Kathy, this one is for you.

Each Wednesday night in September, the cycling community of Bend grabs their bikes and heads down to the Athletic Club where we ride around in dusty circles, enjoy a fair amount of good-natured heckling, and bury ourselves in some early season cross racing.

Last night was race #4 for of the Thrilla series and it was quite unique – it rained. I overheard Kevin say, just before the race began, that this was the first time in 10 years that it has rained for a Thrilla.

Racing in the rain is special for so many reasons, but the one that stands out for me is the display of passion each racer exudes as they pedal their bike through the rain, sand, and mud – and for what? 

Why do we do this?

Why don’t we stay home with a good book and some comfort food and watch the rain fall from the coziness of our well-heated homes?

Why get covered in wet sand, just to go home and cover the entire house with this sand?

 Because we love to race bikes. PERIOD.

At some point in last night’s race, I passed a woman full of passion and strength and determination. I saw her a few turns ahead and smiled to see her racing in the rain. As I went to make the pass, I gave a few encouraging words and she said to me, “You are my inspiration.”

These words caught me off guard. I was overwhelmed with gratitude and knew at the moment why I race.

It is for reasons greater than local glory, and greater than the goal of some higher level of accomplishment. Is for a reason greater than myself. It is about the community, and being a part of this community, and offering something to the others who share this space. At that moment, when Kathy spoke those words, with heaving lungs and beating heart, that I was reminded why I started this whole silly thing called bike racing. Because there is something special shared among those who toe the line, those who head out in the cold and the rain and dark.

It is something that no words, at least not mine, can do justice. It is something deep within that rises to the surface at the most improbable moments, taking us over our edge, pushing us further and faster and harder. And this something is beautiful. Awesome. Strong. Unstoppable.

Kathy, you've got this something. I am so proud of you.

Fortitude Wanted: Inquire Within.



Our mailbox isn’t too full these days. We don’t get much junk mail, we pay our bills online, I subscribe to just one magazine.  But we do get a catalog from time to time.  Most of them are full of beautiful pictures of far away places, smiling faces, and outdoor apparel. They all attempt to be profound, new, exciting. Few are.

Today, one such catalog succeeded in their quest to inspire; not through an image of a soaring vista or a beautiful person, but through the written word. 

In the pursuit to create not a sale, but an admirer, Ibex was spot on.

It started here:
Make it with intention. Make it Better.

What a simple, yet incredibly compelling way to live.
Live with intention. Live Better.

The inspiration continued as a fingered through the next few pages.

FORTITUDE WANTED: INQUIRE WITHIN. 


I am a Shackleton junkie. I continue reading.

Today, when you read the advertisement the Ernest Shackleton posted searching for men to join him on his arctic expedition, it reads like satire:

MEN WANTED FOR HAZARDOUS JOURNEY, small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful, honor and recognition in case of success.

It could easily be that start of some arctic expedition buddy movie, a slapstick romp through glacial isolation, hunger and absurdity.  But it wasn’t. It was real. We take inspiration from that journey precisely because it was so completely forthright.

To be up front with a passion for adventure, to be at ease with the uncertainty of an unknown journey is an intentional and vibrant way to live. Today, life is hard to make simple, to make intentional.  Today, Shackleton’s advertisement is too long event to be tweeted out. You have to cut off the part about honor and recognition to get down to 140 characters. Today, people don’t have time to read the want ads in search of a sharp call to live with purpose. Yet the journey is still there.  Success still isn’t guaranteed and while there aren’t pop-up ads beckoning for a meaningful life, choosing to organize the years around outdoor adventure does still mean rewards aplenty. The soul of Shackleton’s ad lives on every time we look at an unknown journey, at the risks of an outdoor challenge and say, without hesitation, “Yeah. That looks good. Sign me up.”


How true. How real.

Mary Oliver asked, “ What do you plan to do with this one wild and precious life?”

A big question, one loaded with expectation and wonder. A question I cannot answer fully on this day, but one I am working toward answering each and every day of my life.

It is my objective to live with intention. To pursue my goals and dreams wholeheartedly, to follow the advice John Steinbeck so eloquently shared, “You can only fight fate so far and when you give in you are strong because all your force flows in one direction.” 

I sure hope he is right.

