Reading, thinking, biking, sharing…

Spring? January 12, 2009

Filed under: happiness,mountain biking — onarete @ 4:50 pm


Photo credit

It was a weekend for exploration on the bike, some successful, some less so, but all fun.   We rode new (to us) trails and logged some big hours.  The weather right now is idyllic-70, sunny, blue skies.  This is my favorite time of the year in Arizona, and I am doing my best to soak it all up and store it away.  Little sprouts of grass have emerged in the desert, returning for a while to this harsh place.  These days remind me of the first nice days of the year in Idaho.  In April or May, there will be a day or two where the sun comes out and the air smells fresh and you can open the windows at last.  If it is a Saturday or a Sunday, you do yard work and ride your bike and try to stay outside as long as daylight allows.  Its only January here, but I am reminded of these happy memories and my soul fills full.  Its funny how happiness comes from somewhere deep within, memories created years ago.  On Monday or Tuesday nights now, I will ride home at dusk and for once, I’m not the only one outside.  Older couples walk hand in hand, and children play in the streets.   I wonder if they have those memories of spring as well.


TOWM October 10, 2008

Filed under: arizona,life,mountain biking,Nature,Uncategorized — onarete @ 7:04 pm


This years TOWM was sort of a disaster for me, but also alot of fun.  After finding out that the 60 miler was actually 67.2 miles the evening before, I headed to bed.  We were camped in a lava field with all sorts of rocks and painful items stabbing me in the back, when Blair got really sick (the 6 hour flu?).  Needless to say, I was awake almost the entire night.  I still felt pretty good when the alarm went off, and I was looking forward to a day on the bike. 

The first 20 miles or so, I was just suffering.  For some reason, my bike wasn’t shifting and it was still really cold, so my asthma was acting up a little.  After the second aid station, I hit a fast and beautiful dirt road, and from there I had a wonderful day.  It was a little bit cold and breezy, and all the trees were turning.  So  many times during the race, I found myself saying a little prayer thankful for the beauty, for the fresh air, for the blood pumping through my muscles.  I am so lucky to have a life like this.

I ate really well and paced myself and just had a really good time throughout.  I never crashed and felt like I rode the downhills and technical sections really well.  Right before the final aid station it started to rain.  I stopped to put on my jacket and looked at the time.  It was 3 o’clock.  This was a serious bummer because I knew that the cutoff time for the aid station was at 3.  About 5 minutes later I rolled in, the rain pouring, and was pulled.  Part of me was really upset with myself and dissapointed, but a bigger part of me was smiling and happy and thankful for having so much fun and feeling so good.

I hightailed it back to the venue where the road was already turning to a gooey mess.  Blair and I threw all of our wet gear in the car, and decided to leave.  Judging by the numbere of other cars leaving, I think it must have been a pretty small crowd that stuck around for the night.  After a pitstop at Dairy Queen, Blair drove me home and unpacked.  I definately owe him one now.

The good thing about this race is that I felt really good and have obviously built up my endurance.  On the other hand, I am slooow.  Which I knew, but it was good to be reminded of it.  Now I know where I have my work cut out for me. 

Overall, I’d have to say it was a lot of FUN!


Worth a thousand words October 6, 2008

Filed under: adventure,arizona,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 3:10 pm

I will write up a report on TOWM soon, but first I want to share some pictures from the last several weekends of biking.

This is a picture of the McDowell’s on a hot summer morning.


Sweaty but still smiling.


 BB at a beautiful lookout in Prescott before we started descending.


Lovely little pool that we ran into late in the afternoon.  I stopped for a snack.



Going through a tunnel blasted through the rock.  This was in Flagstaff. 


Riding through the aspens; moments of joy.


Flagstaff September 23, 2008

Filed under: arizona,Camping,Flagstaff,happiness,life,love,mountain biking,Nature — onarete @ 8:11 pm

Photo Credit

We escaped to Flagstaff for the weekend.  These little trips become so easy when you do lots of them, things are organized, you know exactly what you need for 2 days camping and biking.  Flagstaff was cold and windy when we arrived early Saturday morning.  It felt like fall!  We set up camp quickly and headed out on the bikes.  

What a ride.  We rode singletrack for 5 1/2 hours, sweeping through all kinds of scenery: meadows, aspen forest, pine trees, red rock.  I was so giddy, I was flying.  After 2 1/2 hours, Blair finally made me stop to eat something.  I didn’t even feel like I was working.  “This is mountain biking,” Blair said.

