Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Short and Sweet

Just throwing down a quick post while I am gathering my thoughts for a year end wrap up:

2012 was a phenomenal year. I grew in many positive ways and cannot believe my second season of racing my bike is complete. Wrapping my head around the miles I have pedaled and the places I have seen in the past two years is next to impossible. I live a life far different from the average woman and I would not trade it for anything. I sometimes feel like an alien trying to fit into a mundane society, thus, my eyes are fixed on living my dreams, my spirit is wild and free and my heart is filled to the brim with gratitude. It composes the very fiber of my soul in ways that are too precious for language to covey. But I will try in my next post anyway...

So until then:

Arrowhead 135 post #2 is up over on Ridefatbikes.com...Check it out! I am finally learning to stay warm on two (fat) wheels. The most recent article is about my clothes, hands, feet and layering. The upcoming #3 is about the gear (some required by the race itself) on the Pugs. I am pretty excited because I found the most bitchin pair of bar mitts ever for the whopping price of $14.99. Made for an ATV, these badboys are huge, roomy and WARM. I am soooo tempted to put a teaser pic here but on second thought, I want you to go read #3 when its up.

If you are kind of intrigued by this fat bike/cold riding thing, check out Eric Larsen. He is riding his bike to the South Pole, self-supported. I have been reading his updates and to put the difficulty of this in perspective---he is covering about 22 nautical miles per day and these are his accomodations:


This is why I laugh when any supported race/event promotes itself as the toughest in the world.

Ok, enough rambling.

One final look at our failed igloo attempt on Christmas Day:



Since snow is such a rare and precious commodity this year, we scrounged every last bit of quality snow (I was literally hauling loads in a wheelbarrow in from the street). After a while, demolition became more appealing than construction...

Then our Christmas Day festivities concluded with the Intergalactical Red Ryder BB gun championships:


After a formidable battle, I hereby, and ever-so-humbly relinquished my title to the master.

Then redeemed myself with the Scrabble title and my new mantra:






Sunday, December 16, 2012

Oh, the Places I Go!

This weekend took me to two new places. The first was a mystifying ice palace hidden amongst the mountains:


And a mere ten miles away:


And the mode of transport responsible (hmmm, any guesses here?):



The notion of simplicity and the vast distance we put between it and our daily lives was predominant in my thoughts as I pedaled along exploring Colorado for the last few days. Comforting are the wise words of the good ol' doc Seuss:

“You have brains in your head. You have feet in your shoes. You can steer yourself any direction you choose. You're on your own. And you know what you know. And YOU are the one who'll decide where to go...” 
― Dr. SeussOh, the Places You'll Go!


Friday, December 7, 2012

Today's Email

Pardon me as I dry the tears from my eyes, but I must share this.

I got in from a brisk ride home from the gym this morning and opened my email to find this:


Dear Jill,

I doubt you remember me, but I met you in the Grand Canyon this spring on your race. You gave me your email to send you a picture since you didn't have a camera and I wanted you to know that you have been a huge source of motivation to make some much needed changes in my life. Before, I never dreamed I could ride a bike three blocks but now I ride four miles to and from work everyday. I have regained my health and my smile and my life is on a whole new path.

Thank you again, Jill. And Merry Christmas to you.

Attached was this picture and caption:


"The woman who follows the crowd will usually go no further than the crowd. The woman who walks alone is likely to find herself in places no one has ever been before." --Albert Einstein
Christmas came early for me this year. My present is knowing that another life was enriched, changed and saved by a bike.

Months later, my trip across the canyon just took on a whole new meaning....




Monday, December 3, 2012

Ride Fat Bikes Race Report Series

As I sit and gaze out the window on this warm, sunny, dry December day here in Colorado, I long for winter to arrive. I love huge snowflakes that fall out of the sky and massive storms that leave two feet of snow. I want to see snowy peaks and people shoveling their driveways. I like winter. I like the change that comes with each of the seasons.

I don't have to put my bike away when the ground in covered in ice and snow. Nope. I just bring out the Pugs, deflate the Nates a bit, add more layers and bigger gloves and continue pedaling until spring.

The Puglsey's next adventure is set for January 28, 2013 starting in International Falls, MN. The race is the Arrowhead 135, a goal I set for myself about a year ago. It is a beast of  a race. So what am I doing to prepare besides intricate snow dances to bring some of the beloved white stuff here?

Find out here: http://ridefatbikes.com/2012/12/arrowhead-135-an-insiders-look/

I will be doing a series of posts with pictures outlining my training, gear, bike, adventures and thoughts before, during and after the race. You will find them all on  ridefatbikes.com. I love this site. Check out the sweet photo gallery where readers are encouraged to send in their own pictures and share their stories. It is a fantastic resource for everything fat bike--racing, trails, information---you name it, this site has it covered.

So check out my first post and keep checking back for more as I will be adding new stories of what I am doing, what is working, what is not and most importantly what I am learning...


Oh, yeah, and THINK SNOW....lots of it!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Today

The words of Craig Childs have never been more poignant. Soul of Nowhere captivates my thoughts and, thus, my blog today:


"In desolation we expect to find utter emptiness. There should be nothing but the barren end of the world here, but instead I find an inalienable, voracious presence...." 



"I am soothed and driven by the alignments around me..."



"I feel the thrumming heartbeat of the land..."



