Thursday, October 29, 2015

Wednesday Wrightwood Ride Recap

Another Wednesday in October, another mini-epic adventure with Carl, this time in Wrightwood, CA. Until yesterday morning I had no idea this place even existed, and holy moly was it awesome. This time our 6.5 hour 50 mile ride was ~70% incredible singletrack, a little fire road/pavement, and just a few hike through a scree field situations, so much improved from the last Carl tour. 

Perfect trails, perfect weather :)
The day started out with a 2k climb from the car in just under 3 miles. At the top I was a little anxious about being able to finish the ride, but when Carl told me how hard he had been going I felt a little better. A lot of the time I confuse the normal pain of riding hard with something being wrong with me and I don't recognize the source of the pain until others acknowledge the fast pace. The climb was followed by a bunch of smooth, flowy singletrack plus about three crazy fun drainage ditch style descents, full of loose switchbacks, perfectly benched in trails and incredible fall colors. We had to stop A LOT to look at the map during the first 20 miles, and got lost a few times, but I finally settled into tour mode and had a lot of time to enjoy the view :)
The back side of the 'Gabes', not a bad place to spend a fall day. 
Around mile 25 we hit my favorite trail of the day, Boy Scout trail, which traversed out across the side of a mountain with some jaw dropping views east to the desert. This was followed by 2 more wicked fun descents which took us down to an elevation lower than where we started. I think we hit rock bottom around mile 33, and my legs finally started feeling good just in time for an 'annoyingly long' (Carl's words, I rather enjoyed the grind) climb back up to Boy Scout trail. We stopped for water halfway up at a prison camp, oops, and had a little chat with a nice corrections officer, who helped us fill our bottles NOT in the prison itself :)

Then the best part of the day, heading back on Boy Scout in the DH direction (it's gradual enough that I didn't realize it was uphill on the way out!), following Carl who whips his rear wheel around and hits every wall ride possible, showing me how to descend like a boss. Carl also stopped a bunch to play action photographer extraordinaire, which worked out great when I was lagging from getting distracted by scenery!
Zipping down Boy Scout trail, my absolute favorite part of the day!
More Boy Scout goodness. Big trees, smooth singletrack, back country perfection. 
And then it was just a matter of 1k more climbing and a sweet narrow little descent (with an awesome rut) to get us back to the car and amazing Mexican food!

Last time I went on a Weds adventure with Carl I would NOT recommend it to anyone, but this one I would say is a must ride! We were in the middle of nowhere for hours, only saw a handful of other people/about 2 cars, and spent the day surrounded by big trees, rocks and mountains. Even if you only hit some of the trails out there, Wrightwood is an incredibly pretty place with outstanding trails! It's a little elevationy, but well worth the lack of oxygen!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Why Riding with Women Rules

Like most girls I know who mountain bike, I got my start following a boyfriend (now husband) around on a bike he gave me (a really really crappy Giant NRS. I'm surprised I even liked riding on that bike!). This evolved into following different groups of men around, trying to keep up, learning to navigate super sketchy trails and developing the set of skills that would eventually make me decent at racing.

What I missed a lot of that time was riding with other women. Sure riding with dudes is fun, especially when you get to ride with rad dudes like my neighbor Dave, but after a while it starts to get old, being the only chick in a group of dudes. every. dang. time.

The problem is, I'm actually kinda sexist. I mean, I don't want to be, but until this fall even though I was sick of being the token chick, I never really wanted to ride with other women. I was worried they would be too slow, not be able to handle the trails I like to ride, wouldn't want to ride as far as I wanted to go.

Late this summer though I went on a few women's rides in Santa Rosa, and even led my own women's only pre-ride of the Annadel XC course, and holy moly was it fun! All those things I worried about not liking didn't matter at all, and instead it was just generally awesome!

Here are three reasons I like riding with chicks:

1) We all share the same anatomy, and have the same bike shorts/saddle issues. I can NEVER tell a dude riding partner about my saddle sores or chafing, they would get way too grossed and weirded out. But other women, THEY CAN RELATE! and usually have ideas for how to prevent or treat the problem :) I've also had some HILARIOUS conversations on women's rides about saddle sores... funniest conversations ever, especially because I can relate!

2) Other women can relate to other stuff too, like having spent a bunch of time chasing boys around, the same kind of racing experiences moving up through categories with very few other competitors, the race related nerves, or that high/exciting feeling you get from riding something that is really hard cleanly... and they talk about it! Guys don't express that kind of thing, but it's great to compare experiences and realize you aren't the only one who feels those feelings of nervousness and excitement.

