In June of 2015 I was diagnosed with adenomyosis, the evil, more painful cousin and alter ego of endometriosis. For six months I was experiencing bloating, debilitating menstrual cycles, and different levels of pain–shooting pain, consistent acute pain, and dull aches. I attributed the pain to my decade of mountain biking only, not stretching enough, a car accident or two or three, and other body trauma from a life lived.
But after months of sitting in meetings with sharp pain, doubling over while teaching, and stomach-grabbing during snowboard breaks, I headed off to the ob-gyn for some answers. The dumb nurse at the first place ascertained from my enlarged, hardened uterus that I had probably had ovarian cancer and should have an ultrasound ASAP. CThe ob-gyn I finally saw allayed my cancer fears and after weeks of appointments and speculation and waiting, I was put on progestin to stop the benign enlargement. I went to pelvic physical therapy for three months to strengthen my pelvic floor so I could handle the cantaloupe that my uterus had become.
Walking was difficult. Getting out of bed required problem-solving and Chinese acrobatics. There was, during June of 2015, so much crying. From pain, from the hormonal adjustment to the progestin, from a terrible break-up of a terrible relationship, and from fear, mostly, that my life of adventure was coming to an end.
I had planned, casually and a few months before June 2015, an adventure trip to Nevada, along Highway 50. Nevada is not known as the most mountainous of the contiguous lower 48, and that’s why adventuring among its mountain island oases, as John McPhee calls them in Basin and Range, is such a treat. There’s lots of there there but there is almost no one there.
Lotsa nature and chance for swimming, hiking, biking, and camping adventures and no lines and few fees and just lots of panoramas.
A few days before takeoff, I somberly told my adventure partner: “I can barely walk. I don’t know if I can go to Nevada.” He responded cheerfully, “That’s ok. We’ll just take it easy.” Easy for me meant loading up on Tylenol and codeine for the twelve-hour drive and doing dishes. My traveling partner set up the tents and did all the literal heavy lifting while I swam, hiked, biked, camped, and natured myself better through the high desert of eastern Nevada.
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 1,900 times in 2013. If it were a cable car, it would take about 32 trips to carry that many people.
Day 1 of spring break meant waking up in the fair city of Grand Junction, affectionately located along the Western Slope. For outdoor enthusiasts, Grand Junction offers easy access to snowboarding, hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, and road and mountain biking. I find myself stopping in Grand Junction whenever I’m on my way to a mountain bike tryst in Moab or Fruita, when I’m road biking at Colorado National Monument, or when I’m riding the locals’ favorite, Lunch Loop Trails.
Because of the timing of my trip (the last week of March) and because of the lackluster snow season this winter, I pared down my available sports to four instead of the usual six or eight. This trip would be centered around mountain biking first, hiking second, golf third, and I brought along the snowshoes, just in case. I thoroughly researched the trails along the 50 most western miles in Colorado, which quite closely resemble Utah. I had planned for rides from the most southwesterly town in Colorado, Cortez, which also has some killer mountain biking, especially east of town at a little shooting range called Phil’s World.
As before all solo road trips, I studied my maps carefully, and this time I was including some serious BLM time on my trip. BLM stands for Bureau of Land Management, and BLM land is characterized by primitive camping that is usually free. BLM land would be less populated by bipeds this time of year, I surmised, and I was right. The tricky part would be finding appropriate and accessible camping sites for a low clearance 4WD vehicle.
The BLM office in Grand Junction is staffed by friendly folks who know their land and can talk to hunters, mountain bikers, and miners with equal ease. This BLM office has realized the need to educate folks on the proper ways to enjoy the natural beauty contained within its boundaries that it has produced quality maps for each of its areas, including highlighted hiking and biking trails. It was at the BLM office that I discovered the Uncompaghre Plateau was still snow-covered and/or muddy, and that recreating or even camping there at this time of year was not going to be fun. So I picked up a few brochures, one on camping sites in BLM land, and a much-coveted map of the Y-11 Fiasco trail, a mere 45 miles to the south of Grand Junction in a tiny little town called Gateway.
