Double Century Weekend (2013)

Double Century Weekend Ride

Preparation

When I go on long rides, I like to attach some significance for it and keep that at the forefront of my mind as I pedal the hours away. It occurred to me as I was already well into this one, that I didn’t do any of that. I had a weekend to myself, I love to experience the beautiful countryside of the northwoods at a bicycle pace, and I suppose
I was asking my body what it thinks of the possibility of crossing “Race Wausau 24 mountain bike race as a solo rider” off of my bucket list this year. So, nothing profound on this trip. Just experience. I’ve had long rides, but never back-to-back century days.

Food & Maps

As always I relished the planning. Mapping, portable healthy foods, stops, choosing a scenic destination. I finally broke down and bought my own panniers this past week. I also acquired the old Bibler tent which has been around the world on a bike, which I used on my Lake Superior trip last summer. This time I planned a route which would take me to Lake of The Falls near Mercer, Wisconsin. “The loon capital of the world”. There is a county park for camping, and I was able to come up with a twisting, indirect route to total 100 or more miles each day.

My daughter, who is 16, stated on Friday evening that she would get up early and start her own 50-mile ride at the same time I started mine. How cool is that?? I made a route for her that would take her with me the first 25 miles, then we would split off. Actually she ended up doing that 50 mile route as well as another on Sunday. Impressive!

Getting Goofy

Saturday morning I awoke around 4:40am. I showered and dried my hair so it would be somewhat manageable for the weekend. Then I realized it was raining steadily. I ate, dawdled, drank coffee, put kinesio tape on my lower legs, looked at the radar…. it would rain for quite awhile yet. So much for 30% chance. Thanks, weatherman. I don’t mind at all if it starts raining when I’m riding. I am kind of fond of the feeling, actually. However, I do not like to start in the rain. Especially cold rain. I just won’t do it. I will be riding almost all day with breaks, and I do not want to be damp the whole time. Besides, what would that do for my saddle area??  My daughter woke up and was fine with going, rain or shine. I put my tent and sleeping bag inside a garbage bag, refastened everything, and off we went!

Yes, those are Breathe Right strips.
They’re awesome.

Now, the wind typically comes from the south/southwest. We were heading north/northwest. On this day it was coming from the north and it was significant, even at 6:30am when we began the ride! “Good thing I have all day”, I thought. We skirted around Rhinelander, dipping south briefly and then west/northwest to the corner of County K and Highway 51. It was slow going, but nice to have the company of my daughter. The rain continued the whole time. We stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break, had a bite to eat, and with a hug we went our separate ways. Soaked.

Near the Willow Dam
Roadside Scenery

I continued on Swamp Lake Road. It starts out smooth enough but quickly turns rough. I had been forewarned! Totally rideable and quite scenic, it took me to County Y where I turned north, to Willow Dam Road, to Crystal Falls Road (one of my favorites) all the way to Hazelhurst. I stopped roadside to shed some layers and eat some trail mix. The rain had stopped and I was ready to listen to some of my favorite tunes on my little old iPod Shuffle. I had been on most of these roads before, but at this point I was venturing into new territory. Lower Kaubashine and Camp 9 Road were absolutely beautiful! I crested a hill and surprised a whitetail doe, who also surprised me. I saw little farms with sheep and horses, small lakes, rolling hills…. all the way to Highway 70. From 70 I went into the Indian Reservation, along Thoroughfare Road. I completely missed a turn in my mapping, so at the end I thought I was to go right and be in Lac du Flambeau for a much-needed break. The rain had started again and wind was not backing off. I rode a few miles and decided to pull off on a little side road to check my map/take a natural break. The mosquitoes were so bad

Lac du Flambeau

there was no chance of squatting in the woods! I also realized that I was going the wrong way. A few miles back the way I came, and a few more, and I was in Lac Du Flambeau. I toured around looking for a coffee shop. Settled for a gas station. Went across the road to the casino where I was able to charge my phone and eat a salad. It reeked of cigarette smoke from the moment I stepped in. When I finished eating, I walked about (garnering interesting looks from those who were not entranced by the machines they were sitting in front of). It saddened me to see all of these souls, looking so unhealthy and devoid of life, plugging money or cards into machines. How boring! I put $1 into a machine, pulled the lever, lost my dollar, and got back to my ride 🙂 Back to the 18mph headwind, that is.