For the last six months this has been the wall next to my bed. I see it each and every day. I think tomorrow I will take just a moment longer to read the words a second time.


The Official Blitz to the Barrel

Photo: Brian Nelson
I think this image says it all.  PURE AWESOME!

The Blitz to the Barrel did it again and took the title of BEST RACE OF THE YEAR!

Erik and his All Access Crew blew every expectation out of the water.

"Everything is so PRO" I heard one of the racers say as we headed up to the Wanoga Trailhead. "We even have our names on our race plates."  Even the smallest details were dialed.

Photo: lasala images
After a rocky start, I battled back to finish 3rd and held my own when it came time to chug the beer.


And to cap off an awesome event, I stood on the podium with some amazing women. I was so honored to race well, at home, with these fine ladies.

Big thanks to Erik, Kyeli, the Eastland Clan, the All Access Crew, 10 Barrel, and our amazing community! 

There is no better place to live, race and train!



Bend Global Solidarity Ride


On Saturday, a group gathered in Bend, joining together for the Global Solidarity Ride.  This was just one of many events being held around the world on August 30th, showing the women of Afghanistan that they are not alone in their revolutionary actions.

Local photographer, Dave Adams captured the day wonderfully; please check out his gallery of images here


Learn more about the Afghan National Cycling Team here.


Donate to the cause here.


Big thanks to LIV, CLIF Bar, and Backporch Coffee Roasters for making this event possible!




And of course, and huge bear hug and thank you to Karsten and Jeremy for keeping us fueled and smiling!  #nextlevel




Bend Global Solidarity Ride


The brave women of the Afghan National Women’s Cycling Team have a mission: to break through the gender barriers that exist in their country and around the world by riding their bikes. 

Liv supports the team's efforts and is proud to be part of an upcoming event called the Global Solidarity Ride. Scheduled to take place on August 30, all around the world, this is a way for us all to show the women of Afghanistan that they are not alone in their revolutionary actions.

We will meet at Backporch Coffee Roasters, in the Century Center, at 9am, and depart at 9:30am. We will be doing the Twin Bridges loop (with shorter options available of course).

I will provide maps, motivation, CLIF Bar nutrition, and CamelBak Podium Bottles. And rumor has it, there will be a bacon hand-up along the way.

Please click here to preview the route: http://ridewithgps.com/routes/5612391 

The Official, Unofficial Blitz to the Barrel

Photo: Bill Warburton

The last month has felt just like this image. A blur of color and light and speed.

I have been racing in Oregon, training, working, camping with friends, and getting ready for some National level races in late June and July - and I have been looking forward to the Blitz to the Barrel - an amazing event put on by Erik and the All Access Team!

A forest fire started last weekend, dangerously close to Bend, and resulted in forced trail closures, thus the postponement of the Blitz. We are fortunate that the winds were on our side and for the incredible work of so many hardworking firefighters.  The fire is now under control and most of the trails have reopened.

While the official Blitz wasn't held, we did hold the official, unofficial Blitz on Wednesday and raised a glass (of a classy can of Rainier) to Erik and all the sponsors of the B2B. It was a great night full of smiles, laughter, beer, and riding bikes.

An all star crew!

ENVIE

The sun came out, the leg warmers came off, and I pedaled my new bike, ENVIE.  Shiny new shoes, long shadows and intervals. A beautiful day on all counts.  

Whether pedaling on asphalt or single track - a smile crosses my face as I feel my lungs working, my legs pumping, and my mind free of all clutter; made clear by the blue sky, fresh air, and the smell of last night's rain.

Central Oregon. Spring. Perfection.


Back At It. April in a nutshell.

April has come and gone, and much has transpired.

I started the month lamenting that I missed the first three big races of the year, Mellow Johnny’s, Bonelli, and Fontana. Then I got over myself and decided to look forward, instead of back, and get down to business.

I spent 11 day sunny days in Anderson California, climbing up amazing roads, applying massive amounts of sunscreen to my pasty white legs, and cooking meals for a training camp put on by Powered by Bowen. 

This experience presented the opportunity to meet a number of top notch individuals, ride my bike in 80 degree weather, and spend some time with Brig, my coach, but also my friend, and someone from whom I always learn something.

