Monday, March 28, 2011

It's good to be home

An uneventful plane ride  (which is always the best kind) and 8 hours later, I was being greeted by my husband at the airport. 

I owe my husband more than thanks for picking me up at the airport – although, it seems this has become his part-time job; between my frequent visits to England to visit my dad and to B.C. to see my mom.  He is always there to pick me up.

I’d like to take this chance to thank him for being so supportive of my extended vacation.   I have returned a much happier person than the one who left with a lot of perspective and an improved outlook on my career. 

two bikes in one box meant a lot of reassembly...

I have terrible spatial awareness and find working on my bike really difficult.  But I persevered and was proud of my accomplishment - my bike in one piece and ready to ride.  The jazz hands are to show excitement :)

Thursday, March 17, 2011

These guys are good Teej. Yeah, but they're not from Detroit.

As my 30s have been about mountain biking, my earlier life was focused on becoming a good downhill skier.  I truly fell in love with the sport on a 'business' trip my dad took me to in Vail when I was 16.  I remember skiing the bowls, moguls and deep snow - stuff that doesn't exist in Ontario and wanting to be able to fly down it effortlessly.

10 years later, I was one of two people from my exam group of 20 to earn Level III Ski Instructor status.  It was official and on paper, I can ski effortlessly (most of the time) all over the mountain and teach others to do the same. And then, I stopped skiing.  I moved back home to Ontario where the trees, powder, bumps and back bowls I'd come to love in B.C. don't exist.  Skiing became more of a social outing than an adrenaline seeking adventure.  My attention soon turned to xc mountain biking, where I could get those same scary, fun awesome feelings of mountain skiing, but at home.

Fast forward several more years and my strong skier legs have turned to cyclist legs.  Still strong but better at turning pedals at 90rpm than doing repeated squats while resisting G-forces down the mountain.  I gave up my stiff race boots and skis this year in favour of some softer equipment.  Skiing is one of the few sports where higher end equipment will actually make you worse unless you are good enough to rock it.  I'm loving the soft skis and boots and I actually think I'm skiing better now than ever before.  So, if you're like me and no longer ski as much as you used to, or maybe your new to the sport, try equipment not for an advanced skier and see what it does to your performance.  For me, my shins at the end of this vacation are not bruised and when I'm in the trees and soft stuff I have way more control and tons more fun.
Skiing with Olympic Gold Medalist and Canadian Female Athlete of the Century 
AND current Senator, Nancy Greene.

out for a hike with Halle

p.s. the title quote has been verified as correct to appease fellow perfectionist and CEO of AWI Cycling.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Dear old dad's in the French Alps somewhere... I hear they have great snow there.

Eventually I may have to become a more solid citizen again, I'm aware of this. But not yet... please.  Not just yet.  ~ E. Gilbert

My time in California ended just in time for my annual visit to see my mom in B.C.  AKA March Break.  AKA why go home, there's no work anyways.  So, I flew straight to Kamloops and up the road to Sun Peaks resort.  It's all a bit decadent really: one day I am doing my favourite summer sport in California and the next I'm skiing in fresh powder.  It's making the transition back to winter enjoyable.

My mom just moved here from Panorama, B.C. and while I miss the friends I've made there over the years dearly, the snow here is fantastic. If I had to choose between good people and snow, good people would win every time.  But, that is the beauty of travelling.  Good people live all over the world.  I met some locals today who showed me their secret stashes of snow.

But, truth be told I am here to visit my mom, not really to ski.  Although she's become quite good and my legs are sore keeping up.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Everyone comes to Aspen to be saved or something. It’s just a place.

I’m not sure that I came to California to be saved, it was more to escape.  But, in the 21 days I spent in Oxnard riding my bicycle daily in the mountains, on the coast or over curbs in the parking lot I found salvation.  My life became so simple that details no longer were so important.

I started to just eat food.  Good quality, well prepared food in quantities that I felt like eating – no measuring.  I went to bed at whatever time I couldn’t keep my eyes open, or just because it felt like it was time to lay down.  No pressure.  And sleep would come as quickly as I wanted it to.  I started every morning with a good cup of coffee, some conversation and got to know a few great people.

And yesterday, was a beautiful ride through the mountains.  No music, no camera to distract me from just enjoying the day.  It was probably around 20 degrees, it was very sunny.  I climbed up Sulpher Mountain towards Ojai.  There were views of the ocean when the road turned in that direction and there were views of endless mountains.  There were mansions tucked away at the edge of cliffs enjoying the view.  I’m sorry I didn't take any pictures to entice you.  You’ll just have to go there yourself.  It will be worth it.  As I said, no distractions.  I find taking pictures sometimes takes you out of that moment of truly enjoying what you are doing and turns it into an event of finding the perfect vista to capture.  Which is okay sometimes.

