Thursday, December 27, 2007

Christmas in Boulder

I am so lucky. I get to celebrate Christmas for two whole days! The Danes (as with most Europeans) celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve (don't ask me why....). I, as an American, celebrate Christmas on, well, Christmas Day! I don't question this since it allows Jesper and I to spread out our yuletide festivities over two days.

On Christmas Eve, Jesper prepared a traditional Danish meal of pork roast and red cabbage, followed by dessert of almond rice pudding. A whole almond is hidden in the dessert for one lucky person to find and get a prize. We've been through about half the pudding so far and haven't found it yet! The entire meal was fantastic and we have lots of leftovers!


After the feast, we sat down with the doggers to open half the presents that night. Strelka remembered how to open the presents! She's such a help! Fortunately, she's learned to leave the presents under the tree alone until we take them out for opening, otherwise we'd have a big mess! Mushka even got into it, although all the hoopla soon wore her out and she escaped into the quiet of the kitchen.





Christmas morning dawned with new snow and funny pajamas! We proceeded to unwrap the remaining gifts, with Strelka's help of course. In the end, the living room was strewn with wrapping paper.


Then we headed up to Jamestown with Strelka for a nice winter hike.
The hike worked up our appetites for my Christmas dinner of standing rib roast and yorkshire pudding. More leftovers!

Two full days of food and presents! I like our blended Danish-American Christmas.

Check out more pics at: http://picasaweb.google.com/COIttyBittyBetty/Christmas07InBoulder

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Christmas Vacation Boulder Style

As of this past Friday, Jesper and I have been on vacation! Vacation Boulder style isn't very relaxing, but we've been having loads of fun.

Actually, we weren't supposed to start our Christmas vacation until Saturday. We had intended to work on Friday, which would have made it the only Friday we would have worked this month. I had a big project that was due on Friday. I got the document on Wednesday late afternoon. Did I work on it all that day? Of course not! I had planned to take both Thursday and Friday to get through it. So, on Wednesday evening we were at our friends' Sue and Mike Bushman's house having a glass of wine and letting the dogs play together. Mike ans Sue have a condo up in the mountains and he was going up to ski on Friday. He asked if we could join them and that's when Jesper asked me if I would possibly be able to get through my project completely on Thurdsday so we could ski on Friday. I had never even thought of that! I wasn't sure I could get through the whole thing, but we said we'd try.

I spent the next day with my butt in my chair from 7:00 am until 4:00 pm, moving only to go to the bathroom. Jesper brought lunch up to me. When you work at home and are not interrupted by co-workers, you can bang out an amazing amount of work. Consequently, I was able to get my project done, with time to even make a last batch of cookies for the Cookie Exchange I was going to that night. Whoo-hoo! We called Mike and a couple other friends and made plans to ski Copper on Friday.

I was a bit nervous about skiing, since I had hurt my right ankle couple weeks earlier. Back in August, I sprained it and when skiing one Monday, I tweaked it skiing some moguls. For the next couple days, it hurt. Then I tried to ski on it the next Friday and it did not feel good at all. I stopped skiing after only a few runs and hung out at the bar. I rested my ankle for a few days and went out the next Monday to try it again. First run and the darn thing hurt a lot. I was super bummed and wondering if I'd done something really bad to my ankle. I skied down to a coffee shop (too early to drink beer) and proceeded to read a magazine. Then I took my boot off and was rotating my ankle when I felt a click, sort of like when I tweaked it on the moguls in the first place. Amazingly, it felt much better. It didn't feel perfect, but I ended up joining Jesper back out on the slopes for the afternoon!

However, on the start of our Vacation, I was nervous about the ankle, afraid I'd tweak it again the wrong way. I started out skiing really conservative and quite frankly not so good. But then I started to realize that the ankle was fine. Good thing, 'cause I ended up skiing some really awesome but difficult stuff with a bunch of really great skiers. We got to hit new areas of the back bowls just opened for the season - really fun but challenging terrain with all kinds of hidden goodies like rocks and the tops of trees. We finished the day coming down Triple Treat, a black diamond moguled run at 4:00pm. My legs were cooked, having teled all day long. It's hard to explain why the day was so fun, but it simply was; great skiing, great friends, beautiful scenery, fresh air, and maybe the beer at the end that Jonathan brought. Sorry no pics, as I forgot to charge my battery.

Needless to say, I was completely useless that night! I could barely keep my eyes open long enough to eat dinner. I love that feeling of playing so hard that you are utterly exhausted. I suspect many adults don't get that feeling very much. It's decidedly different than the exhaustion caused by lack of sleep and too many hours working!

We took Saturday off from skiing, mostly because we wanted to take Strelka out for some extended playtime. We slept in as much as the dogs and kitty would let us, had a nice breakfast of whole wheat french toast with bananas (YUM!) and then loaded up the pup (unfortunately Mushka is not able to go on long excursions anymore). We decided on a hike from NCAR (the National Center for Atmospheric Research), which is located adjacent to some of Boulder's nicest hiking trails. It was a beautiful sunny day, albeit chilly, so we put Strelka's coat on her; darn thing has zero body fat to insulate her. She's pretty cute in her red coat!

The hike was great fun for Jesper and I and Strelka. Although us humans covered about 5 miles, Strelka did at least twice that. She ran up ahead of us and then zoomed back. She ran in crazy circles around us, all the while trying to eat snow on the fly. We laughed so hard! The hike achieved it's intended goal; for Strelka to get worn out having fun out in the snow. I even took her out again for a short walk near the house with Mushka and she almost wanted to stay home, she was so tuckered out. Needless to say, she slept well that night!

With a tired pup, we felt OK leaving the dogs again on Sunday to ski again. This time we met up with Sue, as Mike had to work. My legs were still tired from Friday's long day of skiing. It was super cold and windy, which might be why there were fewer people at the resort that one would imagine 2 days before Christmas. But we still had a great day and it kept getting better and better. I finally had to call it quits, since my legs were burning like mad. All those lunges...

I will sleep well again tonight, having enjoyed another vacation day, Boulder style.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

I'm a Lucky Little Snow Bird!

After a slow start this season, we’re finally getting hammered with snow in the Colorado Rocky Mountains. A series of snow storms started last week and should continue through this week. They’ve brought snow to the mountains and to Boulder. We could do without the snow down here in Boulder, as it’s derailed the Hot Tub construction. However, it is very pretty and certainly is helping us get into a holiday mood.

Jesper and I loaded up Strelka (Mushka had to stay at home), donned our Santa hats and headed up Flagstaff Road Saturday morning in a snow storm to cut down our Christmas Tree. The City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks (OSMP) lets people come onto their park land for one weekend in December to help thin the forest by cutting down smaller trees. People are asked to cut down trees around 10 feet tall or less, although they don’t get too picky if you go a little taller. Good thing, because we did! Anyway, the only bummer about the whole setup was that they decided that dogs would not be allowed with you while cutting. This despite the fact that dogs are typically allowed in these areas and that no mention of this ban was made in the information posted on OSMP’s web site. They were trying to manage the higher than anticipated number of participants, but the forest is so big that having a bunch of dogs out there would not have been a problem. However, we sadly left Strelka in the car, where she promptly froze while we sought our tree. We took her out to romp in the snow later that day to make up for it.