The road from Grand Junction to Gateway takes about an hour and a half. I had been on this road only once or twice before, but I remember the scenery quite well. In fact, when I have pleasant dreams I imaging myself driving alongside topography that looks just like that which abuts the Unaweep-Tabaguache Byway. Tabaguache is pronounced TAB-uh-watch.
Gateway is a town with no services save for the Gateway Canyons Resort, a new spa-gold course-hideaway whose scenery is incomparable. The following day I would ride the aptly named Y-11 Fiasco Trail. But I first had a date with the stars and scenery and solitude of John Brown Canyon.
Longer posts will follow but I just wanted to share my newfound love affair with BLM lands. I toyed with the idea of Moab again but all I
could hear was the obnoxious errr errr of dirt bikes and 4 x 4s. For spring break I needed something a little more serene and pristine. So I did my homework, located some killer mountain biking trails on the verge of Moab but still in Colorado. I spent a couple days luxuriating in the solitude, hitting wiffle golf balls with my 7 iron, and riding the Y-11 Fiasco trail in Gateway.
More pix to follow, but here’s a late afternoon easterly look into John Brown canyon, a staple of the hut-to-hut trips of the summer.
Two months since my last post. Damn. I got a new job, and although it’s awesome, it’s taking up some serious time.
Spring Break is next week, and I’ve got a solid 12 days off. Three to four of those days will be spent on schoolwork, and the other either finding some R & R relaxing and pounding my body back into shape. I’ve been watching weather patterns all season even though we’ve had an anemic snowseason here in Colorado, there are other awesome snowboarding destinations less than 10 hours away. To wit: Utah, New Mexico and yes, even northern Arizona. (OK, a little more than 10 hours away.)
I opened my season at Wolf Creek in October, and I very may well end my season there. On Wednesday, March 28, Wolf Creek is running its Local Appreciation Day and selling lift tickets for $33. If there’s new snow, I’m beelining my way down there. I’ll be watching powdermeister Joel Gratz’s OpenSnow for accurate forecasts.
If snow is not forthcoming to Utah, New Mexico, Arizona, or Wyoming (hello, Grand Targhee!), then I’m off to the Four Corners area for some mountain biking, hiking, and sleeping among the snakes and scorpions.
Read about SheSpoke’s surfing adventure in Sayulita from spring break four years ago.
SheSpoke has been threatening, since the dawn of time, to join a gym. She was hitting her upper 30s, in both age and her hips. She was all set to go, had her appointment with the big box fitness center, then WHAM! a drunk driver slammed into her, injuring both body and car. Luckily, the car was totaled but the body was not.
Since then, SheSpoke has toyed around with the local recreation centers–but only for the swimming. Well, swimming is great if you’re recovering from an accident (which she was) or if you’re training for a triathlon. But adventurers like SheSpoke need a little more punch to their workouts, a little more excitement than smelling and drinking chlorine for an hour can deliver.
So she joined a gym over the weekend, at one of the big box, national chains. It was an incredible deal, and unlike those awful cell phone providers, did not require a long-term contract.
SheSpoke signed up Saturday and in the past 48 hours has:
- Swam in the tiny but uncrowded lap pool: 45 minutes
- Rowed with the iPod: 30 minutes
- Attended first spin class: 60 minutes
Not bad for a gym newbie, although all gym rookies begin with an overabundance of enthusiasm. Everyone is a fitness guru in January. Even yo mamma.
SheSpoke has tried to join gyms in the past, one that is made up of all letters and one that is designed exclusively for women. The reason she only went once and never returned to these places is because of customer service. With the letter gym, SheSpoke was told she would have access to a personal trainer who would teach her how to use the equipment and about target heart rates and all that. When SheSpoke followed up on this, inquiring about freeweights versus the other kind, she was brushed off. SheSpoke never went back.
With the lady gym, SheSpoke went once to get oriented on the circuit training. As someone who has never lifted weights, SheSpoke was particularly interested in learning the nuances of how to use some of the equipment. The franchise owner, instead of teaching her how to use the equipment, was also simultaneously trying to sell a membership to a teenager. SheSpoke never went back.
