Monday, January 31, 2011

Cop Out

Operation Seat Bag Construction is in full swing and I will have pictures of the undertaking up soon. I am being slapped in the face with the fact that my domestic (sewing) skills just do not exist, but I think its going to turn out well anyway.

In the meantime, I am pulling a huge cop out today and throwing some vids on here. Hope you enjoy them.

The first one is a short one of my constant companion for the last ten years.

The second one goes waaaaaaay back to when I was really young growing up in eastern Oregon. I originally made it for my mom when she lost her dog this summer, but as I watched it again a few minutes ago, it made me smile to think of how different my world was back then. Hopefully it is not too boring.

Pretty good cannonball, eh?

Friday, January 28, 2011

Taking Inventory

T minus 19 days until I leave for Tucson and 24OP. I am a bit nervous, but feel good about my training and excited to ride in the desert and for some good times with friends.

The race ends on Sunday, February 20th, but I am not coming back to Denver until the 24th. I don't have to work again until Friday and the Arizona Trail, (literally a hop, skip and a jump away) is calling. Its time for a test run, thus explaining the recent acceleration of gear planning and accumulation.

I am still working on the plan for the sections of trail I want to ride and the logistics of pick up/dropoff. Much of this has to do with my brother being able to stay the week. It's still a bit up in the air, but I am really hoping it works out. If not, I won't be able to see as much trail as I would like. More on this soon...

Upon taking inventory on what I have/need still, I was pretty happy to learn I am NOT going to have to buy the newest generation SPOT in order to activate Track Progress. In case you are not familiar with SPOT, here is a link to the one I got when they first came out a few years ago. Its heavier than the newest version and doesn't have all the features, but still fully functional and reliable, so I am going to forego the purchase of a new one (YES!!).


Ok, so here is the rundown of what I have:

 2010 Gary Fisher Superfly 100
 --The back tire (currently a 1.9) has got to go. I will most likely put the same one as I have on the front.

Epic Designs Frame Bag, used but modified to fit my frame.

GPS--just got the handlebar mount yesterday, never have had it on a bike before, just in a backpack :)

Sleeping Bag--I debated for a few weeks over which bag to buy, but went with this one, due to dimensions, weight and warmth. I teetered back and forth between this and a 40 degree bag, but came to the realization that I am a pansy. I am definitely willing to take on a few extra ounces for the added warmth. Even though I will be sleeping fully-clothed, I hate being cold. Hate it...haha!

First Aid Kit- this one is easy since I already have a super lightweight kit I made and take on hikes.

Water Filter- have had this for a couple of years and love it. Need to change the filter though.

Food--From many hiking trips and 14er trips, I have been able to figure out what works for me. I can't eat a huge burrito and then try to exert a huge physical effort. Powerbars, protein bars, custom trail mix, dried fruit (mmmmm, mango and raisins), jerkey, chocolate-covered espresso beans, fruit strips (high in potassium), sandwiches, pita pockets filled with almond butter and agave nectar...Basically high energy food is what I will carry and eat more often and on the bike. No doubt I will buy more in the towns I pass through.

I am not going to take my Pocket Rocket stove and lightweight cooking items to cook dehydrated food. It takes up too much space, the de-hy food pouches are bulky and it seems unneccessary when hot food is available in the next town if I really need it.

Backpack--This is a newer version of the same pack I have. Super light, good capacity and accomodates a hydration bladder.

Light--this is my current light. Recharging the battery is the big issue I need to look at and plan accordingly. Thinking about getting this one in addition: Princeton light. I have several Petzl hiking headlamps, but they aren't very bright.

Clothing Layers/Warmth: I feel very prepared in this area, but am looking at a few different layering changes..More on this later...

Here is what I need:

Bike tool/repair kit: HELP! This is by far my biggest weakness. I have many ideas of what to carry from looking at other's blogs, but my problem is that I am so inexperienced in, say, fixing a broken chain, changing brake pads or something along those lines, that I need to seriously get up to speed here. Flats I can handle, but for everything else, I admit I have pulled the "girl card" for too long. And I suck at fixing things..heh...that needs to change. Here is a rough brainstorm of things I need:

Repair kit:

-Tire boot
-Tire Levers
-Chain links
-Brake pad set
-Zip ties
-Chain lube
-Two tubes
-Small hand pump


Other stuff:

-Maps/Que sheets
-Cell phone

Shoes: My current shoes won't work for hike-a-bike sections. I am looking pretty seriously at the Pearl Izumi X-Alp line and doubting (in my case) the PRO version is really worth dropping two bills on. The Enduros are fitting my budget much better...anyone have any experience with either or other suggestions?

