Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Of Bikes and Men

JuJo Acres Farm

Another weekend with the Stoltzfus family up in central Pennsylvania. Saturday morning began with a wholesome breakfast of oats and raisins topped with raw kefir fresh from their farm. Meghan and I set out to start the morning chores of feeding and milking the goats as well as making minor repairs to a damaged fence. Once we had completed the morning chores, Meghan and I joined Jonas, Judy, Ben, and Jonathan as they prepared for the slaying, plucking, and gutting of six beautiful turkeys. Up until this point I have never participated in such an activity…it was to be a day of firsts. I will spare you all the details of the turkey massacre, but I will say that is was done in a very humane fashion….or as humane as it can be.

Following lunch (and a short cross ride) I joined the Stoltzfus team in the rather large task of washing, cutting, and cooking a mound of apples that would eventually amount to 72 quarts of applesauce. It was a well organized operation that came to a close shortly after the sun had set. We ended the day with an outdoor dinner under the light of a kerosene lantern. It’s a good life they have.

Charm City
….I had to abort mission….I felt like poo….I was running late…there will be other races

Monday, September 24, 2007

D.C. Plates

I don't think I belong here....

Thursday, September 20, 2007


i love my new frame
with scandium pefection

dreaming of long rides

Monday, September 17, 2007

From Wisp to Michaux

Wisp Downhill Clinic with Hillary:
Disciple of Gravity

While Marla Streb might be the Gravity Goddess, Hillary Elgert is most certainly the disciple of women’s gravity sports. It may not roll off the tong like “Gravity Goddess”, but her role in promoting women’s gravity sports in the mid-Atlantic is equally as impressive. This past weekend Hillary hosted a downhill clinic up at Wisp Ski Resort in the north western most reaches of Maryland. The clinic included a total of eight women with a rather large range of experience and ability. Her love of the sport is most apparent when she is supporting and encouraging other women to press their limits and become a more confident rider. It is an honest enthusiasm she has to see other women come to love the sport she has immersed herself in for over a decade now. Most likely, she will not rest until she has spread the word of gravity sports to all women in the mid-Atlantic.

Thanks Hillary for all your hard work and dedication! It has not gone unnoticed!

Michaux Race Series: The Terror of Teaberry
Race Report

Perhaps I should begin this race report with the night before. I returned home form Hillary’s downhill clinic feeling a bit sleep deprived. Rather than preparing for the next day’s race, I decided to take a quick little nap. This was to be my first mistake. Seven hours later I awoke feeling panic stricken…I knew I was supposed to be preparing for something, but I couldn't manage to figure out what day it was. I slowly came to my senses and realized it was 5am on Sunday morning and I needed to get myself up and out for a 10 am start time two hours away. But first I needed to figure out exactly where the racing was to start. This was a rather tricky task as the Internet we have been poaching for over a year now up and disappeared! So, at about 5:30am I shuffled down to my truck with my laptop and drove to Adam’s Morgan where I poached one of the many Internet connections that pour generously from the surrounding businesses and fancy apartments. Saving the directions to my laptop, I drove back home, got packed, printed out the directions, made two pots of coffee, ate breakfast and stared into space as I contemplated finding my way back to the warmth of my bed. Finally I climbed back into my truck at 7:20am and headed off for Michaux State Forest.

Never have I started a race with such a dirty bike, it was a little embarrassing. I tried to give it a quick rubdown before the race started. At least make the down tube look clean and lube the chain! Honestly, I know better than to start a race with a junked up bike. I got in a quick warm-up and choked back as much Odwalla bar as I could manage….it was going to be a long day. I opted for the 25 miler, which on any other course may not be a big deal….but these are 25 Michaux miles. It is about a 2:1 ratio of normal trail miles to Michaux trail miles . What I’m trying to say is that a mile in Michaux is equivalent to 2 miles in the normal world of mountain bike racing. In other words…there are some hairy ass trails out there. Oh, and then there is the famous Michaux method of trail building. Constructing a trail in Michaux consists of clearing away some brush and then running a race on it and voila, by the end of the day you have a trail!

