Moving Forward

Over the last week I’ve slowly become more functioning. It was somewhere around Thursday before I felt like I was finally not crying for more of the day than I was crying. I really appreciate all of the kind and supportive comments, messages, texts, and emails.
Basically what happened was, sometime probably Friday after I left for Land Run 100, Turbo ate something in the back yard that made her sick on Saturday. She had bad vomiting/diarrhea, and Ryan ended up taking her to the dog ER Saturday night, where they kept her and gave her all of her heart meds and fluids intravenously. The diagnosis was gastroenteritis, which a normal dog would usually bounce back from with supportive care. However, given her heart disease and pneumonia, she didn’t bounce back, and by Monday morning, she was hardly able to walk.

There’s a big brown, furry empty space in every corner of my house.

Alright, enough about the really sad stuff.

I’m heading to Colorado today. My Subaru is packed floor to ceiling, and I spent all night excitedly tossing and turning, waiting for it to be late enough to get out of bed (4:15am, in case you’re wondering). Once I’m there, I’ll unpack and repack to leave for Moab for Team Camp. It’s about to get freakin’ rowdy.

If you don’t already, I’d suggest following along on Instagram and/or Twitter. Facebook is kind of a joke with their “pages.” They tend to not show posts to everyone in order to make you pay to “boost” a post. I basically only put blog links on there. Day-to-day random stuff goes elsewhere.

So, everything that’s happened in the last week puts this song in my head-

No matter how much you feel like your world is falling down and collapsing in around you, life still progresses. The Earth still turns, time still chugs forward. It will either drag you along through the dirt as it goes, or you can hop on and ride it like the misbehaving pony it is.

 

Hiatus

Sorry, the posting here is going to be even more scarce than what it already was. I went to Land Run 100 over the weekend, and I’ll post a link on social media to my audio race report once we record one for Mountain Bike Radio.

While I was in Oklahoma, Turbo, my 13-year-old Malinois with heart disease and chronic pneumonia took a very sudden and drastic turn for the worse, and I ended up having to put her to sleep yesterday morning. I don’t really know what else to say…

If we all strived to be the people that our dogs think we are, the world would be a totally different place.

Old Phone Throwback

I was doing factory resets on a couple of old phones yesterday, and I found a few 2010-ish photos on one of them. So, in honor of the hokey internet tradition of “Throwback Thursday,” here’s my collection of random flip phone photos:

That time that Matt R. passed out and we drew on him with a dry-erase marker. We thought we were being super nice by using non-permanent ink.

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He’s a Doctor of Physical Therapy now. We’re all pretty proud.

Next, there’s Amanda Carey smoking a peace pipe (irony) after she won the Mohican 100. That’s the year that I blew up my drivetrain twice and DNF’d. I also cracked my Air 9 (scandium) frame… which led me into the awesome world of singlespeeding.

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Speaking of Singlespeeding, that summer, I went to Colorado for the first time. I raced Marathon Nationals (my first singlespeed race) and won a bronze medal, then raced the Breck 100 (first singlespeed 100) and was the only SS female to finish (but not the only one to start).

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The Breck pump track was good times.

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In between those two races, I raced my first (and only) Super D (won my age group and was 2nd overall) and met my future coach (dude on the far end of the chair) and got to giggle at Deejay blasting downhill on a Jet9 and ringing his bike bell at dudes in full DH kit on huge bikes.

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I fell in love with this…

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Going further back (I had that phone for a while)- My first time in Mountain View, AR. It was actually in June of 2009 (I told you this would be a random list). How I got there? I’d gone to Lake Sylvia to ride gravel. I accidentally poked a hole in the oil pan of my car. My parents happened to be in Arkansas looking at cabins, so they came and rescued me and my bike. I rode some gravel from the place where we stayed and was chased by many dogs.

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I found pics of Thor, the smartest/worst cat ever, when he was a baby:

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And, a reminder of one of my least-favorite mountain bike wrecks when I hit my face on a tree at Herb Parson’s lake.

