Tuesday, December 31, 2013

One more time to finish out the year

I left early, well ahead of the predicted arctic blast that was to deliver the next round of snow and bone-chilling cold.

I've done this enough times that it has become a ritual: base layer, tights, wool socks, jersey, arm warmers. Those hand warmer things for my feet, wrapped up in Windstopper shoe covers. A quick assessment of current conditions: Gore jacket, full finger gloves (not the lobster claws today), just enough fuel for a 2-and-a half hour ride. Automatic. It doesn't take me long to get out the door.

The route is familiar, and easy enough even on a fixie. I ride the trail near my home on days like this because I don't want to have to think about traffic or route selection. One of my favorite things to do on a bike, as you well know, is to get lost. But on my winter rides, I prefer to not get off-the-map lost, but to ride where my thoughts can wander around while my body stays with the task at hand.

Typical winter training ride.

Until it started raining.

First there were just a few cold, wet kisses on my face. I pulled my buff up higher, up to my eyes. I cursed my complacency for not packing any rain gear. Let's just cut to the chase and say that, within 10 minutes, I was soaked to the skin, and I still had a long way to go.

I've met The Man with the Hammer before. The first time was many years ago, on a long ride that I wasn't prepared for. That day, underfueled and riding with a group of fast friends, I became dizzy and nauseated, a typical bonk. I had to get off the bike until the world stopped spinning. I vowed never again to meet him this way.

The next time was in the desert. I admit that we meet there frequently. After hours of riding into a huge headwind and not getting very far, I felt The Man breathing down my neck. I pretended not to notice. My false detachment just seems to encourage him;  he becomes more persistent.

And there he was again, for one last visit to end the year. Fingers and feet frozen, lungs burning from the fresh cold, snot pouring out my nose and unable to see through foggy glasses, I seriously wondered if I was going to make it back home.

I considered my options:
  1. Hide out for a while under the shelter of a bridge.
  2. Cut the ride short and call for a pick-up.
  3. Stop thinking about it, and keep going.

I kept going.

Next year, I hope for more days on the bike where I have serious doubts about making it to the finish. If you've never had this experience, I suggest seeking out a reason to up the ante, and find opportunities that take you all the way to your edge. I'm not saying that you should actually make a date with the Man with the Hammer; I'm just saying that you shouldn't go out of your way to avoid him.

Riding no-handed for the last few miles, I tucked my balled-up fists under my armpits for warmth. I arrived home with all digits intact (blood flow returns - painfully - under a steady stream of hot water), looking like something that was dredged out of a lake. Dave helped peel off the wet layers, offered me a shot of bourbon, and asked why I hadn't called him for a ride home.

Because I know what he would have told me. And I know how I would have felt if I pulled in to my driveway under anything but my own volition.

The Man with the Hammer has taught me a thing or two over the years!

Here's to a New Year of all good things. Approach it with a clear mind, an open heart, and the courage to keep going.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Fuel for the Fire

Dressed all in indignation and plenty of Gore Tex

This is what motivates me to ride outside all winter long:
  • The other option is riding inside on a trainer for 3 hours
  • A splash of vodka in each water bottle (to keep them from freezing, of course)
  • I like to suffer and I need to exorcise demons
  • Cold air brings clarity
  • Dopamine keeps me on the high road
  • Physical discomfort expels the emotional variety. Or, as one of my teammates recently expressed it, 'My mind can't pay attention to both. Trade one pain for another.'
  • The small victory I achieve in summoning the activation energy required to overcome the 'holy shit it's cold out there' inertia
  • Cold weather riding steels my resolve
  • The taste of road salt
  • The long, way-too-hot shower at the end of the ride
  • The way my skin burns when that shower water hits where I embrocated
  • The solitude. Duh.
  • Putting Rule #6* into practice.
  • If winter is here, can spring be far behind?

*Rule #6
// Free your mind and your legs will follow.

Your mind is your worst enemy. Do all your thinking before you start riding your bike.  Once the pedals start to turn, wrap yourself in the sensations of the ride – the smell of the air, the sound of the tires, the feeling of flight as the bicycle rolls over the road.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

The Ideal Ratio of Masochism to Hedonism

This ad was in a recent issue of Bicycling magazine:

The tag line reads: Masochists tend to be more fit than hedonists.