Seat Post Bag/Gas tank pack: Seat post bag under construction currently. Need to pick up a gas tank bag, but am really wondering if I need one since everything I would put in it normally goes in the waist strap pockets on my backpack..Still thinking, but will probably go with one.

Bivy: Going with this one

So this is where I am for AZ...I am anxious to see the desert (well, kind of, anything new is exciting), but more to get out on the trail for some overnights and feel this whole thing out. What I have here will certainly be refined and changed. I urge any comments or things you may have tried that work. Thanks for reading this! I see how it can be a bit of a dry read, so here are some of my favorite pictures taken from the summit of Mt. Sneffels...No doubt I will be missing this after a week of CHOLLA...ha!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Solid Ride in Jeffco

After a fun day riding up north on Wednesday, I had quite the list of things to do today. REALLY fun stuff like laundry, taxes, trivial errands, etc. The plan was to then jump on my road bike and join in on the Thursday night run with DTR. Ummm, yeah, guess who I spent about 5 hours with today? This guy:

Starting out at my house in Morrison, I tried, yet again, to ride the steps out of my door up to the road. No go again. Ahh well, maybe next time I will make it all the way. I jumped on the Bear Creek path, hit the singletrack and did the obligatory tour of Bear Creek State Park. 14 miles of paved roads and paths later, I was at Deer Creek Park hoping it wasn't a complete ice rink....

WRONG!! About 2 or 3 miles in, there was far more ice than dirt, so I bagged it and turned around.

I tried to get up the hill, but my 1.9 back tire was laughing in my face. (That and the fact I could barely WALK up the hill). So I headed to Waterton--ie..a ton more road to get there...

Stopped for the all-too-familiar bike picture at some gorgeous frozen falls before heading up the Colorado Trail for a while:

The CT was snowpacked but greasy and slick. I did hit some mud about 3 miles in and turned around for a sketchy downhill back to the top of Waterton and back home. Waterton Canyon closes in 3 days, but Centennial Cone opens in 3 days. Awww yeah. Good stuff at the Cone.

More Waterton pics:

And, I ordered my bikepacking sleeping bag today....Just a few things left to get the setup complete!


Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A Good Morning and Daydreams of Eden at 11K

My dog has no concept of sleeping in. Every morning (no joke) about 3-5 minutes before 7, I can feel two beady eyes staring a hole in me. She is too mellow to be overtly obnoxious, but she definitely is persistent in her mission to get fed and let out pre-7AM. If I am feeling a little lazy (like this morning), the old wet nose in the ear always blasts me out of bed and her goal is accomplished. So, this morning after the usual routine, I started on a mission of my own, Operation Frame Bag Alteration.

It started with this:

Photo Credit: JK
  Looked like this when I first put it on my bike with no alterations:

No bueno
 And with some creative redesigning and the pending addition of one more small strip of velcro on top:

I have now have my frame bag. SWEET! Originally, I planned to alter the lower corner, but it actually fit perfectly and it became apparent that the top was going to be a much better place to make the adjustment. Making a slit the entire length of the bag starting in the top left corner, hemming the frayed edges and with the addition of the previously mentioned velcro...its as good as custom.

Soon after the bag was done, I began daydreaming of one of my favorite hot springs in Colorado--

The hot springs sits in the middle of this valley

 Looking back from the pass on part of the route in

On the Pass

Just after cresting the pass

Some needed trail yoga after hiking 13 miles in

Ahhhhhh, and the long awaited, well-deserved soak in a
  completely undeveloped hole in the earth consisting of rocks,
100 degree water and a view into the valley surrounded by 14K' peaks...truly Eden.

I need to get back in the next month or two. When I can wake up in a tent and walk a quarter of a mile for an early morning soak in this, I can't say that I care what time Wheels wakes me up!

Monday, January 24, 2011

The Call...

"The mountains are calling and I must go..." -John Muir



The call overtook me once again last Thursday. I headed up to Nederland for a good workout on my snowshoes.