3) Other women (at least those I've ridden with) don't tend to have egos that make them try to out do each other, or need to prove anything on a ride. We pretty much always go out assuming the others are faster than us, and have a great time no matter if that's true or not!

There are a lot of other reasons I love riding with chicks, but let's just say thank goodness I didn't live out my whole cycling career only riding with dudes. I'll still do the dude ride thing, because they are fun too, but I'm super grateful to live in a place that has a thriving women's cycling culture, and to personally know some hardcore, fast, awesome ladies!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Brendan's Month

Two weekends ago, while building up that CX bike for the OC GranFondo, it took both Brendan and me working together to get the 30cc tires we borrowed from another generous Felt co-worker (those Felties... I'm telling you, they don't come nicer than that!) on the wheels. Sitting there on the workbench with B I had a mini revelation. October is Brendan's month! Last year I told B that we could do whatever he wanted every weekend in October because come November I need to be riding regularly again, and then pretty much every weekend is spent training or racing through Sept.

You may already know that B does not race bikes. He is the brains of the operation, but he hasn't been able to ride consistently for a few years now due to chronic knee pain. Needless to say the poor kid is not quite as fast as me when riding bikes/does not like to ride as far as me. This means I pretty much don't train with hubs, most every long weekend training ride takes place with various other cool dudes in Orange County. And racing this past year involved a lot of time apart as well. 

It took me a few years to learn this, but I think one of the most important things serious cyclists can do during the 'off season', when you don't have to be on your bike all day Sat and Sun, is to just BE with your family and to finally DO those non bike related activities with them. And do those activities with the energy and enthusiasm that we give training and racing. Sure I try to do Brendan things AFTER I train in the fall and winter, but I am always too tired to give the house projects 100% effort and attention, or to stay awake in the car running errands.

Although the travel and race schedule was crazy fun this past year, and I am so grateful for all the experiences and learning I gained from it, it was kinda hard on Brendan's and my relationship. I was away for 90% of the summer, and even before that I was traveling a lot during the school year. And before that I was waking up at 4:30am each day to commute to work, and too tired at night to be any fun. I think this year more than ever I've learned the importance of dedicating time to the people in my life who don't race bikes in the fall, because I care about them and I may not have done such a good job showing Brendan that this summer. I'm kinda surprised B has put up with this bike racing thing for so long, I mean he did get me into it, but he was basically a bachelor this year. I don't even want to know how many frozen pizzas that boy consumed!

Long story short, I'm trying to have some balance in my life, as well as to make sure Brendan knows I care about him almost as much as I care about my bike. It's been hard turning down offers to ride with people on the weekends, with perfect weather and whatnot, but I think that balance is kinda important.
Best part is, I rediscovered over the past few weeks that I kinda like hanging out with this kid :) He is really good at putting bikes together, he is kinda funny, and he makes killer breakfast burritos.

Sorry I forgot about your month until it was 1/3 over Brendan!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Weekend Recap: Not Much Going On Around Here...

Things are finally settling down a bit around Silverado. I spent the past week generally just freaking out about if I should or should not be riding my bike.
Thankfully yard work is also like exercise, so I was able to focus on that and take a few more days off the bike before starting to ride consistently again. One of the projects that we have been working on FOREVER (and by working on I mean, we started it and kept meaning to get around to finishing it) was setting in the stones for a walkway in the left side of the yard. I was super pumped to finish that walkway on Friday, because now I can move onto more gratifying projects. I also spent a lot of time procrastinating working on that walkway, and realized that yard work is basically doing the same work over and over again... rake the leaves, more leaves fall... sometimes I wonder if it makes me crazy to keep doing the work just to have to do it again in a few months!

