Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.— Oscar Wilde.
This is the first post on my new blog. I’m just getting this new blog going, so stay tuned for more. Subscribe below to get notified when I post new updates.
I’m not the best winter person…..take that back, I’m really not a freezing kind of girl. I like the warmth and the thought of being outside in sub zero temps really never was something I heard about and said “Heck yea” sign me up! LOL
That said, a seed was planted in my brain back in October. We were looking for an out of the box all girls trip and I threw out Fat Pursuit in the Yellowstone Ecosystem. None of us had ever been and it sounded like something that would be challenging to all levels while still giving us a chance to succeed. PLUS we got to go to an event which in 2020 was a gamble. I started planning, digging and called Jay. Scared and excited were definitely the two emotions that surfaced quickly….could I do it and how would that look? But scared gave me motivation to want to train and ride my bike. I had a goal for the first time in months.
I called my coach and said this is the goal….quickly followed by “I trust Jay and he says that I will be ok”. I wasn’t ready physically but I was getting there mentally. I wanted a shot at it….and wanted that shot badly.
Life has a way of throwing curve balls and this year was no exception. I was invited to the Fat Pursuit Camp with a scholarship…..YEA! But as my clumsy self would do I fell getting out of the car on ice and couldn’t move much less drive 2-3 days in a car. Plan B here we come.
Since we couldn’t get to the camp, and the event was not happening in ID because of COVID we decided to embrace Jay’s COVID Challenge. Nick and I live in the River Bluffs, it’s not the mountains or Yellowstone but we have hills, roads and snow. We threw it out on social media that we were meeting up at Yellow River State Forest and decided to just see what would happen. Happen it DID!
Yesterday was nothing short of an all day adventure that was fun! We had people from three hours away in all directions show up. Kirk truly took the adventure to heart and camped out in the Forest the night before. We laughed, talked, rode fatties and spent the day enjoying the outdoors. Heck we even had people riding fats in the snow for the first time!
Is life always what we think it should be….no. Is there always a plan that we don’t understand…..yes. I wouldn’t have traded yesterday for riding in ID. There is always something to be said for being adaptable and I am really glad that we were.
Next year, I’m going to ID and learning how to camp out in the snow. But for this year my heart is full and I was challenged…..I suspect that is the goal that Jay had all along!
As we slide into the holiday season it is safe to say it is different this year. For me, it is the first year that I won’t attend Church tonight and the first time that I won’t have Thanksgiving with family. BUT in the whole realm of changes for the year these are to be expected.
Gratitude is the attitude that is needed this season and so hard to come by some days. Yes, I’m grateful. I’m grateful for family and friends, love and that I am on this side of the dirt, along with thousands of other things. I’m grateful that my lungs have the ability to push my legs, who are pushing my bike, up a steep hill. I’m grateful for my loving home and family that have supported every choice I’ve made and decision to go to an event even though I know sometimes they think yikes. I’m grateful for my husband who has been my rock and strong post through it all.
Today I posted instead of looking for a mirror become one…..instead of trying to find an inspiration in someone else become and inspiration for others. Yep, it’s hard, requires leadership skills and yep it is dedication vs motivation. Be that person that makes others want to be with you and want to be like you. IMO you can not be that person without gratitude and humility.
This week my first event for 2021 went virtual. It was 100% the right decision but it took the wind out of my sails completely….again. Then I sat and thought about it. Be grateful silly girl, that you have a bike to ride, a beautiful location to ride in at home, and go RIDE! Stop wallowing in self pity and be grateful for what you do have. Pity party was over.
I am doing the Fat Pursuit as a virtual event….probably right here in my home state. I was so excited to go see the Yellowstone Ecosystem in the winter. I was excited to get to see friends again and most of all I was excited for the challenge. Then I started to challenge myself on why I was disappointed as I did hill repeats. Why let it get me down….after all I was pursuing a new challenge and I can do that right here at home! If things work out right I will be joined by two friends in the great white North and we will ride groomed single track and forest roads. Heck I’m even doing a water boil! We will take all precautions and enjoy our day on the bike….full of gratitude!