Jesper and I tromped around for awhile not finding anything we liked. Most of the trees were scraggly little Charlie Brown trees, but Jesper finally found a beautiful, but tall, Douglas Fir. We debated selecting the tree, since it was probably 11 to 12 feet tall. However, we decided to go for it because it was by far the nicest tree we’d seen.

Holy Moly – that tree was heavy and we had a LONG way back to the car. Getting it up on the roof was quite a chore too. It’s a beauty though, in a natural way that a lot-purchased tree is not. We plan to set it up in the Living Room where the ceiling is really high. I’ll post a picture of it when it’s all decorated.

Since we’re not going to Denmark this year on account of Mushka being so sick, Jesper had a whole mess of vacation days set aside for a long trip to Europe. IBM does not allow him to carry them over. There’s NO WAY we are letting those vacation days vanish, so we’ve been taking off Fridays and Mondays and also plan to take off the whole week between Christmas and New Year’s. What are we doing with all those days off, you might ask? Skiing, of course! All this month of December, and starting on November 30th, we’ve been skiing on Fridays and Mondays to avoid the crowds we’d normally encounter on the weekends. This has left Saturdays and Sundays free for stuff around the house and playing with the dogs. I’ve also had to get some work done over the weekend; work that I would normally do on a Friday or Monday. I’m very fortunate to have that kind of flexibility in my job.

We have lucked out with the latest series of storms on our ski days. Last Friday, Winter Park was slammed with about a foot of snow the night before. We skied there with a friend, Elizabeth, and were extremely fortunate to be there when they opened the Mary Jane side of the resort. Getting first dibs on runs that haven’t had anyone on them all season is wonderful. We went down Mary Jane several times, relishing in the fresh and deep powder. Even after many skiers/boarders had been down, the snow was still deep and soft. There was a lot of hooting and hollering! Whoo Hooo!

Yesterday, we lucked out again! We went to Copper and, although there wasn’t any fresh powder on the runs that were open when we got there, they opened the Sierra Lift at about 1:00 pm. This lift goes up above tree line and allowed access to two black diamond runs opened for the first time this season. Both runs (Gold Digger and Retreat) were super fun, especially since the resort was almost completely empty. After three runs through the powder, the snow wasn’t even close to being tracked out. By then we had done16 runs, which is a lot for one day, so we called it quits and grabbed a celebratory beer at Jacks. Sorry, I have no pictures of us in this wonderful powder at Copper; we were simply having too much fun to stop for photos!

Jesper and I will continue our four day weekend schtick next weekend. I could get used to this! I know I'm a lucky little snow bird!

Saturday, December 1, 2007

Ski Season has Begun!

Finally! Jesper and I headed up to Copper yesterday (yes, we played hookey!) to start our ski season. I've decided that, as Colorado residents, it is a MUST that we start our ski season in November. Schwew... we just eeked into November, getting our first turns in on the 30th. Not many runs were open yet, but we had fun none the less.

Last year was our second year on tele skis and we both agreed that the first day on the slopes was awful! The motions felt gorky and the bottoms of our feet got cramped up in agony. You use those foot muscles a lot on, especially on teles. Of course, things got better after a few times on the skis and we both saw huge improvements by the end of the season (40 days on the slopes will help). However, this year, we both secretly worried that it would be just as awful a first day. Boy were we surprised! No gorkiness! We both flowed right into smooth tele turns. We weren't exactly were we left off at the end of last season, but I think we'll be there pretty soon. And although we felt some foot cramping, it was nothing like the pain we experienced last year.

So, we had a wonderful day and ended it early on a high note - beers at Jack's! Cheers to a great ski season!

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Goin' Skiin'!

Whoo Hoo! We're finally getting some decent snow here in the CO Rockies, so Jesper and I are going skiing tomorrow. This time last year we probably had 4 or 5 days in by now. Oh well, we'll just have to ski a lot to catch up!

Here's a shot of me last year makin' some fine turns in the trees at Winter Park on a powder day:


Here's Jesper attacking the back bowls at Copper on a bluebird day:


Hopefully, I'll get some nice new pics from tomorrow's outing!

Monday, November 19, 2007

New Trail!

Yesterday I rode a new local trail with a couple friends, Tracy and Sasha; the Wild Turkey Trail up at Heil Ranch Park. I've been impressed with the amount of new trail for mountain biking that has been built in Boulder County since I've moved here in mid-2005. I come from Ohio where there is not a lot of legal mountain bike trail, although I heard it's getting better there too. When I moved to Boulder, I thought I'd died and gone to heaven with the amount of legal trail nearby. I heard locals complain about the lack of trails accessible to mountain bikers, but it
still seemed like a lot to me based on

Sasha with Tracy Close behind

my comparison with Ohio. Since I've been here longer, I've realized that, compared to hikers, runners and equestrians, the mountain bikers had drawn the short end of the stick in the Front Range, getting only a fraction of the hundreds (thousands?) of miles of trail.

So, the new mountain bike trails are good news. I've personally helped build several trails, including the one I rode yesterday. The original trail starts out with a rocky uphill for a few miles, standard fare for the Front Range. Then we hit the new trail, a stacked loop attached to the older trail, from south to north. For the first mile or so, the 2.9 mile trail was a wicked fun downhill, followed by a swoopy climb. We intersected the older trail and continued to climb up the original trial to the lookout point, where you can see the trails at Hall Ranch to the north. Work is underway to connect the Heil Ranch trails with those at Hall Ranch. This will create an amazing trail system that I can access from my house mostly on trail and ride for more than 30 miles without hitting pavement. Sa-weet!

After the lookout point, I had forgotten how much more climbing there was, up loose rocky terrain that sucks your energy like a hoover. I was on my Single Speed, so I was huffing and puffing like mad! Finally, we were headed downhill again for about three miles. Whoo Hoo! The two hour ride totaled about 10 miles. I would love to have done more, but I had a date with a rake and some leaf piles. Way fun Tracy and Sasha!
Tracy Rippen' Up Wild Turkey Trail

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Indian Summer

It's been a prolonged Indian Summer here in the Front Range. Sunny, very warm (up in the 70's), and dry. I'm enjoying it for sure. On Sunday, Jesper and I headed out to sample the trails near Loveland; Blue Sky Trail, Indian Summer Trail (aptly named), Devil's Backbone Trail. I'm still not back 100% after sitting on my behind while my leg healed, but it felt really good to hammer on the SS.


But I'm torn. I'm itchin' for a little crappy weather. A cloudy day with drizzle and temps in the 40's. Perhaps I'm just nostalgic for Cleveland. All I need is one day. I thought I would get my one crappy day yesterday - the forecast called for clouds, drizzle and temps in the 40's. I was envisioning a run in my tights out in the rain. No such luck - it was sunny, dry and got up into the mid-50's.

