as I do, your mind begins to wander.

Aside from enjoying the glimmering snow among dormant deciduous trees, snapping way too many photos of my dog romping through the winter wonderland,

It's a hard life

and dreaming of riding the trails under the white blanket, my winter hikes allowed me to scout out some hidden climbing spots for the coming season. What I found:

  • A perfect bouldering area buried 2 miles in, with a luxurious carpet of puffy moss at its base.
  • A short, but technically challenging top roping wall that could have about 4-5 nice routes. Some bushwacking required.
  • Another wall of quartzite that looks fun to climb, but seems to have a sketchy base area.

All that dreaming of climbing got me back into the rock gym after a several-month hiatus. My regular climbing partner has had some scheduling issues, so I was so happy to have a couple of sessions bouldering with Aleya of Rock and Sky. We had a great time at Earth Treks, with me learning tons just observing Aleya and others climbing much harder routes than me. I enjoy climbing with new people, and got over my anxiety of venturing into the bouldering cave instead of hanging out in my usual top rope area. I haven’t gotten any of these while hanging from a rope:

Nice flapper

Sucky photo (it’s hard to take a pic of your right hand when you’re right-handed), but it was a pretty nasty flapper. Although, I’d willingly suffer more of these to have a climbing gym closer to my house. I despise the 50+ minute 0ne-way trip to the gym.

In all, this winter was awesome – filled with all the things I love to do to stay off the couch when it’s cold: snowboarding, hiking, traveling, hanging out with friends new and old.





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.





Hills, on a Monday

11 06 2009

Last weekend was pretty uneventful, but surely relaxing. The Mr. and I got away to his mom’s place at the beach. A great thing about living in Maryland: mountains to the beach in less than 3 hours. Salt water runs in my veins, so this is my key requirement for any living situation.

We left Friday after work, and got up early Saturday for a ride around the seaside state park on the cruisers. We doubled up on the bike loop and found a few beach access spots that are walk-in/bike-in only. Sweet! We rounded out our morning with a nice lunch on the terrace at the Lewes Ferry terminal. Drinks were had by all. I was able to catch a few rays on the beach that afternoon before dinner, making mine a perfect day.

photo courtesy destateparks.com

photo courtesy destateparks.com

Making up for a weekend of no mountain biking, Em and I headed out to the watershed Monday after work to try some of that new singletrack we scoped last week. The trail is full of switchbacks and obstacles, and I had turned into a wuss. Of course, when you’re on foot and imagining what it will be like to ride something, it seems like a breeze. Not so! Add two wheels and 11mph to my speed, and I’m easily jacked. A few of the switchbacks were crazy and I couldn’t get myself over one of the little rock gardens, but I’m going to keep trying this one so I can improve my skills on windy-er trails.

The new trail does NOT look like this.

The new trail does NOT look like this.

The new piece of trail spat us out onto a section that I rode a lot last season, and the climbing began. I had my mind set that the rest of the ride was not going to kick my ass. Maybe I had conserved my energy from wimping it on the singletrack, but I was taking the hills in stride and with good pace. There’s something about climbing a hill. My husband hates them (although he conquers them with ease), but I relish the challenge. Stating the obvious, I’m not a fan of the rocky decent. Give me a hill to climb, and I’m all for it. I gauge my progress on certain hills throughout the riding season, noting how far I make it each time before taking a short breather, or how winded I am at the top compared to the last ride.

There are two long, steady, rocky climbs and one short, steep one that wrap up the loop we rode on Monday. Em and I tackled them with force, encouraging each other and giving praises along the way. I was mentally encouraging myself, too, since these are heart-pumping, leg-burning ascents. I get a little philosophical when I ride lately. I think of things like, “If you can run a business, you can handle a little hill on a bike.” “Think about how you’ll feel when you reach the top – keep going.”