Go. Now. Move. Seek. Hunger. Ride. Love. Appreciate. Give. Live.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Good: Top Ten Style

Last shift starts in less than 3 hours. I leave with an abundance of gratitude for being employed in a time many are not and ten good memories.....

10. Cash. When it rained, it poured. Five bill Friday nights do not suck. And making a mortgage payment in one shift during the World Series was ok too.

9. A note I received from a very strange, rough-looking customer who was passing through a small town near Eugene, Oregon. It read: "Not even my friends and family treat me with the kindness and respect you gave me. What makes you so humble? You could have the whole world if you wanted..."

8. Closing down and handing out gloves and hats while serving free Thanksgiving dinner on the 16th Street Mall to the people that are normally asked to leave on any other day...

7. All the people I saw make healthy and positive changes in their lives. Ironically, it seemed to always involve a two wheels in some way or another...

6. A ticket to Barack Obama's acceptance speech at (then) Invesco Field during the Democratic National Convention (Thank you, Mr. McKeever!!)

5. Passionate local musicians working for peanuts just to play....I, too, feel the fire burn for what I love...We are cut from the same cloth.

4. Leeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeroy Jenkins.

3. Smoking ban in Colorado. I had just moved from Oregon and had never had to work in a place that allowed smoking. I had to endure a month of people's disgusting, wretched, putrid, gut-wrenching, deathly sidestream smoke before it passed. Had it not passed, my time in the industry would have been shorter. Guaranteed. Hmmmm, isn't life funny?

2. The fact that I still believe in humanity. I have a million reasons and stories to make a case for the opposite, but I have a million and one that help me leave with the belief that there is light in everyone somewhere.

1. The people. Those I worked for, worked with, served, or just randomly crossed paths due to this industry. I hope many are reading this. I have made lifelong friends whom I respect, cherish and love. I wish I could list and personally thank everyone who I have met over the years that has touched my life, but I do have to work my last shift tonight. You know who you are and I love you all.

It's only appropriate (especially if you know me):


to say Cheers!!

And now its back to bikety, bikety, bikety, bikety blogging. Back on the bike tomorrow. I have the "Hell yes, I'll ride that" vigor back in my heart, big plans and a new structure to support them.

Ok....Once more....Cheers!


Tuesday, October 30, 2012

El Feo

To fully explain why I am quitting the bartending industry would fill a book. 

Knowing the potential length of this post, I debated with myself last night on how to write it. How do I explain that when I clock in my heart checks out? How do I explain that the shell of a person who shows up everyday to mindlessly go through the motions is not Jill? How do I say that I just don't care at all anymore? That it is all an act and I am finding myself to be a really shitty actor these days? How do I say that I feel like I lead two separate lives--one (which I love) starts when I clock out and the other (which I dread) starts when I clock in? Worse yet...how do I say that the "clocked in" life is beginning to negatively affect the "clocked out" life? 

Let's keep it simple, I will just say it:

I just cannot do it anymore. I cannot waste my life doing something for which I have zero passion, find zero challenge,  get zero reward and possess zero interest. I cannot force myself to fill ketchup bottles, be fake nice, care if the sugar caddies are full, or answer the same question a hundred times a day. Part of what it does to me is seen on the outside as humorous sarcasm on some days, and on others as reserved aloofness. I used to get angry and irritable on the inside as a way to cope, but found it to be a waste of time and energy. Now I just feel my heart slowly dying as I berate myself for not using my intelligence and passion to do something that utilizes my strengths and helps others. 

When I pull away all the layers and tell it how it is--I truly feel like an alien at work. That's why I never send Jill to work. Jill is riding her bike all over the world in her mind. A hardened shell of Jill is standing behind a bar listening to the lonely, sad people tell the same story over and over. But even the shell is now exhausted and refusing to show up and do the same mind numbing tasks everyday.

And ugly things like cynicism, sarcasm, apathy, grouchiness, irritability, fear, lack of confidence, laziness and sadness are beginning to tiptoe into my life outside of work. I have cried my eyes out pedaling the Pugs home from work on a few occasions thinking about the life I want and the life I am wasting. I have sacrificed far too many races, rides, adventures and experiences. I neglect the people I want to see and share this life with. Why? Because every Saturday and Sunday I am pouring drinks and serving food.

That is ugly. Very ugly. 

I put on shackles in exchange for money. It's called a job. Those of us without money trees in the backyard have one. An obligation in exchange for the legal tender is a form of a shackle. Some (biking the world or sequencing proteins) are barely noticeable and some (my current set) hurt like hell.

They hurt too much keep them on any longer and are beginning to leave scars. So, in two days, I get to take them off and begin the search for a new pair--a pair that doesn't cut off my circulation, restrain me from a life that is seemingly passing me by or leave a hole in my heart.

This precious life is too short to waste. It is time to rediscover and reawaken a beautiful, kind, driven, optimistic, dean's list biochemistry major with a talent for writing, and a heart for giving.

So that’s it. I am done with the ugly. I have fought it for too long. Through my writing I share, process, clarify, cherish, vent and release things in my life. With this, I am letting go of the ugliness I let creep in over the years in the industry.