There were actually more women at the start than I anticipated. I think I counted about six. I got an awesome start, and took off right from the beginning with tunes from the new Amy Winehouse album echoing through my brain…yeah, I know, kind of an odd race soundtrack, but it works for me, so I go with it. I got such a good start that I started to worry that perhaps I started with the wrong group. (note: as a rule, something screwy happens to me at every Michaux race) I was pretty sure they mixed the women with the masters men…right? Where was that Sue lady? She’s crazy strong…she should be up here with me! Well, about 30min later she passed me. As sorry as I was to be passed by her I was equally as happy to know that I had started with the correct group. At about that time I realized that my fork had been locked-out. Wow, that was pretty dumb! I thought the ride felt a little more rough than usual. Once I unlocked my fork and was certain that I had indeed started with the right group I was ready to settle in for the remaining miles of glorious, technical, rocky single track.

It must have been about half way through the race when I came across an especially hairy rock garden. Woohoo! This is where I shine! Drop the hammer! Indeed, I dropped the hammer so hard I busted my ass and on the way down managed to break the lever on my front brake. Oh well, brakes only slow you down anyway. The day wore on, I got super hungry, the Shot Blox I wolfed down had some how created an adhesive substance on my gloves that now bonded my left hand to my handlebar. This was actually a good thing as it prevented me from grabbing at my now non-existent front brake. I new I was in second place and I kept looking over my shoulder for fear of catching a glimpse of another member of the female gender. Out of sight, out of mind; if the third place woman could see me…I was toast. Fortunately, I managed to hang onto second place all the way to the finish line. And the best part was that my shoulder didn't hurt much at all....it's been a longer recovery than I expected (refer to gwadzilla's blog for full story http://gwadzilla.blogspot.com/2007/05/i-did-not-stop-by-to-take-pictures.html)

Wew, what a day! It’s such a good feeling to arrive at the finish line with nothing left. That is the Michaux promise. That is what we all pay for, the opportunity to run yourself into the ground, push your limits, bust your ass and at the end of the day, hang around with your friends and talk about how you ran yourself into the ground, pushed your limits and busted your ass.

Yes, it was a good day at the races. I’m not sure what the time splits were…but either way, I was second and my shoulder is doing much better and that’s all that matters. My friend Michelle and I chatted like school girls until the parking lot was almost completely empty....it was the end of another Michaux Race Series. Can't wait for next year!

Oh yeah, and as it turns out the course was actually 32 miles.
(sorry, I forgot to take pictures)

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

National Preparedness Month

As many of you may already know, September is National Preparedness Month (http://www.ready.gov/). President Bush is asking his countrymen (and women too) to step it up with the strategery and develop a preparedness plan for those rare occasions when the shit really hits the fan. The Boy Scouts of America expressed an interest in leading this initiative, however; the government has instead decided to out-source the work to an independent contractor.

Much like the Competitiveness Initiative, I was not aware that “preparedness” was even a word. Had I been consulted on this campaign I believe I would have suggested something like “National Disaster Preparation Month”. Any interns reading this out there? Come to me next time you need a good initiative title!

In a nut shell, National Preparedness Month involves various forms of education on how to deal with everything from a natural disaster to a total governmental meltdown. The website provides suggestions for developing an emergency plan and building an emergency supply kit at home and at work. Some of the items suggested for your emergency supply kit include:

1) water
2) food
3) first aid kit
4) flashlight and batteries
5) dust mask
6) can opener for canned foot (if kit contains canned food)
7) local map
8) prescription medications and eye glasses
9) feminine supplies and personal hygiene items
10) paper and pen

In addition to the website, governmental agencies are also offering preparedness seminars at work. I would like to suggest that we use the following as our basic text:

In fact, I think this book should be made available for all “U.S. Americans” who call this great nation their Homeland.

Sadly, I’m not sure that we are properly preparing ourselves for the disasters going on in our community every day. As a nation we are alarmists and are easily distracted from the quiet catastrophes that eat away at our society slowly over time.

How well are you prepared for these national disasters?

photos credits

Monday, September 10, 2007

Staying Still

The days are growing shorter and summer will soon come to an end. I’ve been on the road almost every weekend for the past 3 months…and now I’m ready to stay still…if only for a weekend. No racing, no visiting friends and family, no saving Mennonites from the wretched claws of the government….just a quiet weekend of riding.
I spent a few hours out in the watershed on Saturday. It was so good to be on my mountain bike again. Leaving the technical trails of Rothrock (State College, PA) has left a void in my heart. I experience temporary reprieve from the pain of this void through frequent visits up to the watershed in Frederick. It may not have the endless ridges of central Pennsylvania, but it does have a good supply of rocky, technical trails with the occasional overlook. It was good to be out on my bike, alone, just me and the trail. It gave me time to think about where it is I want to go with my life. If it weren’t for mountain biking I think I would be a very lost soul.