Today it's supposed to be even warmer, getting close to 70 again. I think I need to embrace the warmth and get out and run in my shorts and jog bra.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Royal Bitch

I'm a mountain biker. It's my passion. That being said, I have always dabbled in road riding sporadically for fitness. Then I moved to Boulder, Colorado, where the road riding is fantastic! Beautiful sunny days. Bike friendly roads and drivers. Stunning canyons to climb up and fly down. Awesome views. Road riding became much more interesting and fun.

So, I bought an entry level bike got more into road riding. The bike served me well for two years, but I was ready for something better. Better than me, so I could grow as a rider. And a bike that fit me. At five foot one and a half inches, my 51 cm unisex bike was too big in every direction. I tested road some bikes and decided that I wanted a carbon frame. I determined the dimensions that felt best.

Armed with this information and a tape measure, I headed off the the Velo Swap with the hope that I'd find a nice bike at a super low price. The Velo Swap is an annual bike goods sale held in a massive facility used for major livestock events. Hundreds of people gather there to sell their used bikes, bike parts and other bike related goods. In addition, many bike shops come to sell end of the year bikes and parts to make room for the newly released models.

After waiting in line in the cold, Jesper and I were up front when the doors opened at 9:00 am. The place was instantly an insane mass of swarming people. Attending Velo Swap is an extreme overload of the senses. Hundreds of booths jam packed with bike stuff. Bikes, new and used, everywhere. Thousands of people moving in every direction, frantically looking for some fantastic deal. Jesper and I split up for a couple hours so we could each scope out the things we were looking for.

I focused on carbon road bikes sized 48 or 49 cm. I quickly discerned that there were a few other small women looking for the same thing. Hmmm... maybe there'd be a Cat Fight! After my two hour sweep, I had identified a few booths that had bikes I wanted to look at again with Jesper and a friend, Mike, who knows a lot about bikes. I quickly dismissed the Colnago, which was priced at $4,600. Just a tad too much! I also wasn't too sure about a bunch of used Fuji bikes, all from the women's professional Lipton Team. Quite honestly, they were butt ugly and I wasn't sure if a good price could make up their hideousness.

My main contender was a 49 cm 2007 Scott Contessa, brand new and beautiful. The asking price was $2,380. From my prior research, I thought the retail price was $2,800, however, I later found out the MSRP is $3,249.99. Mike offered that I would pay $2,200. We put the bike on a trainer and Mike adjusted it to fit me. It felt really good! Then I took it for a chilly ride outside. It felt fantastic! I returned to the booth and tried to decide what to do. The owner, a bike shop in Loveland, Colorado, informed me that a couple other ladies were seriously looking at the bike. I believed him, since I had heard this at other booths. The bike was a good deal (actually a better deal than I knew at the time), but $2,200 was a lot of money and a bit more than I had wanted to fork out.

Then I realized that for a few hundred bucks over my intended budget, I could have one hell of a bike. So I bought it, right then and there! I had slight buyers' remorse until I got home and realized I had bought a $3,300 bike for $2,200. That was an $1,100 savings! The bike is spec'd with full Ultegra components, an upgrade for me from my 105 components. The Mavic Ksyrium Elite wheel set is very nice. The brakes are short reach, so I can actually touch the brakes. Here's a linky to the full description: http://scottusa.com/us_en/category/72/contessa_road

I was the proud owner of a full carbon Scott Contessa. I instantly knew what I'd name the bike; the Royal Bitch!

I took the Royal Bitch for a short ride when I got home and showed it off to my friend Sue, who appreciates a nice bike. The next day, after I installed a new carbon stem, I went on a long, 50 mile ride with Sue, Mike, and some other fast riders. I got my butt kicked - I live in Boulder after all. But I knew this was a bike that I would be able to grow into. Today, I'm testing out the bike in the mountains. Let's hope this warm weather sticks around so I can continue to give the Royal Bitch the attention she deserves!

Friday, October 12, 2007

My father just turned 75. My siblings and I surprised him with a birthday party. Well..., he knew he was going out to dinner with my two sisters who still live near him in Westerville, Ohio. What he didn't know was that my two brothers, one who lives near Chicago and the other who lives in St. Paul, Minnesota, and I were joining him for dinner. And most of the grandchildren. With four siblings, most of whom have procreated, I have a big family.


It was a lot of work coordinating all five of us Kwasniewski kids' schedules. My brothers drove 100's of miles basically to have dinner and then leave the next morning. They were tired when they arrived in Westerville and I am sure they were extremely tired when they got back to their respective homes. I hope they realize that having us all there for this party will be looked on one day as very important. Our mother died 12 years ago so we are aware that some day (hopefully many years from now), our father too will pass away.




Papa was suprised!
The grandchildren were cute!

My dad was moved by having his children sing Happy Birthday in Polish.











Although it was a whirlwind weekend, it was worth it and will provide many wonderful memories some day long off in the future.

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Veterinarians and (what else) Riding

So, this blog is of two completely different things on my mind. Kinda like Two Blogs in One. Buy One Blog and Get One Free. Happy Hour Blogs.

First Vets. I love them. Well, there have been a few that I didn't jive with, but by and large, vets are some of the most compassionate and helpful people I know. How come People Doctors can't be as compassionate and helpful as Animal Doctors? I like my doctors; they are OK. But my dogs' doctors just ooze with caring. I had a great Vet in Columbus, Ohio that was like that and now I've found one here in Boulder, CO. My older dog is sick with a terminal illness. Her Vet is always willing to squeeze her in to his schedule, no matter if he's booked for the day. He spends time on the phone and in person at the Vet Office talking to me in the most kind and helpful manner; answering all of my questions in the most compassionate way. You can tell he simply loves animals and also understands how important they are to people. Everyone at the Vet Office is the same way. Compassionate and helpful.

Why aren't People Doctors as compassionate and helpful as Vets? I don't think it's because the Veterinarians aren't as busy, because I think Vets carry a pretty full schedule of appointments. Plus, being compassionate and helpful really doesn't take a whole lot more time. It's something else. Maybe People Doctors used to be more like Vets. Probably the insurance industry ruined People Doctors. Maybe it's also something about the kind of person who becomes a Vet. He or she has to be smart (many Vet schools are harder to get into that Medical School) but I also think most Vets have a deep love of animals, and as such can see how much animals add to the human existence. I'm not sure if most people who become doctors have the same kind of deep love for people. I think they have other motivations to become doctors, perhaps the money or the power.

I'm glad my dogs are in such good hands, although I wish my father, my siblings, my boyfriend and I could find a doctor who provided the same compassionate and helpful care.

Enough about Vets, now on to Riding! After two weeks and one day off the mountain bike because of my leg injury, I got back in the saddle yesterday (Saturday, September 29th). I had been out on the road bike a couple of times, riding easy. But the leg still hurt quite a bit. Until Friday. That was a break through day. My leg felt orders of magnitude better. The wound was closed up and no longer oozing. So, I decided to go ride my single speed at Buffalo Creek with Jesper and a friend Judd. Judd is in fabulous shape (personal trainer, endurance runner and road rider) but has only started mountain biking this summer. I figured the pace would be slower with Judd and I know Buff Creek well enough that I could bail when I felt I'd had enough and go hang out at the car.