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I’d taken the pictures trailside because I couldn’t figure out what was bleeding.

So, there’s my little trip through memory lane. Some of you who are newer readers may enjoy checking out the whole stories I linked to. I know I enjoyed them thoroughly.

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Finally Snow (not sleet) Days

Last week, we had what’s hopefully the crux of our winter weather in the South. Overnight and well into the morning hours, we received a swath of sleet followed by 4-5 inches of snow. Indy was not amused when he got up for his 5am potty…

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Though the windchill was somewhere near 20 degrees, Ryan, Matt, and I went out for a snow ride. It was somewhat precarious at times. Any place that cars had driven on the road, the snow had packed down into icy ruts. However, we were able to make it safely out to Shelby Farms. Any place where the ground surface was gravel or pavement was pretty easy to ride on. The slow-going parts were the dirt, which was still soft and muddy beneath the snow  in any low-lying areas because of warm monsoons the previous days. Flat pedals were a smart idea.

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What would normally have taken about an hour to ride ended up taking a surprisingly strenuous 2.5 hours. The rest of the day was spent hiding under blankets and watching season 18 of The Ultimate Fighter.

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The next day was a gorgeous Colorado-esque scene of snow/bluebird skies. Ryan decided to go in to work (as opposed to working from home the previous day), so Matt and I, in lieu of being stir-crazy, went out for a snow walk (the road conditions were worse for riding, and the ground under the snow was still too soaked for a good off-road ride). At the park near the house, I practiced snow-jitsu and rolled a gigantic snowball until it became nearly too heavy to move.

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Total snow-rookie move? I got sunburned pretty bad on my face. At least I was wearing some good, dark glasses.

Now, it’s mild and damp. I don’t think I’ve seen the sun since I took these pictures. It’s just been ~50-60 degrees and raining most of the time. To put this winter’s terrible weather in perspective, the trails have been too wet to ride since Valentine’s Day, and there’s no dry end in sight. They’re totally saturated now, and it’s still intermittently rainy.

Matt, John, and I went to Herb Parson’s Lake last week before the snow and did some draining/repair on a couple of miles of trail, but the effort might be akin to using an icepick to break apart a glacier.

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Ruts like the ones above were on the length of the entire trail (not just in the low spots… I’m talking the entire section of trail that we walked). At least a couple of people had said “eff it” and ridden despite the ground saturation. Our turnaround point was this culvert, which had become blocked with leaves, forcing the water over the top and washing away the surface dirt.

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We unblocked the flow and dug a downstream hole to re-cover the pipes.

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Hopefully the areas we repaired are OK. There were a couple of groups of riders who went to the trail on the snow day. Given the sogginess of what we briefly rode at Shelby Farms, it’s possible that the wet mud repairs we made were tracked through. It’s also possible that the ground was a little more frozen at the lake than what we found in town. Hoping for the latter.

 

Indoor Training

First off, I’m trying out a new WordPress theme. Comment here, on twitter, or on the Facebook page and let me know what you think.

Now, back to the weekend’s shenanigans.

Continuing my quest to maintain a healthy level of physical activity in the ongoing crap weather, I filled my weekend with various sorts of indoor activities. Riding was, again, an hour trainer ride with some intervals. That strategy seems to be doing a good job of maintaining my lactate threshold-related fitness level, and keeping to short and focused sessions makes them mentally bearable. Saturday afternoon, I went to an afternoon inversion workshop at Pike Yoga

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Though I haven’t practiced inversions in at least a year, the core strength I’ve gained from MMA/Jiu Jitsu made it much easier to balance upside down compared to the last time I was practicing inversions regularly.

Afterwards, I went home and made some dinner and watched the UFC 184 PPV- Rousey vs. Zingano. If you haven’t read about/heard/watched, I’d suggest a quick google search… The fight was 14 seconds long. I have to admit, in my bike racing “career” of going-on 9 years, on more than one occasion, I’ve felt the same way as Cat Zingano at the end of her fight… there’s a big difference between doing your best but still getting beaten and outright losing via your own mistake(s). That’s when experience is more of a motherf$#!^r than a teacher.