What needs to vanish from your life? (Fear, limits, a job, a relationship, etc)

You already have the courage…so do it.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

The Bad


I now only need one hand to count the number of shifts remaining in the biz. Durango has hit its seasonal slow-down and the streets and restaurants are no longer filled with tourists, but sales have remained pretty good thanks to the politically passionate people who come in to watch the presidential debates and gather in support of the local candidates. I have decided to drop three more posts before November 1---The Good, The Bad and the Ugly side of this industry (so clich├ęd.. but bear with me). I want to end remembering the Good but also bring to light some of the Ugly and basically just vent some of the Bad parts of the job. Every occupation has all three, so I guess I will begin my rant with the bad.

(Kind of Mandatory Disclaimer: Remember this is my personal sarcasm dump based on my observations and in no way, shape or form is directed at any one personally with any intention of mean spirited judgment or condescending tone.) 

Bad Tippers

You knew this was coming. Tip a minimum of 20%. Period. Not 18% or 20% on the total before tax or 10% (insulting) or any other amount less than 20% of your bill. This is 2012. All other rules of etiquette you may have learned are now antiquated, null and void. The prices on the menu reflect the price of the food and beverage not the service. Someone (with a heart and mind and a living to make) is in a position of serving you. Treat him or her with humble respect. You are not royalty and despite what you may think, you are not in a higher social class structure. The person handing you your cheeseburger is also a human.

We are more than happy to give you the best experience possible and accommodate your every need and quirk. So speak nicely and politely. Be gracious and tip properly. I work my ass off to get you and the hundred other people what you want as fast as I can. If I know you are going to tip me a dollar and order me around like a dog, I will still put on my fake smile and help you, but you can bet I will first help the person next to you every time.

A piece of (unsolicited) advice: Observe how a person treats their server/bartender---you will learn a lot about them that may not be evident on the surface.

Bad Kids

Yep. In Colorado it is perfectly legal to bring your kids into a bar before 9pm. And when I see parents plop them down on the stool next to them and shoot their tequila and drink six beers and ham it up with the local crowd it amazes me on one hand and saddens me on the other. There is no shortage of the F-bomb being dropped regularly in these conversations along with many other adult subjects. Sure, they have probably heard it before, but really? Is this the place to bring your 11 year old daughter or son? What are you doing? Starting them young? Showing them how cool it is to spend everyday after work on a bar stool? Drinking and partying is glamorized plenty in our society and they will be faced with it soon enough. Don’t bring your kids to the bar while you drink. Take them on a hike or to get ice cream and talk to them. Don’t just keep ordering mocktails for them while you douse your day away with tequila.

Ok, and while I am on the subject: I know kids can be grouchy, hungry and impatient. They are kids. I will do everything I possibly can to get their food out first, give them extra cherries in their Shirley Temples, etc…So, in exchange how about you teach them how to talk and act at a restaurant? What could be the worst that could happen? That they would know how to act when they are older in social situations? Maybe if you took the time to talk to them instead of just distracting them with a video game or a hot fudge sundae before the meal they would know why shredding napkins and crayon wrappings all over the floor, throwing food and screaming “Gimme” and “I want” are not acceptable ways to act.  Don’t get me wrong, there are some parents who have done an amazing job and have kids who act better and are more polite than some adults. Mad respect. That can’t be an easy task.

Bad Moods

If you know me personally, it is no secret I am NOT a fan of constantly moody or angry people. Unfortunately, Jekyll and Hyde personalities run rampant in this industry from management to bar to kitchen to wait to busser staff.  After observing and having to constantly work with grouchy, difficult, irritable, whiny, lazy and bitchy people, I soon learned that about 50% of the cause is due to being hungover everyday (yeah, sad) and the other 50% is their inability to leave their “issues” at home. We all have difficulties, challenges, issues and really rough times. Deal with it. I don’t make your time on the clock a living hell, so how about you give me the same respect? We have a job to do and your unpredictable "mood of the moment" makes the shift even longer for everyone who has to be around you. Grow up.

Bad Sleep

Ugh! This is maybe the worst of the “bad.” Double shifts that last 16 hours. Clopens. (ie. clocking out from a 3:30am closing shift and clocking in again at 10am or sometimes earlier to open). Sleep deprivation zaps motivation to study, train, ride, be social….um, yeah pretty much everything. Some nights, I find myself about halfway through the shift thinking of really nothing but my pillow and how amazing my head on it would feel. Its scary to think how many times I found myself in my driveway with no memory of the drive because I was half asleep or how many times the rumble strip on I-25 woke me up. Dead serious. Living sleep deprived is not living.

So that’s probably enough....I don’t want to dwell on negativity, but I also am not one to sugar coat reality. 

Ok. I wasn't going to, but I can't resist the chance to get my (good humored) dig in on people and their cell phone etiquette (addiction?) I tried to think of something to write, but after seeing this the other day, there is no hope of topping this:

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Not So Memorable Moments

The Great Sarcasm Dump continues for a few more days as the number of shifts remaining entered the single digits after last night. I have been remembering many moments that I found either entertaining, astounding, funny or appalling. Many of the following are, in reality, some sort of combination of all four:

1) Was the Carrot Cake really worth it?

I was working in a huge establishment on 16th Street Mall in Denver and it was somewhere in the middle of summer. We offered a limited late night menu (for the "Can I still get fooders") of ridiculously overpriced crap food. At 1:30am no one bats an eye at an $8 piece of carrot cake after a night of heavy boozing. It was nearing last call on a crazy busy night and we were three deep. I was getting my ass handed to me pouring drinks as fast as humanly possible. Mr. Fingersnapper and his girlfriend had managed to worm their way to the bar and as I walked by, he was up on his knees on the barstool, leaning over the bar, waving his menu and (yeah, you guessed it) snapping his fingers and yelling at me. He was far too intoxicated for me to even THINK about giving him a drink so I completely ignored this rude, overbearing freak and took drink orders from the sober, quiet couple who had been waiting and whose turn it was in line. This sent Mr. Fingersnapper into a rage and he (I am not joking one bit) hit my shoulder with the menu and screamed, "Hey you f-ing b___, I want some carrot cake!"

