Friday, November 20, 2015


I can actually say that because I have been teaching ALL WEEK (except Monday :). this sub job is long term- think through Christmas break, so I'm back in the world of responsible adults contributing to society and stuff. Thankfully the school is closed for the full Thanksgiving break though, so I'll have a bit of time with family next week!

Coming back to full time work has been kinda nice because the structure is something I did miss a bit when I wasn't teaching every day. Also, I like that exhausted feeling at the end of the day when you wake up with the sun, commute, work, commute and then do a workout on the bike. Being super tired... why do I love it so?

I'm off to go ride bikes now, but I have to say that with the shape of things in the world, I have been super grateful for pretty much everything in my life right now. Have you seen that photo essay of refugee children and where they sleep? I was looking at those pictures and crying my eyes out last night. Made me really conscious of the fact I have nothing to complain about. So so sad.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Oh Hello There Monday!

It's been a while! I can't really say this is because I've been crazy busy, but when I think back on the 7 days since I last blogged they have been quite full. The past week was spent getting as much work done on the house as possible, riding my brains out, and cooking some ferocious meals. And the weekend was not entirely spent on bikes... so that was weird as well. Here's a quick house project/random stuff post for this nice lazy Monday morning.

The next house demo project we decided to tackle is the front deck, which was so badly termite damaged when we bought the house in 2010 that parts of it were unsafe to walk on. We bought just enough Trex (on clearance at Home Depot!) about 3 years ago to replace the deck, but they have been sitting on the sidelines waiting for the laundry room and race season to end to be put to use. Like a baffoon I took no before pictures of the old deck, but here is what it looks like post old deck removal, which I did 90% of alone while Brendan was at work (Call me a constrution woman :)!
Looking down at where the deck used to be from the East side of the yard (Davey's side).
Looking at where the deck used to be from the West side of the yard (Chicken's side).
The demolition of the deck wasn't too terribly difficult, save trying to not be attacked by about 145,000 spiders. While I am anxious to start rebuilding, Brendan wants to replace the pump and filter (the big beige orb up in the above picture) that belong to the Koi pond with something smaller and maybe cycle the old fish water to the garden. He actually got the waterfall (on the left of the picture below) to work yesterday, so we are seriously considering raising Tilapia and using their poo to fertilize the veggies. It's kinda cool being married to such a visionary who isn't afraid of tackling a hard project (like the compost toilet) to try something cool like fish farming!
Of course we got distracted a lot yesterday, trimming the hedges which grow crazy fast and always want to molest you!
Another cool thing that happened this past weekend is that we went to the bike path dedication of the Juanita Moe trail. Juanita is responsible for fighting tooth and nail to get so many bike paths and lanes in Irvine and other parts of Orange County, which have saved countless lives because now us cyclists don't have to be in the road! It was pretty cool hearing about Juanita's dedication and perseverance, and to see so many representatives of the city of Irvine's City Council come out to honor her. It's pretty obvious this place values cycling as recreation and transportation!
Cutting the ribbon on the path that now bears her name. 
That about wraps up what's been going on over here. Now it's time to go ride bikes and enjoy one last day before going back to teaching full time tomorrow through Christmas!

Monday, November 9, 2015

Mt San Jacinto with Taryn-dactyl: Peak 4 out of 6

On Saturday Brendan and I got a special treat, Taryn was in town from Salt Lake and spent the whole day with us! Like the questionably good friend I am, I drug both of them out of bed at 5:30am to drive out to Idyllwild and hike for 5 hours. I have been slowly chipping away at the list of the 6 best peaks to hike in SoCal in an effort to see new places/do something off the bike, and this one was the 4th in a list of 6 recommended by this dude.

The hike started out pleasantly cool, and we quickly ran into snow, which started as spotty, side of the trail type snow and became cover the entire ground snow by halfway up to the peak. Although I was in tennis shoes it was never too serious of a problem, but there were some slippery, icy situations which slowed us down quite a bit.