On Sunday morning my friend Jenn (of Team Kenda) and I headed out to Front Royal where we did a beautiful 60 mile ride up on Skyline Drive. I’ve been here in D.C. almost a year now and I can’t believe it has taken me this long to get up there! What a beautiful ride and awesome climbing! That’s exactly what I was missing from my training this season….evidence of which is apparent in my less than stellar results.

Jenn and I were alive with chatter on the flats….and a little more quiet on the climbs as we grinded our way to the top of Skyline. It was a hot day, but the sky was clear and we soaked up enough sun to last us until February. Upon our return to Front Royal, Jenn treated the two of us to a nice bowl frozen custard. With our tired legs and bowls of custard we climbed into my truck and headed back to D.C.…it was a good day. Thanks for a great ride Jenn!

The Ride:
522 South
Right on Fodderstack Rd
Right on 522/211 South
Right on 211
Right on Skyline
Right on 340 (back into town)

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

The Twilight of My Twenties

In celebration of both Labor Day and my 28th Birthday, I returned to the place of my origin, Miami, Florida and spent some good quality time with family. The last birthday I celebrated in Miami was back in 1992. It was my 13th birthday and the party came to a decrescendo when everyone was forced to evacuate in order to prepare for Andrew, a category 5 hurricane that ripped through Miami with reckless abandon. Following Andrew’s example, I practiced the same spirit of reckless abandon throughout my teens…the details of which shall never grace the screen of my blog. Quite a beginning to my adolescence…there is a wealth of metaphors there just waiting to be harvested, but I will spare you my mellow-drama.

When considering how best to spend the evening of my 28th birthday I chose to politely bypass my father’s kind invitation to join him at his former law firm’s reunion and instead celebrated another year of life with my future step sisters, Ana (yeah, we have the same name) and Betty, up in Hollywood, Florida. I say “future step sisters” because the three of us are still ironing out the wedding details. As an only child it was such a treat to receive a kind of sisterly affection on my birthday. Ana and Betty are fast on their way to becoming regulars at a bar by the name of Murphy’s Law and they were quick to warn me of an elderly gentleman who is known for dancing with pelvic vengeance. Indeed, we spotted him early in the evening pounding back a bottle of Ensure in preparation for his evening of incessant gyrations. Ana, Betty and I also danced late into the night (minus the incessant gyrations) and did not return until somewhere around 4am….this was actually a first for me.

The following day my father and I made our way for Key Largo where I arranged for us to take a 3 hour guided tour of the mangrove islands by way of sea kayak. I'm usually not so crazy about guided tours, but I was eager to learn more about the ecology of the southern most part of the Everglades. My father and I, along with our guide, Cynthia, climbed into our sea kayaks and set off for our grand voyage around the mangroves. The water was clear, the mangroves were a tightly woven web of branches and roots and the Atlantic Ocean lay ahead beckoning us towards the horizon. Unfortunately, our tour was only scheduled for three hours which would not afford us enough time to make it to the horizon, so instead we stayed fairly close to shore. Although it was early afternoon, not a great time for “ocean safari”, I was able to catch a glimpse of a nurse shark, a few barracuda, along with some more sedentary species such as the elusive sponge. It was then that I realized how much I miss college as I launched questions in rapid fire at our poor, unsuspecting guide who did her very best to answer my queries on the ecology of the Everglades. Fortunately for her, my father (who has been known to be equally as inquisitive) was a bit winded from the paddling and was not able to join in my endless barrage of questions.

Sunday was to be my last day in Miami. Late in the morning I rode out to my grandmother’s apartment on Key Biscayne for a visit. It was difficult to see how much she has changed even since last Christmas…she has grown weak and tired under the weight of so many years.

Later in the afternoon my father and I arrived at Rosa’s home (his lady friend) where we celebrated the birthdays of Ana and Betty (yes, they’re twins and yes our birthdays are surprisingly close). Unfortunately I was not able to dance the night away with them as I had a plane to catch. Hopefully next year I will be able to show them the same kind of birthday enthusiasm as they did for me.

Back in D.C. I was welcomed by my loving housemates Christian and Alejo. In retrospect I realize how distant I have become from the place of my birth. Every corner of Miami seems to hold a memory from my childhood and yet it no longer feels like home.