I have an extremely long fuse and the ability to NOT react to morons, so I simply ripped the menu out of his hand and told him to get out. He insulted me a couple more times with his most impressive vocabulary and when I turned around, our amazing security guard had him on the floor, hands behind his back, giving him the option to leave the building or be arrested for trespassing. This particular security guard was a friend of mine, so I knew his pet peeve was anyone who called any employee a rude or vulgar name. Larger and twice as strong as anyone in the place, I had seen many a namecaller carried out by the back of the neck or sometimes (my favorite) the ear.

Mr. Fingersnapper decided to cooperate enough to be allowed to return to his feet and then in another fit of stupidity and alcoholic rage actually TRIED TO COME OVER THE BAR TOP at me and kept yelling he wanted carrot cake.

Seriously?

The guard restrained him, I had his tab printed out and in front of him to sign and then Mrs. Fingersnapper decided to whip out her pretty pink phone and video her man getting thrown (literally) out of the building. This didn't last long and she  tried to block both men from leaving, screaming that she was going to post it all on Facebook.

Baaaahhahahahahahahahaha.....

By this time the entire bar was watching the show. Neither member of the Fingersnapper family knew how to shut up and leave and both ended up cuffed and leaving in a policecar just after last call. I had to fill out a witness report and actually got got subpoenaed to testify in some stupid lawsuit they brought against the security guard. It, of course, got dropped, but not after a night in jail and attorney fees for the Fingersnappers.

Damn. All for a piece of $8 carrot cake.

2) The Town Drunk

Every bar has one. He is the lifelong raging alkie that all the bar staff loves and hates. He knows he has wasted the last 60 years of his life in a bottle, but also he knows no other way. Old, wrinkly tattoos cover his arm, his cheeks are never any color but red and his old, gruff voice is a result of a lifetime of Marlboros. No one has seen him anywhere close to sober and out of some kind of sick sympathy, we all serve him one or two anyway,. He is usually quick with a joke, very right wing Republican and leaves 20% whether he is able to finish his beer or not. Some months we see him everyday and then he will disappear to his other watering hole for a month or two.

This particular drunk, I will call him Joe, must have been on a three day bender because when I clocked in at 5pm on a Tuesday early one fall, Joe was loud and on the fight. I knew where this was headed so when he went to use the restroom, I replaced his drink with a glass of water. This was the usual silent agreement we had established so he knew I was done serving him. Usually compliant, he normally lingered for another ten minutes and was on to the next bar to try his luck.

But not today. He pushed the water glass away and demanded another drink. I ignored him for a minute until he starting yelling that I had one minute to pour him another drink. (Yeah, really) or he was going to come behind the bar and get it himself! I told him it was time to hit the road and that I was not giving him any more alcohol. I am not sure what this triggered in his brain, but he told me that he was going to kill me if I didn't get him a drink. I laughed and walked to the other end of the bar and he charged after me threatening my life. I kid you not.

At 5pm, we had no security on shift yet, so two male customers restrained him before he made it to the end of the bar and hauled him outside. To this day, I still remember him calling me every horrible name, threatening to kill me more than once and shaking his fist as he was being carted out the door.

And also to this day, my still heart breaks at the thought of how many people have been drunk their whole lives. What a sad waste of an existence.

3) The Big Fight.

Week two at a new job in a small, neighborhood bar in the 'burbs. Mostly the good ol' boy crowd, plus a few karaoke and poker regulars, so really a pretty mellow crowd. The place was packed one Friday night and it was me and  the 120 lb cook running the show. One thing this crazy gig has taught me is how to read people. I can tell you who is going to fight  long before they even know it. Seriously. Being aware and simply observing the body language of people and what they do when they think no one is looking speaks volumes. Bartenders have supersonic hearing as well, thus, some select conversations I heard throughout the night clued me into some of the brewing drama.

I was relieved to see the main antagonist pay his tab and leave. I watched him walk out the door and stole my one chance to run to the restroom. While washing my hands, I heard all hell break loose and ran back to the bar to observe pretty much everyone kicking the shit out of everyone. And on this particular night everyone was very large. Large girls wailing on large girls....huge guys destroying pretty much everything in their paths, tables, chairs, glasses, pool sticks. A mushroom cloud of people brawling would form, then dissipate and a new cloud of new people fighting new people would form.

I am pretty seasoned at jumping between two hotheads, yelling really loud and kicking then out when the need arises, but that method would go nowhere with this chaotic mess. My need to pull out the big guns was confirmed when I saw a girl get tossed out of the mushroom cloud coming my way, take her stiletto heel off and hit a huge dude over the head with it. It did not even phase him. I knew this was out of control and I was going nowhere close to the battlefield. Our skinny cook was trying to pull people off of people and a few of the regulars were trying to restore some type of sanity when I turned up all the lights and killed the music.