P.S. If you’re a fight fan, I’d suggest finding a replay of Friday night’s Invicta FC11 Strawweight bout between Alexa Grasso (6-0) vs. Mizuki Inoue (8-3). It’s one of my favorite fights I’ve watched since the upset/title fight between Dillashaw & Barao.

Sunday morning, I woke up early and carpooled over to LDMA in Sherwood, Arkansas for an awesome Jiu Jitsu training day. It was a ton of fun to train with some other women who were similar in size and ability to myself. Highlight of the day… being told by a guy that my guard was “ridiculous.” (in an “I can’t get out of this” sort of way)

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Quick lesson- if you have no idea what I’m talking about, look at these pictures. If you’re holding someone “in your guard,” you’re the person on your back, and the person between your legs is trying to get out, or “pass” your guard.

Between the yoga and the Jiu Jitsu, I felt wonderfully sore all over Monday morning. It’s been a long time since I felt that way, and I’ve missed the hell out of it. Today, I get to continue the cross-training with John and Matt. It’s been winter monsooning here, and the first local race of the season is scheduled for March 28th, so we’re going to go to the trail with shovels and drain any standing water so that it’s got a fighting chance of being dry enough for racing.

Up next? We’re under a winter storm warning tomorrow. Again.

Santos Vacation 2015

Oh gawd, it’s been forever since I posted something. Partially because of the trip I’m about to write up, and partially because I’ve been busy doing all sorts of random things with dogs and my car, which are both in various states of sickness.

If you’ve been reading along, you saw that I recently had to deal with Turbo, my 13 year old Belgian Malinois, nearly dying from side effects of the onset of heart failure. She’s stable and happy now, but the cost of emergency and follow-up care vaporized the budget I’d set aside in my mind for taking a foul weather-escaping trip to the Santos Trails in Florida. Then, Wednesday night last week, I was at my parents’ house when I mentioned how bad the weather was going to be (again) and, while I was glad Turbo was doing ok, I really needed some long training hours that I just wasn’t going to gut out in the slush here in Memphis.

My mom said she’d like to go to Florida. I took her up on it, and, early Friday morning, we were literally outrunning a sleet storm to get ourselves down to Ocala.

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Saturday, I had to make morning trip to Target to cheaply replace the hydration pack I’d left at home (again).

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Once I hit the trail, I rode out and back along some of the OMBA Epic Ride route. The best maps I’ve been able to find are on this page, though none of them show 100% of what’s there. I stopped along the way to visit folks racing the Santos 12 hour. I was slightly tempted to race, but glad decided to just go out and have fun instead. I found Dicky immediately following his discovery that he and his teammate were in a podium spot and actually had to concentrate on racing.

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I also saw some old school components

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I quickly discovered that the trail was covered in a much-thicker-than-last-year layer of fallen live oak leaves.

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They’re super slick, so the turns were occasionally treacherous. Live oak trees are some of the most beautiful living things on the planet, though, so they’re totally worth the leaf surfing. I sort of hate posting pictures of them, because a camera phone doesn’t come close to capturing their enormity.

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By the time I made it back through the race course area, I was out of water. I stopped and wanted to beg for some in the pits, but everyone was somehow distracted by racing or partying, so I just took this picture and left.

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I made it a point to reserve a nice room with a kitchen so that I could cook healthy meals for my mom and myself. Meal #1 was steak and broccoli (I added some bread toasted with olive oil for a few extra carbs).

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Sunday’s adventure started with a little sightseeing. We drove west a ways and checked out the Gulf of Mexico.

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Since I didn’t want to ride as long that day, I had my mom drop me off at the far west end of the trail system at the Pruitt trailhead. I found out from this scenic spot where the trailhead gets its name:

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I had calculated that my ride would take around 3 hours, so I drew directions on a map for my mom and told her I’d be at the east end of the trail around 3:30. My plan was to have her pick me up at the Greenway Bikes shop. When I arrived, it was exactly 3:30, and I went inside to purchase a beer and sat around enjoying the sun and waiting on my mom.