I ended up riding WAY more than I thought I would. Maybe a tad more than I should have (he, he). I stayed with the guys until about 10 miles in. At that point, my leg felt uncomfortable on the downhills; not painful, just uncomfortable. We had ridden down Strawberry Jack to Homestead, cut over on Charlie's Cutoff and then down the connector to the downhill on Baldy. At that point I decided to go back to the car and the boys headed off to add some more miles. Turns out they only ended up doing 5 more miles than me, but whatever! I headed west on Gashouse and then north on the same. Then I went back up Homestead, this time past Charlie's Cutoff, to Skipper. Shortly after I got on Skipper, a large Bull Elk (is there any other size?) ran across the trail about 30 feet in front of me. He was spectacular! A little bit further on the trail, I stopped to eat and heard a very loud crash. It was very windy that day and I was riding through an area that had been burned down in the 2000 High Meadows Fire, so there were lots of weak trees. Turns out one was crashing down somewhere very close to me. I crouched and covered my head, hoping it wasn't falling on top of me. I was lucky; the tree, a 2 foot diameter pine tree, was about 30 feet away off the trail. Later on, Jesper told me that he and Judd encountered 2 or 3 trees blown across trails we had ridden earlier that day! I finished my ride up with a downhill on Buck Gulch and relaxed at the car with a beer and a magazine while I waited for the guys.

The downhills had become very uncomfortable, so I was glad to be done. But my leg felt pretty good after 20 miles. The wound stayed closed up and I never whacked it or fell on it. I was so happy to have been able to get out into the outdoors. I think I would have been happy with 5 or 10 miles. I'm certainly not 100% yet, but it's good to be back!

Friday, September 21, 2007

Healing Nicely

The Ghastly wound is healing nicely. The outer stitches will be removed on Monday. I tore the underlying muscle below the laceration about four inches down the leg and clearly ripped the nerves in the process, because the whole front part of my shin below the gash is numb. Sorry, no pics of the torn underlying muscle, which looked pretty gruesome, but I do have a whole slew of photos, mostly take by Kathleen at the ER. Check it out here to see how much fun I was having up to the fall and the really cool pics of the wound. The ER Doc, a mountain biker himself, was super cool about letting Kathleen snap away (with my camera and my permission).

http://picasaweb.google.com/COIttyBittyBetty/GhastlyWound


The location of the gash below the knee is fortunate in that the area does not articulate. I plan to test it out on the road bike tomorrow for an easy ride. Good thing, 'cause I'm getting antsy with all this sitting around.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Boo Boo

More words later, but suffice it to say, I won't be riding for a few days.

Three inch laceration on the shin down through the fascia:


All stitched up:

Friday, September 7, 2007

Solo Riding

I went on a rare solo mountain bike ride yesterday. Well, I guess I go on solo rides with some frequency, but they are usually on the local trails I can access from my home directly. I rarely ride "real trails" on my own. Yesterday I wondered, why not? Why not go ride a "real trail" on my own? So I did.

I went to Heil Ranch to ride my SS. Like most Front Range trails, Heil starts out going up. It has a loop at the top and then you get to turn around and descend back to the trail head. The whole thing is about 8 miles, so pretty short. It's a very rocky trail with loose toddler heads (bigger than baby heads) that make for a challenging and punishing ride, especially on the hard tail SS.

I went at about 3:00 pm, so there were very few people there; just two guys starting out on geared bikes. By their looks, I knew they would not catch me to disrupt my solitude. I took off up the trail. The weather was perfect. It has cooled down here in Colorado in a way that you can sense autumn on its way. The angled lighting become more and more golden as the day progressed. I stopped to take pictures at an old stone structure along the trail. There must be a story about this structure; I wonder what it is.

I passed no one on the way up, riding through the pine forest in quiet solitude. Just my breath and my voice singing whatever song came into my head (Green Day, Snow Patrol, ELO). I passed a park employee working on a new trail, but otherwise arrived at the overlook at the end of the loop without seeing another person. I hung out and wished I had thought to bring a beer.

After I had my fill of the beautiful views, I headed down the loop back to the main trail, finally passing other riders on their way up. The rocky downhill back to the trail head went too fast (is that possible?). Being alone, you notice things you might whiz by in a group. Toward the bottom, I saw a bench in a meadow off to the side of the trail. I have never noticed this bench before, although I'm sure it's been there. It faced a spectacular view of the mountains to the southwest.

The bench was dedicated with this beautiful memorial:

The stillness in the air bade me notice
the distant hills that seemed to move,
as if to gently embrace her spirit,

now that her earthly form is gone.

I would not have noticed that moving remembrance if I hadn't gone out to ride solo. I think I will ride by myself more often.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

The Makin of a Good Trail Dog

My old trusty trail dog, Mushka has seen the last of her trail running days due to her progressive heart disease. In her day, Muhska could pound out consecutive 20 mile days with me on the mountain bike. Now she can't run for more than a couple hundred feet. I knew this day would eventually come. I'm a planner, so I planned to get a second dog to slide into the role of trail dog as Mushka slid into the role of "hanging out at your feet in the porch" dog. Jesper and I adopted Strelka, a female Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, last year with this passing of the torch in mind.

This may sound heartless and I certainly don't want to imply that Strelka will replace Mushka. I have had several dogs and none replaced the previous one. Each dog has had her own unique personality. However, I know that I need to have a dog and it seemed easier to have overlap than to go without for a period of time.

Jesper and I have worked hard to train Strelka to be obedient, with the ultimate goal to be able to take her off lead for mountain biking. She goes to obedience school almost every week. I've been taking her running to gradually improve her endurance, keeping in mind that, at 1 1/2 years old and 65 pounds, she's still basically the equivalent of a 10 year old kid. So, the miles and pace of the running have been easy. I've kept her on a leash when running, but we knew that would not work for mountain biking.

We decided that we would try taking her mountain biking this past Labor Day weekend. Jesper and I headed up to the Dots Trails near Nederland. These trails allow dogs to run off lead if they are under control. The area is wooded, so Strelka would get a clear sense of being on a trail, as opposed to running in a big grassy field such as Marshall Mesa. The Dots afford lots of bail out options if she got tired or hot. And we thought the trails would have very few users to possibly distract her.

We took off with Jesper in the lead, Strelka in the middle and me bringing up the rear. Would she stay on the trail? Would she avoid our tires? Would she chase wildlife? Would she have fun?

Strelka seems to have natural trail dog talents! She stayed mostly on the trial, she avoided our tires, she didn't chase wildlife. And most importantly, that dog had so much fun! Her face and entire body smiled! Jesper and I had so much fun watching her have fun! We stopped the ride after only a few miles; gotta keep it fun and a overly exhausted puppy might not think of the experience as fun.