I raced - three times - at Mudslinger, Bear Trap Springs, and Coast Hills Classic; all part of the Oregon XC Mountain Bike Series.  Each race presented its own unique challenges, but all had two things in common.

1)      When I crossed the line, I was covered, from head to toe, in mud. One expects this from Mudslinger.  Bear Springs Trap offered a full-on snowstorm and winter–like temperatures.  Coast Hills Classic was held in Newport, on the Oregon Coast, and meet us with gale force winds and sheets of solid rain. But it was warm rain, so this was a nice change from the previous week's frozen fingers.

2)      Kalla (aka The Lust) was freaking amazing.  I love this bike, and together we took the win at each race.

Racing in Oregon is great fun; full of familiar faces, great smiles, encouraging words and friends. I love racing in this environment, but I am feeling the need to dive into something deeper.  I may have missed the first three ProXCT races, but that doesn't mean I can’t jump into the remaining four. I am excited, nervous, and anxious for what lies ahead and have a few more Oregon races, including Blitz to the Barrel, to get myself ready for the first of these races in Missoula, MT.

I can’t thank Erik, All Access, and Brig enough for their strength, confidence, and constant belief. Sometimes life throws you a hurdle (aka Clive Ellis); you either come to a screeching haul, or figure out how to jump over it. I have chosen the later (no real shock there) and am grateful to so many people for their support.

Onward!

None of this racing stuff would be possible without support from Erik Eastland, All Access, Liv/Giant, Rolf Prima, Clif Bar & Company, Sunnyside Sports, Udo’s Oil, Giro, REP Lap, Smith Optics, Hutch's, and of course my #1 -  Ben.




Eat This With a Spoon

 
Chocolate Almond Butter - It is really that good.

1 1/2 cup roasted, unsalted almonds

1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 cup dark chocolate chips

1 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp pure maple syrup

Place almonds into the vitamix or food processor. Blend until almonds become a paste, but leave some crunch for good measure.

Add coconut and blend until well combined.

Add chocolate chips, cocoa powder, salt and maple syrup and blend until smooth as you like.

Eat with a spoon, or on oats, or on toast, or smeared on a banana.

Store at room temperature.

Wear sunscreen. Do not read beauty magazines, they will only make you feel ugly.

Watch this everyday. It could change your life.

Wear sunscreen

If I could offer you only one tip for the future, sunscreen would be it. The long-term benefits of sunscreen have been proved by scientists, whereas the rest of my advice has no basis more reliable than my own meandering experience. I will dispense this advice now.

Enjoy the power and beauty of your youth. Oh, never mind. You will not understand the power and beauty of your youth until they've faded. But trust me, in 20 years, you'll look back at photos of yourself and recall in a way you can't grasp now how much possibility lay before you and how fabulous you really looked. You are not as fat as you imagine.

Don't worry about the future. Or worry, but know that worrying is as effective as trying to solve an algebra equation by chewing bubble gum. The real troubles in your life are apt to be things that never crossed your worried mind, the kind that blindside you at 4 pm on some idle Tuesday.


Do one thing every day that scares you.

Sing.

Don't be reckless with other people's hearts. Don't put up with people who are reckless with yours.

Floss.

Don't waste your time on jealousy. Sometimes you're ahead, sometimes you're behind. The race is long and, in the end, it's only with yourself.

Remember compliments you receive. Forget the insults. If you succeed in doing this, tell me how.
Keep your old love letters. Throw away your old bank statements.

Stretch.

Don't feel guilty if you don't know what you want to do with your life. The most interesting people I know didn't know at 22 what they wanted to do with their lives. Some of the most interesting 40-year-olds I know still don't.

Get plenty of calcium. Be kind to your knees. You'll miss them when they're gone.

Maybe you'll marry, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll have children, maybe you won't. Maybe you'll divorce at 40, maybe you'll dance the funky chicken on your 75th wedding anniversary. Whatever you do, don't congratulate yourself too much, or berate yourself either. Your choices are half chance. So are everybody else's.

Enjoy your body. Use it every way you can. Don't be afraid of it or of what other people think of it. It's the greatest instrument you'll ever own.

Dance, even if you have nowhere to do it but your living room.

Read the directions, even if you don't follow them.

Do not read beauty magazines. They will only make you feel ugly.