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My mom proceeded to get very lost while she tried to find the shop. The shop closed at 4, though one of the shop guys stuck around until 4:30 because he was trying to be nice. I shooed him off and found a shady spot. Around 5:something, the shop owner, Dano, pulled up. We chatted some, and he was nice, though, he asked me where I was from and where I was staying and why I was waiting around at least three different times. He offered to split a Victory V12 with me, so I didn’t stress his apparent lack of sobriety too hard.

My mom eventually found the shop. Dano was still there, and, in the course of his repeated asking of where are you from/where are you staying/where are you going to dinner tonight, my mom, being the proper Southern woman that she is, though obviously a little uncomfortable dealing with someone who was less than sober, asked him, “where are you from?” He replied back with a crude answer about his mother’s anatomy… to my sweet, proper, Southern, 70ish year-old mom.

Given the absolute absurdity of the situation, I found it to be pretty hilarious at the time, though, looking back, I somewhat regret not losing my shit with the dude and telling him to apologize for being an ass.

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Needless to say, if you’re at Santos, keep your moms away from Greenway Bikes.

At least the beer was good.

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That night, we had chicken thighs and green beans with a spicy mustard & yogurt sauce (the sauce was my mom’s idea).

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I was stoked that I’d picked up a little vitamin D while I was out.

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My third and final day was the long one. Since I’d stopped for photos and navigation on the previous days, I decided that I’d only stop once an hour for a food break (the Target pack didn’t have hip pockets, so I had to take it off of my back to get to my food). I rode to the far end of the trail system and back- approximately 32 miles out and 23 miles back. I did stop to take a look at this guy along the way:

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I also stopped when I wrecked at mile 52.5 of 54.5. Leaf surfing is only one mph away from leaf teleporting. Back at the trailhead, I ate a snack and cooled off a bit. I still had a good bit of daylight, so I wanted to go back out and ride a lap of the Vortex Loop- the tech loop a couple of miles from the main trailhead.

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While I was trying to figure out where the loop started, I met Tim, the owner of Spokes mobile bike shop. We chatted a bunch and he showed me a lap of the trail. I like the bermy fast stuff that makes up 98% of the trails at Santos, but the Vortex loop feels a little like Arkansas. Tim and I made a hot lap and headed back to the main trailhead. I ended up with nearly 6 hours of riding for the day… a great way to finish off the 3-day vacation.

Outside of Florida, the South wasn’t doing so well.

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I wished that we could have stayed there way longer. The sun and opportinity to train hard on fun trails temporarily hoisted me up from my baseline of mild depression, so it was a mental vacation as much as it was a physical one.

The weather in Memphis is still pretty terrible (as it is most places that aren’t Florida). I’ve only ridden once since I came back, though I’ll probably hit the trainer this morning before going to an inversion workshop at Pike Yoga.

The light at the end of my cold, dark tunnel?

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We’d originally discussed my Colorado sabbatical beginning the first week of April. However, Jon Davis (owner of 92Fifty), scheduled the 92Fifty Moab camp for March 26th-29th, and he wants me there A)because they need a mechanic to work on participant bikes, and B)it will give me a chance to meet and bond with the people who come to the shop most often.

That’s not to say it won’t be cold when we return to the mountains after camp, but the sun is bright there, so I don’t think it will be too bad.

Adventuring in the Covington Pike Bottoms

The weather in Memphis has been totally normal this week… that is to say, we rode in short sleeves on Saturday, and on Monday, we awoke to piles of sleet on the ground.

Sticking with our theme of being bored with the same trails (and knowing that since the weather was great on Saturday that those same trails would be packed), Matt and I struck out to explore what local cyclists call the “Epic” trails. More often, they’re referred to as the Covington Pike Bottoms, and they’re equally as popular for ATV pilots as our usual Shelby Farms trails are for runners, hikers, and cyclists. It’s basically a bunch of tracks through the woods along the south side of the Wolf River (and, as you venture westward, crossing to the north and continuing on towards the Mississippi). They stay incredibly muddy year round because of the ATV traffic, though when it hasn’t rained for a couple of weeks, you can pick your way around the bogs and have a pretty nice adventure.

