Lake number something-or-other + Honey the Dog, Sierras.
It’s been a very long time since I’ve posted here, but to update y’all, last year was pretty amazing. Work travel took me all over the U.S. and the world, where I met rad folks, gawked at spectacular sites and rode bikes and ran in places I’ve dreamed of going my whole life.
Like Scotland. I rode bikes through green fields and around lochs so pretty it hurt. I did my longest ride ever, which ended at a castle. We stayed in that castle, had drinks on a patio by the river, ate bona fide fish and chips and I developed a taste for whiskey, which was paired with handmade chocolates. I learned how to make a proper poached egg from the delightful English bloke who runs a catering company in the Highlands.
This castle is a hotel.
But before that, I went to Taiwan for the second time, then to Alaska, also for the second time, for fun in the snow, then to Santa Cruz and Monterey for some bike riding and work stuff. I went to Salt Lake City to ride bikes all over tarnation, and to eat and drink far better than I had expected to. I came back to Utah three weeks later, this time to Park City and the mountains for lots of meetings, snow in June (!) and some bike riding.
Four inches of snow on June 18, Park City, Utah.
Finally got to ride the Wasatch Crest trail, which has been on my tick list for years.
Then Scotland happened, and next I visited Detroit, where more bikes were ridden, the best bars ever were frequented and I fell in love with a misunderstood city that is fighting with all it’s got. I gained an appreciation for American manufacturing, and how it’s so deeply woven into the fabric of our country that even though for the most part it’s left our shores.
Motor City by bike.
Somewhere in there, Brian took me up Mt. Whitney, the highest I have ever been on foot. I can’t wait to do it again.
Whitney summit = spectacular!
We also took the dogs backpacking in the Sierras over the 4th of July, where Turbo attempted to summit Mt. Langely, but had to turn back at 12,500 due to paw issues. We still had fun at the lake though.
Lakeside lounging, Sierras.
We went to Santa Barbara, where Brian ran an insane amount of miles in 95-degree weather and I spent a lot of the day at the dog beach.
It was Great Dane day at the dog beach. Turbo had no idea these dogs had 150 pounds on him.
We boondocked in the mountains of Santa Barbara. It didn’t suck at all.
Then it was time to fly to Switzerland, get on a train and complete the Matterhorn Ultraks 46k trail race in Zermatt before hitting the Eurobike trade show in Germany. It was technically a work trip…which is absolutely why I decided to tack on some time before the show.
The Matterhorn was the beautiful backdrop to an amazing day.
I wanted a reason to be in Switzerland before the show, and a running race in the Alps seemed like a good one.
We were surrounded glaciers and snowy peaks all day. The views did not suck one bit.
And it was. But even though the distance was one I’ve done several times, I am still, months later, a little traumatized by how gnarly the trails were. My toenails and feet are only now back to normal.
With a gain of nearly 13,000 feet in around 30 miles, this course broke me several times during the 10 hours I was out there. Many of the trails are routed right up or down the fall line, so are painfully steep. Not that I have many, as I needed every ounce of energy and focus to stay upright, photos don’t do these trails justice.
This was a heck of a lot steeper than it looks. My Frenchie friends on the way to the high point.
Almost to the top, the Matterhorn looms.
Was real happy to see this guy at the top!
This was probably around mile 22 or so, at which point I felt like I had run/hiked about 40. The course leveled off a bit at the top of our last brutal climb, and I was so grateful for a reprieve.
Running into Zermatt where we started was completely surreal. It was a blur. I had leap frogged with these French folks all day and I finished just ahead of them. They pushed me to run balls to the walls fast down the final few miles into Zermatt.
It was so strange yet completely rewarding to be there racing by myself. I had numerous opportunities to bail throughout the day, to simply get into a gondola car and be done with it. But I didn’t, I didn’t even let myself go there in my mind, down that rabbit hole of darkness. There was no one there but me to push me to leave the aid stations and push on, although I had so much support from all of you all day. I could feel it, and it got me through. I’m still thanking you.
It was one of the most amazing things I’ve ever done. I am so happy I did it.