We have the makin' of a good trail dog!

Monday, August 27, 2007

Buffalo Gals

Buffalo Gals won't you come out tonight, come out tonight, come out tonight!

The gals were out yesterday at Buffalo Creek for a Gurlz Ride. It was the official season ender to brg's Tuesday Night Gurlz Rides; however it wasn't a Tuesday (it was Sunday) and it wasn't the seaon ender (Elizabeth is leading two more Tuesday Night Rides this year). But it was a good time!

Six of us met in south Boulder and carpooled the a 1 1/2 hour drive to Buffalo Creek. This area bosts miles and miles of swoopy trails with fantastic views. It is one of my favorite places to ride, especially on my SS. There are climbs, but none both steep and long (just one or the other). We had plans to get in a 3 hour-ish ride; brg and I were flexible about how much trail we would be able to cover depending on how fast the group moved.

Most of the women had never ridden Buff Creek, and they loved the trails. The day started out sunny and warm, but thankfully not hot like it was down in Boulder. We began riding up Gashouse Trail and took the Miller Gulch Trail to the Sandy Wash Trail. Somewhere on Sandy Wash, one of the ladies took a bad spill on a washed out sandy section (probably on Sandy Wash!), cutting up her elbow, hip and knees pretty good. Fortunately, I was packing everything but the kitchen sink in my HAWG, including my full first aid kit. She was such a trooper; the fall didn't dampen her desire to ride and continue to get better!

Sandy Wash dumped into a dirt road, which we took to the Shinglemill Trail. We rode Shinglemill up (and up and up). The views from up there are fantastic, with large rock outcroppings and mountains in all directions. Unfortunately, the clouds were beginning to build up. We decided that we would cut out the Colorado Trail part of the ride (next time ladies!), and head back to the dirt road via the Morrison Creek Trail. I had never been down Morrison Creek before, only up it. Brg and I took off ahead so we could rip down the trail fast. If someone had a mechanical or took a fall, we could always ride back up. Going down Morrrison Creek was super fun, so fun I couldn't bear to stop and take any pictures.

Once all the ladies were safely down, we regrouped and hit the dirt road for a fast ride back to the cars. The clouds were getting blacker and we could hear the rumbling of thunder. We did not want to get caught in an electrical storm! Talk about good timing; we made it back to the parking area just as the rain began to fall.

We followed up this fantastic ride with a late lunch at Bucksnorts, a funky restaurant/bar located WAY up a winding and steep dirt road. The Buffalo Gals will be back!

More pics can be found here: http://picasaweb.google.com/COIttyBittyBetty/BuffaloCreekGurlzRide08262007

Friday, August 24, 2007

No More Traveling!

I'm back from two weeks in Europe. Please don't think I'm ungrateful for having the opportunity to take such a trip. I had a grand time visiting my old home in Murnau, Germany; seeing a Mozart/Strauss concert in Vienna, Austria in the small hall both composers created the music to be played in; hitting the beaches and casinos on the French Riviera; and most of all visiting with Jesper's family in Denmark.

But I've been traveling a lot this summer; ten days in British Columbia to race, six days in Michigan to visit my family and finally 13 days in Europe. That's almost an entire month away from home!! I had fun in all those places, but there's nothing quite like being home. And I live in a pretty nice place to call home. I'm thrilled to be back to sunny skies, trail runs and long road rides. I've enjoyed getting back on my mountain bike. I'm especially happy to be back with my dogs (the cat's OK too); I missed them and they missed me.

No more long trips until Christmas. Until then, it'll just be weekend trips away and some of them with the dogs. Gosh - I never thought of myself as a homebody, but I suppose I am one.

Monday, July 30, 2007

Suffering on my SS

I do a lot of endurance events that are pretty darn tough. I’ve even suffered a fair bit, but nothing like the suffering I experienced at this past weekend’s Laramie Enduro. The race encompasses about 8,000 feet of climbing over 70 miles of single track, double track and jeep/gravel road. Last year I did the race on my geared bike and broke my derailleur (the device that allows you to shift gears). This year I rode my single speed to avoid that problem.

I knew the race would be tough with only one gear and no rear suspension. My goal was to go out hard and ride a fast race and not pace myself too slow. I was prepared to suffer.

The single speed riders started with the front group of professional riders, ahead of the sport racers. I took off and had to ride hard, as the start is uphill for awhile. Last year, I was passed pretty quickly by the sport group that was started five minutes later. This year, I kept riding and riding and riding. No sport riders. Hmmm… I reached the first section of single track; still no sport riders. Last year I was bogged down in this section with gobs of sport riders who couldn’t ride single track. This year, I was practically alone, with the pros and men’s single speed racers ahead and none of the sport riders up with me yet. I figured they must have started the sport riders at least half an hour after the pros/single speeders!

Finally, after about 45 minutes of racing, the first of the sport guys caught me. I later found out that they had started 5 minutes after us afterall. Sweet - I was riding hard! I arrived at the first Aid Station still well fed and hydrated, so I only took a nature break and then, after 1 ½ minutes, I was back on my bike. I continued to ride hard up to Aid Station 2, where I took a longer, 6 minute break. The volunteers at this race are second to none. They fill up your hydration bladder and offer you a wonderful array of different foods, gels and sports drinks. Fueled up with boiled potatoes, bananas and few bites of a bagel with peanut butter, I took off for Aid Station 3 at about the 40 mile mark.

I was still feeling really good. I found myself within a group of sport guys on geared bikes. I would pass them on the climbs, since I have to either ride uphill fast or get off and walk. I hate walking! Some of these guys would pass me on the downhills, since they had more weight and a bigger gears. Surprisingly, I was faster than a few of these guys on the downhills, not wanting to touch my brakes and slow down my Mo, but they would get me on the flats where I would spin out with my 32x20 gearing. Then we would repeat the whole thing over again at the next climb with me passing them again. I caught a second wind and lost a few of them, making Aid Station 3 feeling awesome. I took a short 3 minute break before heading off again.

Over halfway done, I rode the 12 miles from Aid Station 3 to Aid Staion 4 with no problems and only recall that I was having a blast. The weather was beautiful, a surprise after all the rain Laramie had been getting. At Aid Staion 4, I took a longer break to refill my hydration bladder and eat . I ran into my friend Tom, with whom I had been jockeying back and forth with before I caught my second wind. He was feeling whooped and not looking forward to the 10 mile section between Aid Staion 4 and Aid Station 5. Right after you leave Aid Staion 4 at mile 52, the trail hits a series of steep climbs. Next year I think I'll make Aid Staion 3 my big eating stop, because I almost lost my lunch on the first steep ascent after Aid Station 4.

At about mile 50, another long 5 mile climb ensued. I hit my low point here. My legs were smoked and for the first time in the race, I had to walk. A lot. I was suffering! Walking was painful and when I could ride, after every peddle stroke I was sure I wouldn't be able to turn the crank around one more time. But somehow I did. I was relieved to get to another big downhill only to encounter another steep climb before I reached the last Aid Station more gassed than I ever remember being at a race. A volunteer told me there were only 7 miles more to go, music to my ears. I made it a short stop and got back on my bike to finish the race.

