Halfway

Halfway through the year and halfway through the Transcendence Series . Back in February when I was getting organized for Stories, this poin...

Nov 22, 2011

Meet Sasha and George



Meet Sasha and George!
 We adopted two kittens before we left for Moab - Sasha and George. We had originally planned on waiting until after the trip, but... We were going to Walmart to get some things and there was a lady standing on the corner with a big sign "Kittens." Nick asked me if I wanted to look, knowing that I still really missed Isis, but also wanted to start looking for the new family members. I said yes, so after we finished in Walmart, we walked over. She had four kittens left, a light grey female with faint strips and three longer haired black kittens. I immediately fell for the grey girl and pulled her out of the cage to play with her a little. And right behind her came bouncing out the little runt of the group. And little was right - about half the size of the grey one! We were planning on getting two kittens, so they would have each other to play with and so DumDum wouldn't be as mean. (We didn't know how he would react at all.) Well, Nick was playing with the little runt, and I had the grey girl and we were talking it over. Nick wanted to wait, but they were so cute and I really felt strongly about the grey kitten. He was also really taken by the personality of the little one. She was tiny, but didn't act like it at all! Then another family came over - they wanted a kitten and they wanted a girl. Well, we had the two girls in the group. With them eyeballing both our kittens, the deal was done - we would take them home. I didn't want to think about it and come back to find both kittens gone. It was kinda crazy - we had the camper with us and nothing for kittens at home. So off to Petsmart for kitten food and litter tray! We wanted to keep them seperate from DumDum until after their first vet visit, so we set up the bathroom all nice and cozy for the kittens. The grey one is named Sasha and Nick named the little runt George. Sasha is a little shy, but loves her mice and lap time when she's tired. George is the boisterous, curious one - a little monster at times! At the first vet check up, Sasha was 2.2 pounds, but is up to 2.8. George tipped the scale at a whooping .9 pounds, but now is a big girl at 1.85 pounds. She acts like a big cat - and sounds like a thundering herd when running into the kitchen for dinner! DumDum still hasn't figured out what to do with them - And I think he's scared of George! 
Sasha helping me pack for the Moab trip - I think she wanted to come with us!

George helping me pack - Gu packets make great cat toys!

I know there's something cool in those shoes.... Sasha searching for a mouse

 
George helping Nick study the map of Fruita

Sasha waiting for dinner

The vet said to keep an eye on her weight and make sure she's growing... Up to 1.144 pounds in this photo.

Nov 15, 2011

A cold and windy Hartman Rocks

Our last adventure of the trip was at Hartman Rocks in Gunnison. It was sunny out, but a stiff wind made it very chilly. There was some snow on the north facing slopes, but the trails were in good shape. We started out easy this time, riding the first half of the 24 Hours in the Sage course. Then time for some differnet trails. The meandering climb up and down Josies, with a few rock gardens thrown in for fun. The steady climbs of Buddy Bear and then meadering Dirty Sock. I could tell I was getting really tired from the weeks adventures - I wasn't even coming close to keeping up with Nick on steady climbs. Despite the fatigue, I was able to ride a few things that the last time we'd been out there for fun I'd tried a few times, then given up on. So that was a little victory. Onto the road for a while, then up Broken Shovel to Skyline. I popped on Skyline, and proceeded to continue along my slow, steady tempo while Nick climbed away. We reached the junction of Broken Shovel and Josh-os and I was ready to be done. Nick wanted a few more miles, so we took Josh-O's down the valley. And there was quite a bit of snow on that trail. Nothing that we couldn't ride through, but more then anywhere else we'd ridden. Rattlesnake was the only trail that was sketcy - wet tires, rocks, snow and mud do not make a fun combo. All in all, a good close out to the trip!

Nov 14, 2011

Mary's Loop

Of course, the day we left Moab was the best day of the entire week! Brilliant blue skies, warm sunshine - perfect weather for riding. But we were finished in Moab and it was time to head home. Not finished riding though - the goal for this ride was to check out the Kokopellie trail area and Mary's loop outside Fruita. I'd ridden there twice - but hadn't gone far, so was looking forward to riding some more new trails. We parked in the middle parking lot and quickly got ready to ride. No heavy coat, no warm gloves, no booties!