As of Saturday, it was very slow going- the ratio of good riding to “picking around wheel-deep mudholes” was about equal. A summer drought is normally your best chance for a higher ratio of riding-to-bogging. We still had a good out and back adventure, though… occasionally stopping to watch ATV drivers and whatnot.

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On the way back, we were stopped at a neighborhood trail entrance by the Memphis Police. More accurately, two cops were arresting ATV drivers as they emerged from the woods and into a neighborhood where the residents were fed up with loud, somewhat drunken jackasses going 50mph up the street and slinging mud all over the place. One cop told us to get on someplace else because they were going to go in and get more people out. We found a suitable detour, though, and stopped to make friends with people we met along the trail back to where we’d started.

As is customary for all weekend blog posts, we met with friends to watch the UFC Fight Night at El Toro Loco. Matt made a matching shirt buddy while Torian and I made fun of individuals who exemplified our respective racial stereotypes.

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Sunday the weather transitioned from nice to arctic-ish. People battened down the hatches in preparation for a winter storm that would eventually dump several inches of sleet across Tennessee. We took an evening adventure to WalMart and speculated a purchase of a fatbike, but decided against it. It was an entertaining trip, nonetheless.

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Screw the milk, bread, and batteries…

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The storm system didn’t disappoint, if it was buckets of sleet you were dreaming about.

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I was happy to have a chance to test out my all wheel drive vehicle

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High quality entertainment right there.

I was tempted a couple of times to go ride, but ended up deciding against it because A) in order to not get hit by a stupid driver, you’d need to drive to a trail to ride, and B) it’s solid ice… not snow. It’d be like riding on a rutted hockey rink. I’ll stick to trainer rides and donut-ing my car in parking lots.

Rides and Dog-Kid Problems

The thought of leaving a “new” trail unexplored was too much to bear, so on Wednesday, Matt and I met John on the Wolf River Trail and adventured our way back out to find the end of the Nutbush Highway (see previous posts). After some sidewalk riding and light bushwhacking, we did, indeed reach our goal.

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(If you don’t recognize it, that’s the bridge that I was monkey-ing around on in my last post).

It seems as though the Nutbush Highway ends at JFK Park, though we didn’t fully explore all corners of possible exits because John needed to get going. One more trip may be in order. The woods along the Wolf River get severely squished near the next main road to the west, so it’s highly likely that we found what’s at least very close to the end.

Views from the ride back…

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Matt and I dropped John off at his car and continued riding. The magic of the day continued when I found that my sample-size 4-pack of Gu Chomps was a 7-pack (I’d already eaten one when I realized my long-ride miracle and took the photo)

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The goal of the day was to go longer than 4 hours, but be home by 5:30. Our adventure took us towards Grey’s Creek. The trail out that way in in great shape right now.

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We ended up with a little over 5 hours, and celebrated with a trip to the Chinese Buffet. They’ve got a “Mongolian BBQ” station where you can get vegetables and meat cooked together while you wait, so it’s pretty great.

Then, things took an unexpected turn…

We came home and let the dogs out like normal. After they came back in, I immediately noticed that Turbo, my 13-year-old Belgian Malinois, was breathing funny and looked a little freaked out. My dog-mom intuition said that this was bad… real bad. Within a few minutes, we were at a nearby emergency/overnight clinic.

Turbo’s heart rate was in the 220-240bpm range (normal for a stressed out dog at the vet is around 140), an arrhythmia caused by a gross enlargement of the heart muscle. Also, the portion of her right lung that was weakened by her previous bout with pneumonia was collapsed. There was a very real chance that if they didn’t get her heart rate down and stable that she’d go into cardiac arrest. It was bad enough that the vet gave me the advanced directive paperwork to sign…that was tough.