Knowing I had to think and act fast, I grabbed the phone and yelled that the cops were en route as I was speaking. It was a huge lie. I hadn't called anyone. But it worked. In less than 5 minutes, you could almost hear crickets in that bar following a mass exodus of large, angry (and now scared) people. All that was left  were the peaceful regulars in the corner who were laughing at the fact that they had just enjoyed a good show. I looked at the aftermath and the huge mess I now had to clean up. I really had no words, emotions or reaction. I simply stood in utter disbelief.. Violence and fighting is something I have never and will never comprehend in any way, shape or form. Period.

Hey world, let's try NICE, whaddya say?

4) Slosh, Slosh, Slosh....

Big bar. Big night. Big, fancy building in a prime downtown location. At about 7:30 in the heat of a full capacity dinner rush, the plumbing backed up. Not just a plugged toilet in a bathroom, but all sink and floor drains, toilets, everything. We first noticed it when the floor mats in the bar seemed to be floating and our feet were wet. Then came the smell. And more water.Water coming back UP the sink and floor drains. Dirty water now in the water we were supposed to wash glasses in...water leaking out onto the hardwood floors in the dining area. Dirty water all over the bathroom floors and the worst was in the kitchen where sewage was coming back up through the floor drains and covering the entire area.

The smell was wretched and most people were paying their tabs and leaving. Every manager, busser and host had mops in their hands trying to stop the rising tide, but it was a losing battle. All of the bar staff had sought out rubber boots from the brewhouse and we were laughing at the spectacle. A well-oiled machine had come to a screeching halt as no one was really able to do anything. No drinks could be poured, no food cooked. No plumber had yet arrived and this ship was going down fast.

I looked around and much to my amazement, saw customers actually still eating! The smell was so bad that the entire staff either had their shirts covering their noses or had found a cloth napkin to use as an "outlaw style" face cover. AND PEOPLE WERE STILL EATING. There was dirty water barely three feet from their table. Ugh!

We began organizing our banks and entering tips anticipating a quick close when management informed us we were remaining open because it was a Friday night and there would be too much money lost. At first we thought it was a joke.But it wasn't. We were really going to try and sell food and beverage in sewage. I looked down at the rubber boots I was wearing and the three inches of sewage in which I was standing and cracked a smart ass comment regarding the almighty dollar that was not appreciated by the manager. A few others followed suit, but to  no avail. Uh, yeah....we stayed open for probably another $200 in sales.

Needless to say, I threw my sewage covered shoes, socks and pants in the dumpster in the parking garage that night as I left.

5) Quick Quips

I am rambling so here are a few others that stick out in my memory (all 100% true and unexaggerated, I swear):

I once had a guy order a beer, look me straight in the eyes and tell me he suddenly had the urge to start a fight. He then turned around and poured it on the guy (a complete stranger) sitting at the table behind him. That guy happened to be an off duty police officer. It didn't end well for the provoker.

I once had a bar owner pull me aside in the middle of a busy Friday night and tell me she saw me put two extra limes in a drink and to add 25 cents per lime after the first to the tab. I couldn't hold back my laughter.

I carded Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top because I didn't believe it was really him.

I once found a homeless woman taking a bath in the toilet.

Ok, That's all I can call to memory. For Now.























Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Saturday Night Hall Pass

I have a long standing theory that all the bat shit crazies come out to the bar on Saturday nights. Maybe they crawl out from underneath rocks or bridges, come out of the woodwork or get clearance from wherever they have been committed? I don't know, but I am certain that the prearranged meeting place is my bar. Many a Saturday night, I just have to step back and laugh at what crawls in and wonder who I pissed off in a past life.

The usual suspects are as follows:

1) Mr. Super Creeper. Usually sporting the black denim jeans pulled up too high and the glowing white Hi-Tec sneakers with the flowered, collared button down shirt, Inspector Gadget hat and brown sport coat. He lurks about with his vodka soda and tries his luck with any female sitting alone. After being shot down or completely ignored in every attempt, he returns to his original stool and begins intensely watching every move I make. This soon turns to 101 questions which I do my best to ignore or pretend I am unable to hear over the bad karaoke. As the night wears on, he begins lurking in the corners and near the pool tables ready to try his luck closer to closing time. Always the last guy out of the bar. Most likely harmless and just socially inept, but still gives me the heebie-jeebies.

2) Ms. 50-Something Recent Divorcee. On the prowl. Large, loud and proud of all the skin that new outfit reveals. (Yikes!) "Make me something good and put it on his tab" is her mantra of the night. At 12:30 after enough gin to kill an elephant, she is either crying her eyes out with two tons of mascara smeared all over her face or repeatedly asking me when her cab is supposed to arrive and swearing she "never goes out" and "never drinks." Ummmm, yeah. Until next week when we repeat this little game.

3) Mr. Too Fast. Out of control mullet and receding hairline with the cigarette stored behind the ear look.. Dirty old sweatshirt and blue jeans covered with paint from the house he worked on all day before driving straight to the bar from the jobsite. Because tomorrow is his only day off, this dude sucks down Jim Beam like water. He also tells me six different stories before I can even get the first one poured. Constantly needs change for the pool table and jukebox and could not sit still if he was paid.

4) Mr. Bronco Jersey. Can talk of nothing but the game tomorrow and how awesome football season is. Asks me 700 times if he can buy a square on the football board which is full, who my favorite team is and if I saw the game three weeks ago and if I remember that one play from last year. After I ignore him long enough, he turns to the next unsuspecting victim beside him and recites all Peyton's stats since 2009. Drinks nothing but Bud Light bottles and asks me three more times if we will be showing the game tomorrow before he pays his tab and leaves me 10%.