The trail went downhil for a bit before coming to the dreaded Headquarters Trail. This trail goes up stupid steep before hitting an up and down section for a couple of miles. Then the whole thing blessedly goes mostly downhill on a wondeful swoopy trail through forest and rocky singletrack to a gravel road that takes you to the end. I walked a lot of the steep part up Headquarters Trail, although most of the geared riders around me did the same. I hit another low point partway up and had to pull off the trail, rest and eat a gel. When I got past the really steep part, I recovered a bit and was able to painfully ride most of the up and down section. Although I was suffering, I must have been going at a decent clip because I was never passed by a couple of the geared guys I had been riding/walking up Headquarter Trail with. Finally, I got to the fun swoopy part of the trail that mostly went downhill. Despite being completely smoked, I had a total blast on this section. I knew the race was almost over. Besides, it was a really fun section of singletrack!

I whizzed down to the finish so fast I never even saw Jesper, who had finished 40 minutes before me. He drove right past me in the Durango to get our dogs from the hotel. I finished in 8:02 (darn those 2 minutes). I'd like to beat the 8 hour mark, however I am very pleased with my finish time. I won my class, although I must say there was only one other female single speeder. I don't have the final stats, but I beat a lot of other riders on geared bikes, both men and women. Most importantly, I pushed myself really hard in this race. It was truly a sufferfest, but I enjoyed it.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Running Buddy

I love dogs, more than some people. My BF and I have two; Mushka, a 11.5 year old Lab Shep mix I brought to the relationship and Strelka, a 1.5 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback my BF and I adopted last year. One of the reasons I knew my BF was a keeper was that he LOVED my Mushka right from the start. True, genuine love of that dog. That was important, 'cause the girl came with the dog as a package deal.

I got Mushka a few months after my previous dog Lajka, a sweet Lab, died unexpectedly of stomach torsion. I picked Mushka out of a large litter of mutts when she was just a couple of weeks old. Damn she was cute! She's been my best buddy and room mate for over a decade, getting me through break-ups and other bad times, as well as many good times. Mushka became my constant running buddy and a great mountain biking trail dog. Running with her was so much fun. She was so completely joyful, it made me happy and dragged my ass outside many a day I would have otherwise sat on the couch. She adjusted to her new home in Colorado very well and I only wish we had moved here when she was younger so she could have gotten more out of the fabulous trails in this great State.

Mushka began slowing down on the running this year, which I attributed to age. Then she got sick this summer; a cough that wouldn't go away despite antibiotics. To make a long story short, the wonderful Vets at CSU finally confirmed that Mushka has genetic degenerative heart disease. No wonder she was slowing down. Her illness cannot be cured. All we can do is manage it with medication so she lives the rest of her life in comfort. With meds, we are hoping to have her around for awhile and are fortunate this disease came on late in her life, otherwise she may have left us a long time ago. However, her lifestyle will change dramatically. The saddest part about it is no more running, her all time favortite thing other than food (she is a Lab mix afterall). I will truly miss her joyful company out on the trail. Running will not be the same.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Race Report - Raid the North Extreme 2007

After a hiatus of several years, I jumped back into adventure racing this year with a bang. Instead of easing my way back in with some short races, I had the opportunity to compete in an expedition length race up in the far northwestern reaches of British Columbia, Canada. I raced with three guys (Paul and Phil from Detroit, Michigan and Kenny from Houston). The six-day race featured open water kayaking on ocean inlets and channels, mountain biking, and running/trekking, all the while navigating through the dense rain forest bush and tundra with map and compass.

The race was held in two locations as two separate stages, very uncommon for adventure races. This was due to extreme flooding in the original race location that whittled down the available safe areas for us to access. Therefore, the bulk of the race was held on the Queen Charlotte Islands, which are typically off-limits. These are a large group of islands located about 50 miles off the mainland of northwestern British Columbia, close to Ketchican, Alaska. The Queen Charlottes are the carrot-shaped land mass shown on the map here; Prince Rupert is off to the northeast.

The terrain is rugged to say the least. Below about 2,000 in elevation feet is temperate rain forest; moss, lichen and enormous trees, both upright and fallen, are everywhere in this dark world. Above the tree line is alpine tundra; wet and boggy. Above that are snowfields and glaciers. Steep fiords end abruptly at the water’s edge. Everywhere there are cliffs, some rock-faced and some covered with slimy moss and vegetation.


We began the race on Monday morning, June 25th, at 6:00 am with a paddling section up Skidgate Channel. We arrived at CP1 within 4 hours, somewhere around mid-pack, and felt very good about our effort, as none of us would claim to be an expert paddler. A quick transition found us initially hoofing it to CPs 2 and 3 at a jog. Then we entered the dense rain forest. My team, and most others, had difficulty traveling on terrain that looked passable on the 100-foot, 1:50,000 scale maps. An area that appeared reasonable on the maps hid many cliffs and waterfalls of just-less-than 100 feet in size. Getting “cliffed out” would be the theme of the next 2 days.

Based on information provided by the race course staff in the race materials, my team and many others assumed the trek to CPs 2 and 3 would take no more than 10 hours. We packed clothes and food accordingly, thinking we would be back to our gear boxes before nightfall. However, after obtaining the CP code for the unmanned CP2 and heading off toward CP3, we were nowhere near CP3 yet. The weather began to get nasty, night was approaching and we were cold and wet. We would be cold and wet for most of the race. We descended below the tree line and re-entered the spooky forest. Finally, at about 2:00 am Tuesday morning (16 hours into the trek) we decided to pile up on the ground with our emergency blankets and rest, getting maybe 20 to 30 minutes of actual sleep on the cold ground.

We got moving again at about 4:00 am on Tuesday morning and began to climb back up again, looking for a saddle that would supposedly allow us to access CP3. We never found the saddle. Instead, we kept getting “cliffed out” as we ascended higher and higher. Clouds and rain set in and we couldn’t see any features of the nearby peaks to accurately determine where we were located. After climbing up a very steep section, we arrived at a ridgeline that clearly did not lead to the saddle. Phil and I refused to go back down the way we had come up; it was too steep to safely down-climb. We could not go forward to the north, toward CP3, since it was too steep to go down as well.

It was almost 2:00 pm on Tuesday and we had been at this supposed 10 hour trek for 28 hours. We had been out of food since the night before and we were really cold. Unsure of our location, we decided to get the two-way radio out and call for assistance. Unfortunately, we could not get a signal out, so we planned a reverse route to get off the ridge, still steep, but doable. Instead of going to CP3, we decided to head back toward CP2 and veer off to the east to get to an ocean inlet where we could hopefully arrange for a Coast Guard rescue. At about 8:00 pm on Tuesday evening, after 34 hours of trekking, we finally arrived at the water to find another team (BanffLodging) sitting around a fire and waiting for the Coast Guard to arrive. All eight of us fit into the Cutter and were transported back to the race head quarters at the Haida Gwaii Heritage Center, where we found many other rescued teams.