Life may not always present itself exactly as we think it should. Heck, most of the time it won’t be anywhere close. It is OUR decision how we handle that. This year let’s be the mirror that inspires others.
Happy thanksgiving with extreme gratitude!
Wow….all I know is that 2020 has been a year of weird scenarios and unknown successes. I started out the year of gravel events having the best day on a bike that I could possibly imagine at the Mid South. Mud everywhere and I was grinning ear to ear. Then it all started to unravel.
For me this has been a year of self introspection and looking at what matters at the end of the day. This is not only in cycling but also in my personal and professional life. During all of that self evaluation I found the following:
1. Its ok to be confused.
2. It’s ok to be have to find new motivation and maybe no motivation.
3. It’s ok to know to say I don’t know.
4. It’s ok to ask for help.
5. It’s ok to be proud of yourself and it’s also ok to just want to sit in a corner by yourself.
6. It’s ok to try new things….you might really love them.
7. It’s ok to get mad.
8. It’s ok to know that we don’t all agree on the same things.
Why write all of this down? I think sometimes I need to hear that others have struggles also. You are not alone my friends….we are all in this together.
I can remember the first time I heard a cyclist that I admired breathing hard at the top of a hill…..seriously you get winded also was my thought?! We are all in this together…..it’s ok to stand alone and find what works for you, but at the end of the day….it’s more than ok to call one another up and say “HI, how was your day” and end the call with “I love you.”
Pretty much all of 2020 could be described this way for most of us….if you are in the bike industry and trying to host events this most definitely would describe your year. BUT it also has made us stronger as riders and changed the way we look at things….or at least it has for me.
Nick and I love the Northwoods! That area is on the short list of places we would like to live when the boys are raised, and that time is getting close! We had a week of time this last week with no plans so we decided LET’S GO NORTH!
On the drive up I saw on social media that the Cheq Challenge was on. Hold on…..we can ride the Short and Fat course on our own and still donate money to the CAMBA trail system and Lifetime Foundation!? Sign me up!!! The course is marked and you get a GPX file so finding your way is a piece of cake. (Link at the bottom in case you would like to do the same).
Every event this year has tried to take the situation that they have been handed, with COVID19, and make something out of it. Peter and the crew did just that and more for us! The short and fat course was about 16 miles of fun. It was challenging enough to make you think you had accomplished something and still had sections that left you grinning from ear to ear and hoping for more! Not only that, but for us it was short enough that Red Dog could join us.
On course I was riding downhill and heard the familiar sound of a stick hitting my rear tire. I stopped instantly and removed the stick, climbed back on and WHOA I was hardly able to pedal…shifting was out. After a closer inspection we found that the cable to the rear derailleur was torn off the bike….well that SUCKS! I could have ridden over that stick 1,000 more times with no problems and no ripped wires but that one time was all it took on that particular day. And the face you make when that happens….
But in all seriousness all I could do was learn how to embrace the problem and ride single speed back to the truck. Six miles left, big climbs on the Birkie and we are off still smiling! I never have been someone to ride slowly downhill but now I could not pedal uphill so time to let it “eat” on the downhills and get as far up the hill as I could before I had to walk. (For those that don’t know the Birkie…it is an infamous cross country ski trail that is essentially intervals on the bike. Uphill followed by a downhill and right back up) After some playing around I actually started having true fun again……Just another time to make some lemonade out of the situation at hand.
How was our day on the Short and Fat course…..it was everything we could have asked for and more. We saw two sets of ATV/UTV on the trail, zero cars and zero other riders. We had the course to ourselves to ride at the pace that we wanted. Red Dog had not done anything that long before and we watched him take in the sights and sounds of the trail. Truly it was one of the more fun days I have had on the bike! It was the second “event” of the year and every bit as much fun as we would have had with all of our friends there….it was just different.
Oh and when the swag has HillyAF on it….yea bring your climbing legs because it is true! There was 2500 feet of gain in the 16 miles that we rode!