5) Ms. "Can We Still Get Food?" We go over this every week. The kitchen closes at 10PM.. It is now 1:15AM. Go to Denny's.

6) Mr. Beer Coupon Scammer. His sole mission in life is to not pay for a single beer. He attempts to employ all ways to use his free coupons more than once. He must sit home all week and think them up because this cat and mouse game is the highlight of his pathetic social life.

7) Mr."Where Do All The Girls Go On Saturdays?" He reeks of cheap cologne and breath mints and cruises the local bar scene trying to find 20-something girls desperate enough to give him the time of day.

8) Miss "Its My Birthday What Do I Get for Free?".  Nothing. Why? Because she asked. This is the 36th bar she has been to trying to score a free shot, probably has two dollars at most in her cute little purse and can barely walk. Depending on how much of a relentless pest she and her BFF are, I may give in and serve up a tasty shot of dry vermouth as a night cap. That usually does the trick and I never see them again the rest of the night. If they do decide to stay it is not long because Mr. Super Creeper scares them away.

9) Mr/Ms. Story Repeater. The always sit right at the drink well. Never fails. The one place I from which I cannot escape. Over and over and over they tell me the same story.  About every third time, I even finish the story for them. Two minutes go by and the broken record begins again. Finally, I finish making all the drinks I need and walk away only to see them stealing cherries and olives out of the condiment tray. Gross!

Ahhhh, Saturday nights in paradise...

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Not a Lifer.

So I mentioned change in the air for me in my last post and how I am (in a nutshell) tired and off the bike for a couple weeks. My phone is blowing up with people wanting to ride while the weather is nice. Hell yes, I will go enjoy the beautiful weather--afoot. I don't have a functional mountain bike of my own here in Durango still, but mostly I want the fire burning intensely again on Nov. 1. I want that childlike "I'll ride anytime, anywhere" feeling back in full force. And lately its been only 70% present. Yeah, there are many reasons for this with the main culprit being my "go hard, go big personality" (heh! I know how I am), but this summer I let an industry that sucks the life out of me significantly affect the pursuit of my dreams. I worked like a dog (my choice) all summer to bring my financial state back from Ramen Noodle meals when I returned from AZ. Two jobs opening PBR cans and pretending to be interested in what the new beer on tap is, babysitting needy, whiny tourists, refilling ketchup bottles, scraping hash browns and eggs into the garbage for 50-60 hours a week finally broke me. I found myself struggling to maintain my million dollar (and 100% fake) smile, especially on weekends as my heart longed to turn a crank far away from people who feel the need to cure their hangover with---you guessed it---more alcohol.

I have bartended everywhere from downtown Denver to suburbian sports bars to tiny 3 tap good ol' boy dives. I have stories that will absolutely disgust you, make you laugh, cry and some that will just make you blankly stare in disbelief. I have always threatened to write a book about my experiences but I was too lazy to record them as they happened. So in my hiatus from bike life, I hope to entertain with some reflections from 10+ (good God, really?!?!) years behind the stick. I was damn good at my job, but now I am not. I am not a lifer in this industry. I can't walk up to another table, introduce myself and pretend to be enthusiastic about what the dinner special is. It shows in my eyes and on my face at how my heart dies everytime I clock in. The money is not worth it anymore. No amount of cash can buy the life I am letting slip away behind the bar.

So a couple of weeks ago, I quit.

I really could go on and on about the negative aspects and the toll it takes, but it wouldn't be fair to portray it in only one light. For as many assclowns and scum of the earth people as I have encountered over the years, that number is balanced by some of the most intelligent, amazing people I know as well. The money can be ridiculous. Seriously. You wouldn't believe how much money people will drop on alcohol on a nightly basis

I have learned to never say never. But I hope to not have to touch another liquor bottle sporting a pourer, fill another ice bin, clean up coaster pieces ripped apart by those who can't just sit and drink, tolerate drunk coworkers and owners, fake laugh at stupid pickup lines, fake smile or EVER EVER hear the question, "What's good here?"

I have quit before, gone back to school, changed my major but always was sucked back in by the allure of a shitload of cash in my hand everynight and days free to ride my bike. This time, I have a bike dream and a relationship that mean more to me than the money. I can't put on the fake bartender shell and endure the stupidity of the human race under the influence of alcohol.

Leaving Carver's is bittersweet because I am currently working the last few shifts with the BEST group of people I have ever come in contact with. Solid, honest, salt of the earth people who are passionate about making beer and serving healthy, local and organic food. I have the utmost respect for them and the fact they care for people and quality not just making the most possible profit. I will miss the people a lot, but definitely not the industry. Carver's is the best in Durango hands down and their support of cycling is genuine and innovative. I am not just mindlessly and dutifully putting in a good word. I honestly mean this. Stop in when you come to this corner of the world.

So in my farewell address to the world of slinging drinks, I share some words of advice on how to order a drink. Please excuse (wait, I take that back... just laugh at) the sarcasm. I have to dump the 10 year buildup somewhere. And yes, all of this has happened....

1) Look at the beer taps. Or, an even more NOVEL concept--the beer menu in front of you before you ask "You got any Shiner-bock?" or "What kinda beer y'all got here?"