I tried to stay off the bike as much as possible, but on Thursday I snuck in an e-bike commute home with Brendan. It was my first ever e-bike experience and I have to say it was a lot more exciting than I thought it would be! Every time you start moving forward from a red light or what have you it's like the bike boosts you forward, and going 20mph uphill... heck yes please!
One thing we find funny about Orange County is that sometimes they take a perfectly good road and make it non bike compatible. On Brendan's commute there is a long section that used to be fine for bikes and cars to use simultaneously, but they just put in an island in the middle of the road, leaving two lanes that are WAY too narrow for both bikes and cars. I'm not really sure what they were thinking, but now cyclists HAVE to take the WHOLE lane, sorry cars.
But where am I supposed to go? The middle of the road?
Poor Brendan had to eat tofu this weekend because I stopped eating meat a while ago, and I do 90% of the cooking in our house. We actually followed a recipe for this stir fry though and it wasn't too bad for tofu.
All the soy sauce and stuff covered the taste of the tofu...
And most importantly Brendan went mountain biking with me on Saturday! It may not have ended with a happy Brendan because I may have overestimated his ability a little, and by a little I mean a lot, but it was a mountain bike ride together none the less! We rode in a bunch of places we have never been before, took a super rad, questionably legal gnarly fun descent into the IE and were on our bikes for like 4 hours.
Action photag Carl got a shot of me actually riding on the gnar descent... so that's good :)
So long story short, not much going on around here. I guess that's a good thing every now and again. 
And now I have to go to bed because I'm bike commuting to a sub job tomorrow... just like old times. 

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Ride Recap: Siberia and Camp Creek Exploration

Yesterday's ride was epic/crazy enough that I think it deserves it's own little blog post.
I know this is October, and what I should be doing right now is sitting on the couch and eating bon bons or something, but when Carl Baur raves for weeks about how great this one trail in Big Bear is, and offers to lead an awesome tour of new-to-you trails in the area on a Wednesday it's kinda hard to say no. Add to that the fact that I hadn't touched a mountain bike in 10 days and wa;/s DYING to feel the thrill of sliding down a steep, loose, scenic trail/ dip and weave through the flow of Skyline and it's REALLY hard to stay home on the couch!

So yesterday I jumped at the opportunity.

We parked at Angelus Oaks and met up with Carl's friend Jason, half an hour late because I somehow left the house with road shoes... The ride started out with the outstanding Post office loop trail which was in great shape and instantly reminded me why I love mountain biking so much! Can we say dipping, weaving, plunging into banked turns and sliding through corners :)

Next we climbed Clark Grade, the longest fire road you will ever encounter, ever. There were some flies and sand, but we managed to tough it out and hit the top in about an hour. Because Jason was predicted to be a bit slower than Carl and I, we rode down Trick-or-Treat trail, and climbed back up to the 'Grand Overlook' (the spot where Skyline and Seven Oaks intersect) to give Jason time to finish climbing Clark.

From there we rolled across the road to Pine Knot trail, an incredibly fun little stretch of singletrack I have somehow never ridden before. More dipping and weaving and sliding through sweet sandy turns, plus some rolling off rocks and wall rides made this an instant favorite.

Next we made our way over to Siberia Creek trail, the one Carl had been raving about all this time. The first half of this trail was INCREDIBLE! The fall colors were crazy pretty, the ground was covered in ferns, and the sky was bright blue. After we twisted and turned through the dense woods we popped out on the side of a mountain with out of control views of the ravine below and mountains across the depression. The trail was narrow, and involved a lot of navigating rock problems while balancing on the edge of a couple hundred foot drop off.

This is what the trail looked like when it was fun to ride/only a little scary. 
My best friend at Gunsight Rock. This bike was phenomenal in the less than ideal conditions.  
It was equally terrifying and incredible riding, and every so often I would look up and freak out over the amazing view.

Eventually the nice, rideable trail deteriorated into a super narrow line of sand that fell down the hillside as you rode over it. This gave way to a mess of debris flows coming down the mountain from above and straight through the trail once we turned onto Camp Creek trail. Needless to say there was A LOT of hiking! To add to the difficulty of the trail the yucca tried to stab the crap out of you as we hiked across these super precarious narrow sections, and that gave way to super scratchy bushes grabbing our arms and handlebars on BOTH SIDES! Oh and the fallen trees, there were SO MANY fallen trees that were most definitely not rideable. All this misery lasted JUST long enough to make me start to question if the views and flow of the trail at the top were worth it. And at the moment when I started thinking maybe I wanted to end it all by 'accidentally' sliding off the cliff Carl told me we were more than halfway to the end of the trail. Ha.

The tour guide. He's lucky Jason and I didn't murder him after Camp Creek...
Eventually we popped out on fire road, and slowly made our way back to Middle Control Rd.  We reached the top of Middle Control around hour 7, completely out of water and kinda happy to still be alive :) And of course we stopped for Slurpees on the drive back to Orange County :)

So that's my story of Siberia Creek. I honestly do not recommend it to anyone, but if you want to scratch all the skin off your arms on bushes and spend an hour hiking with your bike, and feel like you might die for 10 miles, go ahead, but make sure you enjoy the view at the top!