Roadside along Highway 47

I took Cemetery Road and several of the homes were boarded up. Children were playing in a few of the yards and waved as I rode by. Dogs barked. As I got further up, it turned beautiful again. It connected back to Highway 47 and I turned north. My next road was to be River. When I reached it, there was a sign stating “Minimally Maintained”. It looked more like an ATV trail. It was to be a pretty long section, and given the bike I was on, I kept rolling along the highway. Not looking for that kind of adventure on this trip. I rode through Powell Marsh. It was so windy!! Between the wind and the load I was carrying, I was fighting for 15mph. I would get down into my aero bars and start cranking, then realize the foolishness of doing such a thing. I had to ride another 100 miles the next day, after all. I would shift down and spin an easy gear, cover up my speedometer, and try to just enjoy the scenery. I stopped a couple of times to take photos.

Grasses in Powell Marsh, blowing the opposite direction of the way I am headed.
Powell Marsh

Around mile 90 I had to work on mental toughness. I felt beat down. My feet had been wet all day, my saddle felt hard as a rock, and the gusts of wind nearly stopped me. I wanted to be done. I would do my best to duck out of the wind for awhile and then sit back up, defeated by Mother Nature. I reached Highway 51, exhausted. Funny how a change of direction can change a

mindset, though. A sign stated that Mercer was a mere 3 miles away. Yes! That put the pep in my pedals. I was happy to see Clair d’ Loon welcoming me town. Of course I had to stop for a photo. From there I stopped at a gas station for drinking water, a bathroom, and to inquire about any local coffee shops. Turns out there was one, only a block away. Looney Beans. I sat by the air conditioner and sipped a Backroads Coffee Co. French roast. I charged my phone and wrote in my notebook. Less than 10 miles left to the campground. I savored the coffee. The atmosphere was quite different and I will share more about that in a little bit. The barista was the 11-year-old daughter of the owner. She was doing a great job getting drinks and working the cash register.

Back on the bike, I headed north up Highway 51 to County FF. What a scenic road!

Gorgeous! Some of the hills made me work pretty hard, but I had it in me to stand and power over the top. I arrived at the camp ground and selected my site. There were only a couple other campers there. It felt so good to take my wet shoes off. I promptly found the canoe launch and took a full dunk in the lake. It felt *amazing*. I put on a flowy, light skirt and a tank top and went about setting up camp. I love, love, love that old tent. It came with a rich history and I feel privileged to own it.

Shortly after my arrival, my good friend Crille and his 2 dogs pulled up. Crille was my designated person to keep a copy of my route and have me report in at my stops, for safety. He had asked if they might come visit camp for a bit in the evening, since they don’t live too far away. He recently returned from a trip home to Sweden. I thought it would be nice to see photos and hear stories. He started unloading his truck. A grill, cooler, firewood…. and proceeded to grill steak, sweet potatoes, asparagus, green beans and red peppers. Something about a can of sardines not being good enough after a 100 mile ride. He set about starting a camp fire. We walked over to the “falls”. At least I think that’s what it was. It was more or less a man-made dam with a rapids below. Maybe the actual waterfall is somewhere else? I don’t know, and I didn’t feel like going off in search of it. I felt more like eating and visiting around a fire. The food was amazing, and I was stuffed! If I was hiring a soigneur, Crille would be it! Here are some photos of the area around the campground:

Ginormous rock by the road. I like rocks.
More campers had pulled in over the course of the evening. I enjoyed photos and stories from Sweden, ate bacon for dessert, washed it down with a glass or 2 of red wine, and said goodbye to my friend. As I walked to the bathroom and back I noticed lightning bugs. It was a chilly evening and I snuggled into my sleeping bag. Around 10:30pm the country music was blaring, the rope lights polluted the darkness, and my camp neighbors were pretty well drunk. When they would be quiet for a few moments I could hear the rapids. I decided I prefer back country camping. I mean, I loved being able to have a fire, but other than that I believe my camping will be away from campgrounds for the most part in the future. I tossed and turned all night. I was cold and using my long-sleeved jersey as a pillow. Although I did not hear any loons in the loon capital of the world, the coyotes raised a ruckus during the night. Now that is a cool sound! So wild! There were apparently several of them.

Day 2:

Morning fog on the lake

I was awake at 4:30am but too chilly to get up. I tried to sleep a little more but couldn’t. I listened to the birds while it got light out. I did some reading and reflecting

from my journal from last year. The cell service was darn near non-existent, but I was able to get a current temperature of 42° around 5:30. Brrr…… didn’t bring knee covering. I dressed, wearing my knee-high compression stockings to help keep warm. I ate trail mix and beef jerky for breakfast while I broke camp. My thermos of coffee from the day before was lukewarm but at least it was coffee. I walked down by the lake for a couple of photos.