This has been a year of ups and downs, strange things and for some disappointments. If you look in the right spots I think this has been a year of growth and opportunity. We have been given time to spend with loved ones that we would not have had in our previous busy lives. We have also had time to explore new options in the biking world. If you are looking for such an option that is somewhat familiar maybe and still different…..here is the link. Sign up, go ride and see for yourselves why we love it so. https://www.cheqmtb.com/cheq-challenge/
And while you are there check out our friends at ROAM adventure base camp. We came to Hayward expecting to stay for two nights and ended up staying all week. Literally right out the door are the trails and gravel….PLUS there are great showers and a sauna. Who doesn’t love that luxury while on vaca? Camping not your thing….no worries they have you covered with great cabins also! I promise you will love it! https://roambasecamp.com/
Was this a year of trying to make fun out of a situation that was not fun….you bet. Can it be done…..YES! I mean look at that smile!
And Red Dog says “when you get swag at your first event….you wear that all the way home!”
Everyone talks about the romanticism of loading their bike up and taking off for a long weekend. We throw that idea around a lot at our house and with friends….about two months ago, after races had been cancelled and everyone was feeling pretty down, I threw out the idea of an all girls weekend of bike packing to friends. Both immediately said YES! We chose the Manistee National Forest as our destination for the first weekend in August.
To me, my Salsa Cutthroat never looks cooler than when it is loaded down for a weekend of bike packing. I used a Salsa Anything Cradle and dry bag for my handlebars, Blackburn Seat Bag and Salsa Frame bag. My feed bags are by Pro Bike Gear. My Garmin 830 was my bike GPS along with a Garmin InReach should we have trouble.
We loaded everything we needed on the bikes for three days and two nights of fun. Matt Acker, a fellow Salsa Athlete and elite ultra endurance cyclist, had put together a killer route for us through the Manistee National Forest. Thanks Matt!!!!
To say stoke level was high would be an understatement! Swimming, cycling, camping and laughs were in order!
I’ve never been great at following routes…..no worries, this was a suggestion and the first day we found our own roads during the day also. We even got to carry our bikes through the woods bushwacking at one point! 🙂
One of the great parts about riding in a National Forest is that dispersed camping is completely legal and encouraged. For us, that was a good thing on the first night. We ended up camping in a fern grove without anyone else in sight!
It would not be Michigan though to not say it was sandy…..however, this only added to the fun of riding loaded down!
Day two I was sick and decided that the climbing and sand involved was only going to further slow me and my group down. For that reason I ventured off on my own….found my own roads, rode at my own pace and headed for Bear Track Campground just outside of Dublin. BUT first I had to stop at the C-Store for some much needed sugar and caffeine!
Night two everyone was exhausted…we all bedded down in our tents to have the most restless night of the trip. Trash Pandas, or better known as raccoons, raided our camp. They even customized my Orange Mud Endurance Pack for me….thanks guys!
No worries though….the next morning held promise of a real meal (not dehydrated and not in a bag), a C-Store or two and getting back to the car. We were up and at it early! I won’t lie….that first taste of the omlette was out of this world!
I think all of us get bogged down in the details from time to time. We know that we want to go bike packing but don’t know how to get out the door. My goal when I asked Katie and Jana about going was to just go….let the chips fall where they fall and have fun. We accomplished that and more.
We rode about 160 miles in the three days. The weather was excellent and the bikes performed flawlessly. We were not there to count the miles but to spend time doing something that we loved with our bikes…..the miles were great but the smiles and memories will last a lifetime.
This year has been hard for me to train for and harder to continue staying focused…..I also suspect I’m not alone in that statement. Bike packing has given all three of us this weekend an outlet that we can do at any time with our families. Everyone at the end of the weekend said “I can’t wait to go again!”
If bike packing is something you want to try I would encourage you to go do so! Try it at home for one night and see how you like it. Pick a route that you know you can ride a loaded bike on….don’t try to set PRs and climb the biggest hills you can, unless you are that kind of person. 🙂
Go see what it holds for you….I’m betting that you will love it! I know we did!
One of the most common questions we are asked is “why do you go live off grid for two weeks each summer with your kids?”
Imagine two weeks where you see no one else but your immediate family……your cell phone doesn’t work and most of the time the only thing on the agenda for the day is what you want there to be.