Monday, October 12, 2015

Weekend Recap

This past weekend was... interesting. First of all it was super duper hot. That unbearable Oct heat we get every year around now, but always seem to forget about until it sneaks up on us. \

Friday I spent the day subbing 8th grade PE, where the teacher left plans for me to have the kids play Ultimate Football. By 7th period I decided it was cruel and unusual punishment to make the poor things run around on grass in 105f, but don't worry, I was already drenched in sweat by then. 

The afternoon was spent at Felt HQ building up the sweetest CX bike (it is so weird to write CX instead of XC...) for Saturday's suffer fest. The bike belongs to Brendan's co-worker and friend Fiona, who might be the nicest person in the world. I'm still a bit confused as to how Fiona is so generous to let me take her beautiful, brand new FRD FX1 on it's inaugural ride, but let me just say, it was amazing! It was also kinda fun to be building/working on bikes with the boy again. Plus I ACTUALLY helped! That picture is proof of me knowing something about building bikes :)

We built up the bike for Saturday's OC GranFondo, a 100 mile shred/suffer fest. When I decided to participate in the festivities I did not realize it would be 100 degrees pretty much all day. Thus at 6am on Sat I woke up, downed some coffee and headed out to get my butt kicked. The GranFondo took us from Irvine to the coast, up the Santa Ana River trail to Corona, and then up Skyline fire road, down Blackstar fire road, and then through the canyons back to Irvine.

The start was fast and fun, and involved a lot of positioning to keep myself close to the front but not too close (I didn't want to be in the wind, there were boys for that!!). At one point some agro dude (who was upset that I was good at holding a wheel or something) called me April like 4 times, not sure what that was about, but let's just say some people take Fondoing a little too seriously. When the 60 mile route split from the 100 mile there were only 6 of us left (I think others did the 100 mile, but they were nowhere in sight), and as soon as we started to climb Skyline the boys all just rode away from me. It was hard to see them go, but I wanted to pace myself a bit as we were only 50 miles into the ride. I had never ridden Skyline before, and thought it was amazing (also I got the QOM, on a cross bike :) so that made me happy). Then the part of the ride which should have been the most fun for me, a mountain biker on a cross bike with disc brakes, was the MOST AWFUL!! I cut/bruised/may have fractured my left middle finger last week, and trying to hold the bars/brake on the bumpy fire road while descending as fast as I could was SOOOO painful!

The only picture I've seen from the ride,
stolen from Thomas' Strava... :)
Eventually my misery came to an end at the bottom of the descent, and I stopped for water at the aid station. This is where I caught my first glimpse of Coke. I told myself that Coke would be my reward if I could survive the next 40 miles of pavement alone. It was already very hot out, and the thought of the super sugary, carbonated cold beverage was like a carrot. So I spent the next 2 hours turning the pedals, counting down the miles, and suffering like a dog.

Surprisingly no one caught me during that 40 mile suffer fest, so I finished in 5th place. Although it wasn't really a race... it was a race. Everything is a race!

So I ride into the finish area and immediately ask for a cold coke. No coke, there is NO COKE!!! Apparently I took too long to finish and the 60 milers drank it all! Well my exhausted, dehydrated, underfed body could not handle this reality and I literally started crying, like fat tears rolling down my cheeks, too choked up to speak crying. I basically couldn't gain control of my emotions, the only thing I could do was put myself in time out, by laying down on the HOT ground by meself to regain my composure. But, as embarrassed as I am to have cried at the lack of soda at a party, I was equally stoked/grateful when the Eric showed up with Cokes from a vending machine around the corner. Thank you thank you thank you Eric!

The rest of the day was spent in a haze of tiredness/dehydration pretending to help Brendan do some tests on bikes back at the old Felt HQ.

B in the Missouri house.
Sunday we hit the Solar Decathlon in Irvine, where we pretty much baked ourselves on the blacktop looking at cool Ikea size houses with some sweet green tech built into them. If you're free next weekend you should go, it's pretty interesting stuff and the houses are all really cute. Plus the teams are competing for who has built the most energy efficient house, so next weekend it will be more clear who the winner might be!

The team from Missouri did a particularly good job making a shipping container house. We basically want them to build our dream house one day.

Allie and I outside the Missouri house. 
And to cap it off we hit the Silverado Country Fair to see Cubensis play. It was a pretty sweet little weekend, spent with the boy, complete with a mini revelation I'll blog about tomorrow, and a pretty high suffer score. 