Ready for Day 2, Breathe Right
dork strip included!

6:30am, on the bike. Highway FF and the brilliant sun… you know, rain and wind make a person appreciate the absence of rain and wind :-).

FF is twisty and hilly, and there was already a fair amount of traffic. I saw a coyote cross the road but missed the camera shot. Stopped for a photo of the roadside wild flowers:

It seemed much shorter going out than coming in. Highway 51 has some beautiful scenery as well:

Back in Mercer, I stopped in at Looney Beans for a good cup of coffee. This is not your big-city coffee shop! There were 2 older gentleman talking about a bear a friend got the previous day. They struck up a conversation and we chatted over coffee for awhile. One of the gentleman asked if it was me riding out on FF a little while ago. He said it was hard to see me due to the glare of the sun and the curvy nature of the road. I do dress brightly for that reason but still, it’s a risk. I realize that. He said I waved, and I tend to do that. I told him that was my “Thanks for not running

me over” wave and he chuckled. He left to go deal with the bear meat. A fisherman came in to order a latte. I had to snap a photo. Check out the barista. This is a northwoods coffee shop, all the way! Nice folks, though. Apparently they own the bait shop next door. The woman in charge also does logging and runs the heavy equipment. According to this fellow, she is the boss, no questions asked!

From Mercer I took county highways up to the Michigan border. Plenty of sunshine and a beautiful route. I love seeing the “Rustic Road” signs. Plenty of exquisite scenery. The smells of the forest and flowers this time of the year are incredible and I breathe it in as deeply as possible. Cedar swamps have a fragrance that is absolutely heavenly. Too bad no photo will allow you to experience it. I suppose you all will have to just get outdoors and get it first-hand!

Here are some photos from the road:

Doe on the side of the road
Mile after mile of this

And then there I was. At da U.P., eh.

I took a roadside break to relieve my bladder and shed some clothing. All warmed up!

Michigan!

So my bike is kind of a mutt. It’s not meant for touring. It has no rack mount. I use hose clamps to put the rack on. I have a time trial seat post and aero bars from days gone by when I thought I might get into TT racing. However, I have to say on a long solo ride I love spending time in the aero bars. It’s quite comfortable and nice to have
another position option. Also I’m glad my bike has a triple front ring. Definitely used that on some Iron County hills, hauling a load up them. Although I could probably power up, it would be foolish with the amount of miles I plan to be riding. I whisked along with a slight tailwind. Oh, gracious tailwind.

Sverige!

Had to slow down to avoid hitting a grouse. Passed many small lakes. Passed a mailbox painted like the Swedish flag.

Welcome to Presque Isle

It was around here I started having to take bootie breaks. My backside hurt something awful.

Another doe. Can you see her?
Big Lake Bootie Break

Highway P going towards Boulder Junction was beautiful. Another rolling, twisting, forested gem of a road. I pulled into Big Lake state campground for a bootie break, about 10 miles out of Boulder Junction.

By the time I got to Dancing Bear coffee shop in Boulder Junction I was ready for a significant break. 50 miles in, or 150 into my 200 mile trip, I sat in the grass by my bike, took my shoes off, at a tin of sardines and rested before going in for coffee. My legs were fatigued but the worst was from sitting on the seat with a crap chamois.
Happily, they have almond milk and even gluten-free almond-based cookies. Umm, yes please!! I ate 2 cookies there and purchased 2 more to take home and share with my daughter. I used the restroom and slathered on the chamois butter. I really took my time at this place and didn’t leave until I was good and ready. I even made a dragon fly friend who happened to land on me while I was putting my helmet on. I went to restart my Strava app and realized I never restarted it 10 miles back at my bootie break. Crap!
From Boulder Junction I hopped on and off the paved bike path. The breeze had picked up, so at times it was a good way to be a bit sheltered. Of course on a Sunday afternoon there were others out riding. Going 18-20mph is not how most of them ride, so if I saw a group ahead I’d cut out onto the highway for a while. I do enjoy those trails. At one point I had to let out a “Woohoooooooo!”.
Time flew by and before I knew it I was in Saint Germain. Just in time for their 4th of July parade! Cars were parked randomly on the bike path and it was a bit of a zoo. Nice to see such a turnout, though, and a perfect afternoon for them. My last coffee shop stop was on the other side of town. Red Canoe. I sipped an iced almond milk coffee, ate trail mix, and put my feet up. I practiced learning Swedish. “Min rumpa är öm.” I used every last bit of chamois butter, pretty sure it would leak through. Don’t care. 26 miles to go. I can do this.