I have no idea what product it's supposed to be selling (I'm a marketing agent's nightmare in that regard), even after going to the Optum website, which is really cool. No matter. I ripped the page out and tacked it to the wall of the pain cave, so I can put all of that indoor training in perspective at the very moment when I need some perspective.

It really makes you wonder why we endure all this suffering, particularly in the off season, when indoor workouts are the only option and why are they so freaking HARD?!

During my high-cadence workout early early one morning last week, in the time-space warp that makes a 5-minute interval feel like a lingering ride through the third circle of Hell and the 1 minute rest in between just enough time to grab a swig of hydration, I thought about the trade-off between pain and pleasure.

I readily admit: my Transition period was all about pleasure. There were tough workout days, of course, but these always came with immediate rewards: morning martinis after the Akron Half Marathon,  expensive cocktails after the Las Vegas Gran Fondo. Obviously, my hedonism mainly takes the form of things that come out of bottles, like a soused Genie.

Anyway, back to the indoor training thing.
My high-cadence drill workout, early season.

Sometime between 'I can do this' and 'WTF?', I started thinking that this masochism thing really isn't so bad. I felt like I was peeling off that layer of alcohol-induced insulation that I was working on over the past month. (I won't need it, no matter how cold Northeast Ohio winter gets. I have Gore-Tex). I was shedding the skin of the just-finished season, ready to begin the transformation into what I'll be next year when I roll up to that first starting line.

The suffering makes me tougher, and stronger. The suffering pushes me to where I used to think my limits were.

When I train, I often think about the reward I've just earned. (Maybe that second bottle of Mission IPA? Gardener martini, anyone?) But as soon as I get off the trainer, I weigh out the balance between that perceived reward and the pain I just put myself through. And you know what? I often find myself walking away from that so-called 'reward'. Because I know that the real reward isn't on that top shelf of immediate gratification.

The real reward is what happens during race season next year.

The real reward comes with strong finishes, podium photos, the satisfaction of a long and strong race season.

That's my kind of hedonism.

Friday, November 1, 2013

2013 season ends, 2014 training is about to start, and all the stuff in between

This season, more than any other since I started racing about 5 years ago, couldn't have ended any sooner. My most awesome season so far - with more racing, more variety, more focus (not to mention a couple of State Championship titles!) - was also the hardest I've ever worked at this sport.

And so it was that I was counting the days to Transition Week, which turned into Transition Month-and-a-Half, so that I could finally -finally! - go do something else for a change. Even if 'something else' maybe every once in a while involved a bike. Which it did, because, hey, after spending THAT much time on a bike all year, you kind of lose any of your other identifying characteristics (that I hope to reclaim between now and spring).

These are just some of the ways I've been occupying my time, now that I don't have to train for 'the next race':

  • Cheer on someone else who's season hasn't quite ended yet
Writing encouraging words to my favorite Furnace Creek 508 contender, in the middle of Death Valley, where he didn't see it anyway because of a re-route caused by some government shut-down thing.

Tim Marks with George Vargas at the end of the 2013 FC508

  • Indulge in something previously off-limits
Pisco Sour at VTR

  • Cross-train!
Akron Half-Marathon, post race with Dave and Beate. I won my age group!

  • Take the time to stop and smell Autumn in the air...
Along the Ohio and Erie Canal Towpath

The Headless Rider arrives! OK, not really...

  • Dress up stupid for a ride into town
Me and Angie in Valkyrie attire, at Lily's Chocolates in Tremont.

  • Hang out with teammates without having to wear spandex
Chappy, Russ, and I warming up outside...

    ...ready to feast on THIS amazing seafood spread

Kristen enjoying the benefits of our new 2014 Team Sponsor, Fat Heads Brewery

  • And lastly, dig out the indoor trainer, because before you know it,  training starts up again. Like, tomorrow. Because the 2014 season is gonna be even better than the last...


Monday, September 23, 2013

What a crazy fun weekend - Interbike 2013, etc

Thanks to the guys at Ohio Cycleworks, I had the opportunity to attend Interbike 2013 as a VIP guest. 

The Mandalay Bay convention center was packed wall-to-wall with bikes, bike parts, bike accessories, anything you can think of that might be bike related. The show spilled outside into the Mandalay parking lot, with a course to test ride new bikes and for racing in the evenings.

The highlight of the show, for me, was meeting Greg Lemond. 

