Wednesday, February 26, 2014


So this is the post that is not easy.


Bleh! Bikepacking/racing/riding is not cheap. No, I am not dropping a car payment's equivalent just to participate, but as any logical person can see, the travel costs and shuttle logistics can be extensive. And self-supported while racing means that those loaded aid station oases are merely mirages (pretty sure my hallucinations just before Picket Post in 2012 included a few). Luckily, a great vibe exists within the bikepacking community as far as carpooling, shuttle help and stacking as many people and bikes into a vehicle as possible. Take a peek at the forums and there are tons of people looking for options, each with different travel plans, work restrictions, money considerations (!!) and camping/lodging needs.

Enter me.

I need some support to get me and my bike to the Mexican border for the start of the AZT 750. When I travel anywhere for any reason, trip costs are always a determining factor of plans. This is no exception. I have come up with some options calculated out to the dollar that are in front of me. I have been so hesitant to post about money and the costs but yesterday, deep in bikepacking dreamland, the question came to me: "Why, Jill, why is is so hard to talk about money/to request support that you truly, desperately need?" "Are you scared?"

Gulp. Deep inhale. Deep exhale:

Ok, maybe a little...or a lot....

Screw fear. There is no person out there who wants to do something big that has not been in my shoes at one time or another. Some may remember lying awake at night wondering how to cut costs, bring in more money or travel cheaper to afford their dream. And then, some may not, or don't care. But, some may completely understand my world at the moment. I also venture to guess that many reading this may have no  idea what is life is like in this little cult of weirdos that strap bags to their nice bikes and push them up hiking trails. I pretty much decided to write throughout this whole year not only for myself to document this journey, but to open up and talk about some of the parts that don't make everyone's "WOW, LOOK AT ME RIDE THESE SUPER AMAZING TRAILS" blog.

Here goes:

My options look like this: (start is 04.11.14)

1) 04.08.14: Fly Denver to Tucson. Arrive 10:30 pm. Sleep in the airport. Either find a shuttle to Parker Canyon Lake or the border, or ride 92 miles. Camp Thursday night, wake up, ride. My shuttle budget is $25.

Total Cost:  Airfare $95+$75 for bike=$170
                   Shuttle max ($25)

$195 with shuttle
$170 if I ride

2) 04.10.11 Fly Denver to Phoenix. Arrive early AM. Find shuttle to Parker Canyon Lake or border. Camp, wake, ride. Riding from PHX is not feasible.

Total Cost: Airfare $66+$75 for bike=$141
                  Shuttle cost (?)

3) Drive. Least appealing option due to time off work, finding someone to drop me off and return my car to Denver. Even at 37-40 mpg, its still $200 in fuel costs round trip. Last resort and by far, the most undesirable choice.

Which one is going to work?

Luckily between yesterday and now as I am getting ready to post this, I found a very kind soul who is going to take time off work to shuttle a few of us down on Thursday. I just booked my flight and arrive late Wednesday. I will be the sleeping yard sale of gear and bike parts tucked somewhere in a corner of TUS.

 Now then, guys, its going to take a village to get this little idiot from Mexico to Utah:

Do you have relatives, friends, connections traveling to AZ that may be willing to take a bike? It would save massive amounts of hassle (and money!!) as far as bike box shipping, etc.

And then there is the pickup at Stateline Campground. Can you help? Any options you may see? Anyone want to drive my car from Denver?

Anyone I met in AZ on my previous races that has kept in contact or followed this blog....Any connections? Any ideas?

Thank you all in advance for supporting my Dirtbagonomics me at for details, suggestions, comments or anything else.

Monday, February 24, 2014

Week 5: The Hardest Week of All

Seven weeks out from AZT 750. Last week saw 26 hours of training. Good hours. Some kicked my ass, some felt like a breeze. Mostly I am craving miles. Excitement is building for the first leg of the journey. 

Open Monday morning email:

This is a recovery week. Let me say that again: RECOVERY WEEK. Hello? Jill. Say it with me  r.e.c.o.v.e.r.y.