Biking a hill as a metaphor for running a business? Sure, I take my little “victories” with me for back-up when I’m having a rough day in the office. Instead of compartmentalizing (wow! college vocab) these things I do to “feed” myself, they’re mixed together to make a stronger me. Can’t argue with that.





Summer ’09 Starts…Now

2 06 2009

If I had to choose one word to describe this weekend, it would be packed fun. While it was busy, it typified the kind of weekends that usually make up my summers.

Getting started early, my oldest friend, Melissa, and her finance, Bob, made their way down from South Jersey around lunch time on Friday. I was able to get out of work for the day (#joysofbeingtheboss) and the Mr. had the day off, too, so we all headed over to the park (Catoctin Mtn. National Park) for a hike. Derby didn’t know what to do with himself, going on three hikes in less than a week. We hiked to the Blue Ridge and Thurmont vistas for a round trip of about 2 mi. or so. Melissa and Bob got some photos at the two overlooks, and I think they enjoyed the breeze that we found at the second. I know I did. With the heat and humidity already present for the season, we had worked up our appetite for fajitas on the grill. Of course, the fajitas were preceded, accompanied and followed by wine…

Which brings us to Saturday and more wine! We headed over to the first wine festival of the summer where we listened to a couple of Caribbean pan bands and had some local wine before giving into the sun and heat. You’ve got to get there super early if you want to get anywhere near a piece of shade. The sangria was cold, though. Our guests had to make their way home late Saturday afternoon, so it all worked out. It’s so cool to think that Melissa and I’ve been friends for almost 28 years. I’m so thankful to still have her in my life.

Melissa (left) and me at the festival

Melissa (left) and me at the festival

No sooner did we arrive home to see our guests off, we got a call for another party. I had a little time to re-compose myself, which included a washcloth bath and shaking my hair out of my ponytail. And we were off – but we only lasted until about 11pm when we had to come home and crash. Besides, I had a truckload of mulch to spread on Sunday, and I did not feel like doing it while dry heaving.

Finally, on Monday, I was back on my bike. We headed out around 9:30 to meet Emily in the Frederick Watershed to do a quick loop that has a mix of singletrack and some technical/rocky downhill and uphill sections. Despite the full parking area, we only passed some hikers with dogs and a single mountain biker. From the other biker we learned of some new singletrack that had been cut by a trail crew and decided to check it out after we were finished with the loop. (It looks like I was riding when I took this shot. Alas, I was not.)

new piece of singletrack

new piece of singletrack

The loop we rode was actually the subject of my very first blog post. While there will always remain a good bit of eye-jiggling on the rocky decents of this trail, I am now handling them more deftly, and without screaming things like, “ohmygodwhythefuckamidoingthis?!?!” Though, I did dismount near the spot where I went over my handlebars last year. That big, flat rock still psychs me out. We had fun blasting through the muddy puddles and wide, running stream before having to dig in for the steep uphill sections that make up the last third of the ride. An “aha” moment hit me while shifting to prepare for one climb, boosting my sense of accomplishment for the day. I haven’t mastered the last, and steepest hill on this trail yet, and it irks the shit out of me to watch my husband pedal his way up. I proceed on foot, which the Mr. has dubbed “bike-hiking.” I think I actually get more of a workout pushing the bike. The end of the trail is sandy/packed singletrack with some stacked log obstacles here and there. I am working my nerve up to try some of them out, but right now it’s all in my head.

The short piece of singletrack we rode after the loop was fun. It was nice and narrow, with a couple of little rock gardens. Oh, and there was also some barbed wire that got caught in Em’s chain ring, stopping her immediately in her tracks. She was able to hop off her bike unscathed, and we pulled the buried pieces up and bent them safely back off of the trail. We made plans to return the following weekend to scope out the rest of the new stuff that continued on the other side of the road that intersects the trail.

I headed to the shop to drop my bike off for a tune up and derailleur part replacement to get it ready for the next ride. While there, I tested out an Electra Townie 7D, and it was love at first pedal…