The next day, I got the rare opportunity to ride the Las Vegas Strip with almost 3000 other cyclists. Dave and I were looking forward to the Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo, especially since it took us through the stunning (and challenging) Red Rock Canyon loop.

We opted for the Metric Century version, and I'm glad we did: the desert winds picked up around 9 AM, and soon became a steady 20 to 30 mph with 40+ mph gusts. A little too familiar for us!

We had one more day left of our trip. When we realized that we weren't flying out until Monday night, we knew there was only one choice:
Zabriskie Point, Death Valley National Park
It was back to Death Valley for us, the place that owns my soul.

And as an added bonus, while we were having breakfast this morning in walks this guy sporting his Furnace Creek 508 finisher's jersey!

This is Danny Bonneville, who raced previously in a two-man team (Stubborn Bulls) with Patrice Pellerin. I know Patrice from past AdventureCorps camps. Crazy small world!

Yep, that's Patrice on my right...

And now, getting ready to board a plane back to reality.

Sometimes I really hate reality.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Road race season ends abruptly, and not a moment too soon

My race season ended suddenly and with little warning.

The last of the Eastern Ohio Time Trial 5-race series was derailed by road construction on the race route.

So, my 2013 road race season just came to an abrupt end. I'm not that disappointed. It was a wildly successful season, but I'm ready to stop.

Now I'm in the training phase known as 'Transition'. My workouts for the next two weeks are all the same: "Do whatever you want, but have fun doing it and don't take it too seriously".

After 5+ months of hard work and racing and getting up early every weekend, I'm ready for transition. Because when this training phase is over, I want to be ready to start this whole cycle over again, and continue the story next year.

Tomorrow morning I'm off to Las Vegas for InterBike (thanks to Ohio Cycleworks for the passes!) and the Viva Bike Vegas Gran Fondo on Saturday, where I'll hope to catch George Hincapie's wheel. Then the following weekend I'll be running my first (and potentially last) half-marathon in Akron.

Vegas Gran Fondo starts on The Strip at 6 AM

And when I get back, I'll be transitioning into cyclocross mode, which means I won't be taking myself seriously for at least another couple of months.

Saturday, August 24, 2013

The thin line that runs through everything and holds it all together

Bicycle-created art by Christian Grillitsch (Velodraw)

I was back at Tour of the Valley, waiting at the line for the start of the road race.

(Don't worry: this is not a race report. You don't come here for race reports; race reports are boring. Race stories, on the other hand, can be quite entertaining, even more so over time when memory fails and details begin to fall apart. Let's just wait.)

Everything about this race was familiar. Same start line, same sun shining down on our field of about 15 women. An electric current of nerves and hope and determination and excitement. Just like last time, and the time before that.

And, of course, it was totally different. This year I was with new teammates, wearing a different kit, racing under a new strategy. Same route, different race altogether.

In the short time I had to get philosophical, I thought how I could almost trace a line from last year to right now, following the course of where I was - who I was - back then, all the way around the year to right here, back at the start.

So much of my life is defined by this one thing, this one sport that I have chosen to pursue as if my very life depended on it. Cycling has woven itself into the fabric of my soul, and by choosing to let this passion lead me, I see how it not only determines the road I follow, but also how it connects everything together. Pull it out, and I will unravel.

It was surprising to consider how most of the choices I make are very much informed by my cyclophilia. Has it become that much of an obsession? I can look back on my past as if it were a tapestry woven through with the colors and patterns and designs of all those things, of the people and places I've formed connections with because of the bike: strangers who have become friends, friends who will become memories, those whose own lines are inextricably interwoven with mine forever. On two wheels, I spin myself into a future of familiar uncertainty.

I point my bike in the direction of my choice. I may not know what I'll find when I get there, or what will happen along the way. The only thing that is certain is how I got there.

I've lost count of how many races I've done, how many times I've waited at the line for that starting gun. I won't even jinx myself by wondering how many more times I'll be here again. I'll just keep following, or maybe I'll get pulled along by, that thin line that leads me to where I need to be.

P.S. Next weekend I'll be in Minnesota, riding (once again) with my friend Tim Marks who is training (once again) for the Furnace Creek 508. I'll be joining him on his usual 125-mile Saturday training ride, in Prescott, WI. That route is a bitch. It was last year, and I expect that it will be the same this year. Some events feel less like a 'spiral' of time, and more like a really painful re-run.

Friday, July 19, 2013

It all comes down to this...