More recently, SheSpoke took what she thought was advantage of a yoga studio’s local discount. When she arrived at the yoga studio, all the doors were locked. SheSpoke walked around, called the main number, and finally was let in through the back door. She was told that she was late for class–except there was no class. Then she was instructed to “go find Shelly” for a free yoga class. Unfortunately Shelly did not have a name tag on and was wearing the same $80 yoga pants as everyone else. SheSpoke wandered around the lobby for a bit when the woman who had scolded her for being late to a non-existent class found her again and asked her if she’d talked to Shelly yet. Since SheSpoke had no idea who Shelly was, the answer was no. Shelly was a nice lady but merely scribbled SheSpoke’s name down on a random envelope. SheSpoke never went back.
Heed this, gyms, fitness centers, and yoga studios: If you want to get people like SheSpoke–athletic, outdoorsy folks who are squeamish about joining gyms because of the cost and indoor-ness of it all–then treat any prospective customer as if he or she really matters. Here’s how to do this:
- Listen thoughtfully as new customers ask dumb question after dumb question.
- Assume we know nothing about how gyms or yoga studios work and what the equipment does.
- When there’s a miscommunication about scheduling or price or anything, approach the situation with a listening ear. Remember: Dismissiveness begets dismissiveness.
- Stay open-minded about the fact that the error may be on your part and that in order to get or keep a customer, you may have to bend or admit a mistake.
- Do not misrepresent your services. The truth will out and then we’ll tell all our friends, and the blogosphere.
SheSpoke almost did not join the national gym chain this past Saturday because the manager on duty was reluctant to issue her the advertised free, seven-day pass. The manager did a whole bunch of eye-rolling, before*sigh* issuing one anyway.
The banner in SheSpoke’s mind read: Look lady, I don’t want to join this gym any more than you want to give me a seven-day pass, but I really need to get in shape and it’s too windy and cold out to frolick around. Give me the pass and let’s get this over with.
Funny. Once SheSpoke handed over her money, the gym manager was all smiles and greeted her superficially by her first name. SheSpoke will not forget the manager or her name.
Below are the top five reasons to hate gyms and fitness centers, in the same way SheSpoke has for years:
1. The expressions, “going to work out,” “going to the gym,” and “hot yoga.” Folks seem to pronounce rather than use these expressions. It’s annoying.
2. They’re crowded. Before and after work one has to wait for equipment. Some classes fill up, meaning you have to get to the gym an hour before class starts. With driving time included, that’s almost 2.5 hours spent going to exercise. Indoors no less.
3. They stink. Lots of sweaty people around, lots of different levels of hygiene.
4. They cost too much, and pretty much guilt you into working out.
5. They’re akin to a den of thieves. Stuff gets stolen out of the locker rooms and parking lots.
6. It’s a fashion show: chicks wear name-brand tank tops and makeup and dudes walk around in muscle tees.
To be fair, there are some upsides to gyms and fitness centers and yoga studios:
1. The fruit of your efforts are tangible: You can watch the inches melt away and the muscles, so overgrown with fat these past few years, re-emerge.
2. The variety of classes: spin, hot yoga, yoga flow, boot camp, weight lifting, Zumba. It’s all there.
3. It can be a social thing. Garner a workout partner and “head to the gym.” Just be sure to say rather than pronounce it.
4. Your can now justify the money you spent on your last iPod.
5. Strength, conditioning, flexibility, and six-pack abs.
Need I say more?
I’m still grieving over the stolen Bianchi, but here’s her less expensive, more practical and upright replacement, a Schwinn Le Tour Suntour from the 1980s.
Maiden voyage tomorrow in the c-c-c-old seven-mile commute across town.
Posted from WordPress for Android
I know I owe you the final installment of Day 3 of my snowboarding, mountain biking, exploring, and hot springing trip down to and through the San Luis Valley last month. But before I wrap that baby up, I wanted to interlude with a recount of my first-ever 50+ miles on a road bike. Since I began road riding six months ago, I have been looking for the kind of pain and gain that I get from mountain biking. I was able to find such pain/gain in late September at the Colorado National Monument, but until two weekends ago I had yet to feel the aches in my backside, groin, hamstring, and calves that tells my body it’s getting worked, and worked good.