Get to know your parents. You never know when they'll be gone for good. Be nice to your siblings. They're your best link to your past and the people most likely to stick with you in the future.

Understand that friends come and go, but with a precious few you should hold on. Work hard to bridge the gaps in geography and lifestyle, because the older you get, the more you need the people who knew you when you were young.

Live in New York City once, but leave before it makes you hard. Live in Northern California once, but leave before it makes you soft. Travel.

Accept certain inalienable truths: Prices will rise. Politicians will philander. You, too, will get old. And when you do, you'll fantasize that when you were young, prices were reasonable, politicians were noble, and children respected their elders.

Respect your elders.

Don't expect anyone else to support you. Maybe you have a trust fund. Maybe you'll have a wealthy spouse.
But you never know when either one might run out.

Don't mess too much with your hair or by the time you're 40 it will look 85.

Be careful whose advice you buy, but be patient with those who supply it. Advice is a form of nostalgia.

Dispensing it is a way of fishing the past from the disposal, wiping it off, painting over the ugly parts and recycling it for more than it's worth.

But trust me on the sunscreen.

Breaking Up With Clive Ellis

First Ride Back - All Smiles
Two and a half weeks ago I learned I had an evil gremlin (aka a large ovarian tumor) inside my body.  I named him Clive Ellis. I really didn't like Clive Ellis. He had to go.

I was planning to jump on a giant bird and fly to Texas for Mellow Johnny’s a few days later to kick off the 2014 racing season. Instead, I was meeting with the doctor and scheduling surgery.

Talk about a curve ball.

With the support of Ben, my family, and a few dear friends, I refocused my energies on kicking Clive Ellis' butt.

A week ago Monday, I broke up with Clive Elise. Three small incisions and out he went. I underestimated the assault surgery would have on my body and I spent four days on the couch, walking slowing and carefully, snuggling up with Piper and being ever grateful to my Mom who spent the week with me; taking care of me and reassuring me that I would feel better, if I was patient. She was right.  Thanks Mom.

Yesterday, I got the official pathology report and Clive Ellis was benign.  I also got the "ok" to pedal my bike. I rode and it was brilliant.  Brilliant not because the sun was shining and the mountains were basking in all their glory; brilliant because I was reminded of the gift I have been given; the gift of this life, this experience, this community, this body. The human spirit is strong, the body is resilient, and my heart is on fire.


Onward.

Using what's around: Brussels Sprout & Pomegranate Salad



One night last week, as I prepared to make dinner, I looked in the refrigerator, in the fruit bowl, and in the root vegetable basket.  I debated the options.  And some how, I came up with this....

Brussels Sprout & Pomegranate Salad

1lb brussels sprouts, sliced in half
Salt
Turmeric
Olive oil
1 tablespoon agave nectar
Juice of one lime
Seeds of one pomegranate
1 tablespoon Udo's 7 Sources Oil (optional)

Place sliced brussels sprouts in a baking dish, and toss with a bit of salt, a pinch of Turmeric, and just enough oil olive so they won't stick to the bottom on the dish.
Bake at 425 for 25-30 minutes, tossing every 10  minutes.

Once roasted, toss brussels sprouts with agave and let cool to room temperate in a large bowl.

In a small bowl, toss together pomegranate seeds, lime juice, a bit of salt and 7 Sources (if using).

Gently mix the pomegranate mixture with the brussels sprouts in the larger bowl.

Serve right away. 

We also enjoyed a veggie-tofu scramble, and filled out plates with brilliant color.  Stay tuned for the details on this one. 


Start the day off with delicious. The Vanilla Breakfast Smoothie


A vanilla milkshake for breakfast? Yes, please!

Vanilla Breakfast Smoothie

Serves 2

1 1/2 cups unsweetened vanilla almond milk - cold
1 banana, peeled and frozen
2 medjool dates
1 serving vanilla protein powered
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1 teaspoon raw cacao


Place all ingredients in your Vitamix or blender, liquid ingredients first. Blend on medium speed until fluffy, and dates and banana have become smooth.

Reflection.

Finding sunshine and single track, in December. Oakridge, Oregon

I won’t lie and say I have taken a month off the bike. I haven’t. I did take two full weeks off, went to Washington DC for a family visit, did some running, and entered into a failed attempt to learn to knit. I borrowed a book, bought some yarn, and well, that is where the attempt ended.