I love riding with Nick - I really do. But sometimes, I don't want to do the hardest trail in the entire area right off the bat! A little warm up would be nice... We immediately headed up Moore Fun trail (which was labeled on the map as the most technical and challenging trail). And while it was a really fun trail, I was also walking and pushing my bike quite a bit. There were some things that I just couldn't get or was too much of a wimp to try. Helped when I saw Nick walking on some things... But the sections that we rode were really cool. I'm happy that we did take that trail and also happy that it wasn't the last trail on the ride! I would have been walking a lot more had that been the case. At one point though, we were high above the rest of the trails and Nick pointed out two riders. My response? Yeah, they're riding their bikes!

After Moore Fun, it was time for something easy - Rustler's loop. This was the "beginner trail" designed to give people a small intro into riding in the area. There are also cool little signs that give tips on riding and trail etiquette. It was a nice change of pace from the hard, technical riding we'd started out on. Then off on the Kokopellie trail to find something else cool to ride. Nick wanted to ride Horsethief Bench - a trail he'd ridden years ago. We could have used climbing gear to get down to the trail - the drop in had really seen some wear over the years. Horsethief was really fun - rolling and fast, with some great views of the Colorado River. There was one other spot that we had to carry the bikes, but otherwise a really good ride. I can see why people would just go to ride that loop! But we had more riding to do, so it was back on the Kokopellie.

Flat double track soon gave way to tight single track. And another few thousand feet drop off to the left of the trail... I really don't like riding in places where daydreaming can cause some serious issues. I like to look around, study the views. But on the Kokopellie, it was keep your eyes on the trail at all times. There were some pretty easy things that I missed because I was thinking more about the consequences then riding my bike. I was also starting to get tired. We reached another trail junction - one way the easy way back to the car, the other longer and with more single track. While I wanted to keep riding and see some more of the trails, it was time to head back to the car. Slogging through painfully slow miles isn't the best way to spend a vacation! And besides, that way, there's more for us to ride the next time!

Nov 13, 2011

A Rainy Sunday

The weather front that had been threatening all week moved down Sunday morning. Like every other morning, the clouds were low on the red rock valley walls surrounding Moab. This morning, they kept lowering and finally developed into a moderate but cold rain. Not the weather anyone really wanted to be out riding in! Sow we had a quiet morning of reading and catching up with friends. As Dan and Leslie prepared to head back to CO (they both had to work on Monday) Nick and I decided to try a short hike/run up off Porcupine Rim. I wasn't sure about running since my quad was still really painful walking up and down stairs, but figured a hike would be good.

We drove up Sand Flats rd, passed the empty parking lot for Slick Rock and continued east. There were plenty of campgrounds and the 4x4 trails criss crossed the road several times. Finally, we reached the main Porcupine Rim trail parking lot. The ground was damp, but not muddy. Nick was a little disappointed - if we'd know that it was ridable, we would have bundled up and gone out for another epic day. As it was, we ventured further east and reached one of the drop ins for the Lower Porcupine Single track (LPS). That was where Nick wanted to hike. If we couldn't explore on two wheels, we'd do it on two feet! There was about 3 inches of snow that high up, but it had stopped snowing. Just cloudy with a cold wind blowing. Given that I knew nothing about the trail (and there was a 2000+ foot drop on one side) I didn't get to far from Nick. With wet rocks and unfamiliar trails, sticking together seemed smart. But it was a fun run - with some really gorgeous views and a really cool trail. I'm not sure I'd feel comfortable riding it - something about that long drop to the valley floor, but running was fun. Next time, we head to Moab, we'll get Porcupine Rim in.

After lunch, Nick wanted to ride the Pipe Dream trail that we'd tried to take yesterday. And while I'm happy we didn't find the trail head (we would have been riding single track in the dark without question) it was a great trail to ride today. This is a new trail, cut along the side of the valley wall to the west of Moab. It's a well built and well designed trail, with plenty of technical sections. There were some long switchback climbs, some shorter punchy climbs - all with plenty of rocks to keep you honest! And for every climb, there was a fun descent, winding over, under and between rocks and around tight corners. Every place where the trail crossed a drainage area was covered in rocks to prevent trail damage. It was only 5 miles, but took us almost an hour to get to the other end. Next time, we'll ride back on Pipe Dream and not drop down to pipeline - but we were running short on time again.