We get up with the sun, ride bikes and go to bed as soon as the embers burn low on the camp fire. Life really is pretty simple…actually very simple. There are no worries about who is running where, what time practice is or what bills need paid. It is as simple as just enjoying what is right in front of you.
As a family we load up our bikes, one bag for gear per person and food then head as far into the National Forest as we can get. Our trailer, Matilda, is up for any adventure! We have a roof top tent on the trailer and the kids each have their own tent.
Everyone having their own space is great until we get deep into grizzly country. This year we spent two nights with the highest population of grizzly bear in the lower forty eight states. During that time we stayed in two forest service cabins. Talk about luxury! When the weather is 44 degrees for a high and cold rain a fire is just what the doctor ordered. There were smiles all the way around as the heat took the chill out of the air!
Have you ever camped somewhere that your whole day all you did was chase shade around the trailer? Yep, that was our time on the western slope of the Big Horn Mountains….but that didn’t stop us. We rode every day through the red dirt!
Why do we go escape from reality? I think everyone needs that from time to time and how you accomplish it is personal. For me, spending time where no one can reach me, with those I love most, is the best form of therapy that there is. There is nothing like waking up looking out of my tent window seeing the mountains!
If you haven’t experienced life in a simple format I highly recommend it! The camping is free, food you eat anyway and the memories….they last a lifetime!
I’m normally a pretty chill kind of person. I have worked on the road photographing horse shows for 25 years and learn to adapt to situations with high level pros…..not much phases me. In steps COVID19!
We started out the year on Plan A….went to Mid South, had a blast and came home with heavy hearts. Things were still looking OK and I had not idea what an impact the next few months would have. Needless to say we blew through Plan B-K in about two weeks.
I am a social person when I choose to be but I am also an introvert. I am very content to camp for weeks at a time in the woods with my family and without another soul around. I can curl up with a book and not talk to anyone all day for days BUT I can also turn around and stand in a crowd having the same conversation over and over. I’ve learned in the last three months that I am more social than I ever imagined.
I have learned bike events are my inspiration. I will never podium or win any event but it is my chance to take on an adventure, toe the line and find out what my limit is that day. Honestly the thrill of toeing the line will never get old to me. You can FEEL the excitement and buzz in the air. And this year, there is none of that. There is no high hugging your friends or cheering them on while on course…..no smiles and tears of accomplishment.
I have struggled with the loss of that. I had the perfect season lined up…fun events everywhere and at least one great challenge a month. I had it set! I struggled at first as we learned what our new days looked like. Times that I should have been logging hours upon hours on my bike all I wanted to do was be with my family and stay close to home. SO NOT ME!
It did not take long for my family to blow through all of our backup plans. We are adaptive but dang, how many dutch oven breads can you bake? One day we learned that it was okay to say it stunk. It was okay to be mad and okay to be sad. That was the turning point for us.
I found that riding with my Garmin was intrusive to me. I didn’t want the data anymore nor did I really want to be coached at that time. I reached out to Jason and said “I need to just be me for a bit. No coaching, no data, and just time to find myself”. I found that I needed time to focus on what was now important in my life, and it was not necessarily all the same things that it was the month before.
Someone sent me a meme referring to what we have for normal now and what is lacking in importance from before that we won’t rush back to. We all have those things in our lives that drive us but we when don’t have them……yea life is grand without them. For me, it was spending time being “busy” but not spending quality time with my children and family. I learned in this time that we can go for a ten mile ride together and it doesn’t matter that the hill repeats waited a day, we can spend time playing board games or just talking and I can run in the morning. I took time to really look at my life in a way that I had not for a long time.
As we ease back into our “normal” lives my goal is to not forget the things that I had time to find while we were staying at home. I want to remember the joys that I had riding my bike with no metrics, exploring new roads and finding time to just go be me on the bike. Heck, I rode more than I had before! I want to remember that really all of this is about finding the adventure that awaits us.
It was a challenge and it was hard to do the right thing eating and exercising. Some days I did nothing and ate like a person who had no idea what calories were about…but that’s ok. It will be worked off and I know the only one who can do that is me. Some days I have high highs and low lows and sometimes it happens in the same day. The uncertainty of it all is staggering at times. I don’t know if I will have a job tomorrow much less when we will be able to begin working again. I get it……but I got to spend time with my family and that is a blessing!