I took only 2 water bottles even though I knew it would be 3 hours before finding a place for water.  But, I didn’t dehydrate and I found a place sooner than anticipated.  I won't talk about the quantity of food in my pocket.  It was more than I needed.  Baby steps, though. I scribbled down some directions and got some route explanations, but I didn’t worry too much about it and I didn’t get lost. 

So what was my salvation?  It wasn’t the vistas – although you can’t help but lose yourself in their beauty.  It was the realization that all the details that I worry about in my quest to do things perfectly usually cause things to end up spoiled.  So, if I take anything away from California, it is to live a little more simply and eat because I am hungry.

Monday, March 7, 2011

My day of awesomeness

Woke up on Sunday stolked - was feeling fantastic, which made me excited for the day's adventure.

Started out with a few cups of Intelligentsia Black Cat... YUM! and a little wired

Got offered a lift to start my ride in Thousand Oaks, which meant more time exploring places I'd never been - and in a convertible!  Thanks Craig and Linda!

Climbed from Thousand Oaks into the mountains towards Encinal Canyon Rd. 
Followed this sign:

Climbed some more, which started to raise some red flags - but it's the mountains, so sometimes that happens.

Ended up on a busy road, and then saw a sign for Latigo Canyon, which is the opposite direction of where I'd meant to go.  Turned around.  (Jeremy - I know you're cringing right now - but the important thing is I survived :)

On the way back down, I saw the road sign from a new direction - should have gone straight, not left.  Woops!

Some solid time spent climbing and getting a little lost did not go undrewarded:

Hit PCH.  The wind was blowing really strong right from the direction of home.

Stopped at Neptune's Net to top up my water bottles and take in the scene of the most motorcycles I've ever seen in my life - most  were parked across the street from the picture above.

Battled the wind for almost 2 hours, but with good energy and spirits.  Riding through the farm fields back through town started to get tough, but then this song came on, which I can never help but sing loudly along with and raised my spirits back up.

Then, celebrated with a Jamba Juice.

Finished the day off with a huge and tasty dinner made with MattP - whose new website looks great by the way.

Friday, March 4, 2011

If it makes you happy...

A read through googlenews yesterday included the following earth shattering story:

A look at a collection of studies on happiness and health finds that happiness does lead to a healthier person and to greater chances of a longer life.
I really don't think that is news to any of us.  But, I know I certainly am guilty of letting a day pass by too stressed out, too grumpy, too busy to truly enjoy its awesomeness.  Because every day, is truly a gift and can be so amazing, if you let it.  

To start destressing down here in sunny California I started making myself smile or laugh for no reason at all while out on rides by myself.  Smiling just makes you feel good, no matter what is going on in your head.  Eventually I didn't have to try any more.  

I've been playing around on my mountain bike a lot in the last few days, mostly hopping curbs as fast as I can, finding little drops in parking lots and doing them over and over, faster and faster.  It makes me feel like I'm 10 years old - and no wonder kids are so happy.  Playing is fun.  I don't know why as adults we stop doing it.  Even my hobbies - riding my bike, skiing often become far too serious endeavours.  My quest to be good at them often gets in the way of the fun.  So, it's been pretty amazing to just enjoy my bike for the fun toy that it is.  

all smiles and enjoying playing on my bicycle during an awesome session near Santa Barbara with P. Glassford

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

when I grow up...

My eleven year brother wants to be a pilot when he grows up.  He's definitely smart enough.  His personality on the other hand will make it difficult - patience is not his virtue and while a creative problem solver he is pretty impulsive.  Not sure that that will lend itself the traits required to be a pilot.  Of course, no one has told him this - why crush his dreams?

What happens when we attain careers that don't mesh with our personalities?  When I was young I wanted to be an actress.  A teacher is not far off.  I often find myself standing on lab benches, extolling the virtues of the periodic table, or other songs and dances; anything to keep my students interested.  And, my classes are well attended, my failure rates are low, but it can't last. 

It took me a full week to de-stress down here in sunny California.  I recall the exact moment - the warm wind blowing as I was descending on my bike, the sweet smell of the orchards mixed with cedar, my  husband and I out for a nice 3 hour ride.  I finally felt like I was on holiday, that night I slept a solid 11 hours because my body finally realized that I didn't need to stress out over performing in front of a bunch of kids.  I also finally realized how much stress that has caused.

I lead a fantastic life.  But, it is amazing the things that you don't truly realize how much they stress you out and the implications to your health.  Trying to figure out how to keep the high stress out of my life when I return home - but I'm not going to stress about it.