The treatment plan was to stabilize and monitor her overnight so that the underlying cause of her issues could be determined. There are effective drug treatments for some dogs with heart disease. There are also some things that could have been going on- like a tumor, that aren’t treatable. We wouldn’t know until an ultrasound the next day.

I spent the next 18 hours or so periodically crying, hoping for the best, and preparing for the worst.

I finally heard back from the vet around 2:30pm yesterday, and he said that she was suffering from cardiac myopathy that was causing a cascade of things, one of them being the arrhythmia. The cause is generally unknown (“being old” is basically what it comes down to). The good part- as an otherwise healthy dog, she was a very good candidate for drug therapy, and, though this is eventually going to get worse and untreatable, until then, she’ll have a good quality of life. According to Dr. Abernathy, “If I didn’t have a stethoscope, I’d have no idea that she’s as sick as she is.”

I’m really happy that Turbo gets to stick around a little longer.

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She almost immediately expressed her happiness with being back home by tearing in to a bag of oatmeal from the pantry while I was in the garage.

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The overnight vet bills mean that I’m going to have to cancel my “Eff this weather, I’m going to Florida” trip that I was tentatively planning according to the forecast for next week:

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I’m pretty OK with that, though.

 

 

Urban Adventures- The Nutbush Highway

To be totally cliche, but since my last post, I’ve felt like an enormous weight has lifted off of me, both physically and mentally.

Just so I could slip MMA into another weekend post, I decided to go down to Southaven on Saturday morning to a half-day Jiu Jitsu seminar. It was highly informative. I learned some very useful techniques, though I was slightly disappointed that there was no rolling (think “live practice”) afterwards. I was hoping for it mostly because one of the women there was a blue belt who looked to be in my weight class (me, being a white belt in the 140-45 range). No idea what I’m talking about? Click here: Jiu Jitsu Ranking

I didn’t think I’d feel like riding after the seminar, so I woke up early and did Tabata intervals on the trainer before I left. That was a first… probably not a last. Some of you may be thinking, “WTF are you doing with all this intensity in the Winter?” It initially started as just grasping at straws to maintain some sort of fitness while the trails were wet and I didn’t feel like I could tolerate road riding as I have in the past. That still holds somewhat true, though a much more important purpose is layered on top- I need to get my FTP up to prepare for the initial throes of altitude acclimatization come end of March. I don’t think that I’ll be short on long base mile rides once I’m at 92Fifty, so I’m not too concerned with loading up on those for now.

That doesn’t mean I’m not up for long adventures if the opportunity arises. Sunday, Matt and I decided to continue our exploration of what I’ve dubbed “The Nutbush Highway.” Other than exploring new stuff in the middle of Memphis, there’s not much story to tell, so I just took photos.

On the way out:

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At the western “end” of our adventure, we found a dilapidated bridge and a parallel 4-wheeler track through the creek that you could see continuing on in the woods ahead. However, the creek wasn’t really cross-able (it’s an inner-city drainage… you DON’T wade in that), so we just played around on the bridge before turning back.

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Getting up there was a bit of a climb. Getting down was a little more intimidating

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I made it, though

 

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We took side roads back to the more familiar Wolf River Trails, where we found that someone had cut roots out of all two of the “technical” sections of trail (photo credit, Jim Morgan).

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It’s probably the same jackass that thinks that “fixing” a mudhole means that you pile arm-sized sticks into the middle of it. Facepalm x Infinity

With a quick excursion east towards Grey’s Creek, our ride ended up at about 4 hours long (not including the bridge-playground stop). With the weather being as nice as it’s going to be this afternoon, it looks like we should at least be able to match that again today.

 

 

Big Changes Ahead, Big Adventures to Follow

I know a few of you are getting tired of the somewhat monotonous posting here. That’s gonna change real soon.