Life is full of ups and downs. What we make of those is our decision. Much like when we find our dark spot on course….we decide how we work through that. We’ve all been there and we all do it differently but we all come out the other side. This has been a time that I got to put some deposits in my mentally tough cookie jar and I look forward to getting to use them!
Keep smiling, keep finding the good in it all and above all find the adventure on a bike that made us grow to love them in the first place. I can’t wait to see you all out there again soon! Until then “Country roads lead me home, to the place that I belong…”
To say we are in unprecedented times would be an understatement….no crowds larger than ten, safe lockdown in our homes, fear of the unknown and not knowing what is next. Welcome to the Covid19 pandemic.
One of the things that I have been most blessed with is becoming an ambassador for companies who support their athletes. Last week, Orange Mud athletes threw out a David Goggins challenge….the 4x4x48. We run, bike, walk or move for 20-45 minutes every four hours for 48 hours. Thirteen workouts in 48 hours….with interrupted sleep!
I knew instantly that I wanted in. I am a goal motivated person and since Mid South every event on my schedule has been cancelled until the end of May. Training is hard when there is no definitive date that we will be together racing again. This challenge gave me the perfect opportunity to “step up”.
I posted on social media that I was doing it and would anyone local like to join in. Shodi and Molly both instantly said….I’m IN! The chase and challenge was on!
We are not supposed to be within six feet of each other but that is one beautiful part of social media. We made live videos, posted photos and talked our way through this challenge from all across the country! We involved only ourselves or maybe we involved our entire family for a trip out……no matter what we were moving and had something positive to think about!
During the 48 hours that we “moved” together we found new friends, learned things about ourselves and saw others through new eyes. Us local ladies ran and rode through rain, tornadoes, wind, gorgeous night skies and even one time of sun….but mostly crap weather. See Mother Nature even said she was up for a good challenge!
You don’t have to have a crowd of people doing the same activity in the same place to be challenged. You don’t have to be side by side to find an activity that motivates you. A group of people got together and said “lets do this” and we did!
When I type the hashtag #myadventureredefinedme it is true! The adventure has been different than I ever thought possible. Who knew four years ago I would be getting out of bed at 12:00 and 4:00 a.m. to go run or ride my bike? Yep at first I grumble and then the smile starts when I realize how lucky I truly am to have a goal that will give me a mental deposit in the bank for tougher days ahead.
Looking for something new to try? Make the challenge your own…..maybe a 6x6x36 or 9x9x72? Don’t want to ride or run….do TRX or body weight challenges. Find something that moves you outside of your comfort zone and go do it!
We live in a world where negative can be the norm….let’s face it, it’s easy to complain when things don’t go our way. Our family has made a choice to take responsibility for our actions, choose our friends wisely and know that the decision starts within our home walls.
Health…..We decided we wanted to eat healthy. I mean after all if you are going to exercise 15-20 hours a week then make it count. You can not out exercise what you put in the pie hole. Eating healthy is something that has never come completely natural to me and it requires choices each and every day. Some days are better than others and yes there are days, weeks, I cheat it. Those decisions….they all start with me.
Happiness…..Everyone says that they want to be happy. I think it is what we want not only for ourselves but what we want for those we love. Sometimes, we want it so much for those we love that we forget to make ourselves happy in the process. If training has taught me nothing else, it is that I need “my” time. I need the two to fours a day on the bike or my feet sorting my feelings out. I learned early on that I had to find a “tribe” that understood my goals and what getting there took. My friends are people that are also upbeat and happy. Since getting out of an abusive relationship years ago I have become very aware of how fast a negative situation can suck energy out of me and those that I love. There are times that it is unavoidable but I do everything I can to choose happiness. The choice to be happy…..it starts with me.
Community……It has been my goal since I was sponsored by Salsa to help newcomers find cycling. The great thing about freedom on a bike is it as unique as the people who find it. There are literally bikes and adventures for every variety of rider. Last year we hosted no drop group rides at the start of events. We had riders from all over the nation who would come and ride. Some had never ridden gravel before that time and would come back into town yelling woohooo down the hills. All I could think was YES there is another addict to the gravel scene. When you hear a rider saying quietly “I can do hard things, I can do hard things” as she rides up the hill….yep she did it that day! I know that continuing that connection…..it starts with me.