Got it?

Easy 12 hr week.  Big weeks are coming so this is important!

Ok, so I think I maybe understand:

Like this, Coach?

Sunday, February 23, 2014

12 Hours of Truly AntiEpic....Ummmm....Results

The first lap of the day was good. Weather was a nice surprise with the wind lightly gusting but very tolerable. It ended up being 19 miles in all with a lap around Sloan's Lake:

Lap 1

Didn't push it, just found a pace I knew I could sustain all day and felt good. It was going to be a long, boring day, but I was kind of anxious to just pedal and not really think of much else. The route changed last minute and all the samples went to a hospital lab. The possibility of STAT runs was also added, meaning that I had to drive if those came up. It was a bit of a Catch 22, however, as I was also paid double.

Knowing this, I armed myself with many alternative plans to keep moving for 12 hours. 24 Hour Fitness had locations at both ends of the loop and the spin trainer and treadmill were options if STAT calls came pouring in. Since everyday and everything is training for AZT 750 at this point, as much as I wanted to ride outside all day, the extra money and the chance for "game time" adaptations were ok in my mind. Bikepacking is all about adapting--to, well, everything you can really imagine. I had a good conversation the other day about going with a rigid plan versus winging it. The best we came up with is a structured and intelligent "blueprint" that leaves many options for the unknown variables.

Wow, how vague is that? But, you get the point. And I am rambling.....

So, the STAT calls came in at just the "right" times to prevent me from riding another lap, but after 3x1hr spin sessions and 2x1hr treadmill runs, 30 minutes of core work, 40 minutes of stair climbing and 1.89 miles on the rowing machine, I would say 24 Hour Fitness did not make any profit on my membership yesterday.

The next to last run of the day was another STAT at 5:30 and I had not been on my bike since morning, so I set off into the sunset (really!) hoping for a 10-15 mile cooldown around the Green Mountain area. This is how far I got before the phone rang:

Lap 2

Finished up an extremely antiepic day around 9pm and on the way home, I realized that it was, in fact, a good test of adapting and perfect training for those quiet, just-grind-along days that don't provide any thrilling tales or accomplishments. These are the days that sometimes suck and sometimes don't suck. Yesterday didn't suck.

I returned home to find the home sprouted quinoa project a HUGE success! Buying sprouted quinoa for twice to three times the price of bulk unsprouted is now a thing of the past. On to the rice....

No work today. Time to ride!

All day.

Friday, February 21, 2014

12 Hour Solo: Truly AntiEpic

February 22, 2014. 8:30am to 8:30pm

No entry fee on this one. The weather will not be ideal and there won't be any podiums,

memorable and hilarious speeches or scenery. There will be elevators, door codes, test tubes filled with blood, stoplights and cars. I will get paid to do what most do in a car: pickup from hospital to lab and back.

Over and over and over.

The scenery could be interesting for a few miles near Sloan's Lake, as a few people will be out with dogs, kids and bikes. I will probably get to know the street corner beggars on a first name basis if they are manning their usual posts....

The route:

Loop is  about 17 miles. Probably an hour of yoga at lunchtime.

Why? To add to the TD hard tail fund. (psssst, which, I am just saying if you so desire to help, see upper right corner of blog) Ha, because the sponsors must not have the correct address yet so they can send that sweet Fate to me to ride from Canada to Mexico.

Yeah, that must be it.

So, work spills into the weekend. But, hey, I can think of shittier jobs. Tomorrow will be a good day, because I will be pedaling!

Wanna ride?

Entries are still open....

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Still Time

One of the best blogs out there says it all:

The period over which comments will be accepted has been extended to March 6th. Maybe take some time and consider how YOUR life has been enriched by your favorite areas you know and love to ride. What if one day they were no longer accessible??

I am pretty sure I would have a comment or two....