Meyruis, Lozere, June 26, 1977. Hot and overcast. I take my gear out of the car and put my bike together. Tourists and locals are watching from sidewalk cafes. Non-racers. The emptiness of those lives shocks me.
(from "The Rider", by Tim Krabbe*)

Photo courtesy of Mike Briggs

I live for June and July. This is my prime time. It's the thick of the road racing season, what I've worked so hard for, since the end of last year's racing season. I'm in the best condition right now than I have been all year, or that I will be until this time again next year (hopefully).

Mid-summer racing is the reason for all those mountainous base miles in Death Valley at the end of February. It's the reason for all those 3+ hour,cold rides throughout fall and winter, dressed in layers but still numb from the soaked-to-the-bone icy rain. It's the reason for all those painfully long and boring indoor sufferfests (so dreaded). It's the reason - the only reason - to forego that second beer I desperately want/need at the end of a long training ride.

And it especially comes down to the contre le montre, the race of truth that is the Time Trial. I've worked my ass off for this. Now I'm ready to face the truth.

*Thanks to Steve 'Protoceratops' Barnes for turning me on to this excellent book.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Zen through fear, and fast little circles

I was back out at the track last week, the first time since that unseasonably warm day after Thanksgiving (forever after to be known as 'Track Friday').

And I have to admit this: I was afraid. Being away from it for so long, that pitched turn seemed ridiculous. I would have to re-learn how to ride a single speed bike with no brakes. I would be up on that track with a lot of other people at the same time, something that I usually try to avoid.

I was at the Cleveland Velodrome to take the first of my Track 201 classes (three are required to be eligible to race on the track, and I want to race on the track). The class is meant to teach you how to ride safely with others on the track, either in a paceline, or in passing. Riders above and below me, side by side, scare the crap out of me.

Tim from North Coast Endurance teaches this session. He's patient and persuasive, which is what I needed that day.  Teammate and Track Goddess Beth was there, always a breath of fresh air. She's at the track more than anyone I know, and has inspired me to become an advocate for the Velodrome. She's a confident, graceful track rider. Her enthusiasm for riding fast in little circles is contagious. My day was looking better already.

GPS data for Velodrome riding is a little like string art.

I have to admit that, going into Tim's training, I was ready to bail when things got a little hairy. Some of the training exercises weren't even in the same room as my comfort zone.

I carry around with me a little piece of paper, something that I pulled out of a fortune cookie years ago.  I've memorized it, often using it as my mantra: "Do the thing you fear the most, and the death of fear is certain."

In spite of my hesitation at what we were being asked to do, I decided that I would at least try. And so we worked on pacelining, passing on the rail, riding 2, then 4, side-by-side. We did standing starts, in which you have to pour on the power immediately so you can get through Turn 1. We did lots of things I didn't think I'd be able to do, but I did.

When the class ended, I hung out in the infield for a while with Beth and other friends. Whatever dark cloud followed me to the track was nowhere to be found. What was left was this feeling of peace and calm, and satisfaction. It was a potent endorphin high that lasted for days.

Cycling is a psychological outlet for me. I've ridden away so much stress and anger and sadness, and bullshit, over the years that I'm starting to think I should write my bikes off as a medical expense. Most of it comes simply from the physicality of the sport, the hard efforts that require focus and attention and the ability to let everything else go but the ride.

But, clearly, there's something about the Velodrome - about riding those tight little circles, about hanging onto the top of that wall - that seems to be a direct line to Zen. I tell everyone that the Velodrome is transcendental, riding the track is sublime.

Next time you need a mood-altering experience, I suggest skipping the fleeting benefit of a massage/spa day, spare yourself the time (and effort) of yoga or meditation, save your cocaine money. Come ride yourself into inner peace, 1/6 of a mile at a time.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Barry-Roubaix 2013 Recap

To read other racers' accounts of the 2013 Barry-Roubaix, you might think that this was somehow a 'fun' race. You would be wrong; it was not. Those other racers are either lying or crazy.

There is very little about this race that I could say I actually enjoyed.

It was cold. Roads weren't so much 'gravel' as they were stretches of potholes or sheets of ice. The first turnout onto the dirt may have actually been the surface of the moon. It was a wasteland of things that had rattled themselves off of bikes and riders: water bottles, whole sandwiches, whole sets of teeth. Surprisingly, I was OK with this part.