Wheels assumed her normal co-pilot positon:

The plan was ten miles on the shoes, grab some good pictures, a hot cup of coffee and then on to Idaho Springs for a relaxing soak. The snowshoe was a bit harder than I had anticipated due to some forceful wind gusts that caused the snow to blow everywhere. The high peaks were getting it a lot harder, but the winds in Ned were enough to cause some problems seeing the road.

And the high altitude winds taken from the trail:

After I had sufficiently exhausted my desire to shoe through anymore blowing snow, my day ended here:

And for the record, I have no knowledge whatsoever about the Crown Royal....uhhh, ok...well, maybe a little. ;-P

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

A Mountain Dweller Contemplates 300 Miles of Cholla

My first hike in Colorado, now 5 years ago, left me a bit surprised to see cactus on the forest floor. I was fresh out of the Willamette Valley, Oregon, where non-vascular plants (ferns mainly) graced the sides of the trails. This is a testament to the vast amount of rain that I was happy to escape upon moving to Colorado.

But, I can deal with cactus. I leave it alone and admire it from afar, like most. I have only had one episode of "cact-ass" after a pretty good wreck on the Blue Sky trail last spring. Yes, it had me pulling spines out of my backside with tweezers for days. As a result, I must admit that I don't admire cactus quite so much anymore....

But my upcoming trip(s) to AZ are forcing me to think about this looming monster:

Cholla.   Huh?

Cholla is a type of cactus this mountain girl had to learn about on Wikipedia. I first heard the word from my friend in the midst of a marathon session of questions. This sparked some curiosity, and here is what I found:

Prickly desert stuff that hurts to remove

Sweet. Can't wait ;-)

I think I will grab my snowshoes and go seek out some snow for my workout tomorrow.The Indian Peaks Wilderness, more specifically, Devil's Thumb Lake, sounds like a good place to go for lunch. Wheels is getting ancy from being inside a lot this week and needs to get some miles in anyway.

Looking forward to it. Weather looks cold but clear, probably some wind, but I need some tough girl elements thrown into the mix, right? My iPod is loaded with some new beats and I will have adequate time to go over my bikepacking setup and gear and make a mental list of possible weaknesses/holes in my game.

Ok, enough for now because I am currently engrossed in Mark Twight's book, "Kiss or Kill: Confessions of a Serial Climber" my Rainier partner sent me the other day. Good call, Steve. :)

And this blog

I do love work from those with an insightful and strong voice. Mad respect to these two :-)

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Moonlight Ride

I am about a month away from my first-ever trip to Arizona. 24 Hours of Old Pueblo is the race that beckons me to the desert. Training is going well. Mornings on the indoor trainer for an hour or so and outdoor rides in the afternoon or evening. Throw in a fair bit of running, some (not enough) snowshoeing and some significant gym time and you get a good picture of my days.

Knowing I need more night riding, I decided that last night's clear, starry sky, would be the perfect opportunity to get a solid 4 hours in. The near-full moon even allowed me to turn my light off for a while and just enjoy the crisp air and stillness of the night. I hit up some singletrack that was fast and surprisingly still frozen--ie not muddy. The rest was road riding that provided a good mix of hills and fast flats. My legs felt strong and I could've ridden all night. I found that sweet spot that felt almost effortless, yet when I looked down, I was surprised at my pace. I was in the proverbial "zone."

I stayed here for literally three of the four hours. There was an eerie stillness to the night and time barely existed. There was no traffic in the canyon and each hill I climbed put me closer to the starry abyss that seemingly engulfed me. I turned off the road and began climbing up a snowy, frozen trail. Endless switchbacks put me on a wide, grassy bench about 20 minutes later. The trail flowed back and forth across the bench. It was fast, but narrow and tricky. Soon the trail began to wind down a hill and reconnected with the paved road. The slick, icy downhill demanded every ounce of my focus and my back tire was all over the place. I kept going, alert and aware, but never stopping or slowing. Speed was my friend here and allowing myself to think, even for a second about the ice and snow on the trail would be disaterous. Certain carnage....

A couple more hills and about 10 more miles....I was home. A truly surreal experience, to which I can only attempt a description. This was a ride I wished I wasn't solo. I would have loved for someone else to also experience the euphoric freedom of this still, starry night on a bike.