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

40 days of NAP

This post could be about so many things. Namely it is about change. Should I say what has been said so many times? Change is excruciatingly difficult. So much so, in fact, we learn ways to "justify" our unwillingness, laziness or fear of making a change. The fact was, I needed to make a change and, honestly, had half-heartedly made weak attempts in the past that miserably failed every single time. So what's the difference this time? I can't exactly put my finger on it and condense it to a single statement, but there is something inside of me, driving me towards eating real, unprocessed and healthy food. The desire to completely revamp my entire diet has been slowing brewing inside for a few months now and finally, on January 10, 2014, I cleaned out my entire refrigerator and all the cupboards of animal-based products and processed foods (think crackers, chips, pastas), went to the grocery store and restocked them with plants. I got laughed at when I told someone the amounts of kale, spinach, mushrooms, blueberries, carrots and bell peppers I bought. I just smiled and winked, excited to finally pull the plug and eat differently.

Beans, seeds, nuts, fruits, vegetables replaced the crap upon which I used to try and fuel myself
Everyone makes (or pretends to make) changes differently, and for me, its like opening a dam. All or nothing (ha, sound familiar?). I couldn't have chips, cheese, sugary drinks or quick, convenient food still sitting around to provide temptation. Nope, the kitchen was purged of animal based products and it was time to plan, prepare and cook my meals. Done were the days of eating out and grabbing something quick. Something, (maybe a desire to learn, grow, change, improve my life, mood and health) was the driving force behind this. Whatever it was/is, I can honestly state I have never had more energy (especially mental motivation and clarity) than I found in the last month and a half.

So why share this? Who cares?

I suppose I am writing it largely for myself as well as just throwing it out there for others who may be interested or thinking of doing something different as a motivational/encouraging note. I started this project with very little faith in myself. Why? Because all the times I tried to make changes I knew in the back of my mind, the taste and satisfaction I got from a juicy cheeseburger with fries dipped in ranch dressing with extra salt and a large coke was far more powerful than my desire to nourish my body with healthy, real food.

True story.

Completely messed up, but honest-to-God, the truth. This time is different, however. After the very first two days of caffeine and sugar withdrawal, I have not had the AUTHENTIC desire or need for a Coke and a pack of Skittles. Yes, my brain will tell me that at 3 pm, its time to eat crap, and yes, I have stopped at a gas station, but when I then pause to consider it honestly, I find myself repulsed by the thought of how each would taste and don't even get out of my car.

So here it is. I can do it. I did it. Bet you can too. And it doesn't matter what it is. Change is possible and very alive within us all. But it will not happen until one can look inside and honestly and truly want it above the cravings and other soothing affects said change provides.

I finally wanted health, energy, clarity and change more than I wanted instant soothing, reward and gratification. And, wow, the results I am seeing and the potential for sustainability are more than I ever imagined possible.

January 10, 2014:

I honestly never believed for a minute that I could go thirty days with out a Coke. My previous time on the soda-wagon was a week before I fell off. I knew how completely unhealthy soda, especially Coke, is, that it is loaded with high fructose corn syrup and caffeine (which, ironically, only compounds and magnifies feelings of fatigue), but thoughts of an ice-cold Coke in a can replaced any sort of reason and knowledge after 3 pm everyday. It was the first thing I craved in virtually every gas station or grocery store resupply on both the CTR and AZT. I am willing to bet that every definition of the word addiction could describe my relationship with a can of Coke. The more I drank, the more I wanted. One was one too many, one more was never enough. Interestingly, however, if I realized that it was not available on a day where I was far from civilization hiking, camping or climbing, the desire to drink a Coke never once crossed my mind. Not once.

Explain that one.

I also have a sweet tooth. My brothers and I were never really allowed to have or buy sugary sweets, candy or chocolate as kids growing up. Everytime we went to the grocery store we would beg for Cocoa Pebbles or Fruit Loops and every time Grape-Nuts or Wheaties would end up in the cart. My mom is no fool and she loved us enough to feed us healthy foods.(Never would I have dreamed at the time I was begging for sugary cereal, I would be thanking her in a blog post years later.) I don't know why, when I got into high school and college and food choices were up to me I went straight for SUGAR. Yum, yum, yum, my sweet tooth was satiated. I would eat pounds of Jelly Bellies while studying, driving, watching a movie and wash them down with a Coke. Not a huge fan of chocolate, give me straight sugar. I guess I always was kind of jealous of the people who would look down their noses, proclaiming their disinterest in "sweets." God, how I wished I did not have that dammed sweet tooth and I really envied that they didn't crave or eat them.