Dedication….I have to have dedication long after motivation. Motivation is great and I need it don’t get me wrong….but the days I am not motivated I have to be dedicated. I signed up for a 50K at Mid South….WHAT WAS I THINKING! I have questioned myself out loud, socially and in my brain for the last two weeks. The distance that day doesn’t scare me but man the time training…ugh. I get bored and lack motivation. When I ride I have taught myself no talking to yourself in a way you wouldn’t talk to your best friend and no negative words out loud. SO I turned that on to the running/walking scene. I had a huge self talk this week about what I needed for dedication. It’s an easy word to throw around but really hard to do sometimes. I know that if I want to finish that 50k with my son…..it starts with me!
We all have the ability to make huge changes in our lives, the lives of our loved ones and those we see on a daily basis. Heck, we can even motivate those we only know on a computer screen. But that happens with our choices each and every day. And in my case….yep….it starts with me!
See you out there!
The most common theme when I talk to someone about an event that has never been is I can’t really race so I don’t want to go…..Those words have ALWAYS struck me as odd. Yep, we have some killer photos of me at events with a wth did I do look on my face. And yes, I will never podium at a major event. Really my “racing” is just against myself and the course.
I’m a back of the pack rider at every event…..I know that the front of the pack leaders are racing to win and I am a little jealous on inside that I can not be one of them. My competitive spirit is alive and well, watching them go up a hill standing up on their pedals gives me goosebumps….heck it gives makes the hairs stand up on my arms when they take off! As much as I know I will never win I also know that I never want to quit trying!
There is so much more to an event that the podium. To me, it is a race against myself. Truly the only one I have to beat is ME! And that’s enough most days. Sure, I try to catch the person in front of me and I try not to talk negative things in my head when someone passes me on a hill. That’s human nature I think. But the “race” happens hand in hand with the adventure.
It’s not every day that someone lays out a course through remote gravel roads for you to ride. It’s also not every day that thousands of your closest friends will ride that same route with you. Go experience what each location has to offer. One of the great things about gravel is it different in every part of the US. Some locations are sandy while others are clay and still others large rcoks that want to slice your tires. The common factor though is the people.
The Land Run 100 in 2018 was my first large gravel event. I was told about the “gravel family” and what a stellar experience it would be. What I was not told was that I would leave smiling ear to ear and make friends that are still people I talk to regularly today. EVERYONE was SO NICE! I was about two miles from the finish line that year and the leader of the LR100 blew by me on the last hill like I was standing still, BUT he yelled “Almost home Crystal!!! loudly and with conviction. If I had the “I can’t race attitude” I would have never gone. But it was an adventure to me and one that I can not wait to do every year. The Mid South is my first event of the year this year and I am STOKED!!
I have no definitive answers on why the gravel tribe is where I belong and where I want to be. I can’t explain the amazement that I feel when the only thing I can hear is the crunch of my bike tire on gravel. I also can not explain how freeing it is to me when the only thing left for me to do that day is hydrate, eat and keep moving forward. Yep….life gets that simple on my “races”. It’s an adventure every time….and every time is different.
The back of the pack has people who are WAYYYYY outside of their comfort zones. Maybe it is their first event and maybe it is the twentieth but they are giving it their all and doing what they can to get to the finish line. Take the time to say hi, learn their stories, dig a little deeper with them.
One of the things I am most proud of in 2019 was not the 5,100 miles I rode or the battles I won with myself. In 2019, I told EVERY person that I passed or that passed me “Good job, looking great, almost home, We got this” or something similar…..it was my private goal to bring something positive to everyone out on course.
I hope I never lose the wide eyed, blue eyed distant stare, that I have when a race starts. I hope that I never lose the adrenaline rush of going down a big hill or the thrill of seeing my friends on course. But most of all I hope I never lose the will to try something new…..heck I tried gravel and look at the things it has brought to my life!