In spite of the irritatingly-ubiquitous advice, I was unable to keep the rubber side down on the iced-over parts. Once I got tired of all this falling on ice, I stopped to let more air out of my tires (advice given to me by people who know, and that I should have paid attention to before the race started). This helped me stay upright on ice, but 1/4 mile later the worst of the icy roads ended, and I was riding mushy tires on pavement. No, I didn't pinch flat. But don't think that thought didn't cross my mind.

I just wanted this race to end, honestly. "One and done" was the mantra that kept me going to the finish line.

Of course, these kinds of events are always better when they're over (or as a friend of mine likes to say, 'It's not fun until it's done!'). The gathering of friends and teammates all weekend (and at the beer tent, in spite of my craving to get out of the cold and into the nearest hot tub), was not to be missed.

So, there you have it: 36 miles of never again. Unless, of course, I can somehow learn to ride a bike on ice. Then I might consider this for next year.

Emily, Angie, Kris, Me, Dave (with a spike sticking out of his head), Julie, Vicki, and Billy.

Flying to the finish line, and to the beer tent!
Note the flat tires. I would be surprised if I had 20 psi in them.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Probably not a bad idea to change my race goals now...

Barry-Roubaix update:

Some re-routing of the courses will be necessary because the recent cold/wet/snowy conditions have left a number of the roads ice-crusted and treacherous. Like this, presumably:

So now would be a good time to change my race goals from 'finish in 2 hours' to something more realistic.

Here, then, are my race goals for the 2013 Barry-Roubaix:

1. Get to the beer tent before it closes.
2. Finish with the same bone count as when I started.
3. Remember that the worst rides make for the best stories.

For all my teammates and friends racing this weekend, best of luck, ride well, have fun!

Angie and I out for a training ride this evening on the towpath, to test our bikes and gear for the cold, muddy conditions we expect on Saturday.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My 'Happy Place'

I'm alone.

The desert sun is high overhead. The winds are starting to pick up, just a little.

I'm poised at the summit, looking over the Valley spread out far below me. The salt pan shimmers like a mirage. Dust devils swirl somewhere miles away.

I aim toward that long, flat horizon. Tuck position, back flat. Invisible to the wind, the crosswinds that could knock me sideways, if they could only see me.

The road roars beneath my wheel. Sleek black ribbon of twists and dips, whatever it brings me I'll accept.

Click up, pushing hard on the cranks in my attempt to reach escape velocity. I could probably do it,  but I've run out of gears. All I can do is up the cadence, legs burn in a good way.

I'm flying.

I'm back now, in the so-called 'Real World'. My annual indulgence/escape/challenge/whatever-necessary-thing-it-has-become is over for this year. But when things get a little too real here, you may see my eyes glaze over, my attention take a momentary break. Please, just give me a minute. Let me go back there - I won't be long. You know exactly where I am.

Thursday, March 7, 2013

The Stats

Recap from my week of cycling in Death Valley National Park:

# of ride days:                                     7 (consecutive)
# of hours on the bike this week:        30
Distance covered in those 7 days:       446 miles
Longest distance covered in one day:  147 miles
Total elevation gain:                            29,000 feet
Average speed over the 446 miles:      14.8 mph
Top speed (descending Hell's Gate):    41.2 mph
The soundtrack in my head:   http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3FsrPEUt2Dg

Why I'll be back again next year:
Because there's nothing like pushing yourself to the edge of your limits, and realizing you're not even close.

Monday, March 4, 2013

The road to Hell's Gate is paved with good friends and plenty of event support

March 3, 2013

CorpsCamp is over, the Death Valley Spring Century is history, and I haven't had a lot of time to update my blog this past week.

That's not a bad thing. Camp days are packed. If you're not on your bike (which you are, for hours and hours every day), then you're probably getting ready to ride your bike, fueling up to ride your bike, cleaning up after riding your bike, re-fueling after riding your bike, talking about riding your bike, or sleeping. The days fly by. It makes you feel like you've entered some kind of time warp.

Sitting around the Furnace Creek Ranch fire pit with friends and fellow riders turned out to be a regular (and favorite) evening event. Here's where we all can be smug, talk trash, toast our accomplishments, and tell stories* with people who appreciate how hard it is, truly, to ride a bike in Death Valley.