Nov 12, 2011

Slick Rock and Moab Rim

With the arrival of Dan and Leslie late Friday night, we had some big plans for riding. Slick Rock was primary on the list, so that was the first place we headed Saturday after the clouds started lifting. It still wasn't really warm (about 38-40) and very grey out but we all had the clothes and the motivation to ride. We loaded up the Subi with the big bikes on the roof and my bike in the car and headed up Sand Flats road. The parking lot was quiet when we got there and we were off and riding. And it was truly a different riding - nothing but miles of sandstone with white dashes. The tires stuck like glue to the sandstone and as long as you stayed close to the white dashes, it was a make your own fun affair. I followed Dan's lines for most of the ride - he's been out there a lot and knew what I would feel comfortable riding. Some of the climbs were bloody steep and the only way I was able to get up them was by switch backing up the side of the solid dunes. Coming down the other sides of those hills, I think I warped another disc rotor! I like my brakes... and falling down on solid rock does not sound like fun. We saw a few other riders out, plenty of motorbikes and a few jeeps on the "Hell's Revenge" trail. Some of those jeeps were filled with tourists who were pretty freaked out when one or two wheels weren't on the slick rock. Hard riding - lots of body language required to muscle the bike over and around the rocks. But fun riding - I was having a blast.

And just a note to the other single speeder we saw... Boasting about how great a rider you are is not a good way to make friends. Especially when insuating that everyone else is just a wimp for having gears. I don't think he noticed Nick, he was too busy bragging about how much power he was putting into the pedals and complaining about how hard it was to ride with "newbies" But enough with that...

After lunch, we studied the map a little more. Dan wanted to ride a new trail "Pipe Dream" with Leslie, so Nick and I decided on the Moab Rim loop, coming back either on the road or trying to find the north trailhead for Pipe dream. We knew that the first mile of Hidden Valley would be hike-a-bike, but the rest of the ride would be cool. So we both put on our best cycling shoes for hiking and prepared for the climb. And Dan and all the trail reviews weren't joking - it took us 30 minutes on the money to get to the top. But once on top, we were in the hidden valley, happily riding. We kept a pretty good pace because it was later in the day and we didn't want to be riding home in the dark. I'd looked at the map on the computer before we left, but didn't really know where we were going. I just knew there was a large curve in the trail before we dropped down to the Colorado River. Nick had his map, but again the detail wasn't very good. There were a few jogs and switchbacks on the trail that weren't on the maps we'd looked at. At one point, the white dashes we were following split - one set when up, the other down. Nick took the up path, I stopped and looked and it seemed like the routes joined at the bottom of the slick rock section. And so I took the low path - no sense in climbing a steep hill just to ride down it again! And that's where the confusion started. Nick thought we got on the wrong trail and when he saw another set of white dashes going south we followed those. Turned out that we repeated the loop we'd just done! But this time, when we saw the dashes heading south, we kept going straight and found the trail. A few climbs later and we were on the Moab Rim overlook, with a really cool view. Then the drop almost straight down to the river. And if I hadn't warped a rotor on slick rock, I for sure did it on that descent! It was really cool slick rock with some tricky step ups and ledges, but I wasn't liking the 1000+ foot drop! My hands were hurting so much at the bottom. But that time it was dusk, with the sun dropping behind the cliffs above the Moab valley. We hightailed it back down the road, looking for the trailhead for Pipe Dream. No luck - down the highway we went back to the car. I was suffering, doing my best to stay on Nick's wheel. About three miles from the parking lot, I started to pop. About then, Dan and Leslie passed us in their SUV. He turned around, Nick sprinted ahead and said something. Not sure what Nick had told them, I tried to catch up - without much success. Then Dan offered me a ride back to the condo. I was tempted - very tempted. My legs were tired, I was pedaling squares and it was cold. But I didn't want to wimp out and Nick hadn't indicated that I should take the ride. (Although in hindsight, with him sprinting away and me moving slower and slower, I should have gleefully hopped in the SUV.) But another successful outing and a fun ride on some cool new trails.

Nov 11, 2011

Sovereign Trail - Following the Blue dashes!