I ate healthy foods as well, but always fought my nemesis--sugar. I dabbled with the idea of not eating meat for awhile but was never serious or motivated enough to do it. As I got more and more into running and then mountain biking, I made big efforts to improve my diet and really found out how much I loved vegetables. Sure it took some time and effort to cook them and prepare good meals, but they tasted so much better that the Hot Pocket or burrito or some other crap food that was really easy to microwave at 3am when I got home from work. I really loved the vegetables and how I felt when I ate a lot of them, but was too lazy to cook them just for myself. If there was an occasion or someone else around to cook for, that was a different story as loved to try new recipes and concoctions.

This past December was one of indulgence and laziness for me. A lot of really good tasting food: smoked brisket, pork shoulder, steaks, chicken, cheese and vegetables. It was great celebrating the holidays with good food and a large amount of Crown Royal to go with and it is the time of year we all kind of let loose and indulge, but I found myself being less and less motivated and more and more tired. I am not a person who wallows or even feels comfortable in being miserable. "Stable/familiar discomfort" is a completely foreign concept to me. My soul is not wired to endure it and looking back realized it has and continues to be a massive force for change in my life.

On January 7th, I sat down with a good, old-fashioned piece of notebook paper and my favorite pen and started to write my plan for the next 30 days. As mentioned before, I was worried my vices would overcome this plan, so I committed to just 30 days and the promise of reevaluating on February 10 to decide what was working and what needed to be added or deleted.

This was my new plan starting January 10:

-Feel alive, aware, encouraged
-Fuel my body for optimal performance on my bike
-Learn to eat less overall
-Eat to live/sustain/thrive, rather than soothe, satiate
-Save money, stop eating out
-Drink less alcohol over my lifetime
-Master a huge challenge
-Vastly increase my nutritional knowledge

From 01.10.14 thru 02.10.14:

No alcohol
No soda/fruit juices
No added sugar
No processed foods
No animal products
No added salt
No pasta

Everyday eat at least:

1lb cooked vegetables
1lb raw vegetables
4 pieces of fruit
1 c beans/legumes
1 c nuts/seeds

Optional: brown rice, quinoa, hemp tofu, etc.

This new plan gave me first and foremost, a goal. A challenge I was very much needing to alleviate boredom and laziness to which I often fall victim. Writing down exactly what I was going to do spurred me into action. I did massive amounts of research into new recipes and scientifically-based nutritional information. I got up early and prepared my lunch. The 3pm Skittles and Coke were replaced by a raw, yellow bell pepper and homemade sprouted mung bean and garlic hummus. Pasta became spaghetti squash and pesto cashew "cream" sauce with every other imaginable vegetable thrown in. Coconut soups, chia seed/kale/fruit/flaxseed smoothies, almond milk instead of dairy milk.

The change in my mood, increase in motivation and mental energy is astounding. I sometimes have to stop and just smile at the fact that all the stupid little things that use to annoy me do not even cross my mind. My focus is sharper than ever. The mental fog we all sometimes slip into when we are overwhelmed or depressed about something lifted. I get things done instead of talking about them, worrying about them and then stressing about them because I am too mentally exhausted to do them.

40 day evaluation:

All the goals I set forth, I have made huge and noticeable progress towards. The money I have saved allowed me to afford monthly yoga and bike parts. The first are measured subjectively, and are a constant "journey" of sorts and the second list I can honestly say I accomplished. The only "mess up" was I ate Nutella which is made with nonfat dairy milk, which I didn't discover until afterwards. I am not a complete freak, so needless to say, I didn't lose any sleep over that one. It just drove me to find a better alternative.