In an unusual move, the race staff decided to let the many rescued teams continue racing. We ate and got some sleep. The next morning (Wednesday), we headed out for the paddle to Moresby Island. Crossing an open water channel, a storm kicked in and served up 4 foot waves and strong winds, making the 3 hour+ paddle challenging but fun in an odd way. From the paddle take out, we transitioned to a trek that would take us from sea level up and down 3,800 foot high Mount Moresby. Our goal was to make it off the mountain before nightfall, as the forest below the tree line was dark and the trail hard to follow. Once above 2,000 feet, moving up the snowfields was slow. We bagged CP13 at the top of the mountain at 9:00 pm on Wednesday and hustled down. We could glissade on our butts on the snow in many sections, which was really fun.

We made it quite a ways down the mountain before night fell, but had some trouble keeping to the trail once it got dark. Somewhere between 2:30 and 3:00 am on Thursday morning we arrived at C14. Paul, who was fighting off the sleepmonsters, napped while the rest of us ate and warmed ourselves by the fire. Warm and fed, we hopped on the bikes for the 5 CP bike Rogaine. In a Rogaine, the CPs can be gathered in any order. We planned to get CPs 16-19 first and then find CP15, which was off a ways. Paul was still suffering from the sleepies and exhaustion. He also had not eaten as much as he should have. As a result, he would repeatedly fall over while riding, either falling asleep or passing out. It was painful to watch. However, our navigating was spot-on and we found the first four CPs in short order.

With daylight, Paul perked up and we headed for CP15. There appeared to be two ways to access this CP and it turned out we selected the way that would not work. Our route supposedly lead to a trail that would lead to the CP, but the trail died in a dense cedar forest that was too vegetated to carry the bikes, let alone ride them. We finally abandoned the CP and rode to the bike drop to complete the paddle back to the Heritage Centre. The paddle was awful, but we ended up at a beach of cheering spectators to brighten our moods.

All teams boarded the ferry for an overnight trip back to Prince Rupert on the mainland, so everyone got a little bit of sleep. On Friday morning we took off from the ferry dock on a run through town to our deflated kayaks. We pumped them up and were off for a frustrating paddle due to currents that made the rudderless boats tend to spin. The water ended and all teams got out for what we knew would be a long portage. We had no idea how long! We deflated the boats, rolled them up and strapped them to Kenny and Phil’s backs. We then proceeded to bushwhack, or boatwhack as it became known, for 10 hours through an extremely overgrown road and then down the side of a mountain to Work Channel. I am still amazed that those guys carried the almost 60 pound boats, big as large-screen TVs, on their backs for so long and through such rough terrain.

We were elated to get back in the boats to paddle! The sun was setting and casting a pink glow on the nearby snow covered peaks. Misty clouds formed above the water. Steep fiords plunged into the water from high up. This was the prettiest part of the whole race and I forgot to take a single picture! Once the sun set, we paddled in the dark to CP24, which was thankfully manned, as we were all very cold. After warming up by the fire, we took off on the second and last bike leg of the race. I would have liked more riding, since all four of us were pretty fast on the bikes. We eventually arrived at a mosquito-infested checkpoint on the water with our boats, which we inflated and hopped into for the last paddle. It was just before dawn on Saturday and we all had to fight off the sleep monsters while caffeine pills took effect.

The last section of the race was a trek up Mount Hayes and then down into town for the finish. It took much longer than any of us had anticipated, but finally at 2:30 pm on Saturday, my team crossed the finish line. We had been on the move almost non-stop since Monday morning. Our goal of simply finishing was achieved and bettered in that we finished 17th out of 23 teams. It was an amazing experience and I wouldn’t hesitate to do it again.

Believe it or not, this write up is the SHORT version. It was six days afterall! Please click this link to access the more detailed story of my Canadian adventure: http://jesperperl.com/words/rtnx/

Here are my pics (finally), all taken with a dispoable camera:

http://picasaweb.google.com/COIttyBittyBetty/JenSRTNX2007Pics

Check out my team mate Kenny’s blog posts about the race here: http://kspotar.blogspot.com/

You can find lots of pictures of the race (click on GALLERY) and maps of the CPs (click on MAP) here at the RTNX website:

http://www.raidthenorth.com/rtnex.html


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Back in Colorado

Sorry for the long delay between posts. I returned from the RTNX Adventure Race late on July 1st and then flew off to Michigan on July 4th for a 5 day camping vacation with my family. I wouldn't recommend taking another trip on an airplane so soon after a big adventure race. The swelling in my feet had just started to subside on the 4th when I subjected them again to the wacky air pressure and constant sitting of three separate flights to get all the way to Grand Rapids, Michigan. Puffy feet again.

I haven't yet finished my race report, but I'll post it here as soon as it's done. It'll be a doosy! Suffice it to say the race was quite an experience! I was cold and wet most of the time, but I truly enjoyed it. Bottom line is that my team finished 15th out of 23 teams. Since our goal was merely to finish, I feel pretty good about our accomplishment. Here we are crossing the finish line on Saturday afternoon. This photo was on the front page of the local newspaper the next morning. I have a strange knack for getting in the newspaper.


It's good to be back home in Colorado again!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Finally here…

After months of planning and training, it is finally time for me to fly off to Prince Rupert for my adventure race. I leave tomorrow morning. I am more calm than I thought I would be, although I do have butterflies in my stomach. Got the packing done just before dinner; a wonderful T-Bone and mushroom/veggie medley by Jesper - I am a lucky girl to have such a guy.

Packing - no matter how I sliced it, I would need to bring on extra baggage, which the airlines charge for. Adventure racing requires a lot of shit! My pack with the mandatory gear comes on as my carry-on. For my checked bags, I decided to go with the bike in the golf case, a big suitcase and the adventure gear box. Everything weighs under the 50 pound requirement, so no extra charge there. Airlines don’t charge for golf cases (go figure), so I will only end up paying an extra bag fee each way, much cheaper than the fee for a bike case and extra bag. Oh, you wonder how I can fit my bike in a gold case, do you?!?! There are benefits to being a small chica!

Work has been really busy, but I have finished everything I committed to accomplish before the race. It wasn't easy and I've had work on my brain a lot more than I like. Last night I dreamt I was appointed the Director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency. I worked for the Ohio EPA for about 14 years and left as a senior manager, but it was still a pretty crazy thing to dream. Jenny Tiell, a former Deputy Director from my old days at the Ohio EPA, was in my dream and I was concerned that she would have issues reporting to me as her new boss. I wondered why my former colleague and friend Kate Bartter (a former Governor's Office Cabinet member) didn't congratulate me. I need to callboth those ladies after my race and tell them about my dream. In my dream, I delighted in thinking about the many changes I would make at Ohio EPA that I have always wanted to see happen believe me, there are a lot!). There’re a many people at Ohio EPA who would not be happy with my changes! I also wondered how I would balance this demanding job with FUN. I was working late and wnated Jenny Tiell and some young wonk to go home so I could leave the office too and go play soccer. That’s clearly what the dream was about, balancing work and play.

