Salt Lake City

Spending time with my family and a few old friends has been a great stabilizer for my state of mind. My family especially has been so supportive, even though I haven't always been as emotionally open with them as I should be. My mom has been feeding me great homemade meals and doesn't even blink when I leave a huge mess of gear in their spare bedroom and head out for six hours of biking. I'm always amazed by how quickly I can settle back into life in Salt Lake, as if the years haven't even passed since I moved away. Most people can't go home again, but I can.

Biking, which often felt depressing and burdensome when I was traveling with Geoff and we were in the early stages of our breakup, has become mostly enjoyable again. It's only mostly enjoyable because biking is really hard here. I've spent most my time climbing canyons and seeking out singletrack. On Thursday I did Little and Big Cottonwood Canyons. Little felt refreshing enough so I picked up the pace up Big, forgetting that the canyon is something like 16 miles long. Just climbing. For 16 miles. It's enough to put a person in that fuzzy place where life almost makes sense.

I've really been sucking wind on the climbs. But my legs feel great, so I'm going to go ahead and blame the elevation. The sun has been kicking my butt as well. Everyone has been telling me that Salt Lake had a cool, wet spring, but oddly it didn't save any of that for me. 70 and sunny every day. I know. Awesome riding weather. But it's amazingly oppressive when you're adapted to 45 degrees and damp cloudy skies. I slather on SPF 50 until my pasty Alaskan skin shimmers and yet still fry, and I can't seem to drink enough water. It goes in and comes right back out, but I'm always thirsty.

The Millcreek Pipeline trail is such a sweet piece of singletrack. I rode it twice. Mountain biking has been battering me, too. I forget that I'm kinda bad at it. I have bruises and scratches up and down my legs, although my left arm is mostly healed from my Marin crash a week ago. The swelling has gone down and the road rash is scabbing over, and it doesn't throb when I hit bumps any more. I've started to go at singletrack more aggressively, with mixed results. Sometimes I clean something and amaze myself. But the other day, I came up on a surprise tight turn and too high of a speed and dipped my wheel in a small ravine. I ended up tangled in a bush 10 feet down a near-vertical slope with the bar-end permanently imprinted in my thigh. I was lucky another cyclist stopped to help pull me out, because it may have taken me a while to get myself and my bike out of that one.

I've done a little hiking as well. Most of the higher Wasatch trails are still snow-covered, so walking is the best way to get good elevation exposure. I climbed Grandeur Peak with my dad and his friend, Tom, on Saturday morning.

My dad surprised me at the peak with a cold can of Diet Pepsi. At least my dad loves me. :-)

The Corner Canyon trails begin less than three miles from where my parents live. Lots of fun potential here, although I'm learning that I prefer to net real distance rather than loop around a mountain bike park. That's probably why my singletrack skills are so dismal.

American Fork Canyon. That makes five canyons I've climbed to the top of this week. All within a short afternoon's ride from Draper. And I didn't even hit Emigration or City Creek yet.

Mount Timpanogos. My plan now is to head south to the desert on Monday afternoon for a three-day solo bikepacking trip. The purpose of the trip is to determine whether I have the physical, mental and, most importantly, emotional fitness to continue with my original summer plan - to ride all or at least part of the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route starting in mid-June. The logistics are going to be more difficult without Geoff to help me gear up for the long trip, and I have to admit I'm not loving the company of myself right now. But there's something too important about this trip to give up on it just yet. I hope to know more by the end of this week.

I wanted to say thanks to everyone who shared their stories and offered words of support in my last post. That's helped a lot, too. Life goes on, and it's always good to be reminded of that.


  1. Anonymous12:05 AM

    Glad your family is making you feel better!

  2. Family time is always good. Enjoy your three day desert sojourn. Good luck and be safe.

    Nigity - "Always keep a smile in your heart."

  3. you going to be able to say hi to fatty?

  4. Jill, your dad will be there regardless of your situation in life. There's something magical about the relationship between a father and daughter. Enjoy your time with your family, in the end they're all we really have.

  5. Looks like there's some great trails in Ut. I'll have to check them out this summer when I visit the inlaws. Hang in there Jill. Things will turn up.

  6. Glad you're feeling a little better and back in the land of milk and honey.

  7. When my marriage ended, after 13 years (16 after we met) I felt as though my life had ended. Really, life as I knew it "had" ended.

    But, a new life started up in its place, and I've grown immensely in the intervening 10 years. It hasn't all been sunshine and roses, but it hasn't been all gray skies and ashes, either.

    Keep you chin up, and your heart open. Life is what you make of it.

    But, I think you know that, already.

  8. You have a great family...enjoy them. Thanks for the pictures of "home" its been quiet some time since we have seen them.

  9. Sorry to read about your personal issues of late but congrats to you for forging ahead with your plans. Enjoy your bikepacking trip!