Our Friday ride plans were for two rides - Sovereign trail in the morning and then Slick Rock in the afternoon. We left Fruita at a decent time - I got some compression pads and ace wrap for my leg so I would be able to ride. We survived the boring drive from Fruita to Moab - Nick drove and I studied the map. Nick was planning on riding a loop on the Sovereign trail he'd ridden a few years ago, so we were planning parking at the north trail head off Dalton Wells Road. We got changed, hoped on the bikes and headed north. I saw a small sign that said "Sovereign Singletrack" Singletrack is aways better the road, so off we went, following the blue dashes on the rocks. The trail dived into a small canyon, then the diverged. One set of blue dashes when up, the other stayed in the canyon. I was having fun in the canyon - so I followed that set of blue dashes.

And that set of blue dashes quickly turned south and headed down. We took a pretty technical descent down into a grey slick rock section. More blue dashes lead down into a sandy wash, which popped out at the base of a steep climb. Nick almost cleaned the entire climb on his single speed, but I had to walk a few chunks. Steep, loose and sandy with a sore quad do not make a solid climb! That and the steep dropoff... At the top of the mesa, we stopped to study the map. The tiny section of trail wasn't easy to make out on the map, but we were heading south. South sounded good! There was also a different trail - the Salt Wash Singletrack. We decided to stay on the Sovereign Trail until the south parking lot at Willow Springs Road.  Uber fun, really technical with short punchy climbs, sandy washes, slick rock and just about everything I'd been promised with Moab riding. It didn't take long for my arms to get tired from throwing my bike up ledges and down steep drops. But it was all fun, and there was no one else on the trail. (The temperature might have had something to do with lack of riders...)

We made our way down to the Willow Springs trailhead and took another look at the map. It seemed that there was another section of trail south of Willow Springs. After a few minutes of debating, we continued south. The trail remained fun for a while, then turned into the ATV track. Nothing but sand. Finished the loop, then got on the first section of single track we could find. Salt Wash Singletrack... Just as much fun as Sovereign, but with more consequences... A prime example of "don't think about the consequences...." and keep your eyes on the trail. Once again, there were a few sections that I was off and walking. Nick cleaned most of it - some of the steeper, really sandy trails were a bit too much. But the trail as a whole was really fun - enough entertainment to make Nick want to come back and ride it all again.

The ride was long enough to make us skip the Slick Rock adventure. We got some food and checked into the condo to chill and enjoy (?) some cable TV... And plan the adventures for Saturday!

Nov 10, 2011

Fruita explorations

This was a planned escape from Colorado Springs with no agenda except ride a lot, ride some new trails and run in some different places. Day one of the trip was spent in Fruita, where we got two rides in on two different single track systems. Awesome fun and a good day of riding! And hint of the fun that was awaiting us in Moab.

In the morning, we bundled up and headed north on 18 Road to the North Fruita Desert trail systems. The sun was out, but it was still chilly with the dew frozen on the roads and grasses. We were both pretty warmly dressed, and only a few layers would come off as the sun grew warmer. The trails there were fast and smooth, meandering through wheel high grass. I was waiting for the antelope to come jumping out of the grass! We also found some fun technical trails with steep, challenging climbs and well built switchbacks into and out of the gullies and canyons. The best trail that we rode (and we didn't come close to riding all of them) was Kessler's Run. It had a good flow, both up and down with banked, bermed turns and plenty of rock obstacles. We had to call it a day earlier then we wanted - there were other trails to explore. I also wanted to get in a short run after that first ride. The dirt road leading back south towards Fruita was the perfect stretch of dirt for that run.

We headed back to the hotel, cleaned up and refilled camelbacks and loaded up the Osprey 22s for the trek to Lunch Loops in Grand Junction. Nick and I had both heard really cool things about the trails in the Lunch Loops area and were looking forward to another few hours on the bike. We studied the map, picked some trails to form what looked like a good loop and headed out. And up - right away, we were climbing. And it was a technical, rocky single track climb along a ridge line. Definitely a keep your eyes on the trail and not on the consequences type of trail! I did my fair share of walking, but did my best with following Nick through the really cool single track. Things were going good, but about 90 minutes into the ride, I blew a rocky stepdown section. Nick told me to stay left, I did my best, but there was a big rock on the other side of the trail. I think I was looking at the rock, didn't get my weight back enough and hit the front brakes. Supergirl, I am not! A rather inelegant landing ended with my bike on top of me. No injuries, but I hit my leg on something hard - a deep bruise quickly developed. But the bruise was so deep, I couldn't even see it. We finished the ride and headed back to Fruita. Lunch Loops 1 - Tracy 0! But we will return - I don't think we even hit a third of the park!

