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Showing posts from 2014

2014 in numbers

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We managed to log one last dirt ride for the year before we head to Fairbanks this week — eight hours of soupy fog and equally soupy mud. The California drought and an attitude that "rain is running weather" has almost completely desiccated my patience for mixing bikes with mud. Hours of splooshing through a cold goo shower is just so much better when you don't involve a fast-moving, difficult-to-clean mechanical object. But I wanted to squeeze in a long ride this weekend, as we're now just three weeks out to the 200-kilometer snow bike race. Beat and I rode with our friend Jan, who had a great attitude about the grimy day. "How many times do you get to see Skyline like this?" he said, referring to fog so thick we could barely see a few meters in front of us. As I remember from March 2011, if we have a more "normal" winter ... actually, a lot.

Plugging the ride into Strava started me thinking about my "year in Strava." This is the first…

Almost like a comeback

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I was a bundle of nerves about this 50K on Sunday, which Beat found hilarious. "How many of these have you run now?" he asked. I've lost track of my official 50K number, but I guessed I could still count the number of times I've run a Woodside event. Three different race promoters offer two events here per year, so one rolls around seemingly once a month. It's gotten to the point where the question, "What do you want to do this weekend?" can be frequently answered by, "Let's run that 50K in Woodside."

I tallied each one I could remember. "Seven," I answered. "I think this will be my eighth Woodside."

Beat and I like to participate in these events for the same reasons people go to their favorite restaurants. They're fun social outings in a familiar and pleasant setting. We get to indulge in an activity that releases a surge of mood-elevating neurotransmitters like serotonin and endorphins, and drink ginger ale in a…

Cry me an atmospheric river

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Where did this week even go? I've been wrestling with two writing projects, in that sort of phase I think most people can relate with — the phase where everything becomes drivel and I need to step away for a while before the whole project is slashed and burned. Journalismjobs.com is a good diversion, a place I like to go to daydream about landing angst-free copy editing contracts that let me work on my own schedule. Twitter can erase a surprising number of minutes as well, for shouting at random into an echo chamber.

A college friend, Craig, came to visit from Alaska. We spent the weekend in the city doing city things — tapas at a Mexican restaurant; an afternoon at the de Young Museum of fine art; getting our exercise by walking eighteen blocks from the place where we actually found parking; being coerced into buying a 100-pack of fancy jasmine tea I didn't even want because, well, someone like me really shouldn't enter shops in Chinatown; late nights with other old frie…

Wells, NV

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I first sauntered into Wells, Nevada, while commuting to northern Utah for the Bear 100 in 2012. I just wanted a cheap place to crash for the night, and the Wells Motel 6 was a full $10 cheaper than the one in Elko. At the time I still had a blah view of the I-80 corridor and Northern Nevada in general, but Wells won me over with chicken dinner at this homestyle restaurant that reminded me of the Tour Divide, a boisterous older lady who talked me into buying locally produced cheese curds at the convenience store, and a vast swath of open space that only expanded as I drove north and east. Since then, I've made an effort to stop in Wells every time I roll by on the Interstate. 
 On Wednesday, I spent the first three hours of the drive listening to NPR and feeling disheartened by the state of affairs and the justice system. So I switched to an mP3 playlist that soon cycled through "April 26, 1992" by Sublime, which only reminded me that not much has changed in a generatio…

Thank you notes

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I headed out to Utah again, to visit my extended family for Thanksgiving. The whole Homer clan is still invited for the spread, even as the number of great-grandchildren increases on an exponential scale. I like to make the journey because Thanksgiving has become my favorite holiday. Lower expectations, lower stress, and all the same cognitive dissonance when that cousin I still remember being 3 years old shows up fresh from her own journey across Alaska. Cousin Erick makes the famous potatoes, Uncle Steve makes the fresh cranberry sauce, and my mom bakes the pies. She always makes the pies, with their crisp, flaky crust and years of creme filling perfection, and no one seems to notice when she fusses over keeping the whipped cream chilled and cutting fresh banana slices. I love my mother's pies. They're a reason to go home for Thanksgiving, among many. Everything was delicious this year. Inexplicably, nothing contained Jell-O. 
 Friends and family already know by now that I …

Cone Peak getaway

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While blogging about Alaska for the past three weeks, I've had a full November here in California, including rapidly expanding my range of mobility, exploring new bike routes, and relishing the freedom of running again. There's really no better way to gain new appreciation for something then to have it taken away, even for a short eight weeks. I'm slowly gaining confidence in my knee stability and have worked up to eight-mile runs. Even on my boring old routine trails from home, I feel an almost manic buzz when returning from a run — along with tight IT bands. Eventually both of these things will balance out, but I'm enjoying the fun while I can. 
 On Sunday my friend Leah and I stole away for an overnight bike trip in the Big Sur region, climbing to Cone Peak and then looping around the Coast Ridge back to Highway 1. I have a tendency to fixate on planning larger trips, and all too often neglect quick getaways from home. After chatting with Leah earlier this week, we…

Iditarod Again, part nine

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As dusk faded, a thick, subzero cold oozed back into the Kuskokwim Valley, as though daylight had been the only force holding it at bay. We were coated in frost by the time we arrived in Nikolai, barraging the Petruskas all at once with five hungry walkers who hadn’t stepped inside a building in three days. The house was just a few notches below roasting thanks to a cavernous wood stove, and we clustered in the doorway as we raced to remove as much clothing as possible before the sweat glands kicked in. 
Anne had already returned to Nikolai and flown out — we waved to her from the ground as her husband's small plane passed overhead. Steve was there and had been for a few hours, but he was already packing up to leave again. It was just after 8 p.m. and this night promised to be insidiously cold. There was much commotion in the room, and I was about to tease Steve for being antisocial, when he informed us that he just learned his father had died. He’d made phone calls and determine…