  10. It's amazing what a good family and a Karate Monkey can do for your well being:)

  11. You mentioned thoughts of ditching the blog. Good thing you didn't. Looks like you have built yourself one helluva support system there. Not many people are so lucky. (Although, luck really didn't have much to do with it.)

    Don't let self doubt creep in. We all know you can do Trans-Rockies. So do you.

  12. Time will make you feel better. Ending a relationship is a process that takes time. It's more hurtful when it's not ended by your own choice, and it seems to take to work through under those circumstances as well. But I'm sure many people have shared that with you already.

  13. Sorry to read of your relationship thingy. It's good to read you're around family and seemingly on the upswing.

    If it would help any, I'd gladly buy you a beer or two - you'll have to bike out to S.D. to get it, though. Not that biking from there to here would be much of a problem for you.....

  14. You sound like you're headed in the right direction. What an incredibly beautiful landscape. That would help any heart to heal.

    Selfishly, I so so so want you to ride the Great Divide. I just think it would be the most amazing adventure for you. And I know you would write about it in such a way that we'd be able to experience it along with you.

    I vote you do it. Feel free to ignore me, of course!

  15. Jill, I'm sending you a internet hug right now. I remember having my heart broken a long time ago, and how awful it was. Little did I know it was the best thing that ever could have happened to me. It just a while to see it.

    Keep on pedaling :-)

  16. Daddy's are always something special to us woman and girls of all ages.

    Keep your eyes on the horizon and pedal on-wards.

    SLC is beautiful! Very different from Alaska!

  17. Jill,

    If you end up changing plans and land anywhere in the MidWest on your journeys, feel free to visit us in Madison! We have the best Farmers' Market in the world, tons of fun and hilly road riding in the driftless, and lots of lakes to go a paddling :) Plus, a nice guest room all to yourself and a full bike shop in our basement, in case Karate Monkey needs some love :) Just a thought! If not, I will visit you sometime when you are back Up in Alaska.

    Claire (no longer in Antarctica, but in nice warm Madison)

  18. Go for the GDR! You *need that right now. Go, Jill, go!

  19. The more you pedal your bike the more you heal. I have heard that from many a mountain biker. At one time it healed me and I discovered ultra distance trips. love the bike!

    Look up Brad Keys and Salt Lake City Bicycle for some cool rides and fuel up with Carbo Rocket as well:)

  20. Ah Jill, your Dad's not the only one who still loves you! The days will get better, bit by bit, and you figuring out gear for the GDMBR on your own is a great way to get your head and your heart working together. You can do it, I know you can, and if you pass through Seattle on the way back to AK, drop me a line and we'll have some DP and goldfish together. :-)

  21. Anonymous1:17 PM

    Why would you only ride part of the GDMBR? We thought you're going to Banff?

  22. Anonymous1:47 PM

    Well, I hope you're going to get in a ride with the The Fat Cyclist . . . Sure to put anybody in a better frame of mind!

  23. Yeah! Come ride with the Fat Cyclist. I'll show you that Corner Canyon isn't just a bunch of little loops. Gotta ride with a local to get to know the good stuff.

  24. I'm glad you're ok... and The Millcreek Pipeline seems to be great!

    Keep walking ;)

  25. Jill,
    You keep most of us going. The least we can do for you is show the love we feel for you. Keep your eyes on the horizon.
    Mellan :)

  26. Hugs, Jill. Keep turning the pedals over, your heart will heal and you'll be a stronger person for it.

    Definitely do the GDR!! If not for yourself, do it for those of us who can't. :) Or are too chicken to do it. :)

  27. Anonymous5:49 PM

    Hi Jill

    Be sure and get the Adventure Cycling Maps of the Great Divide Route. Then write up your trip for "Adventure Cycling" my favorite magazine. You can call them and I'm sure you would get great advice.

    Grampa Don

  28. kentucky joe6:32 PM

    okay so if there is no photo of you riding with Elden, er Fatty, then I am gonna be really disappointed! By the way that photo of your bike in the misty redwoods looks great as iphone wallpaper...I'm just saying, you got skills, keep your chin up.

  29. Anonymous8:09 PM

    Forget that G..ff, marry me Jill! We'll do the GDR together.....if I can keep up with you in the ride.;-)
    Seriously, cheer up, you are young, smart, healthy and beautiful…let me see what else? and fit…. Life is ahead of you, mend your hart with a good ride and stay open to the opportunities ahead.

  30. UniTom11:01 PM

    Seriously, both Cottonwoods in one day? Jill, you are an animal!

    As frustrating as I found Utah both times I lived there, it's a good place to heal. I was there last month and left feeling like a new person. Good luck with your healing. I think no matter what you decide to do next, it will be the right choice. For all the benefits, relationships are also a series of compromises. Now it's your turn to be the alpha for a while, make all the decisions based on what is best for YOU.


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