As I think back to about 24 hours ago, Edward Abbey's words ring in my ears:

"So get out there...mess around with your friends, ramble out yonder and explore the forests, climb the mountains, bag the peaks, run the rivers, breathe deep of that yet sweet and lucid air, sit quietly for a while and contemplate the precious stillness, the lovely, mysterious, and awesome space. Enjoy yourselves, keep your brain in your head and your head firmly attached to the body, the body active and alive, and I promise you this much; I promise you this one sweet victory over our enemies, over those desk-bound men and women with their hearts in a safe deposit box, and their eyes hypnotized by desk calculators. I promise you this: You will outlive the bastards."

Hmmmmm, time to open the safe deposit box?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Thoughts on the CTR and a Bit of Sunshine on a Sunday

Another breathtaking sunrise this morning from Sunshine Canyon:

Schedule issues forced me to ride solo very early this morning, so I used it as a good opportunity to get some night riding in as well as riding in cold temps. I tried to hook up with a group of friends doing a cool loop consisting of paved roads, dirt roads, mining roads and singletrack, but couldn't make it work. So after getting the route info last night, I set out around 6 AM on my singlespeed anxious to do some navigating. I ended up missing the second "super secret" mining road, and time was a factor, unfortunately, so I high-tailed it back to Boulder.

Here is a look at the snowpack on which I rode about 2.5 miles

It wasn't too bad to ride in because it was early enough in the morning things were still pretty frozen.

Me (don't laugh) :)

Hey, it was cold this morning :-P

My thoughts, beyond the immediate trail,  can really go anywhere on a solo ride. Mostly they are focused on a few important things I need to sort out. And sometimes they are nonexistent, especially on the road. Seriously. I will count telephone posts or lightposts or something weird like that. My iPod is always loaded with something motivating and loud, but today I thought mostly about the CTR and my setup and gear.

I have my hiking/camping/climbing packs and gear dialed in pretty tight. I am always doing some tweeking and changing here and there depending on trip length and type, season and any new additions, but I know what weight I can carry comfortably and if I load on extra I can adjust quickly. I have figured out my layering system and I know how to stay warm. Keeping my fingers warm will be a lifelong battle, but for the most part, I am winnning.

Bikepacking is a bit different, and I am really excited to dial in my setup. I haven't spent a lot of time looking at other racers setups in great detail because I don't want to just copy what others are doing. Part of the allure of this whole CTR escapade is figuring out what kind of a pack and gear is going to work for me, individually.

Three things (at least at this time) are essential to my success in the CTR:

Weight: 85-90% of my gear weight HAS to be on my bike. The hardest ride I have ever ridden to this day was the last few miles of climbing up to Georgia Pass this last summer. The plan was to camp on Boreas Pass, but I had far too much weight on my back. I mistakenly thought I could handle a lot of weight like when I hike. WRONG. I don't ever give out, but about 10 minutes before getting to the top of Georgia Pass, I was done. I seriously kept fighting the urge to dropkick my pack off a cliff. I couldn't climb well, I was really frustrated and I felt like I had a concrete block strapped to my shoulders. I was spent when I got to the top. What an excellent lesson and it will be a big factor in my setup. I will go with minimal weight on my back.

Warmth: The female finger warming battle again. Cold fingers make me exceptionally irritable and I start to mentally weaken a little. It's not like I don't have really good gloves either. So, I am constantly figuring this one out, but I think part of it involves this: Toughen the [blank] up!

Shoes: Here is where race reports and blogs have REALLY enlightened me to the importance of good shoes. I am doing a lot of researching into what shoes I will wear. My current bike shoes are great for riding without much hike-a-bike, but I won't wear them on the CTR. That would be a recipe for failure...

I love the all the planning and what I have here doesn't begin to even scratch the surface of what is to come...

I leave you with one more sunrise pic:

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Keep on Keepin' On

Saturday morning.

Planning a litle run, bike, run, bike, run first thing, but I am even more stoked after hearing some rumblings of a plan to ride up Sunshine Canyon.

Sweet. I walk outside with Wheels and am stunned by this:

God, I love this state. The gorgeous view isn't just in the east. The reflection gives us an almost 360 degree coloring of the sky:

Looking west:

And to the northwest:

Grab my bike and head out the door. Take off front tire. Load bike. Drive 45 minutes to Aurora. Park. Unload bike. Put front tire back on. Grab my gear and ride into Cherry Creek State Park.