Since then, I have been riding a bit, and loving it.  Gravel roads and single track and adventuring on knobby tires.  I have also been cooking and eating and enjoying our pair of small couches and drinking tea and reading books and listening to the wind howl outside.

Our house is under construction and our already small 850 square feet has been reduced to a cozy 625.  I’m not complaining.  In a few weeks, we’ll have a second bathroom and an enhance ability to have house guests.  We are currently debating about who gets to christen the hopper.  I think Ben is going to win this one.

This weekend, the snow is expected to really fall, for the first time since the Brewery Cup in Bend, which I completely forgot to write about.  I didn't actually forget, I just got distracted and when I finally got around to writing, a few weeks had passed, and I figured I missed the window to ramble on about how my the last races of the season played out.

In a nutshell, it was cold.  Really cold.  And awesome.  We raced under bright blue skies, on snow so cold it didn't even turn to ice. We wore gloves better suited to ice climbing than bike racing, we wrapped our feet in cellophane before putting on our socks, and we coated any exposed skin with Vaseline. And we raced; against some of the best cyclocross racers in the country.  It was a great way to end the season. This picture tells the story with much more clarity than I ever could, so I’ll leave it at that.
Photo: Lasla images
2014 arrived and I turned another year older. My birthday is a special day for a number of reasons, but there are two reasons that stand out. First, I get to celebrate my parents; their strength, their determination, and their unconditional love. Secondly, I have an opportunity to reflect on me; who I am, who I want to be, where I have been, where I want to go, how I can love more fully, and celebrate more richly. It is not often that I take time to sit down and digest the knowledge I have gained over the year, and to look to all the knowledge I have yet to learn.  The older I get the more I understand just how much I don’t understand.

Big things are happening in 2014.  I am making bold decisions and going confidently in the direction of my dreams.

My mantra for this new year:
I am going to do this. PERIOD.

CXLA: Racing Bikes in the Big City

Racing under the lights at CXLA
Going to CXLA wasn't part of the original plan.  The race calendar was laid out in September and my season was focused on racing in Oregon, winning the Cross Crusade Series, and prepping for the Brewery Cup in Bend.

When an opportunity to race against some of the fastest women in the country presented its self, plans changed.  Carl, Adam and the Giant crew were heading down and I was welcome to tag along. I talked with Erik and Brig, made a few changes to the schedule and BAM – I was on a plane to the big city. 

Following these guys around is always an adventure.
CXLA is a unique race, as it located in a park, in downtown Los Angeles.  Skyscrapers act as a back drop, with Dodger Stadium and the Hollywood Hills just a stone’s throw away.  The course resembles a dirt crit, more that it does a cross race, but I welcomed the sunshine and was happy to be riding sans leg warmers for the first time in months.  

I got in a couple of short rides into the hills, had breakfast with a good friend and watched too much junk television.  We don’t have a t.v. at home, so this was a real treat.

I raced consistently both days; rode with the leaders for awhile, learned some lessons about racing in a larger group of fast women, about how a 40-minutes effort feels (in comparison to the 60-minutes we race in Oregon), and how it feels to get out-sprinted at the finished line (not so good, as you can imagine).  Most importantly, I learned that I can ride with the leaders.  Never before had I been in this group. Never before had I been able, or confident enough, to be right in it.  This was a good feeling, one I will carry with me this coming weekend at the Brewery Cup in Bend.  Ben says I’m a scrapper.  I’ll take this as a complement and fuel for the fire as I look to better my set of 8th places finishes this weekend on home turf.

Breakfast with Lindsey, a real treat.
A big thanks goes out to Erik, Adam and the Giant Crew for making the CXLA trip happen, to Brig for switching things up and getting me ready on such short notice, to Rolf Prima and Clement for fast rolling wheels and tires, to Sunnyside Sports for making sure my bikes were dialed, and to CLIF, Smith Optics, and Stanley for keeping me hydrated and my eyes protected in the California sunshine!

And BIG LOVE to Ben – my #1.  Everyday.



It's A Team Effort.