Sunday we rode from camp, climbing several miles before we started “the climb.”  We rode waterline road to Abineau Canyon.  The road is surrounded by Wilderness area and offers spectacular views.  Every time I went around a corner my heart jumped in awe.  Right before the cabins, the road winded through the most amazing forest of aspens.  I had never seen anything like it!  Fat aspens as far as the eye could see.  (I will post some pictures once I get them uploaded).  After the cabins, the road became more primitive.  There were areas where the whole road was covered by rock slides.  The wind also picked up and was blowing me around like crazy.  Just as my legs were starting to give in, we made it to the end of the road, Abineau canyon.  This was at 10,500′.  I think that is a record on my mountain bike.   From there, we were able to see the Grand Canyon!  What a view!

From there, we had close to 20 miles of downhill.  Both Blair and I were riding slow to enjoy the scenery and also to keep from getting too cold (we were freezing by the bottom).  This was a fabulous ride.  Lots of climbing, but never too steep and jaw-dropping beautiful.

I feel so blessed to have a weekend like that.  In so many ways I am blessed.


Catching up August 4, 2008

As usual, the last few weeks have been a whirlind.  Finally, a moment to take a deep breath and rewind.

STP:  KD came to visit and we rode Seattle to Portland with another of her friends.  200 miles in 2 days, crazy fun.  Here we are at the finish line (pic stolen from KD).

Idaho:  I went and visited my family in Idaho Falls for close to two weeks.  The highlight was an epic mtn bike ride with my dad from the Kelly Canyon area to Driggs.  We rode up and over Garns mountain at 9,015 feet.  Not only was it fun and beautiful, it was awesome to experience it with my Dad.  It is a day I will never forget. 

 I also got a fun, if impossible, ride on the South Fork trail with Blair.  One of the most beautiful places on Earth.  Other than mtn biking, Dad and I went on a killer road ride.  I also got in some fun cruises around town, an overnight float trip on the South Fork, swimming at Heise, lots of good cooking by Mom including homemade ice cream, fantasy Tour de France, and most importantly lots of love.  My family means so much to me!

Road trip:  Blair and I drove back to Mesa in a rental van with all of his stuff.  The first day we drove to Zion National Park and arrived by mid-afternoon.  We rode that Pa’rus trail and then the road into the canyon.  At the lodge, we locked up the bikes and went for a hike to the Lower, Mid, and Upper Pools.  Zion definately counts as one of the most spectacular places I’ve ever been.  We also went swimming in the river; I thought I had died and gone to heavan. 

The next day we drove to Flagstaff and went biking in the Shultz Pass area.  These trails were fun, fast, and we loved biking through the pines.  We had planned on camping overnight but a monsoon hit us, and we drove back to Phoenix in the downpour.

Mesa:  Now I am back at work and back in Phoenix.  I didnt realize how much this seems like home to me, until I went away and came back.  I love the dessert and the sun and my life here.  Blair is here with me now too, which makes it that much better.  We’ve gotten in four rides since being back–Hawes, another Hawe’s ride (this one at night), S. Mountain, and the McDowell’s. 

All and all, life has been pretty darn good.


Solo June 16, 2008

I love the look of shock on people’s faces when I tell them my plans.  I am going to the movies, to dinner, on a hike: alone.  Some people worry about my safety, some feel pity.  Often both.  Last week, I had a friend respond to my plans with an “I’m sorry.”  Don’t be.  Everybody has times in their lives where they are on their own; I just choose to make those times adventurous ones.  I’m not going to sit at home and watch TV just because I dont have anybody to keep me entertained. 

And so, this weekend I set off on a road trip.  Alone.  Gasp.  And it might have been one of the funnest weekends of my life.

Saturday morning I loaded up the rental car with my bike and camping gear, cup of cofee in hand and radio dialed.  I cruised up Highway 20 to Gold Bar where I stopped at Wallace Falls State Park to bike.  The route was a 20 mile out-and-back that took me to Wallace Lake and then the Upper Falls.  The falls were lovely but the mountain had developed a cool cloud-cover and I hammered downhill all of the way to the car, ready to head over the Cascades. 