2) Then when I recite the list of craft beers WE MAKE RIGHT HERE because we are a brewery (ie-what is clearly posted in front of your eyes) don't ask me for an f'ing Coors Light.

3) If you come in with 4 people who have no clue what they want to drink, do not snap your god damn fingers at me, or worse, yell at me to give you my undivided attention. You are interrupting my conversation with another guest most likely. Figure out what you want to drink. You are at a bar and you know that's the first question you will be asked. It has happened before and at all the other bars you go to. I see you. I know you will be ordering something. Figure it out. By then, I will be there with my fake smile.

4) Do not order a margarita with Patron. That's like mixing Johnny Blue with orange and cranberry juice. And it only shows how little you know about alcohol although you are trying to portray the opposite to your buddies.

5) Its not cranberry vodka. Its Absolut and cran, or Smirnoff and cran. State the alcohol type first, then mixer. Simple. Learn this and bartenders everywhere will stop being annoyed by you.

6) I will gladly answer your questions regarding beer. But when you do not let me finish before you interrupt and try to impress me with your ignorance, do not complain when you do not like the beer you order. Try keeping quiet for one minute and LISTENING to me. You would be amazed at what you would HEAR and LEARN. Just a suggestion.

7) I do not care that you don't like wheat (or dark, or light or hoppy) beers and when you make a stupid face to show me that, I only respect you less. If you don't like beer, order what you like. Very simple.

8) "Ummmm, so like I want something fruity, but not too strong, but I want it to get me really drunk and I only have 4 dollars..."   Enough said. This 22 year old, super-perky girl with the ubershort skirt, side ponytail and spaghetti straps would be a candidate for the trap door I secretly wish every barstool sat upon.

9) Jagerbombs and not the newest, coolest drink ever invented. I am tired of pouring them. Expand. Order something new. Your wallet will appreciate you in the morning because you are being RIPPED OFF at 6-8 bucks a pop. Just sayin, frat boy, daddy won't yell at you so loud when he sees his credit card statement.

10) Put your cash or credit card on the bar and pay for your drinks or start a tab. Turning away and chatting with your friends won't get you out of the 45 bucks you owe me for the round of crappy vodka I just poured you. Yep. You have to pay for your drinks. The sooner the better.

Ok...more insights and "suggestions"coming....Kinda having fun with this.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Coconino 250: Just. Friggin. Ride.

I didn't throw the SPOT tracker in my Escapist 20 pack this time. I looked at it a couple times as I was packing my gear to leave for Flagstaff to start the Coconino 250 ride this past weekend. Note the term ride. Yeah. Ride. Not race. For some reason, that little orange box flashing green lights registers as a race device in my ubercompetitive brain.

And I think I have had enough racing for the year. 

Thursday, October 4

Les and I rolled into Flagstaff and met up with David Wilson of Nuclear Sunrise Stitchworks and picked up a new frame pack for Les's bike. I also saw his well designed handlebar system that I may very well be utilizing upon acceptance into the Arrowhead 135 in January. We then found "The Place" we were to meet up in the morning and start the loop. After some moseying around in the outdoor surplus store, we headed up to the AZ Snowbowl to catch the sunset.








The colors of the sky almost precisely reflected the colors of the changing leaves below. The fiery show affects each of its onlookers in a unique way and I felt this particular masterpiece draw me even closer to the artist of such brilliance. I find Him in every mile I pedal when I open my heart to look. It seems that lately, however, my eyes have been selfishly and narrowly focused inward on my perceived shortcomings and moments like these slap me alongside the head. They bring my awareness back to the fact that the earth does not revolve around me and two wheels. I am merely a tiny part of this vast existence and lifting my eyes beyond myself and the tangible will show me true clarity. The words of Chief Seattle (which seems to be as close to the truth as it gets), echoed in my head as I sat and watched the sun disappear:

"We did not weave the web of life, we are merely strands in it..."

Feeling more content with the notion of being more a part of an amazing interconnected web instead of the outcast, skinny little freak trying to make a bike go fast all the time, I drifted off easily, slept deeply and dreamed in full, brilliant color on Thursday night. 

Friday, October 5th

Day 1 of the Coconino Just. Friggin. Ride. 

"The Place" is a mom and pop restaurant in Flagstaff that served as the start of my Coco ride. I ate a bowl of delicious Cream of Wheat, picked through some far less than desirable fruit and felt remarkably calm as my gear was well packed and organized. I was still riding Les's Minifly 100--a bike I constantly and affectionately joke about being too small for me. I have long monkey arms so I am pretty hunched up when I ride it, but since mine is still minus parts, I am more than thankful for the use of this horse. And hey, its light and fast....

I met a few new people and saw Ray, the badass SSer and eventual winner of the stage race. 



Check out my winter gloves...My fingers only freeze in Arizona--no joke! 

We rolled out of town and onto the AZ trail.  Memories of this section in the dark came flooding back to me as I began riding backwards what I had ridden in April. I was hoping to pass by the Ace Hardware lawn where I slept under a tree waiting for it to open to buy batteries, but the route threw us onto the trail differently. Each mile I rode Friday morning painted a corresponding "memory picture" in my mind of  an absolutely epic experience back in April. It was a really easy ride on fresh legs, however. We ended up riding with Vermont Jay for a great part of the day at a leisurely, fun pace. It felt kind of foreign to not be pushing hard to keep up, but instead, smiling, observing and (dare I say) pretty much gawking off and not really caring about time and distance. We created a game of Les capturing every gate we had to open on camera and even set a wager as to the total number on the whole ride. 