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Skills Clinic Retrospective

Last Sunday I had another opportunity to help coach a skills clinic, and I am so grateful for the amazing women who organized such a cool event. Kristin and Jeanna brought a bunch of incredible women together on a rainy, beautiful day in Irvine park and put on a great afternoon of learning/teaching. Below is the group of coaches and assistants.
Each of the 5 coaches was tasked with teaching a specific skill to a group of 5 women. As the day went on the groups rotated resulting in teaching the skill 5 times to 25ish women total. I taught how to get up and over an obstacle, a skill it took me personally about 4 years to master. Of all the things I've learned over the years, this is the one I feel has had the biggest positive impact on my riding, from helping me look cool riding up over a curb on my road bike to descending rocky trails without bashing the crap out of my rims. Being able to teach this skill to beginners and some non beginners felt pretty empowering, it's exciting to pass the knowledge on and think someone else will have that same feeling of accomplishment the first few times they master the body english.
This was the group of women who attended the clinic plus coaches and assistants.
And an action shot of the post clinic game of bike sumo, AKA circle of friends.
And the cherry on top was that sticking it out through the rain during the clinic meant hero dirt in Santiago Oaks afterwards. My body DID NOT want to ride bikes, BUT I can't turn down the very rare occurrence of hero dirt in this particular park (it's SO rare). A few of the women who attended the clinic joined us and Brendo rode with us to, making it a pretty glorious hour of dirt :)
The world's tiniest picture of Brendan and Isabelle climbing Shoots trail. 
Needless to say, I can't wait for my next skills clinic opportunity. Plus seeing so many women on bikes is inspiring. Thanks again Kristin and Jeanna and everyone who participated!

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Levi's GranFondo Fun

Every Oct retired pro roadie and fellow Santa Rosa native Levi Leipheimer puts on a Gran Fondo on my all time favorite roads in Sonoma County. Usually I'm in the throws of teaching and can't make it out to the event, but this year I seized the opportunity to join the fun! 
Kaylee and I were just two of the mountain bikers crazy enough to brave a 6,000 person mass start road ride...
6,000 people lined up to complete one of the 8 course options which ranged from 35 miles to 116 miles. The weather could not have been more pleasant, and the company could not have been better. 
I'm never excited about anything... ever.
For me this Fondo is more than an opportunity to ride bikes on pretty roads, it's a celebration of all that makes Santa Rosa my favorite town ever, and Sonoma county the best region! To see so many people lined up, excited to ride on roads I have treasured for the past decade was pretty special. I'm so grateful to Levi and Bike Monkey for going all out to make such an experience possible for so many people. 
Another cool layer to the experience was that RidebikerAlliance, my main sponsor, also supports the Fondo, and was present in full force! I had the opportunity to ride with (read alternately get crushed by and suck wind for) the guy responsible for making my season happen last year, Scott Tedro, as well as Bob Roll and Erik Bostrom.
The nuttiest part of the day was rolling out of town with 6,000 other bike enthusiasts, hearing the sound of 12,000 wheels whooshing down the street and almost as many brakes being gently applied to carbon rims. I was actually quiet for probably 10 minutes just listening to the sounds of all the bikes, and if you know me, not talking for 10 minutes is, well, rare. The mass start as terrifying and exciting, and resulted in a crazy fast arrival in Occidental. From there our group headed out to the coast along the Russian river, and then south to Coleman valley rd. Bostrom and I decided to charge full speed ahead from there, which resulted in me hanging onto his wheel for dear life, and despite our slow start we ended up winning. The Medio course. 
Then, my other best part of any cycling event happened, the hanging out with tons of cool people! Needless to say I love people who love bikes, and this Fondo business had some of the best!
These dudes are so rad :)
Got another picture with Yuri (that guy is so cool!) and that guy who is really good at baseball!
I got to thank Allison Tetrik for her podium rules blog that taught me how to appropriately dress for the podium, and Mari Holden who made me realize the pro women's racing was a thing way back when I started cycling. I got to (finally) meet Forest in person, whose Facebook posts always turn my stoke up to 20, AND his adorable baby River! Also got to meet Amy the dog who is basically a human, and a crap ton of other amazing and interesting people who are just about as enthusiastic about bikes as me! 
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My only regret of the day was that I didn't say hi to my fave announcer Dave Towle, who basically makes every event he announces magic :) Thanks Dave for the shout outs! And for being another reason I started this racing thing back in the day. 
I have to say, before I resume TCOB, that I am incredibly impressed with the volunteers at this event! There were SO many volunteers and they were so well organized and friendly and LOOK at the bike parking! This many bikes in one place... Makes me feel like Brendan had some job security!
So that's my story of my first Levi's GranFondo! You should come next year because it is AMAZING! Also, hug a loved one today :) each moment on this earth is a gift. 