The pass was breathtaking; so much prettier than Snoqualmie Pass.  Beautiful, jagged peaks greeted me around each winding turn.  The sun was out and the river was flowing high and my spirits soared.  Not far from the pass, I turned off the highway towards Lake Wenatchee State Park where I had a camping reservation.  After setting up camp, I spent the afternoon sprawled on the lovely beach, alternating between reading and basking in the sunshine.  The lake is long and narrow, surrounded on both sides by an impressive mountain pass and the Cascades in the background. 

The rest of the day I spent exploring by hiking and biking.  I cruised around in my Tevas and baseball cap, following lovely forest roads and fields of thousands of lilacs.  I passed a YMCA camp, laughter and screaming floating in the wind.  As darkness neared, I crawled into my sleeping back and enjoyed the family next door singing camp songs around the fire.

Sunday morning I called my Dad to wish him happy Fathers Day and headed down to the Lake to read.  The best thing about being an early riser is getting to experience the world without all the noise, without all the people.  I always feel like I am getting a glimpse of something special, a little secret God has shared just with me.  The beach was empty and I watched the perfectly still water, the early morning sun slowly illuminating a lone kayaker gently carving his way.  I breathed in and breathed out.  I was alive.

The final gem of the weekend was my Sunday ride.  I was tired and didnt really feel like biking but I had spent hours earlier in the week looking at forest service maps, checking trail conditions, and mapping out a ride.  It spent me a good half hour just driving around the maze of forest service roads looking for FS6001.  No signs anywhere.  Finally I found the trailhead, in the middle of nowhere.  Suprisingly, a car with mountain bikes pulled in moments after I.  The young couple chatted with me and shared their bug spray.  They had lived in Arizona for 4 years and we talked about mountain biking and this particular trail.  They gave me some pointers and took off; they were the only other bikers I saw all day.  The trail started off pheonomenal, and it stayed that way.  It was a motorcycle trail and had all of the tell-tale signs: woop-doo-woops and bermed turns.    I saw a few guys on their motorcycles and they were all friendly, slowed down to pass and said hello.  Other than that, I was on my own.  The trail had it all: steep up and downs, gently rolling sections that propelled me forward, stream crossing that required wading, sunshine, and shade.  I had a blast for 4 and a half hours and by the time I got back to the car I was out of food, out of water, out of energy.  I couldn’t have been happier.  What an amazing day. 

And I did it all on my own.  Nothing bad happened, I wasn’t lonely.  I just was alone.   Having alot of fun; having adventures and irreplacable life experiences.  That is the moral of this story: I’d encourage everyone next time you’re bored and alone.  Go do something.  Anything.  As long as its lots of fun.


Bike love June 2, 2008

Filed under: bikes,family,life,love,mountain biking — onarete @ 5:47 pm

It was a weekend of remembering why I ride.  My parents and I toured the city on Saturday, riding our bikes from Queen Anne to the University District to Greenlake to South Lake Union.  We weren’t the only ones enjoying the freedom of two wheels.  There were expensive racing bikes speeding by, and cruisers made from spare parts ambling along.  We saw and a Dad and daughter leaving the bike store with a her brand new bike, racers in training, and moms pulling babies in Burley trailers.

You notice more on a bicycle.  There are the cracks in the pavement, stores hidden away in alleys, friendly faces that you meet along the way.  Every fence, pole, or bench is an instant parking space.  Miracles abound around every corner.  On a bicycle, the journey is more important than the actual destination.

On Sunday, we did a different type of exploring by bicycle.  We went to Tiger Mountain to do a little mountain biking.  On the way, we passed a couple of guys out enjoying the day.  Their bikes were outdated, one pannier rack was falling off, and they didn’t know where they were going.  At the top, we saw them again.  One of these guys was so proud of himself, you could see the joy radiating from his smile.  Soon, he’ll be addicted.  My mom was out mountain biking with us also.  She is part of a generation of women who weren’t encouraged to do sports as young girls.  And yet, she was out there doing a difficult ride, digging deep, never complaining, doing something truly extraordinary.  You don’t get those experiences watching TV, going to the mall, sitting in a coffee shop.  She should be an inspiration to everybody.  You don’t live life by staying in your comfort zone, by doing things that are easy.

People who ride bikes are happy people, kinder people.  It doesn’t matter how fast they are riding, what sort of bike is between their legs, whether they are on a road, a paved path, or gnarly trail.  Biking people are swell people.  I’m glad to know them.