Beginning the dismount as rockstar Jay poses with the gate...


Celebrating and reliving some cool memories of the trail

In no time we were at the Mormon mountain trail and onto the road. We came to the "obscure double track" and in a moment of weakness, I found myself having a hard time justifying our trip into Munds to get a cheeseburger. Um, Jill. Just. Friggin. Ride.

So we bombed down the hill at ludicris speed and sat in a cafe with Jay and chomped on bacon cheeseburgers.

Don't ask. All I can say is that this pretty much reflects the seriousness of the entire day..
In no time we were here:



And then here:








And since I have not paid one dollar to a hotel (personal challenge) since a collaborative fund to get a room in West Yellowstone in March, we kept with the trend and got a really cheap room on the rim overlooking Sedona:




We ventured out onto the spectacular balcony:



And relished in this:



Yum.

Saturday October 6, 2012

Descending was the name of the game. Down and around and around into Sedona and the Circle K. In no real hurry, we chatted and joked around a bit with the others who rolled up. Broken Arrow then more Sedona singletrack:









This magic carpet ride swiftly lead to Lime Kiln trail. It provided some "good" HAB and on the descent I witnessed a ball of Handy rolling through cacti. Here is but one of the hundreds of spines that came out of his leg and side.


And this was my overall impression:


We descended into Dead Horse State Park and went Hog Wild at the BBQ and burger joint in Cottonwood. Neither of us knew for sure  what the name of the town we rolled into was until we read it on the menu. This is but one of the many things about this ride that makes me grin pretty wide.

We screwed around some more in town, making a stop at the bike shop for a souvenir water bottle and then refilled water at the last gas station before grinding up Mingus Mountain.

A look back on everything we rode from somewhere on Mingus Mountain:



And FINALLY the top of Old Mingus just after dark....Trail 105 and 106 make CTR hike a bike look like a sidewalk. Seriously. Go experience it.

Ummmm.....someone is stoked.

A nice warm fire was going when we rolled into Camp #2. Everyone kind of staked out their own tree to bivvy under. And I must say the loudest, most impressive display of snoring coming from a few trees away serenaded us all night. I giggled for a while at the sheer volume and the accompanying array of human bodily function sounds coming from other trees until I drifted off to sleep.

Sunday, October 7

We got moving at sun up but not before showing off my super sexy helmet/beanie/sleeping bag hair:


The backside of Mingus was a FAST and fun descent:



We then turned onto a powerline doubletrack, hit up Tacoma, er, Coyote Springs (icky!!!) and rode forever on fairly easy, sometimes rocky doubletrack. My back muscles suddenly began screaming at me from being hunched on a bike that is too small and no less than four times we stopped and I had to have Les practically jump on my back and help me stretch and loosen spasming muscles. Our pace was ridiculously slow as holding the same position on the handlebars was literally killing me. The easiest riding of the whole trip so far was taking an eternity. I had to keep stopping to alleviate some serious twinges. The fun, for me, was quickly fading and we were both kind of bored with the course. We got to the bridge over the Verde River and hung out (and stretched out) for a good 20-30 min before seeing two other riders getting water. Just as we got up and pedaled over to the shoreline to do the same, Lynda pulled in right behind us.

We took our time refillng water and set out slowly down more dirt road. After a couple of hot, boring miles we hitched a ride into Williams on a Polaris Ranger:


No excuses or justifications. I was just done with the ride. No desire to keep riding. None. I was melancholy and lost in thought for 24 dirty, dusty miles into Williams.

Les was a good sport and always smiling. He kept an awesome attitude every time I stopped between Mingus and the Verde River and begged him to help me loosen back muscles. And hey, what's hotter than a dirt beard?


We rode to the I40 on ramp and hitchhiked back to the truck parked in Flag:


Glad I rode. Loved what I saw. Bagged it when it was no longer fun.

Will I ride it again? Hmmmmm....maybe. But probably not. I feel like my desert time   is coming to a close for a while.

Change is in the air for me. Exciting things on the horizon. (Between the time I started and finished this blog, I was added to the 2013 Arrowhead 135 roster!)

But lately,  I have begun to openly and honestly reflect on my second season of racing a mountain bike. I have decided the next couple of weeks won't involve a bike. Time to reflect and refresh. Step back and regroup, refocus and rest my body and mind. Because I am tired.

Good, old-fashioned, honest-to-God tired.

There. I said it.

I really wish I had a big, bay horse I could spend the next couple of weeks riding. I miss that life right now.




Friday, September 28, 2012

My Song

    There's a road...





A winding road that never ends...




Full of curves and lessons learned at every bend...





Going gets rough...unlike the straight and narrow...





It's for those who go against the grain...





Have no fear.... dare to dream of a change...





Live to march to the beat of a different drummer...




And it all might come together
And it all might unraveled
On the road less traveled.....





For the road less traveled ain't for the faint of heart
For those who choose to play it safe and never stray too far....




Me?  I want to live my life and one day leave my mark...






On the road less traveled....





I've chosen a pathway I may not endure

One thing's for certain nothing is for sure...



And it all might come together...




And it all might come unraveled...




On the road less traveled.  --George Strait



It took the better part of my twenties to teach me that I am much happier on this road. 


It is simple and sustainable.


It is real.


It is mine.