Training, Playing, Reclusifying, Embracing,...

I've got a big event coming up down on the bottom side of the hemisphere in a few weeks.  Six days of racing.  riding? racing? riding? Haven't decided yet.  Legs and lungs are still debating that query.  I sure I hope I like my bike when it's all said and done, because this body is having to work pretty darn hard to get in mere "decent" shape.

Some of the recent views to embrace while the legs and lungs are getting their smoke on...

Atop Tom's Thumb in the McDowells.
Misc dirty adventures.

Kentucky Camp - with the Carmichael Training Systems group. 

Pulled out the skinny tire bike for a few days of "braving" the high PSI and traffic.  (Intervals saved for the trainer for safety...and warmth.)

During the recent AES McDowell 60, which was a total rain/wet/freeze day for me...the highlight being having a little stand-off w/a bobcat.

Kentucky Camp/AZT. 
Opted for singletrack down to represent bikes in the holiday parade.

If you've got 5-6 hours of riding ahead of ya, it's more fun when a few of those hours are riding (suffering) w/friends. With rockstar Jennifer.

Four Peaks

Happy Holidays!  Hope everyone gets to play/ride/run/ski/shoot/etc...whatever floats your fancy.  


Right place at the right time...

Some say that luck is based on being at the right place at the right time, but I'd argue that every moment is the right time.  Maybe it's a moment to grab something big or perhaps to teach or learn something.  Or maybe it's merely a moment to be still.  

It's always the right place, right time....where your feet are...right now.

Heading toward good Dirt...

Ahh yeeeahhhhh...this is it.
Almost home.
Flying westbound, in from Africa via the east coast to the glorious Southwest I call home.  Three days of planes, trains, automobiles, the plague, etc..
Shortly before dusk, the golden glow of a soon-to-set sun showcasing the terrain below.

Finally, there they are. I spot the rugged peaks and ridgelines I know. Vast open terrain. Over northern New Mexico now. I know these parts. Georgia Okeefe's masterpieces are just below.  I'm in seat 1A, on the southern side, of course, always insisted upon, as gotta catch the magical light of this western sky and setting sun over these mountains, the dark pinon spotting the landscape, and more importantly the lack of buildings and roads for as far as the eyes can see.   It's all calling me home, like a magnet, the high alpine lakes, the dry river beds, the fault lines  the volcanic topography,  me.

I can smell it, can feel it, can hear it.
Crisp, pungent, quiet.
I'm there.
I'm here.
I'm home.

This place is almost as vital to me as clean water and nutrients.  I run dry and vague when w/out for too long, but just one sight, one sniff, one shot, I'm back and ready.

Perfect timing...we just banked left.  One more right bank then straight line to PHX from here.
Then only one more short flight to go...a mere hop, skip and jump up the Mogollon Rim to FLG, from where I'll hop in the ol' truck, take a dirt road down home (never turn down free dirt if it's an option!), with the windows down, then back down the canyon to the casa. But I'll be in no rush. Maybe I'll get home in an hour. Maybe in a day. Or two.  The truck is ready. I am ready.  Just windows down, breathing it all in, that clean distinctive northern Arizona air.

Yep, it's almost too much for me...the views, the crisp air on my skin, the pungent scent...overwhelmingly  intoxicating.  Overwhelmingly home.

Giddy up.

One-Armed Sand Peddlin...

Going again.
A thousand things on my to-do list.
A zillion things on my mind.
It's all good.
It is what it is.
Like single-handed peddlin' through a deep sandy wash.
Gotta keep the balance.
Gotta stay up right.
Keep it all together.
Keep the momentum.
Takes ya to the other side of the wash, up over the ridgeline to another fantabulous new spot...
...on the trail
...on life.

Keep it moving...and enjoy the ride!

Rest in peace, Benghazi team.


Textures of Coconino Summer



And the best of all...

Horsin' 'round...

So, I was taking a day off my normal go-go-go (aka bike-bike-bike run-run-run) and was out off-roading in the truck, exploring an area southeast of home.  Off the grid, I had already gone at least an hour w/out seeing another soul. 

For some reason, I'd decided to throw my rarely-used cowboy hat on while in the truck today, even though I surely looked ridiculous with my running shorts and flipflops, but who would possibly even see me way out there? I rounded a corner and lo and behold I see a horse’s bootay sticking out from under a scrub tree. Poor thing was trying to beat the heat and at least keep his face in the shade. There were two more a few feet away, just chillin (in the 105F heat :)

Were they wild? I was on govt property (state/natl forest), but I hadn’t gone through any gates and I don’t think a cattleguard.  But cattleguards are so common here that maybe I did cross one (or two or three) and just didn't notice.  They wore no shoes nor had any saddle/bridle marks.

Of course, I’m a sucker and had to get outta the truck to make friends. And friends we became, all four of us. It took a bit, and by no means did they run up to greet me and ask me to saddle up. But they ‘knew’ I was a horse girl and saw that my eyes were the same color as theirs.