Nov 7, 2011

More Isis Memories

Isis was such a character. She had a huge personality and was the boss of the house. Kept DumDum in line and always made sure we didn' forget to feed her. Over ten and a half years of provides plenty of memories and I want to share a few of the best ones.

*The day I brought her home, I had her locked in my bathroom to keep her away from Mom's other cat. And she kept whining and crying till I eventually opened the door to the bathroom. I shut my bed room door first so she couldn't get into the rest of the house. But she didn't want to go far. Just to my bed where she curled up and started purring.

*A march day in Denver coming home from PT class. Isis met me at the door of the apartment with plaintive mew. She kept pacing between the kitchen and the door. I found out why A line of ants was marching from a tiny hole in the floor across the entrance to the kitchen and straight to her food bowl. The entire bowl was writhing like the food had come alive. Not a good thing for a cat with food separation issues!

*After graduation from PT school I moved back in with my mother (time to study from boards and play running bum). I had just come back from a run and was outside stretching when Nick rolled by. We didn't know each other yet. He'd been working on his bike and was test riding it. We talked for a while with Isis meowing through the window. When I told her to be quiet, Nick asked me if she was named after the bb brand. Huh? Nope the Egyptian goddess!

Isis staring at Nick in the wig...
*While getting ready for a Halloween party Nick decided to test his costume on the cats. With a huge scruffy wig and ratty false teeth, he didn't look much like himself. DumDum ran in terror - he wasn't having anything of that. Isis stood her ground. Her tail puffed out about three times normal, but she was tough - she was gonna defend her turf!

*Her favorite place to lay was right on my stomach or on Nick's chest or leg. She would hop up, meow a few times and just plop down sprawling out. Chin down staring at you and legs hanging over the side. Nick would give her a gentle beating and she purr even louder dig in for more and let out a little purr meow combo when you stopped. She must have loved them; she never ran away.

*Any of the parties we had. Isis would be question around, looking for unattended plates. I caught her tasting everything, from yogurt to soup, stealing string cheese and any kind of meat she could find. I'd say her name in a scolding tone. She'd dash off around the corner, wait a few minutes, then come right back.

17 pounds of Isis on the box spring, looking proud.
*When Nick and I got a bed frame, we got rid of the box spring under the mattress. We weren't sure that we'd like the frame, so we put the box spring in the office. One day, I heard a strange noise from the office. Isis was sitting on top of the box spring, looking super proud. This was when she weighed 17 pounds, so I have no clue how she got up there.

*After moving into the new house, we finally had stairs. A new game quickly developed - Nick would bring her downstairs at night. I would fill her food bowl up. The drag race up the stairs was the fastest I've seen her move. We made it part of the weight loss program and it was working really well.

*Isis always knew when I needed some attention. After my eye surgery, when I was home alone and not able to do anything, I got plenty of snuggle time. She was super attentive to what I was doing then and spent most of the day sitting next to me or on my lap. That's when we started our "afternoon naps" where I got to play cat and snooze on my day off with my cat.

Isis on Nick's leg, yelling for more beatings.
*Finally, the 17th of October - I was trying to finish my race report from the 24 Hours of Colorado Springs. Isis tried jumping up onto the couch where I was sitting, but couldn't quite make it. I lifted her up and she settled on my lap - sprawled out on my legs with a soft purr. I put a pillow over her, set my computer on my pillow and kept typing. She kept purring, a happy and comfortable cat.

And as I'm writing this, the two new family members are getting settled. I miss Isis - have called Sasha Isis as few times and George Chubby once or twice (she has a big belly after eating!) But they are two little sweethearts and such goofballs. Still getting to know them, but Sasha is the lively, feisty one and George seems to be a snuggler. Although that might all change when George gets some weight on her little frame!

Nov 6, 2011

So Much for Recovery Days!