Jill and Tim, and he's sporting a  super-cool T-shirt!
Because riding in Death Valley isn't like riding anywhere else, or at least it's not like riding at home in Northeast Ohio. An easy 34-mile round trip somewhere back home might take a couple of hours, but an early morning out-and-back to Badwater from Furnace Creek, although still only 34 miles of flat to rolling, takes longer and feels, well, different somehow.

Maybe it's the too-cold-then-too-hot mornings or the prickly dry desert air. Maybe it's because the flats are all false and the winds are always there, whether you feel them or not. Maybe the awesomeness of the Valley simply causes something deep inside you to slow down - just a little - because you can only absorb so much of it at one time.

 This was my best CorpCamp experience so far. The weather was perfect: the wind gods appeased (maybe because Jason brought his stunt kites and was hoping for some wind. Fickle wind). I rode farther, ascended higher, descended faster, climbed stronger than all my previous Camp years. And I did it in great company.
Angie and I at Hell's Gate. HELL YEAH!!!

And now all that's left is the screaming 35+ mph hour, 10-mile descent back to Hwy 190...

*We give special treatment/pay rapt attention to the Furnace Creek 508 Race vets, whose stories are often very colorful and maybe even a little crazy. Here's Steve 'Protoceratops' Barnes, captured for all eternity: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lzWsRht-9dg

I'll have more post-CorpCamp/Spring Century blog updates soon. I promise.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

If the wind doesn't kill you, the climbing might...

Yesterday was the first day of CorpCamps, and the usual ride is the innocent-looking but leg-busting Artist's Drive loop. This route has become my nemesis. It never gets easier, I just know what to expect. And I know that I can do it although it always feels like I can't.

There are forces at play here in Death Valley, some that I have power over, and some that I do not.

I have power over most weather conditions. I have learned the hard way that conditions can change here without warning, and in directions that are completely unexpected. But if you know to be ready for anything, then you will be.

Wind is a little different, and I have some power over it but there are limits to that, as you certainly know if you follow this blog.

Climbing, I feel I have some power over. I love to climb, and I brought along a bike that has a couple extra gears for exactly the kind of terrain you get out here. I have some power over elevation grades.

But what I'm finding I have ZERO power over is my ability to say NO to Tim Marks when he suggests something that may otherwise seem crazy. Like when he mentioned to me that he was planning on climbing the road to Dante's View the next morning (the same day as the planned Artist's Drive loop), I weighed it out carefully in my mind (50 extra miles, unpleasantly steep grades, cold and windy at the summit) and recklessly agreed. And, actually, I didn't exactly agree to anything, because Tim didn't exactly invite me to join him. He simply mentioned it, and I invited myself. Or, maybe he dropped the gauntlet, but I think he knew I would pick it up.

Dante's View is, according to Tim, one of the 10 most difficult climbs in California. It rises 5500 feet in 25 miles, with the last 4 miles averaging around 10%, with a set of even steeper switchbacks as you near the summit. There are vehicle size limits imposed because of the steep, tight turns. The National Park Service stopped allowing AdventureCorps to include this route as an option because of the tough terrain and narrow roads. And of course, I've always wanted to try it - kind of an American version of Alpe d'Huez, I guess.

And since Tim suggested it, I was going to do it.

It was a tough climb, of course. It took us 3 hours to cover the 25 miles from Furnace Creek to the summit (it was a relentless uphill the entire way). That set of switchbacks toward the top had me thinking I might be walking my bike to the summit (which I didn't). The descent was terrifying. The thought of having to tackle the climbs on Artist's Drive a couple hours later weighed heavily. But the satisfaction of having climbed Dante's Peak - thanks to Tim, and to Jill, too, of course - is more than I expected for this adventure in Death Valley (and I have a lot of expectations for this trip).

I guess I should be grateful that I can't control every little part of my life. Otherwise, I might miss out on once-in-a lifetime opportunities like these.

Monday, February 25, 2013


 It all came back to me, why I'm here again. Why I come back here every spring.

The warmth of the sun. The smooth black ribbon of never ending road. The impossibly vast and bleak landscape.

Being able to throw on only a single layer of clothing before heading out for a ride.
The challenge of long miles. The futility of strong headwinds. The exhilaration of that same wind gust, now at my back and making 30 mph seem (almost) effortless.

Friends that I only see once a year, those of us who know exactly why we're all here.

And this year, a new group of Death Valley riders, who bring a new energy and enthusiasm and another way of experiencing this place, at this time. It truly is a privilege.