Turns out they were thirsty too. As soon as the one lowest down on the hill saw/heard me chugging out of my water jug, he stomped right up through the scrub and asked for some water -- more like demanded some. For a second, he drank out of my hand, but then impatiently nudged my hand out of the way and went straight for the mouth of the jug.

It was hard to leave those guys, but I’ll be back, with the hat.

A Big Ol' Half-dirty Loop....

A few days ago I did something that has intimidated me for years: rode up the twisty road in Oak Creek Canyon (89A from Sedona to Flagstaff).

It's not the steepness that scares me, it's the cars.  If you've ever been on this road, you know that it's super tight, twisty, under the shade of the deep canyon walls and lots of trees, one of the most "beautiful scenic drives in the country", which inevitably means hordes of tourists who suddenly forget how to drive properly.  The switchbacks themselves are even pretty remarkable, climbing their way out of this spectacular canyon alongside the ever-flowing Oak Creek up onto the Mogollon Rim toward Flagstaff.

(Vintage postcards online :-)
(Per Wikipedia, the canyon is often described as a smaller cousin of the Grand Canyon because of its scenic beauty. The Oak Creek Canyon-Sedona area is second only to Grand Canyon as the most popular tourist destination in Arizona.)

While admiring the canyon's beauty, tourist drivers regularly swerve off the road, into the opposite lane, stop suddenly in the middle of the road to take photos, etc..  For myself and other locals who commute and/or actually have things to do in Flagstaff (like a job! appointments! etc!), it can terribly frustrating (sorry Lauren!), and we often despise driving through the canyon especially on the weekends or during tourist season.  What could take 30 minutes with normal flow, can take 90 minutes of pure frustration.  I often have to remind myself that it IS gorgeous in there and that it could be worse...WDC traffic...haha!

So, anyway, I've wanted to ride my bike up this for years, but feared being roadkill.  So, a friend recommended doing it super early on a Sunday morn to avoid the traffic.  Plus it's blazing hot this summer so the cooler temps at that hour would be nice.

I hate out-and-backs (I'm a loop girl!), so I opted to take the mountain bike with it's fatty tires and make a big day out of it...exploring dirt roads and singletrack up on the rim, then making a loop out of it and finally descending back down into Sedona via sweet singletrack (40-50 minutes of downhill depending).  I doubled up the PSI in my tires for the paved ascent, then once I hit dirt, I softened them up a bit.

So, I did a few things that I normally don't prefer to do: set my alarm for 4am and wore a logo'd bike jersey (hoping that the bright colors would reveal me to any drivers).  Downed some strong coffee and up I pedaled.

It was definitely slow-rolling as I knew I had a big day in front of me...guessed somewhere between 5-9 hours depending on the wide loop and on what new places I'd find to explore (and/or any mishaps).  Water could be an issue as there are no stores along the way, but there is a natural spring (spiggot) half way up the canyon w/the fresh water from Oak Creek where I could refill my 2 bottles, as well as a lone gas station 30-40 miles into my route.

(View from the top of the switchback (facing south).  Finally saw the sun from here and started to thaw out.)

Some tidbits and surprises:
-Saw very few cars in the canyon at that early hour.  (West Fork lot was empty...gasp!)
-It's cold and windy in the canyon in the mornings.  As in, I couldn't feel my fingers/toes til I hit the rim (roughly an hour and half later).
-Once up on the rim and on some of the old doubletrack jeep roads, actually did not see a single vehicle (2 hours?).  (Hrmm, I wonder how many mountain lions/bears saw me??!!)  
-Saw a few blonde elk.  
-No mishaps on the bike.  
-Was blistering hot by the time I descended back down the rim.
-Perfect amount of water and food for the day.  
-And yes, Mom, I reapplied sunscreen, especially as I was up at over 7000' elevation for most of the sunny day.  (Love my Kinesys travel-sized bottles!)

So, 70 miles, 4500' climbing (2500' in the first 18 miles or so; and about 1000 in a 2-3 mile section), and 7 full hours contributed to the fun log!    The photos can tell the rest of the story, and you can see it was just a fantastic day on the bike....

(Crossing an old dry lakebed.) 

(Had to hop on the interstate for about a mile to reconnect to dirt. Scariest part of the day, w/bigrigs whizzing by at 80mph, but not too bad.)

(alas, glimpses of home....this is one of the most beautiful spots on earth....where the whole world opens up below.)

 (Looking back up the overlook before dropping down...can you see the tourists? )

(Yay...alas the final Singletrack which descends back down...about a 1300 ft drop from here!)

(Yes, we have non-red dirt here too :-)

(On the final descent back into Sedona, down Schnebly Hill, via Munds Wagon trail/singletrack.)

Twas another good day on the bike!

In love.

No matter how tired I am after flying for months on end, there's nothing quite like that first glimpse out the plane window -- of a rugged mountain ridgeline or a deep dry river bed or a pristine forest carpet all so distinct to the Southwest to perk a girl up.  And no matter how many fantastic places I've gotten to see around this globe, this is home.   In love

( Click on this pic to enlarge, then scout out where YOU'D like to go! Trail or not. :)