The race planning has been a roller coaster of changes over the past couple of weeks. Race organizers had to make some sweeping changes to the race location and format due to greater than normal spring snowfall and subsequent flooding. It’s seems the Prince Rupert area is something like a federal disaster area. First, the mountaineering sections were beefed up to account for the extra snow; crampons, ice axes, snowshoes, avalanche beacons, shovels and probes and such were all added to the mandatory gear list. Then, the whole mountaineering section was scrapped. Soon the snow began to melt and the rain began to fall, causing widespread flooding. Most of the area we were to be racing in was deemed too dangerous to even be in, even if we could get there. So, the race organizers found a new place, Haida Gwaii, an island in the Queen Charlotte Islands. We have to take a 12 hour ferry to get there. From what has been sent out to us, this area is home to some of Canada’s native peoples who rarely let outsiders in. So that’s pretty cool…

The downside to the race changes is the way the transitions areas (TAs) are set up. The race organizers cannot transport all our gear boxes to every TA due to limitations on the size of vehicles they can use on the island. So, we have to anticipate what we’ll need for each section and put that into the one gear box out of five that will be carried to each specific TA. Suffice it to say, it’s a planning nightmare that, if screwed up, could result in a big fat DNF for our team.

Regardless, I am stoked for the race to finally be here. I know the race will be super fun, even with the new format. It will still afford wonderful views and wildlife sightings. It will still be an opportunity for me to push myself to new levels and meet challenges. I will still come back with a fantastic story for all of you.

You can follow my team’s progress during the race at this link: http://www.sleepmonsters.ca/

Click on the little camera devil that indicates the race report for the Raid the North Extreme.

Next post will be my race write-up!!!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Takin' it easy

I'm taking it easy this week before my race. Yesterday I went on a nice little mountain bike ride with Jesper and a friend, Don. I rode the Fat to continue getting used to her. We did about 12 miles at Centennial Cone. It's not the most difficult trail, but it's super flowy and has awesome views. I've heard some riders complain about how easy a trail it is, like it's a bad thing. Then go ride somewhere else. It's not like there's a shortage of trails out here.

I made myself keep my heart rate in Zone 3 and 4. I can't wait to get out an hammer again!!! This taking it easy stuff is tough! I feel like such a wuss.

The wild flowers alone were worth the ride and made going slow tolerable. I especially like the snapdragons - who knew they grew wild?!?!?! They remind me of my childhood when we had them growing in our gardens in Germany. There were hundreds of yellow ones all long the trail. I like to make them open up their "mouth" by pinching them.

I took one crappy picture, which does not do the trail justice.

Of course, today I called my Dad to wish him a happy Father's Day. He had heard from all of his offspring and was very happy indeed.

Thursday, June 14, 2007

The Energy is BUILDING

I am starting to get all hyper (more so than ususal) and antsy. I'm not nervous. It's more like the feeling you get the night before Christmas. I'm sure some of it has to do with all the extra energy I actually have, now that I am smack-dab in my pre-race taper. No more 3 hour runs with a loaded pack to wear me out. No more mindless laps paddling around and around and around the Boulder Reservoir, followed by a LONG run with the pack. Just a little 40 minute jog with the dogs. And then the run is over before I hardly feel that it has started.

I have warned Jesper about my builiding state of spaztic-ness. He didn't need any warning; he already saw it coming. Methinks this man might know me pretty well.

I feel pretty orgainized for the race. There are only a handful of things I still need to get or do; more sunscreen, body lube, munchies for on the course, couple more carabiners, ... and I need Jesper to help me configure an attachment for the towing system on my bike. I'm sewing a system on my pfd so I can attach a hydration bladder to the back and a food pouch to the front. I'm pretty pleased with my little project so far. For the most part, everything is beggining to accummulate in little piles in our guest bedroom.


The weather report for Prince Ruprt, BC is not quite what I have been hoping for. I'm not sure what I was expecting; the area is a rain forest afterall. Its going to rain from now until the race starts and then, thankfully, it looks like a clearing period will come on. After almost 2 weeks of solid rain (plus what's already been coming down), I think it'll be a wet and muddy course. Mostly, I'm bummed that the temps are lower than the average for this time of the year. I'm not worried at all about my fitness for this race; just about being frickin' cold.

At least I won't be freezing my arse off up in the cold snowy mountains. Loads of new snow in May and June, plus some warm days to melt it, have created a snowpack that is not so stable. The race orgainizers have (wisely) rerouted the course to keep racers off the snowpack. Since my team mates (and probably 90% of the racers) probably don't know jack about how to use an avalanche beacon, walk in coils with crampons, etc., I'm OK with reroute. Heck, I don't even know how to self arrest a fall with an ice axe (watching Touching the Void does not count as knowing a skill). We'll probably miss some awesome views, but it'll be a safer race and I think one that is to our advantage, the non-mountaineers that Team
SMAC/HART/Alpine Aire-Inferno are.

Monday, June 11, 2007

Blog Virgin

After prodding by some girlfriends, I have decided to enter the world of blogging. I'm not the most computer savvy person, so I'm bound to create some screw ups.

Gosh - now I need to think of something to write! I suspect most of what I will write about will be mountain biking, running, racing, and all other sorts of outdoor pursuits. I'll try to throw some "normal" stuff in for my family, maybe even a pic or two of me without a helmet on!

OK - I had a fantastic 3-day weekend that started with, you guessed it, a mountain bike ride!

A fellow mountain bike gurl, Lynda from Utah, was visiting fam in Colorado. So brg (http://brginredsidis.blogspot.com/) and played hookie on Friday to meet up with Lynda and ride the smooth trails of Buffalo Creek. We couldn't have asked for better weather; sunny and 70-ish. The ride was a perfect easy ride of 21 miles with several breaks to eat and get in some girl chit chat. Unfortunately, we couldn't convince Lynda to let us kidnap her for Mojitos and dinner in Boulder!

I am supposed to be tapering for a big adventure race in less than two weeks, hence the easy ride on Friday. On Saturday, Jesper (my super fantastic BF) and I took the dogs for a little hike. I would insert a picture, but I can't figure out how to rotate it. Next time! Told you I wasn't too computer savvy.

On Sunday Jesper and I checked out Rabbit Mountain, a nearby trail we had not been to yet, for a quick mountain bike ride. The trail is pretty short (less than six miles) but it was rocky and fun, with some pretty views. Both Friday and Sunday I was riding my old Fat Chance Yo Betty!, which had been in a box for over 2 years since moving out to Colorado. I had forgotten how fun that bike is! I'm planning to ride it for my adventure race, since it's very light and geared. I think gears will come in handy for a 6 day race.

Now I'm back to the work week, but that's OK. I've got brg's Tuesday Night Girls Ride planned for tomorrow andI'm sure I'll put in some easy running and such later this week.