Ummmm, where is my left running shoe? Seriously? No....this is a joke.

Ride back to car, search everywhere. Where is my left shoe? I know they were both in my backpack this morning....

Ok, I am still going to do this duathlon. No time to drive back to Morrison and look for my shoe....I can run in my bike shoes:

Ehhhhh, no. Not for 4 miles at any kind of a pace....Can't even get traction on the trail.

I am done. No Chilly Cheeks for me this year.Time for some hot chocolate and the drive back home.

Get home. Walk down the steps:

Pick up now empty cup, still wondering where my shoe is...Look to the left:

FML. I am going back to bed and try this whole day over in about 3 or 4 hours :-)

Friday, January 14, 2011

2011 Aspirations

Tomorrow is the first competitive event of the year. I am going to take my fat tires to the Chilly Cheeks winter series duathlon. I did this last year on my road bike and did fairly well. I was the 9th overall female with an unimpressive second run time and long transitions. Its a fun event and I am needing a little competition in my training at this point, so why not capitalize on some good weather?

As for the rest of the year, I have some big goals set for myself. I am focusing hugely on mountain biking but will probably run a couple half marathons here and there and make a big push to finish out the remaining 14ers late in the summer. I am not going to run the Horsetooth Half this year. I do love the challenging hills of the course and last year I actually rode my bike from Longmont to the starting line, but three times is enough. I am seriously looking at something in Steamboat, but not completely decided yet.

My dreams and ambitions are significantly larger than my pocketbook, so in order to make this all possible, I will be crashiing in the 5 Star Mountain Hardware Hotel executive suite. Added perk: only weighs 4 lbs :)

Here's what I am planning for 2011:

24 Hours in the Old Pueblo-Tuscon, AZ  Feb 19-20

Coed Duo, with my partner, Erick Lord (who also has a badass Gary Fisher)

Chilly Cheeks #3 Aurora, CO Feb 26th

Excited to see my friend, Jen Lundman :)

Mineral Belt Mayhem Leadville, CO March 5th

Going to go watch the East Side Epic on January 22nd to get a feel....looks like a ton of fun! Bikes and snow...yah, right up my alley ;-) Cheap entry also...

Prescott Monstercross Prescott, AZ April 16th

I found out about this race while in the midst of my current mtb blog obsession. I originally was looking seriously into the Whiskey Off-Road and would love to see Rebecca Rusch tear it down, but this race fits my budget. And any organization whose mission is to "Inspire People to Ride" is soooo my style.

Voodoo Fire Pueblo, CO April 23rd

Going to ride my SS...Pueblo Reservoir. Enough said.

 I chose this over the Front Range 60 even though I live 2 min and 36 seconds from Bear Creek State Park because of the fun/challenge factor. Definitely going cruise over though and observe the FR60 and all the people.

Bailey Hundo Bailey, CO June 18th

The month of May is all about training and Rainier. This will be a great challenge for June that I am anxious to tackle.

Breck 100 Breckenridge, CO July 16th

This is big. Very ambitious and just as expensive.

Colorado Trail Race Hwy 67 & Rampart Range Rd to Durango --TBD (sometime in August I am assuming)

I moved to Colorado 5 years ago and one of the top 3 things that pulled me to this amazing place was the Colorado Trail. I decided that I was going to do this race in September 2010 and have been thinking about it ever since. I always thought I would through-hike it, but I am going to do it on my bike first. I literally have a handwritten journal I started back in September with my thoughts, plans and goals for this race...

I will be on the small list of women who have finished this race. I am not going to JUST finish either. I am aiming to be the first woman to finish. I don't want to sound arrogant or overzealous and I humbly give all my respect to the weather, the trail itself and all the other racers, but I have to go big because this race is huge to me. WOW, did I really just let that out of the vault?

Dakota 5-0 Spearfish, SD, September 4th

PBR and Bacon at Mile 35 (or something along that distance)..HAHAHAHA! I have to admit I have no real desire to go to SD, but I would love to ride this with my friends who are going and the course looks pretty fun.