We had such a great time catching up, peeing every ten minutes and enjoying the scenery that the first 3 miles flew by. There were quite a few other hikers out, including the obligatory SoCal 'I play my dub step for all the hear' dude who we kindly asked to not share his music with the entire mountain side!
Taryn is such a good friend that when I say 'Put your head in that bush' she does it! 
The second half of the ascent was punctuated by large chunks of ice falling from the trees around us as it was sunny enough to melt the snow turned ice clinging to the tops of all the trees. this was a little scary, but thankfully no one got hit! The ground alternated between fluffy soft snow, chunks of ice the size I like in my soda, big old chunks that were awkward to hike through and solid slipper ice. The contrast between the white ground, and green trees/vibrantly blue sky was pretty incredible, I think our timing with the weather was pretty darn good/lucky!

The summit was PACKED which was understandable as it was such a nice day. We ate our Nutella and banana sandos, and hurried back down because we had to be back in Orange County by 4pm. I kinda wish I had tried to identify the other SoCal peaks from the top since San Jacinto has one of the best views of the different mountains around. 
Obviously we took a picture at the top :)
Everyone and their mother was there!
And then we booked it for home. This hike felt a lot easier than any of the previous ones. I suspect that going Brendan pace for the first 3 miles on the way up as well as the fact that the whole thing was 13 miles are the reason I wasn't sore or tired at the end. Usually the insides of my hips get really angry on these hikes, but maybe I'm adapting... one can only hope. The great thing about hiking for cyclists is that you use a bunch of muscles and tendons that are normally neglected. I think balancing out those parts of the body is pretty important. That and the bone strengthening effect of all that impact!

The plan is to hit one of the remaining peaks on Sat, can't remember which one. Then I'll have to squeeze the last one in before it's too wintery and cold! I'll be back to training on my bike starting tomorrow, but the OCD part of me can't handle not getting all 6 + whitney done in one year :)

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Wednesday Palm Springs Epic Epic

I'm a little behind... so back to last Wednesday I go because THAT was a bike ride.

Carl and I drove out to Palm Desert early Weds morning with the plan of doing some exploring as we didn't have a good map of the area, and the last time I rode Palm Canyon trail was 4 years ago.
The sky was amazing on the drive, especially looking up at Mt. San Jacinto where heavy dark clouds were gathering over the peak and it was clearly snowing/raining something ugly. I was tempted to ask Carl if he had checked the weather for our ride, but bit my tongue and hoped for a dry day.

We started by riding up Art Smith, a pretty techy trail, which climbs for 10 miles through sandy washes, rocky rock problems, and tight complicated switchbacks. I didn't remember it being so long, and about halfway up Carl was cursing the name of Art Smith, haha! We had already climbed 2,000ft in an hour when we reached Dunn Road and the 'you gotta have a pic with this tractor' tractor.
I may need new gloves...
This road was like riding bikes on the beach, SANDY!
Next we climbed 2,000 more feet to the top of Dunn rd, which was WAY steeper, and sandier than I remembered! I am sure Carl was cursing whoever built that road too, but I may have ridden away from him on account of only having one speed. The clouds ahead of us were incredible, and to the right, out towards San Jacinto, they were still crazy scary looking.