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Just a Bit More On Brazil

Because I haven't gone on enough about Brazil... But really because I kinda love this country, and saw a bunch more cool stuff outside of just racing bikes. 
On Sunday, after recovering a bit from the last stage of the race, Spencer and I hiked up the hill from town to check out a rad church with an incredible view of the town of Mariana. 
This is the rad church. It was HUGE and way high up on the top end of town. 
This is the sweet little park we walked through to get to the church. We bought trinkets from a street vendor in the park. 
Sadly the church was closed, but I got my share of awesome sweeping views, and we found a smaller but equally cool church on the way back to town which was open. 
The whole town is basically adorable houses built on the hill side. So so cute!
Inside the church that WAS open. 
was also enamored with every single house on the way up the hill, they reminded me of some communities in California, like SF and Santa Barbara because of the influence of the Missionaries and because they were on a hillside. I took way too many house pictures, but I can't bring myself to delete them from my phone! 
Something about white plaster and colorful window trim gets me going :)
The town was divided by a sweet little river, we got to cross it every time we traveled the 5 minute walk from the race venue to our hotel and back.

And ALL the streets in Mariana were cobblestone, most of which were REAL cobblestone, as in real, average, random rocks in the ground! I kinda loved that about Mariana, that and the cute houses all on the side of a hill... Swoon :)
This is one of the streets we raced up on Friday night. 
On the way back to the venue post church expedition we stopped in an artist's studio and got to see this cool old dude carving cherubs, and another painting pictures of churches. While we were there a tourist from another part of Brazil told us the history of the area, which was pretty fascinating. She was really knowledgable and super friendly!

Free beer and little fried empanadas waiting for the podium ceremony = best day ever :) I even tried to start a dance party by the band, but I think by then the locals thought I was 100% psycho!

On Monday we did a little "recovery" ride on the freeway which was equally beautiful and terrifying. The rules of the road seem to lean towards every man for himself, so it was a bit stressful passing on and off ramps. Even with the onramps and high speed, it was probably much safer to ride on the freeway than in town, where the drivers are equally nutty but there is no shoulder. We did get about 100 friendly honks though, and saw a ton of cars with bikes in or on them drive by :)

And on Tuesday, finally in possession of MY OWN bike, I got to hit some local BH trails with IKE and Spencer. The trails were so so fun, and reminded me a lot of San Juan trail in SoCal, but better. I was pretty slow, so the guys did a lot of waiting for me, but it felt incredible to ride trails on Scalpy, and the views continued to be amazing!

Doesn't that look like San Juan!? Red dirt, and scrub for plant life :)
Tuesday afternoon I explored a local park, where we got an awesome view of the city, saw some monkeys and Brazilian Raccoons, and drank coconut water right out of the coconut!
Most people live in apartments because it is safer, so there are TONS of tall buildings in BH. It's like 100 San Franciscos, and makes for some cool views.  
Seen on my hike in the park. It was basically a hike through the jungle, there were SO many trees and plants!
I approve of Brazilian coconuts! The flesh was soft and easy to scrape out and eat after the water was gone too!

Little monkey dude, just hanging out in a tree :)
And on my last day in Brazil I went to an amazing botanical garden/modern art exhibit called Inhotim but pronounced more like inhoch. I basically walked for 4 hours around this incredible garden which had probably 10 lakes and an orchid house, and went into a few art museums with art I didn't really understand :) the gardens were stunning through, I guess that's a form of art I understand! 

There were tons of flowers I've never seen before, and HUGE benches everywhere made out of single pieces of trees. There were also tons of high schoolers so that was fun, HA. Kids in Brazil act pretty much like kids in the U.S. On field trips, less into the art than the freedom :) 
One piece of wood... Isn't that an incredible bench?!

And after the hour long car ride through the country (which looked so so much like California!) we grabbed the bikes and luggage and headed straight to the airport. 

I was so busy leading up to this trip that I didn't have much time to contemplate what Brazil would be like (Or research the race, find out how long it was, where it was, what the weather would be like... Ha) but I loved every minute, every meal, and (almost) every mile I rode my bike! Thank you IronBiker for giving me such an incredible opportunity, Fred for taking such good care of us while we were there and for keeping me in line when I wanted to go do crazy somewhat dangerous things, and Brazil for being so beautiful and friendly!
 I hope I can race bikes in Brazil again Some day :)