UHHHH, so there I threw it all down. I am so excited and a bit nervous. I made the goal of riding Moab solo in 2011, but heard its going to be in Colorado Springs this year? I haven't been able to find anything on 24H of Moab 2011, so I am unclear at present.

When I started this blog, I said there would be an epic pursuit. This is my plan of pursuit. Stepping outside myself for a critical assessment, I absolutely realize its VERY ambitious for someone who has been in two MTB races total and is marking her 1st anniversary of MTB riding period. But I need big goals, that's how I thrive. I push perceived limits, its part of my DNA.

Thanks for stopping in to read my blog. I began this whole thing solely out of my love of mountains and bikes. I believe in living life to its fullest and in the simplicity and authenticity of my dreams. The outdoors and biking have brought so many amazing people into my life and I blog because I want to humbly and openly share my thoughts, plans, struggles, challenges and victories with those who find it interesting.

So here's to an EPIC 2011 in the mountains astride my trusty steed!!

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Loves Me Some BCO

51 degrees...aww yeah! My original plan was to rock the snowshoes today, but after hitting the snooze button three times this morning, it was too late. Plan B was Boulder, because I was anxious to see what Walker Ranch looked like and figured there wasn't as much snow as we got here in Morrison. Anticipating nasty, wet snow and some mud that probably wouldn't let me get too far and seeing that today's workout was supposed to be uphill tempo intervals, I decided to ride up Flagstaff Road. It's 8.25 miles from where I parked at Chautaqua Park and between mile 4.0 and 5.0 my GPS fluctuated between 13-16% grade. I haven't checked the official grade, but, yah, it was steep.

54 minutes from my car, I found myself at the Walker Ranch TH. Going left greeted me with wet, slippery, deep snow that my back tire wanted no part of.

Here is looking back at the trail. Notice that all the snow is ON the trail and really nowhere else:

Going to the right and downhill seemed like a little bit better idea:

I really like to ride in the snow, but like snowshoeing, the best kind on a bike is when its frozen and hardpacked. I got about a mile down the hill and tried to go through some deeper, greasy snow a bit too fast.

Soil sample (er...snow sample) ensued:

Slicker than it looked!
By this time, I was just screwing around and knew I wasn't going to ride the loop, so I turned around and climbed back out to the TH and then onto the paved road back to Boulder. A bit of climbing for about 3 miles put me at the top and the rest was a FAST downhill. Due to the shaded corners that looked a lot like black ice. the trip down wasn't a time trial by any means. So I stopped and took a few quick pictures:

This picture is a shout out to my girl, Katie Huether! Boulder and I miss you, come back soon, so much "epicness" awaits.

Today was just the beginning of the massive snow melt. Boulder was gorgeous in the sun. I love the variety of trails and sheer beauty Boulder gives us lucky Coloradans!

And just because I am still drooling over my bike, I leave you with this (sorry, I am just infatuated):

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Christmas Day Video

No trees, gifts or dinners this I decided to go look for Santa on some singletrack in Northern Colorado. Starting just outside of Loveland, there is a huge system of trails running through Devil's Backbone Open Space, Horsetooth Mountain Park and Lory State Park. Great way to spend Christmas 2010...

Shot some still images as well as this video you should check out:

DBB Ride

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Falling to Fly

Yesterday morning I found this video on Youtube and was blown away.

Highlining without a parachute or security line? Seriously? I literally stared in complete disbelief and then watched it about 5 more times. And this is merely one of Dean Potter 's unbelievable undertakings., I won't be taking up highlining, but it did haunt me all morning. It got me thinking about risk. Potter said in an interview, "You have to fall to fly." Falling, (or more accurately, jumping) off the North Face of the Eiger, for example, allows him to live his dream of flying. As I watched his squirrel-suited freefall over and over again, I fully understood the exhilaration and freedom. I crave it all the time. My adrenaline “fix” involves fast bikes, summits and wilderness adventures, but the concept is the same.

I find more awareness, strength, confidence and clarity in my world when I am surrounded by epic peaks or have miles of singletrack ahead of me. I feel more in tune with myself, I push my limits and my consciousness grows. I am fully reliant on myself to survive and I begin to intelligently grapple with the meaning of my humanity as my mind sorts through all the garbage of human social structure.

After all, above 11K’ there is no one thinking for me, no media to try and tell me what I should be doing, wearing or believing.

