Sunday, June 30, 2013

FRYday

I asked Fry how much fun he had running with us on the bike trail...
 Time for a nap now?
Or would you rather just hang out in the recliner?
Who's my gorgeous boy?

The New Kid




Friday, June 28, 2013

Sanctuary

It may not look like much more than just a corner of a room, but it's my corner in my room, and so far has turned out to be a surprisingly inspiring nook for my "art studio".
As I continue to delve more deeply into my drawing and painting, I'm sure there will be tweaks made in the layout of the space, but so far it's working out nicely for me. The windows allow lots of natural light during the day, although I have full spectrum overhead lighting as well, with a pleasant view of the back yard. Between the two-drawer cabinet and the storage bin sitting on top if it, I have plenty of easily accessible storage for my art supplies. The small side bookcase (which I sanded and painted myself!) provides convenient access for my pencils, brushes, sketchbooks and reference materials. The chair is comfy, and the desk is adjustable in both height and tilt, and everything is within easy reach. Even though the space is small and minimalistic, I have to admit I'm enjoying having my own little creative sanctuary.


Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Perspective

Why is it sections of trail that I think look so intimidating from the bike always seem to end up appearing so easy and tame through the video camera lens?

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Wordless


Air9

The bike I currently take on my greenway rides is a bit too small for me, so I've been in the market for a new hardtail that fits me a little better. As luck would have it, Niner was having a Demo Day at Lake Crabtree this morning. And since my favorite mountain bike of all time is a Niner - my precious Rip9 - I was excited to go test out their hardtail. They only had the Air9 in carbon available for demoing - the RDO - so I took it for a spin and, no surprise to anyone who knows how much I enjoy my Niner Rip9, I now have a Niner Air9 on order...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Bit by Bit

I've been approaching the New Light mountain bike trail in a piecemeal fashion in order to give myself small accomplishments instead of trying to face the entire challenging trail system all at once which would likely ensure complete discouragement. As such, for the past few months I've been working primarily on the bulk of Sig's Loop - minus the very beginning where Lake Downfall essentially merges into Sig's - starting at approximately the top of Razor Ridge and following the loop along to a bailout to the fire road just before Sig's crosses over into The Gauntlet. On this segment of trail, there are, if I recall correctly, about ten intimidating looking rock/log crossings, not including the multiple smaller routine logs that I can already fairly easily ride. Of these ten large obstacles, two are not yet on my to-do list as they are a bit above my current skill/confidence level. So that leaves eight that I've had on my list to try and accomplish this year. One of those I learned to ride a few months ago and another I learned a couple of weeks ago. Out of the six remaining rock/log crossings on my list to learn this summer, I attempted four this evening and surprised myself by easily cleaning all four. And as to the remaining two? I'm coming for you within the next couple of weeks, weather permitting.

I know it doesn't seem like much, but I am now and have always been very timid when it comes to technical mountain biking - and actually sports in general - so cleaning four new challenging obstacles in one evening is a big deal for me and frankly, I'm pleasantly surprised I was able to find the courage to do it.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tired

I'm so...tired. It isn't any one thing; it's the thousands upon thousands of little things stabbing me in the heart day after day after day. I'm tired of all the bullshit. Tired of seeing how people act and realizing more and more lately that frankly I'd more often than not just prefer not being around humans. Tired of feeling like my whole life is spent trying desperately to swim upstream, and all for nothing. Tired of feeling lost and alone. I feel like I've lost myself. Or was I ever found at all? I can't pinpoint any rhyme or reason for feeling this way - from the outside my life is full and wonderful. I should be happy and thankful. But on the inside there is empty nothingness. And that just makes me feel more sad, knowing I should be filled with gratitude, not emptiness.

Increasingly, it seems there are only these precious pieces of my heart that keep me plodding through every day, surviving purely on my love for them:

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Retreating

Despite having a sort of public blog, surprisingly enough I'm actually a relatively private person. And lately my life has begun to feel somewhat naked and exposed with the overreaching availability of all varieties of social media, which has left me feeling more vulnerable than I'm comfortable with. So as a means of self-nurturing and restoring my spirit, I've decided to "pull the covers over my head" and retreat a bit by permanently deleting the vast majority of my social media profiles. And since I only use the online running and cycling GPS tracker known as Strava for logging my own personal exercise activity, I've set my profile on there to private, unfollowing other athletes and removing those following me. So if you used to be linked to me on any of those applications and find that you now are not, don't take it personally. I'm still biking and still loving it of course, but truthfully I'm less interested in how I stack up to others and more interested in enjoying the journey.