This has been a good recovery week - worked a bunch, got some chores done around the house and slept in nearly every day. Also took way to many photos of the new kittens, but I'll talk about them later! After our slightly mucky single speed ride in Palmer Park yesterday, Nick and I when to Ascent Cycling to get some stuff. Clay mentioned that he and a few of the guys were planning on heading to Lake Pueblo today, I was all in. There were some new trails I wanted to take Nick down and having more then an hour to play sounded good. So to heck with another recovery day! The sun was shining, there wasn't much wind and it was a perfect day to ride some rocks.

We met up with the gang at the Arkansas Point parking lot and headed out. Started out with the climb up Rodeo, then dropped Rattlesnake - no wildlife sighting this ride! Up Skull Canyon then along Roller Coaster to one of the new trails - Sidewinder (another snake name - sensing a theme here...) I've only ridden Sidewinder once before - and bailed on two sections because I wasn't sure of the lines. I'm a bit of a chicken - new trails, riding alone, tend to not take chances. Well, this time, I wanted to ride the whole thing. Had to take two shots, botched the entrance into the first rock drop. But the second time, I made the first rock drop cleanly, then picked my way through to the second one. I'd scouted the line the first time I'd ridden Sidewinder, and decided to take the chance. The line I'd chosen was a good one and I made it down neatly.

Need a bike mechanic? Patrick fixing his flat
Then on to the other new trail, which I'm calling "Inner Limits." It parallels the bluff line on the east side of Pedro's point, completing a nice single track loop with Outer Limits. As a new trail, it's a work in progress and still needs some buffing in. A few corners are a little crazy tight, but its a fun ride - longer and much better then the double track of Pedro's Point. Our ride here was delayed a few times as Patrick got a flat. But once that was taken care of, it was time to rail Outer Limits. That section of single track is so much fun to just haul a$$ on - sending shale chattering through the corners and flowing up and down through the sage and scrub oak.

After that, Nick was ready for some rocks. We dropped Waterfall, then climbed up Rock Canyon, with a slight break halfway up for some skills work. I tried a different line - made it, but the guys said it wasn't pretty (something about using all the travel on the fork as my front wheel hit a rock....) A few more fun canyon drops and time to head back to the car! Dusty, tired, but with smiles on our faces. How can you not be happy with a great time riding bikes with fun people on awesome single track?
At the junction of Inner and Outer Limits and Pedro's Point - Smiles all around

Nov 3, 2011

A week of wildlife

This post is a little late - got distracted with other events.
It's not uncommon to see all kinds of critters while out training. Usually it is nothing more interesting then a coyote or fox but this was a busy week. On the 11th I watched a coyote stalking some leashed ankle biters. I am not sure the owner noticed how intently her dogs were being followed. During my morning run on the 13th there was quite the herd of bucks in Bear Creek. I noticed that two of them were fighting - National Geographic style. And they were getting into it - aantlers locked, the whole bit. All for the affection of the does on the other side of the trail... I did not head back that way when I finished the run. Then after work I took the single speed to Lake Pueblo. Near the end of the ride, after cruising Outer Limits, I was finishing my ride by coming down Waterfall. With a loud scream a bundle of feathers exploded from the rocks in front of me. In the fading evening light I had flushed a large golden eagle from its perch in the canyon. Still screaming the eagle flew away into the sunset. A little shaken, I finished the ride, watching the eagle soaring.

And finally - the most interesting critter sighting. On Friday the 14th I went out for an easy run after swimming in the morning. About 2 miles into the run I pass some apartment buildings off Cheyenne Blvd. Happen to notice a lady out back smoking. Not unusual at that complex, I see people out all the time. I return my attention to the road and see the bear crossing the road I was running on. A nice big black bear out looking for breakfast. He meandered thru the bushes and around the garages behind the apartments. I kept running. I knew what was coming. Sure enough the bear ambled past the smoker and I heard the screams. She must have gotten quite the shock. And the bear must have had his breakfast. A little bit later on my run, I saw the tipped over garbage cans and still steaming bear scat!

A good reminder to stay alert on my workouts. For every animal I see who knows how many watch me. That cute deer could really cause some damage if cornered and I don't want to think about a pissed off bear.Its still cool and keeps me on the lookout for other critter encounters.