At the top the temp dropped pretty significantly, and we got a bit lost in the 'neighborhood' looking for a trail I couldn't quite remember from 4 years back. We eventually decided to head all the way out to Hwy 74 and pedal the pavement up to the trailhead shuttlers use to ride just the Palm Canyon descent (which many people call epic on it's own). Thankfully, despite our lack of route planning and preparation, we had both MTB Project and Strava to figure out how to get where we wanted to go. Usually Carl and I are really good at planning ahead, knowing where we are going... but it was kinda my turn to play tour guide, and I was a little too tired from the Nosco ride on Tuesday to do my job previewing the route online the night before... oops.
The Palm Canyon descent wasn't nearly as good as I remembered it being, but the amazing scenery made up for the SANDY, kinda crappy trail. At one point we were just in this canyon, on the sandy floor of a wash FOREVER!!! AND THEN FOR FUN you have to ride 3 miles up a sand road!!! It was pretty traumatic, but we persevered because what else are you going to do when you're out in the middle of nowhere. The only good news is that I did not kick a cactus, and it didn't rain on us.  I'm pretty sure Palm Canyon trail should be renamed Kick/Punch a Cactus because they put cactus on the inside of every fun turn, and they are ALL OVER at foot level as well. Carl did some pretty amazing evasive riding to avoid cactus limb contact, including a lot of skidding/whipping his rear wheel through turns.
Before the 3 mile sand road of death I took a little sit on your butt break, ahhh tour mode :)
By the time we returned to the tractor/top of Art Smith/top of the 3 mile road of death, there wasn't quite enough day light to add in the Haan Buena trail (one I rode last year and remember being incredible). So, we used some self control and headed back to the car via Art Smith. Somehow Art Smith seemed like it was uphill most the way back, and although I had promised Carl he would be praising Art's name on the return trip we were both a little peeved at the guy for a while. Then it finally descended enough that we didn't need to pedal and we dipped and wove through the flowy turns and over the techy rocks, glggling with joy. At one point I did crash really hard trying to clean a really tight, rocky switchback behind Carl, and landed on my shin on a rock off the cliff-y side of the turn, but the bike was ok, so no stoke was lost. Thank goodness Art Smith ends with one of the most fun sections of trail around because I got to the car smiling and completely stoked on Palm Desert!
Carl riding to the Haan Buena overlook. It was pretty tempting to just ride Haan Buena, but maybe it will be motivation to return to Palm Springs to ride again this winter. 

I realize now after re-reading this recap that it sounds like this ride wasn't very much fun, and I'll admit, it wasn't quite as good as some of our other Weds adventures. We expected it to be a little less dry because it rained on Monday, and my memory of Palm Canyon did not match up with reality very well. I did very much enjoy the climbing, even the Dry Wash death road, and the sky/rocks pretty much saved the day with their beauty. I'm not sure I would recommend that anyone drive all the way out to Palm Desert to do this ride, but it was a pretty fun place to ride that was very much out of the ordinary!
This week I start more structured training so who knows if these amazing Wednesday adventures will continue. I have been loving the flexibility to substitute teach, train, work on sponsorships, nap and take care of house work, but I'm seriously excited to do some real taining again! 

Friday, November 6, 2015

Mike Nosco Memorial Ride Recap

On Tuesday (I'm way behind on here because I played and worked so hard all week!) Jane and I drove up to Newbury Park for the Nocso Memorial Ride. This ride is a fundraising event that supports families who are facing life threatening illnesses in memorandum of Mike Nosco, a pretty rad dude who worked for Amgen and was in the Navy.

Our day started out with a drive through ALL the freeways in LA because Google Maps wanted to make the trip interesting. We arrived a bit early because Monday night Google told us it could take 2 hours OR 4 hours if we left at 6am... ah LA traffic!

The ride began with a nice 9 mile neutral roll out to the intersection where Mike was hit by a farm truck, and where we had a moment of silence. After that it was a no holds barred charge down HWY 1 towards Deer Creek rd. There were about 150 riders in the pack, including some big time pros so the pace was a little crazy and scary! Somehow I managed to not take anyone out on hwy 1, and attacked the climb up Deer Creek at full speed. I'd never ridden in the area before, so I may have underestimated this climb, and boy did it hurt near the top!

A lot of the reason why I have been doing more roadie group rides lately, besides the cool people on them!, is so I can remember how to ride in a pack, descend fast... all the roadie tricks in preparation of racing a little road next year. I discovered that descending is one of the areas I need to work on when I ran off the road and almost ended up in a fence on a tight left hand turn on the descent after Deer Creek. Leave it to the mtb chick to not know how to ride a bike down hill fast!

Next was the climb up Mulholland. By now I was in the second-ish main group of dudes, and of course I let my ego get the better of me again, pulling for the first half the climb, and then attacking them. I realize this was just a charity ride, but when the road starts to go up hill somehow the suffering feels so good. Anyway, that one was longer, but more shallow and there was a rad aid station at the top where I had some snacks and waited for the group I had planned to ride with.