And that's one of the best parts of all this. The learning, the new foods, tastes, meals, recipes, the growing, expanding and taking what I used to do/know/think in regards to diet and finding that a plant-based diet may well be how I fuel the machine for the rest of my life. Right now, I have no thoughts of going back to eating animal products. I will continue to adjust/add/subtract and above all LEARN and GROW my nutritional knowledge. I will probably celebrate with some Crown Royal at Stateline Campground in April and have one here or there most likely in the future. I have begun scouring gas stations for options along the AZT, TD and CTR this summer to find food options and began some intensive food planning to fuel my bike.

Because, after all, the only reason we all eat is to fuel the bike motor....right?

Or is it the other way around?

I will continue to post periodically how the NAP project progresses. I am sure there will be new challenges as well as new victories. Also, I thought I would share some good links I found (among the millions out there):

Sunday, February 16, 2014

And She Rolls....

New bike, new bike, new bike!

Admit it. You have felt exactly like I am feeling right now. Excited, giddy, invincible, fast, shiny, happy...This beautiful carbon horse has sat in a box for eight months awaiting the funds to build. Finally she rolls! 2013 S-Works Venge, full Dura Ace. The Reynolds wheels do their job for now until an upgrade is possible. Yesterday was the initial launch. 80 miles for the first dance!

Yeah, it was kinda cold and cloudy and windy, but new bikes erase all that. And they go fast. And climb like mountain goats....

New bike euphoria is so cool.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The Outsider

I was going to post my NAP project blog tonight. But even in all its length, its not quite finished.

Eric Church's new album came out yesterday. It, like everything else he has ever released, is one of those that no song gets skipped. A bit of a new sound, maybe a little more rockabilly, a definite "paint where there ain't supposed to be paint" rebellious theme, but packed with the same raw emotion and heart that allows me to listen to the same songs over and over again like it was the first time.

Well, ok...actually over and over again is an understatement. Every night on the 2012 AZT 750, Eric's songs played in my ears on repeat. Sometimes I joined him at the top of my lungs to stay awake, sometimes I just floated along half asleep listening to the comforting lyrics and music that kept the crank turning until sunrise.

Either way, The Outsiders just got added to my playlist that will carry me through the desert once again in approximately 8 weeks. Highly suggest you check it out. Especially "A Man Who Was Gonna Die Young" "Dark Side" and "Like A Wrecking Ball."

As I lie perfectly still on my bed and listen, I dream of the adventure ahead that begins at the Mexican border and ends at Junction Creek. I wonder what the summer will bring, what I will see and feel, how I will change throughout and who will be in Durango in August to haul my exhausted carcass and trusty old steed home. I wonder why I am the way I am. What exactly is the force I have known since birth that drives me higher and higher. Why "normal" bypassed me. Why I struggle socially and relationally. (Is that a word? yeah, I am going with it).

And then my mind pops back to the present and Eric's voice filling my room. And I realize that I don't really care if I know the answers right now because many will come this summer aboard two wheels. And many I will still wonder about.

All part of the journey.....

Perhaps the best part.

Friday, February 7, 2014

Don't Date a Girl Who Bikepacks

Don't do it.

You will trip over her frame bag in the middle of the night as you are walking down the hallway and slip on the 2 oz emergency bivvy she left on the floor beside it. There will be maps coming in the mail and all your lithium batteries will disappear. Your only way of knowing where she is in April, June and August will be the webpage that shows her initials with a pink dot (or sometimes a yellow one). She will rage on like a hurricane, babbling senselessly about new, likely impractical routes, crazy notions and dreams of days spent pedaling from daylight until dark. This will spark ideas within your own heart that you have already put into that "I Dream of Doing but Don't Have Enough Time/Money/Time Off Work" Category. Those ideas are scary. They cause you to rethink what you do everyday and what you could be doing instead. The notion of that is just silly. Its unsafe and unsure. It will distract you at work and you will find yourself thinking about being bold. Being different. The way you have always felt inside, but are scared shitless to defy family and social expectations.