Being a person who loves to know what things mean beyond their outward appearance involves risk. The risk of “rocking the boat” a bit, the risk of questioning things, the risk of being a bit different and the confidence to be comfortable with it. I love discovering the inner beauty of people and cherish close relationships, but I am definitely a bit of a loner. I am intense and powerful in pursuing things that have meaning to me and am really laid back and mellow when it comes to the trivial aspects of life such as where to go to dinner, what to wear, being the center of attention…blah, blah, blah.

I wrote a paper for a class at CU-Boulder that relates well here. It’s an analysis of the movie The Matrix and the question of the blue pill versus the red pill. I jumped all over it, because it was a topic I have sorted through many times on my snowshoes in the middle of nowhere. I definitely won’t make you snooze through all of it, but do want to throw some of on here. It will either give you a good laugh, further support my self-alleged oddity or make you ask yourself the same question. If you haven’t seen the movie and need the plot synopsis:

I will start with probably my favorite line. This is a perfect assertion that growth (and the risk involved) will either scare the hell out of a person or hurt for awhile:

Neo: “Why do my eyes hurt?”
Morpheus: “You have never used them before.”

So now to the red pill/blue pill question and my ramblings from the aforementioned paper:

“Taking the red pill shows one is making the decision to ask questions, for example, about power and what it is, where it exists and how we can identify it. Probing for answers on societal issues that are sometimes not clearly understood or reconciled and searching for a purpose to our existence gives us a pathway to begin to understand our consciousness. As Trinity tells Neo, “The Matrix cannot tell you who you are” (The Matrix).

The blue pill represents believing what we are told, believing what we think we know and just accepting our existence. To be a part of the status quo is easy and comfortable with in the normal social structure. Those who question the system are sometimes viewed as different and face social pressure and exclusion. In this framework of red pill/blue pill choice, the critical questioning and comparing of power and control expressed by thinkers such as Foucault and Weber and the comparison of neocolonialism would not take place if one were to take the blue pill.”

Don’t get too lost in the neocolonialism babble…focus on the decision of which pill to take and bear with me here. This is my answer:

“So, the question remains: Which pill to take? With a moment’s hesitation, I would reach for the red pill and take it. Why the moment’s hesitation? Most certainly not because I am content with being told what to believe and feel or what is real and what is acceptable, but because making the choice to jump down the rabbit-hole involves a high level of risk. The obvious risk of not finding or not understanding or even further, not liking what is discovered, although seemingly enormous is not as devastating as the possibility of losing my friends and family as a result of my decision to question and critically assess to figure out what it all means.

My motivation for meaning in life is fervent, however and I would, as mentioned, take the red pill. Someone could argue that taking the blue pill could also be a way to discover meaning and truth because maybe the truth is, in fact, acceptance and a lack of questioning. Who really knows? I do know that personally, I am innately inclined to question and investigate. I would contend that most people are this way, but modern convenience, media and a general lethargy to think and reason things out contributes to the tendency to just habitually accept.

I find myself, true to humanity, susceptible to these things, but I find that “the splinter…in your mind, driving you mad” (The Matrix)—defined for me as that burning desire to know what things mean beyond their outward appearance—takes a stronger hold. I detest being told that I must operate or think within the boundaries of the box. True awareness comes from pushing the limits, redefining the context of the question and actively seeking new perspectives for old issues. The human mind contains limitless attributes that have the potential to expand our capabilities of searching for what we all desire to know—what does it mean to be human? What is my purpose? Am I conscious and what does that mean? The possibility to find the answers to these questions far outweighs the risks."

Open your eyes for the first time and experience the pain of growth.

Take the red pill.

I dare you.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Cleverly Disguised as an Adult

Its Monday and its COLD. I didn't turn a pedal outside today but there is now one really tired spin bike at the gym. I have been thinking about possible winter training climbs for Rainier all day. After a couple snowshoe trips this past week, I was reminded that it is, in fact, winter. We just haven't gotten much evidence of it here in the Front Range. A plan for an epic hut trip is brewing...

In the meantime,  here are some fun pictures that provide further evidence, that, really, I NEVER will  resemble a responsible adult:

HAHA! Ok, so not a lot of epic in this post, but I am blaming it soley on it being Monday and cold. I will leave you with this: