Thursday, September 23, 2010

Baby Steps

My husband hears it all the time " You are a lucky guy" . His answer is usually "yeah, but its expensive". As a family we do a lot of camping, hiking , mountain biking, and trail building. Sydney was 6 months old her first time out. Not that she remembers it, but she has grown up with it. She thinks that everyone does it. I have had several guys ask me to talk to their wives/girlfriends to get them to "do what you do". I have tried to offer advice on getting started, but I believe that the approach has to be customized for each person. I will explain...

I have never considered myself a "girlie girl". I do not get my hair /nails done. I do not own makeup, a blow dryer, or hair curling things. I hate shopping. I do not own a dress. I dont mind being dirty,sweaty,wet,or stinky. I am not afraid of snakes/ wildlife. I love to be outdoors. You may have a bit of a challenge on your hands if you have a "girlie girl". But, if you handle it correctly you can have a 'dirty girl' on the weekends.

It will take a lot of planning on your part and there may be a bribe involved , but if it works than who cares right? Car camping is probably the easiest to start with. Driving up to your spot and being able to bring a lot of stuff is much easier to sell than " hey honey we will just carry our stuff for 6 miles to this great spot I know". { Most people average 3-4 miles an hour with a pack. Also,6 miles of trail, especially to a novice, is a LONG way to carry a backpack} Many campgrounds have showers now , a huge plus. I would NOT suggest a weekend in 90-100 degree heat. The best time to go is when the heat is over and the mosquitos and chiggers are done feasting. Once you have eased her in to this experience you can take it to the next level. Its your responsibility to make this fun and not stressful. This will ensure another outing. I know it sounds simple, but only if you have a simple woman.

Dont bite off more than she can chew. While we were at CB over Labor Day, we met a husband and wife who were getting ready to ride the trail. Neither had been to CB before. On paper CB looks easy, riding it is an entirely different story. She was new to mountain biking { a couple months of riding the flats at CW} and 3 weeks new to clipless pedals. In silence I cursed her hubby. What was he thinking? Did he want a divorce? I headed out for another lap and about 1 mile in I saw her riding toward me. She was not happy! And why he sent her back solo is beyond me. He wanted to ride the trail because he could do it. She was headed back to the car because she could not. I told her not to feel bad and that CB is one of the most challenging trails in MO. She said " why did he bring me here then" ? Only he can answer that one. If you are trying to get your wife on a bike, this is not the way to do it. You have to take your wifes abilities and disabilities in to account. Take her to a beginner trail that has bailouts or just ride the Katy and hit a winery or 2. It may not be exactly what you want to do, but its not about you right now. Start small, build confidence, and then you can go to the next level. I know, common sense again. Always check out a trail before hand. If it is difficult for you , chances are it will be hell for her. Remember , this has to be fun or you will be back to going solo.

I plan to elaborate more about this subject at another time. I have to get packing today since TTM is volunteering at The Berryman 36 hr Adventure race this weekend. Since I dropped Jim off at Bell Mtn Tues evening I am responsible for packing. I am pretty organized , very important to be,so it shouldnt take long.

***** Update****

Shalini is doing awesome. She is riding around her neighborhood with her boys sporting a permagrin. I have felt guilty since creating this monster, since most of my free time has been spent training for Burnin'. I do not get to ride that often , so when Syd is at preschool I have to use that window. She says she understands, but it doesnt help my guilt. I plan to introduce her to the Katy in 2 weeks, since my training will be less intense the week before Burnin'. Hope you all have a great weekend. Get outside.

I recently joined the Facebook Revolution. I know its about time huh? Wanna be my friend?

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Opportunity Knocks .......Again

I met Michelle, the lady who gave Shalini her bike yesterday. { I asked her how to spell her name} She was very happy to have given up her bike since she never really took to it. When she saw how Shalini reacted to the gift she realized she had done the right thing. I saw the bike yesterday . Its in great shape and fits Shalini perfectly. After giving the bike a once over I cleaned the chain and gave Shalini some pointers on care and maintenance. I showed her how to change gears, once I figured it out myself, to the easiest setting . She hopped on and just took off. She has been secretly practicing every day and couldnt wait to surprise me . She smiles while she pedals too. Amazing!!! Regretfully, we put away the bike and headed out for the hike we planned. On the 7 minute drive I found out this was going to be her first hike.

As we entered the park I noticed that Mary Piper was there doing hot laps. I hoped we would see her. A couple minutes on the trail and there she was. Shalini was very impressed with Mary, as most people are. { Thanks Mary for saying such nice things about me.} While Shalini and I walked we talked about our kids, hubbys,India, Americans, biking, the outdoors and religion. I learned a lot and at the same time was able to let go of some misconceptions I had about her culture. No question was off limits. For either of us. After 3 miles we called it since we needed to return to preschool.

Arriving at the classroom , Shalini immediately began telling Michelle of our hike. Michelle smiled and said " my husband and I are going to CO to do some hiking , I guess I should be getting my legs ready". I asked her if she would like to join us sometime. She said, YES I would love that. How lucky I am to have opportunity knock again and be able to share/ teach things I am so passionate about. Neither of these women have an idea of the trail systems they both live so close to. With the change in weather coming I think its the best time to start hiking. I feel very blessed to have been given this chance to show them whats out there. Now, all I need to do is find a way to get paid for it. LOL What a perfect job for me. A friend of mine referred to it as Hike and Bike Therapy. Hmmmmm.

In other news, I have lights for the Burnin', from a self proclaimed "light whore" so I can "blaze forth" into the night. Thanks Mitch! Now if I only had a pit crew????

Sunday, September 12, 2010

Learning to ride

My friend S. is from India. I feel terrible I am not able to spell her name. She has been in MO for about 10 years and has two boys 4 and 6. She never learned to ride a bike so she is experiencing a lot of emotions right now. She is excited to learn and a great student. She takes direction very well and is absorbing everything she can about bikes. She is also scared of falling and possibly getting hurt. She also said she was afraid of disappointing me. ??? I told her the only way she would disappoint me is if she doesnt have fun. I hope I dont disappoint her.

We met at an open parking lot for our first lesson. I brought Connor for her to try. With platforms . She said " your bike is so pro looking ". I chuckled. After lowering the seat she hopped on and said " I hope I dont drop your bike" Now, you all have seen Connor. He has many scratches and dings. I assured her it was okay if she dropped Connor, he is not as fragile as he looks. She laughed and said " you named your bike?". I said "yes, doesnt everybody". I put my helmet on her and off she went. After a few moments I realized that Connor is not a good fit for her. My arms are longer than hers so he works for me. She asked me to show her how I ride. I hopped a couple of parking lot obstacles for her while she watched me in absolute awe. She thought what I did was so amazing, all I did was hop a couple curbs. That helped me to remember where I came from. I started to tell her my rules. First rule: I dont talk to people who dont wear helmets! You will need to get one. Two: Do not ride a bike that doesnt fit you Three: Have fun. Did I leave any out?

After that short lesson, which she did ride across the parking lot very well, we went into Sports Authority so I could show her how cheap/expensive bikes were. She had talked to a guy on craigslist , who said he would build her a bike. After showing her , almost piece by piece ,how expensive that could get she looked at the ground and said " I dont know if I can afford a bike". That broke my heart. She is not planning on' doing what I do', so I told her she could buy a bike from Walmart or Target, since she really just wants to ride in her neighborhood and some Katy trail. I hope there are some good sales soon that she can take advantage of. I told her I would go with her if she needed help. She has a very supportive husband and said she would like to have him come too.

Later that evening she called me to say thank you , over and over. She is very excited to "get on with her journey" she said. I told her she should continue reading the book I gave her and buy a helmet. She informed me she had already bought a helmet on her way home. I had scared her with my story of launching into the creek at Quail Ridge. Mission Accomplished. I did not tell her any of my other "epic injuries"though. Protect your head is all she needs for now.

This week I plan to lend her my first bike which stays on the trainer. It should fit her much better and is not quite so intimidating. Plus it has gears. I have to get the pedals off first. They do not want to budge. Maybe with a little 'honey, can you help me' they will slide right off.

**** Edit****
S. got a bike this weekend. It turns out a fellow parent from preschool had one just gathering dust. She gave it to her. Tomorrow I will go to her house to check it out for her. We will be going on a hike at Brommelseik Park afterwards. S. is so happy she sounded like a kid at Christmas . Please let the bike fit her. Please....

Thursday, September 9, 2010

What More Can A Girl Ask For

This past Labor Day weekend was PERFECT. The weather was perfect for a little trail work and riding bikes. Our company, which consisted of Matt and Lizz James, Drew Black and his cute new friend Angela , and flying solo Busken, was perfect. Jim and I headed down Fri eve to our weekend destination , Council Bluff. Never drive down in rush hour holiday traffic. We were headed for a full on no kids , no dogs, no worries,date night type of weekend, so we suffered through the traffic. Be prepared to be green with envy!!
After unloading our jam packed truck, we took Kanoey { named by Syd } down to the lake for a late night float accompanied by Drew and Angela. There was no moon. It was sooooo dark and kinda creepy. The stars , complete with the milky way, were out in full force. Even though I have gotten over my fear of water, water in the dark is still a bit scary. I felt like I was in a B horror movie, at any time some thing could snatch me and drag me under water , never to be seen again. Safely back at camp we built a fire and enjoyed some Pabst and Racer 5. Perfect sleeping weather!!
Trail work began early Sat. We were hoping to have the trail 100% clear by evening. Jim loaded the saw and weed eater in Kanoey as I set off, clockwise , by bike to shout out trees. Our system worked out well. Five hours later, we had removed a lot of trees and were able to weed whack quite a bit. Jim was not going to paddle to Enough, since we cleared that section last week. Imagine the look on my face when I approached a HUGE tree on the trail, 1/2 mile from Enough. Damn. Tomorrow. There was also a tree down about 1 mile from the end. Tomorrow. While Jim enjoyed the lake I practiced parts of the trail I had difficulty with. All in all it was a very productive day. That evening The James' arrived and we all sat around a campfire talking bikes and stuff while drinking adult beverages and eating corn. Too bad you missed it.
I dont know how, but Jim managed to carry the 40 lb saw pack by bike the next day. By afternoon CB was 100% tree free and as buff as it gets. Trail Karma was achieved. The other riders we came across were singing our praises as they passed. Nice. CB was a challenging trail for me last year. This year is a different story. After riding many hours this weekend I learned to ride a lot of the "tricky stuff", with guidance of course. Practice , over and over , really paid off. I am happy to report that I learned to ride ....
1. The ENTIRE spill way { that crater thing} YEAH
2. The entire rock garden { unclipped 2 times , but did not put a foot down} Thanks Busken
3. The rocky section after the beach
4. The bridge without the rails { T. Holtman , I remembered what you said }
5 . Several of those short climbs that are littered with roots
A lot of confidence was built this weekend. I can only hope it pays off at The Burnin'. Since I was not "recruited" for a team, I guess my fate has been sealed for the 12 hr solo chica. Thats what I was planning on doing anyway. I do my best work alone, and would hate to drag a team down anyhow. Just being responsible for myself, with no one to blame but me , at the end of the day.

I have not had the best luck with achieving the goals I set for myself this year, however, I still feel I accomplished a lot. I am confident that I can complete 6 laps this year. But, I would really like to see what kind of person I would be after 7 laps. BADASS for sure. I believe that is the record for the women also. Not sure of the time tho. I know, " PEDAL FASTER".
One final note: If anyone has some lights I could borrow for this race give me a holler. Mine are not the best. I greatly appreciate it.

Promised Pictures

A picture is worth a thousand words.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010


On Fri., as I dropped Syd off at preschool, I was approached by a 39 yr old woman who asked me " ARE you a professional cyclist"?? Hmmm, NO , not really. "Whats that mean"?? It means I love to ride, but I dont get paid for it. She asked me how old I was and what kind of riding I did. 41 and LONG mountain bike rides. She had a huge smile on her face when we finished talking, 90 minutes later. It was not until Mon that I understood the story behind her smile.

Jim, Syd and I headed to Berryman Fri eve. We slid by the Ozark Trail Association house to grab a chainsaw, since we would need it at CB, our final destination. WE spent the night, a cool night, under the stars snuggled up in our new Hammock, an ENO doublenest hammock. Jealous??? Yeah, we sure are lucky. The next day Jim went for a short BT ride, while Syd and I did a 2 mile pajama hike. Jim was back by 10 to meet the forest service and some OT fellas at the BT campground. The plan was to do a walk thru of some trail reroutes and discuss, you know, top secret trail stuff.Syd and I biked 4 miles at Berryman while he did that. She took a nap as we headed to CB.

We arrived at CB around 3pm. We were looking for Chris Ploch and the Holtmans and found them easily in a somewhat deserted campground. Ploch was doing a no drop ride I wanted to get in on, but that did not work out . I ended up doing my lap by myself around 530. It was quite an entertaining lap so I am kinda glad I was solo. There were several trees down, some you could ride , others you could not. Momentum killers for me. And the most frustrating part was not being able to clip into my right pedal about 80% of the time. I did try to remove several trees with no luck. Thank goodness I know a man with a saw. When I returned there was a HUGE burger ready for me and several side dishes to choose from. Ploch knows how to roll and brought a "personal chef" that cooked burgers and 'homewrecking hotdogs" on request. We sat around the campfire talking bikes and drinking adult beverages until about 1am.

Sun morning we packed up early and drove to the Enough boat launch, since we could easily get to several of the trees and knock them out . Syd knows the drill and went along with us on the 'hike'. She was assured of the swimming after the work . We also found some great rocks along the way that kept her busy. Jim was able to clear several trees and worked until we ran out of water and the chain got to dull. We went swimming and were safe , but tried, at home by 5pm. All in all, not a bad weekend.

This weekend we will be back at CB to finish what we started . We plan on removing all trees and doing some weed eating. The trail should be WIDE open by Sat afternoon. Great , now I wont have any excuses why my lap times are slow. We will be staying until Mon, so come get your ride on or help us build your trail karma.

On Mon , my new friend S., approached me again. She told me she had never learned to ride a bike. She told me of how she would watch her 2 boys and husband ride around the neighborhood, just wishing she could go. She said she was embarrassed and asked me if I had any tips. I saw the look in her eyes and knew I had to do something. I have been very fortunate to have come across some very knowledgeable bikers since I started. So, to pay it forward, I offered to teach her. She is just as excited, well maybe more, as I am. We will start riding lessons next week. I gave her a book on womens cycling yesterday. She will learn to ride on the exact same bike I learned on. Luckily,we are the same height. WOW!!! Talk about being in the right place at the right time huh?

Adding to this awesome life I have..... Another pic of TTM was spotted in the Sept. issue of the MO. Conservationist, Page 1. We really need to contact the photographer. Sydney is bigger now, but Jim and I are smaller. New pics please!! Maybe the 3 of us biking on the trail.....

Pictures will be posted later.