The weekend of July 4th, I was prepped and ready for Marathon Nationals.  All year I had trained for this race. I had raced numerous 4+ hour races and spent more hours in the saddle than ever before. I was ready and I was confident. The race unfolded over the course of two laps and a couple three hours; an infinity of emotion and one focused goal. In the end, I finished in second place, behind 3x champ, Pua Mata. Elated, I stood on the podium and looked out in the crowd to see the faces of my friends.  I rode smart and smooth and strong. I had put in the work, and that work paid off. But it was a team effort. One of the faces in the crowd was Brig, my coach and my friend.

In late July, I raced High Cascade 100, a 100 mile mountain bike that I won by more than 45 minutes.  In August, I went to Idaho for the last race of the Ultra Endurance Tour and with a second place finish, took the series win.

Three weeks later, I wanted to be a cyclocross racer.  All year, I had been training my body to put out long, steady efforts and now I wanted it to be able to sprint and attack, and race well for 40 minutes instead of 4 hours. I was asking a lot of myself and of Brig. At the time, I didn't think much about the radical shift of demands, but hindsight, well, it was a radical shift.

Two weeks ago, I won the Oregon Cyclocross State Championships, and this past Sunday, I won Cross Crusade #8 at Barton Park, locking up the Cross Crusade series against strong and fierce competitors.

I have four more races on the calendar this year, four important cyclocross races, and I know that I will be fit and ready for each one of them.   I know this because I have 100% confidence and trust in the plan. Deliberate, scientific and in tune with me, as an athlete and a person, I trust Brig completely. The accomplishments of this year would not be possible without his guidance and support and I can’t thank him enough for his patience and dedication as I develop as a cyclist. 

Oregon Cyclocross State Championships

Photo: Andrew Keippela
On Saturday, I became the Oregon State Cyclocross Champion. This is an honor and I fought hard to stand on the top step of the podium.  The course was challenging, muddy, and served up a healthy dose of suffering.

Photo: Tim Schallberger
Laura brought her A-game and it was a battle from the start.  We were back and forth for most of the race, pushing one another and both having trouble with our mud-clogged pedals.  With about 2 laps to go, I was able to open up a gap on the long hill and worked hard to hold it.

Photo: Brooke Stehley, Rolf Prima
I was pushing the pace a little too much, and with a lap and a half to go, came around a slick gravel-to-asphalt corner and went down. Hard.  My brake level was bent beyond the point of functioning and I was lucky to be not far from the pit.  Only problem was that I didn't have anyone in the pit for me, and I knew Laura was chasing hard. I got to the pit, located my bike, flipped it over, handed my A-bike off to some very nice person, and headed out. My gap had been reduced considerably, but I was still in the lead.  I just needed to stay calm and be smooth. I thought a clean bike might give me a bit of an advantage with the pedal problem, but this was not the case.  My shoes were so full of mud, that clean pedals didn't seem to help.

Laura was right there, and she was charging.  Up the last hill, along the last straight away and around the last corner, I gave it everything I had. I crossed the line, elated and spent.

Laura and I stood together, holding onto one another for support, otherwise we would have both fallen over. It was a great race and I am honored to have been pushed to my limit by a fierce competitor and good friend.

Here’s to being smarter, smoother and stronger!

Into the Wind. Photo: Pat Malach
Washington County Fairgrounds is flat as a pancake, with so many twists and turns that it just about makes you dizzy.  There is also a long, flat, windy section.  This is the location of my tactical error.  I worked too hard for too long and in the end, couldn't respond to a well timed attacked by the lovely Laura.

Corner of Pain & Cave
Photo: Tim Schallberger
Laura was smarter, smoother, and on the last lap, stronger than I on Sunday.  She rode brilliantly, really.  

She was patient, strategic and attacked at the perfect time.  She was racing, I was just being silly. I was working so hard to drop her that I wasn't even paying attention to the lap count.  I was putting in huge efforts, into the wind, with Laura right on my wheel (not smart) and she just hung tight (very smart) until the opportune moment and launched a real sling-shot of a move, and took off.  We were running into the guys field, or they were running into us, and that created a bit more separation.  I recovered after a moment, but a small gap had opened and try as I might, I couldn't close it. 

Laura crossed the line first; a well deserved win and well played race. I have much to learn, but each weekend I take my lessons, file them away, and remind myself not to repeat these same mistakes again in the future.  
Here’s to being smarter, smoother and stronger!