Additionally, I've decided to try my hand at a more creative outlet and have begun attempting to paint. I'm starting out with watercolors and hope to venture into acrylics and oils eventually as well. I clearly did not inherit Mom's natural talent for art so it's doubtful anyone will ever see my creations other than myself and maybe Steve, but I'm finding the process relaxing and fun, and right now that is what really matters.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

New Light

So this evening I rode New Light again. For me, this is one of the toughest mountain bike trails in my local area. There are plenty of things to frighten me about it - grueling root tangled climbs, sketchy descents, rock-littered off camber stretches, intimidating looking log crossings and tight switchback turns.

Since our ride took place after work and I wasn't sure how long it would take me to get through the trail, I only did some of the loops, for a total of just under seven miles of the nearly ten mile total out there. Due to the difficult terrain - as well as the time required for me to dismount and walk over the really scary parts - it had previously taken me nearly 24 minutes just to get through First Loop. That is, until this evening, when I had my best time yet at just over 21 minutes - and that included the time it took to dismount, look at, and then clean, two of the log crossings that had mocked me and scared me out of trying them on prior occasions! Feeling my confidence rising, I even managed to gather up the courage to try some of the rocky creek crossings and a few other logs for the first time tonight as well, and cleaned those too. Lake Downfall proved extremely challenging for me, but I was able to get through some sections I had not made previously, so I felt quite happy about that. And I rode a decent pace, for me anyway, on Sig's Loop and even got through almost all of Razor Ridge without dabbing (need to work on my confidence on that segment for sure), although there are still several log and rock crossings I haven't quite mastered yet. I suspect they look worse than they actually ride, so I plan to try and tackle them gradually during the next few months.
Finishing out my ride, I had my fastest time yet on Easy Street at three and a half minutes. I managed to stay just ahead of John through that loop (actually I think more likely he let me stay ahead of him), but he easily passed me once we popped out onto the fire road and after pushing so hard through the trail, I simply wasn't able to catch him on that final climb.

All in all, it was a good day in the woods, and ever so gradually I'm getting more comfortable facing the challenges of my nemesis, New Light. She is a tough teacher with relentless terrain, but every time I face her, I feel she makes me a better rider.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Fear

If there are two things I know about myself without a doubt, it's these:
1. I'm a chronic worrier and tend to be afraid of many things. If there is a worst case scenario in any situation, I'm sure to focus on it and find something to be frightened of.
2. I am fiercely protective of my dog, and would risk my life to save his if necessary.

Yesterday, I came face to face with both those sides of myself, the fear and the protectiveness. At the same time. In retrospect, it probably wasn't such a big deal, but at the time, I felt fear like I haven't experienced in many, many years. Real, palpable, pulse-pounding fear. And the discovery that indeed I would put myself between my dog and danger, without a moment's consideration of my own safety.

We were out for a short, four-mile, easy mountain bike ride and had stopped at the lake after only a couple of miles to let Fry cool off a bit before continuing back to the parking lot. In the midst of the splashing, I heard a weird chirping, followed by the sound of leaves rustling. Steve and I both turned to look back up at the trail, thinking it was probably another biker riding by.

To my great surprise, there in the middle of the hiking trail down to the lake, was a big ratty looking raccoon making its way rather hastily toward us. A raccoon. In the middle of the afternoon. Chattering angrily, it was hesitatingly but definitively moving right to us. I looked around and grabbed the biggest log I could find and waved it at the critter, putting myself solidly between the raccoon and Fry. Looking back, I don't think I even considered the possibility that the critter might attack me - my only concern was not letting it tangle with my puppy. Meanwhile Steve, thinking very quickly thank goodness, snatched Fry up out of the lake and into his arms. The raccoon seemed completely unimpressed by my impotent log-waving and yelling, and continued moving in our direction before suddenly detouring off toward its right. We pounced on the opportunity and sprinted up toward our bikes, angling away from the raccoon, Fry still curled quietly in Steve's arms, almost like he knew he was being protected.

I jumped on my bike and began pedaling as fast as I ever have, to hopefully encourage Fry to follow me once Steve put him on the ground. All the while, I was keeping a close watch to make sure the raccoon was not following. It wasn't. Once I got a little ways up the trail, Steve got on his bike and sent Fry along to catch up to me. Fortunately, my sweet boy quickly came up beside me and stayed right on my wheel all the way up the insanely steep climb to the top of the trail. Fry would periodically peer back down the trail to make sure Steve was following - he was - but I was relieved to see that my precious pup never left my side.

We took the shortcut and hightailed it out of there, but did stop to notify a friend who lives nearby - and who also rides with his dog - about the raccoon. I have no idea if the thing was rabid, had distemper, or was merely out scouting for food in the afternoon. But I didn't particularly want to hang around and find out.