 

 

I’ll start by hopping in my way-back machine and taking you to the time I spent hanging out at 92Fifty Cyclery while I was in Colorado the weeks before Vapor Trail.  Here’s a link to the blog category that covers the whole trip (and more): OutWest Trip It’s in reverse chronological order, so if you’re really bored at work right now, scroll back to the #1 post about the road trip out and start reading until I’m back home. The 2nd to last rant-y one is highly relevant, too, so at least read that one.

While I was at 92Fifty, I did a fair amount of riding with Jonathan Davis (the owner of both 92Fifty and Elevated Legs) and the (former) mechanic Kyle Taylor. On one ride, we got to the top of a climb (more accurately, they got to the top and were waiting for me… because, “altitude”), and before we hit the dropper switches and bombed down the other side, Jon asked if I’d be interested in joining the 92Fifty/Elevated Legs Pro Team he was planning for the 2015 season.

Yes. Yes I would.

I was admittedly burnt out on doing the “solo pro” thing. I’ve said it before, and I still stand by it- Finding sponsors can be akin to terrible internet dating. Sure, they seem cool when you first meet them, but then they usually stop calling back and returning emails within a couple of weeks.
That doesn’t go for everyone, of course. Gu Energy Labs was, and still is, a huge supporter of my efforts. Not only do I genuinely love their products, I’ve gone on several adventures (Breck Epic and Dirty Kanza 200, to name a couple) that wouldn’t have happened without their support. Really, all of the sponsors that are listed over on the side of this page have remained an integral part of my racing and training from year-to-year. They’ve all been there for me across all of my adventures.

However, the opportunity to be on the 92Fifty/Elevated Legs Team isn’t one that comes calling on a regular basis. So, I’m there. I’m super there, hella stoked, and wicked excited. I felt really motivated to work hard over the winter so I could come out with guns blazing in 2015.

2015 92Fifty/Elevated Legs Pro Team

Then, I got back to Memphis.

Something happened. People I care about got hit by careless drivers. I almost got hit by careless drivers (several times, the first couple of weeks back). My brain short-circuited, and I started having panic attacks as badly as I’d had them immediately after being hit at Rouge Roubaix way back in 2013.
I got depressed. Not like, “a little down/sad” depressed, but, “I wish that woman had killed me” depressed. At my worst, if it weren’t for finding a daily yoga class to go to in addition to Tuesday and Thursday Jiu Jitsu at the gym, I would have stayed at home on the couch and not eaten,  showered, or interacted with the outside world for days at a time. Like a lot of people suffering through depression, I’ve gone through the exhaustive motions of wearing an “I’m OK” mask that’s mostly hidden how much of a mental train wreck I am on the inside. I’ve gutted out some minimal training, and I’ve found some peace when I go to Syllamo- how I feel once I’m away at the cabin and safe in the mountains is literally the one thing that’s given me the hope that I’m not totally broken.

To say it’s been a rough few months would be a gross understatement.

Then, I was presented with another 92Fifty opportunity. Jon asked me to come out and work/live at the shop this Summer. I was torn… most of what/who I know and love is here. However, so is what’s causing me a lot of pain- if you want to train hard here, you’re going to do much of it on the road. I’ve been mentally and physically unable to go on solo road rides since September (and I’ve ridden on the road exactly twice with a handful of friends during that time). The general “Memphis” attitude towards our trails by some in the riding community (example in the “rant” post in the OutWest link above) as well as the general public’s attitude towards physical activity gets me down, too. I’ve always made a decent go at NOT letting that happen, but it’s worn hard on my already ragged emotions.

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The mountains are calling, and you know the next line of that quote…

I am a realistic person. I know that depression isn’t wholly treated by just changing scenery. I also know that I’m dropping a lot of personal responsibilities I have in being around for Ryan. However, when I start feeling hopeless on a frightening level, the self-preserving need to be selfish and take this chance to experience the mountains and escape the daily marinating in things that trigger my hopeless feelings overrides everything else. I don’t know what will happen after that, but, right now, this is the one thing that makes me feel like I’ve got a chance at feeling like myself again.

It’s scary. It’s a little overwhelming. It’s also one of the most exciting things I’ve ever looked forward to experiencing.