Well, the nice young lady who lent me my road bike knows I like pain. So she invited me up to the farmlands of eastern Colorado, to ride the Poudre River Trail, a network of trails in and around Greeley, Windsor, and skirting just along the southern edge of Ft. Collins. (Note: at the time of this riding, the trail was closed due to fallen branches from the latest snow storm.)
The 50 miles were flat miles, so the distance was going to be the thing. We got a mid-morning start and headed out with water bottles and things that pack calories but don’t actually taste like food. These are the staples of road riding, as it is not cool to actually wear a Camelbak or pack too much when road riding. Someone wrote somewhere the road bikers are overly concerned with their silhouette and pesky water supplies just ruin your otherwise divine outline against the sky. Whatever.
The thing about road rides is unmarked, unseen obstacles can really ruin your day (or week), so we dismounted where the tracks dictated that we had to.
Now folks who didn’t grow up in a state the size of a national park cannot appreciate the wonderment with agriculture and ranching that those of us who did have. So I insisted that we stop, play children of the corn, and frolic a bit among the decaying vegetables.
Farms this big just don’t exist in Rhode Island, and I couldn’t pass up even this tiny little offshoot adventure.
Grasshoppers were covering the ground, crunching beneath our cleated feet, so we got back to our original adventure.
Now flat and brown is not usually my idea of fun. I’m from roly-poly, leafy New England and that topography and those colors have framed my aesthetic. But since moving to Colorado 16 years ago and since spending two of them in ranchland, I’ve allowed my aesthetic to be bended and molded by my more recent surroundings. Nuances of yellow, brown, taupe, tan, and other neutral-farming colors I have come to appreciate as beautiful. How mature and accepting of me.
Back on the well-paved but sparsely populated bikeway (was it really a Saturday?), we wended our way through new developments with their curvy streets, overpriced cookie-cutter dwellings with oversized garages, and plenty of white folk and little else. These are the places that beg me to poke fun–the realization of the American dream has apparently culminated in hues of our least favorite color–brown and has been completely stripped of personality and vivacity. My mind was going on and on thus, until I saw the beach.
That’s right. The beach on the plains of Colorado:
Now making fun of how they imported sand, cattails, reedy things, and rocks just to keep the vegetation grounded during the next flood is also too easy. It smacks of the The Truman Show or Celebration, FL . There’s something insidious about these ready-made communities, and insidious is just too easy of a target.
Truth is: I would totally surrender my sanctimony regarding what it means to live well to be able to kayak or swim or fish or sunfish out my back door. Seeing the beaches put a big ol’ pang in the stomach as I remembered my recent, awesome kayaking adventures last fall at Worden Swamp and this summer at Point Judith Pond. How amazing would it be to end each day instead of being limited to a bike ride or one of those horrible jogging things and instead have the opportunity to paddle, swim, contemplate and fish, balance, sail, or oar it up?
The cycling pace had been quite leisurely as we stopped for a few minutes to stock up on caffeine. The idea of lunch was bandied about, and as secure as I am in how I look, the thought of sitting down for lunch in Spandex was beyond my comfort zone. And this is a comfort zone I think everyone but dirty old men are glad exists.
My cycling partner promised we would click in and never leave the big chain ring for the last ten miles, which meant more power with each stroke and (finally!) some soreness.
Hours later I was joking about how tired I wasn’t. Until I tried to walk up the stairs and my leaden legs needed to be coyly coaxed up every step.
Thanks, road biking, for getting difficult. And thanks, Windsor exclusive community for having a beach and making me rethink before I make fun. Sort of.
It’s November 1, which means it’s the height of cyclocross season. I had a chance this past week, in my stint as a the Cycling/Mountain Biking editor at TrailsEdge, to catch up with hot-shot cyclist and queen of the dirt and mud, Georgia Gould.
Neat lady! All the humility of a sage but with the fierceness of the champ she is.
Read the interview with Georgia Gould.