She will be always perusing Craigslist on your laptop looking for shuttle possibilities to the northern and southern borders. She will be on the trainer at 4am and in crow pose by 7:30 only to rush to work not giving a crap what her hair is doing. She will call big, knobby tires by first names like Nate, Larry, Bud and Lou. She will bring her dirty, scratched up bike inside and strap every imaginable type of pack to it. She will lube her chain and change her tires leaving white goo on your garage floor.

She will have $6.38 to her name and then in two months will be buying new bikes. She will sport blisters and swollen feet. When she opens her pack in the evening, empty wrappers, master chanlinks, snot-covered gloves and ziploc bags will litter your driveway. She will not carry a purse or even a wallet like most girls, she will carry her license, phone and debit card in another one of those stupid ziplocs.

You will see the fire in her eyes and hear the passion in her voice as she tells you of the sunsets and sunrises and stories of falling asleep in the middle of the trail underneath her bike. She will tear up as she remembers the red hills of Utah, the silence of Junction Creek and you may find a lump in your throat as you start to remember your triumphs.

She will make you laugh as she tells you horror tales of chamois cream failures and split, bloody lips and one million cactus/overgrowth scratches on her shins from remote and unkept trails. You will begin to think of the mishaps and injuries that taught you lessons and made you feel alive on your adventures.

She will love you like no other. In an intense and passionate way that leaves you feeling exhausted sometimes. It will challenge you and pull you from your comfortable rut. It will get you to thinking that you have never dated anyone even remotely like her and wonder if you ever will again. Part of that scares you, part of that exhilarates you. Absolutely exhilarates you....

She will stare off into space and dream of big climbs, vast mountain ranges and clear, cool nights in a 1-lb sleeping bag when you are at dinner with friends discussing first world problems. Yes, these bore you to tears as well, but can't she just once engage for the sake of making everyone feel like she is paying attention? But, wait, you then find yourself thinking of that race or that mountain traverse you were looking up at work the other day during the next gripe session about how Susie's new Audi is in the shop because the heated seats don't warm up fast enough.

Don't date a girl who bikepacks. Walk the other way. She will believe in (more than you do) the courage you harbor to accomplish what you never even fathomed a possibility just five years ago. She will adjust her life and schedule and ride plans to support those dreams, because she will love you with the same intensity that pedals her bike for days on end.


Consider yourself properly warned. If you do not heed this advice and proceed anyway you will wake up one day wondering who you used to be, where all your fear of change, doubt in everything and body fat went. Oh, and that knot in your back? You may have slept on the GPS handlebar mount that she left in her pocket AGAIN when she washed the new sheets with her jersey.....

Don't do it, dude.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Project: NAP

"You wanna fly, you got to give up the shit that weighs you down."

                                                                           - Toni Morrison

January 10, 2010 was my first mountain bike ride ever.
Alderfer/Three Sisters. Evergreen, Colorado.
Beat up, old Specialized Enduro.
Love affair with two-wheels-to -freedom... commence.

So, in honor of and reverence for this day, four years later, I gave up eating animal-based products, (thus Project: NAP, or No Animal Products) soda, candy and caffeine on January 10, 2014.



Simple. My diet was weighing me down in basically every area of my life.

As the thirty day mark nears, I am finding myself with more positive, productive and authentic energy and motivation than I ever have known. I was not going to even give this mention on my blog, but I feel that the change in the way I feel and think are profound and significant enough to share my experience. Sustainability was my intent from the beginning, not the latest bandwagon diet fad that usually involves avoiding a major nutrient. If the new and fascinating foods and ways to prepare it as well as the money I have saved is any indicator-- yeah, this is easily sustainable.

The people who know me personally can even see the positive changes.

I feel as if an old, wet, moldy blanket has been pulled off my head and I am seeing light clearly for the first time. I am not anti-ranching or some crazy animal rights extremist.

I am pro-health for myself.

So, on Day 30, look for my evaluation of the change if you are interested. I had to make choices and changes that are paving my way to freedom on two wheels this year and for many years to come. I am looking forward to writing and sharing and continuing to fly without a broken wing or any other dead weight.

Its time.

Its time to fly again.