The next day, I performed numerous foot/blister surgeries, then ate gelato and potato Rosti (like a big fresh hash brown cake) with eggs. I walked to this amazing gorge, the Grotto, that we had crossed during the race.
The water was insanely blue.
The thought of walking back down these stairs made my legs hurt, so I opted to hike up and around…a bit too much but totally worth it!
Yep, don’t fuck up–if you do, own it.
I think I ate more gelato and laid around in a grassy field somewhere, staring at the Matterhorn some more. It was a magical three days. I’m really quite fond of the European appreciation for living, for good food, relaxation and nature. They’ve got their priorities straight and they really know how to live.
Monday very early, I hopped on the train and went back to Zurich to meet up with my publisher Megan. We then boarded a ferry to cross the lake to Freidrichshafen, Germany.
RIP, 12-year old Pedros suitcase. I mourn your loss, but you saw some pretty rad places.
I freaking love Europe. Everything about it. I don’t remember much about the trade show, it was a blur of booth visits, looking at weird products that will probably never make it to the U.S. and drinking espresso at the media center. I can’t wait to go back. Enough time has finally passed that I’m warming to the idea of registering for the Matterhorn race again next year–kinda.
Old cities not suited for cars…those Euros are on to something!
Zurich, as lovely as I imagined it would be.
Interbike happened, with its tight deadlines and Show Daily copywriting, its hob-nobbing, its daily treks through depressing and grim casinos and seeing no actual daylight for days on end. It’s a love-hate relationship, my personal tango with Interbike. I see so many industry friends and make new ones, and I love that. Then there is that it is in Vegas, and well, gag me.
But Friday afternoon on the show floor, all print deadlines met, I learned a fire had broken out in Silverado, right behind our house at about 10:30 a.m. Our dogs were inside, and I was helpless to save them.
I could watch the air tanker all friggin’ day. What a trip.
After having a meltdown in the Pivot booth (sorry, guys!), I learned that Brian was riding his bike to our house on trails to rescue Turbo and Honey. It was over 100 degrees, he was wearing flip flops and jean shorts, riding with no helmet on Crank Brothers pedals over gnarly and rugged Silverado terrain.
Fire trucks in the driveway.
He came home to this scene, firefighters staged out our house and helicopters dropping water on the slope directly above. But the dogs were safe, and he drove them, along with the neighbors’ two dogs, out of the canyon.
With the fire came a flood of memories from my nearly decade-long Forest Service career. Helicopters, air tankers, fire trucks and yellow nomex shirts harkened to the days when it was me schlepping 50 pounds of gear up an 80 percent slope and digging in the dirt for days. It’s been over 10 years since I donned the Nomex and wielded a chainsaw, but seeing those men and women working their way up the fireline each morning as they mopped up the contained fire made me miss those days.
Which brings me to now.
The SoCal hills are alive!
Other stuff happened in the following months, but for the most part, I slipped into some dark places–I don’t know if it was the holidays, too much mind or just an ebb in the cycle of life. But I made it through, largely due in part to a lot work on my end. A lot of stubbornness AND patience with myself. See, I’ve been there before, many, many times. Since I was a small child, I’ve always walked a tenuous and fine line between happiness and depression as I go through life–as I think a lot of people do–and sometimes I lose my balance. Sometimes I fall.
I’ll spare the gory details, but as I get older, it’s something I’ve learned to embrace. I know it will pass, no matter how dark my thoughts get. I know I can CHOOSE not to think them, and it’s very difficult but I eventually surface and I’m always ok.
The mind is such a funny, powerful thing, isn’t it?
Fresh off of a road trip north, I can’t help but feel a bit giddy, even being back in SoCal.
Wide open spaces, endless possibilities.
I feel invigorated and happy to be here, on this earth. Healthy. Grateful for my rich life.
The mountains were calling, and I had to go.
The open road, sunsets, sunrise, snow and simply being in the mountains again did wonders for my soul.
So did riding bikes. Which comes as no surprise, really.
Here’s to endless possibilities in the coming year. More time for bike riding and self care. Adventures, travel and pushing myself to do new things, achieve new goals and exploring new horizons.