The rest of the ride I was a lot less agro and enjoyed the scenery, met new people and had an excellent time. I especially enjoyed riding with CTS coach and athlete Julia. She is pretty hilarious, super strong and I'm stoked I got to meet her on the road!
Julie and I with an ocean view!
After the ride we ate some pretty awesome food and then Jane and I had to book it back to OC because I have CPR at 6:30. Overall this ride was an incredible experience, and although it is on a week day (Nov 3 is the day Mike died) I highly recommend taking a sick day to come ride bikes for a good cause with crazy cool roadie peeps.

Our route, which we rode counter clockwise, North is the right hand side of this sideways map. 

Monday, November 2, 2015

Finally Proud to Live in SoCal

Staring at the map of last week's ride in Wrightwood on Strava the other night I realized something kinda major; Southern California is an amazing place! After spending 6.5 hours riding on middle of nowhere back country trails I was certain Carl and I must have covered significant ground, that there couldn't be much left to ride on the eastern side of Angeles National Forest, and yet we had barely scratched the surface of Angeles National Forest. And not only that, but there was San Bernardino National Forest to the east, and Mt San Jacinto to the south east (which also extends to San Diego), each of which contain miles of excellent mountain biking trails, and hiking. Add to this all the smaller, local parks like Cleveland National Forest, and Laguna/Aliso/ElMorro, where there are tons of trails that freaking rock! AND that's just the stuff I have already explored! To the north we have the Santa Monica mountains which extend all the way into Padres National Forest (basically Santa Barbara!!), where I have yet to ride! Seriously, this place is kinda crazy good if you want to be out in the nature.
>> A map of our Wrightwood ride which barley put a dent in the riding possibilities in Angeles Natl Forest.

BUT IT'S SOCAL!!!! I'm having a hard time wrapping my head around the fact that this place that Brendan and I kinda loved to hate for the first three years we lived here, is actually maybe better than where we came from :) It's paradoxical, Southern California. We think about the cars and the freeways and the bros, but there is so much beyond the smog and traffic.

So, it is my mission this fall to explore every nook and cranny of Southern California, by bike and by foot, to really appreciate this awesome place we live in. It may be stupid hot in October, and I may have to sit in traffic for 3 hours to get to the ride tomorrow, but I'm stoked about the possibilities, and exploring the nearby treasures this place has to offer.

^^ Two more maps showing how vast the wilderness is here. On the left, a 95 mile road ride with 10K ascent, on the right a 50 mile exploration in Big Bear, again just scratching the surface!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Circle of Doom 2015 Halloween Edition

Yesterday I stole the last day of October from Brendan (don't worry, I'm giving him Nov 1st in return!) to head up to Pasadena for a fun little group road ride. About 150 people showed up to suffer it out on the climb up hwy 39 and and across/down hwy 2 on a 94 mile loop in the 'Gabes'.
I was nervous at the start because the climb up 39 was predicted to take 2-2.5 hours and I don't think I've ever climbed that long before. Turns out I freaking love climbing (not really a surprise!) and thoroughly enjoyed chasing the lead group of about 7 dudes to the first 'SAG stop'. Having stolen Brendan's light, tubeless wheels I had no power data so it was interesting trying to pace myself by feel alone.

At the sag stop we pigged out on amazing rice cakes, the first I've ever eaten, and refilled our bottles before finishing the trip up to 7,000ft on the closed part of the hwy. For the remainder of the ride the boys rode at a much more civilized pace so I was able to keep up any time we weren't descending. Then the road would start winding back down towards Pasadena, and I would get dropped because apparently I need to work on my aero tuck! We got to ride through 2 tunnels were surrounded by incredibly pretty views/big trees, and bommed crazy fun descents. Basically I was stoked every second of the ride leading me to the conclusion that I need to do more roadie group rides!
The rad guys I rode with for the second half of the ride

Picture of the group, that I am not in because we were too excited about riding bikes and didn't wait around at the top!