15 miles to go. I can’t stand it. This hurts so bad! My legs feel strong. My body feels strong. My butt hurts. I hate this saddle for long distances. Also the only bike shorts that seem to work well are my 6-year-old Pearl Izumis and they’re threatening to fall apart. They were still wet from the previous day or I’d have worn them again. So there I am, standing at the roadside of Pine Lake Road and County D, just hating on that saddle. I whined. I ate some sweet potato. I ate some trail mix. I whine some more. I knew it was less than an hour home. After several minutes I got going again. My legs actually felt, despite a bit sore, incredibly strong. I may never have long and lean legs, but I’ll tell you what. My short little legs are amazing. I was able to stand and truck up some hills. I felt the sunlight pouring through my helmet and into my body as it had been all day. I felt grateful as I approached 100.0 miles on my odometer. This body may never be one of a model, but it’s damn healthy and strong!

Almost home! Love this little lake.

I did not find an answer to the question about whether to race 24 solo this year. On the one hand, there are no guarantees I’ll have another chance. I’ve learned not to put things off in life, and to seize the opportunity. I’ve been putting in a lot of miles and my body responds pretty well to distance. With the exception of one thing. My Achilles. Or, this year, my Achilles’. Both of them. Mountain biking is a different animal, too. It’s much more physically demanding. If I were to race it, the point would be the experience. The outcome holds nothing for me. I don’t care about podiums any more. I’ve raced a lot over the past 5 years. I want new experiences that have nothing to do with what other people are doing. I want to know how far I can go, in harmony with my body. I want to ride in the middle of the night. As I write this on Monday, it is painful to my Achilles’ to walk. I rode last weekend at a pace which allowed me to breathe deeply through my nose with the exception of particularly steep hills. In other words, I didn’t push it hard. So, I don’t know? Either I race 24, or 12 solo which I am signed up for, or find a partner and have a really freakin’ good time. Completely undecided. I do know I don’t want to wreck my body and be unable to purely enjoy long rides, as I do now. I get so much out of them. Heck, if I want to “race” I can go throw down on the boys’ Wednesday night group ride.
And then there I was. In my front yard, flopped down in the grass, reveling in the experiences I’d had over the last 2 days. 207 miles total. 207 amazing miles. How do we know what we’re capable of unless we get out there beyond our comfort zone? Really there is nothing special about me as a cyclist. I spent the majority of my life not taking good care of my health and am still on the border of overweight. My point is, get out there and experience life. You don’t need the latest and greatest to do it. You certainly don’t need to wait for someone else to do it with you or for you. You don’t even need a perfect weather forecast. Get out there. Have an adventure. Just go for it. I promise you will not be disappointed.

Probably Multiple Sclerosis – I Inspire Me (2013)

Probable Multiple Sclerosis/I Inspire Me

Today, as I was enjoying the crisp and brilliant fall day from the seat of my road bike, I felt that this is the time to tell my MS story. I hope that by sharing I might inspire others, as that appears to be my calling in this life.

In fall of 2001, I woke up one day just like any other. My feet were “asleep”. You know that pins-and-needles feeling that you get when you lay on your arm? It was like that. Except it did not go away. Over the course of the next few days, it spread upward.

Me in 2000

Let’s rewind just a little bit here. At 5’1” I was about 165# and gaining. I had very little self-control when it came to food choices. I recall many times when I’d bake something for my husband and small children, and proceed to eat it all throughout the day. Not only did I make poor food choices, but I was very sedentary. I had never been physically active. Now, as a mom of three small children, I felt exhausted all of the time. I had very little self-esteem.

The tingling went on up to my waist. Believe me when I tell you, everything was numb from the waist down. Everything. Not only that, but my sense of depth perception was off. I was working part-time as a school bus driver, and one day I backed into a pole due to my depth perception. I quit the job at that time. I had a hard time walking and had to pay a lot of attention, because I wasn’t sure about where my feet were.

This was quite alarming, and I have to thank my mom for helping me through the battery of tests that I went through. Some of it is kind of a fog to me yet. I seem to recall a nerve conductivity test (EMG?), being on steroids, and being scared to death of my future. The definitive test was the MRI, which revealed two active brain lesions. I was started on daily injections for a medication to slow the progression of the disease. I do remember having welts on my welts. I remember looking at mobility options. Mind you, I was in my late 20’s at the time. I prepared myself for the possibility of needing a service dog for stability. I struggled to carry my toddler around and feared losing my balance with him.

Looking back, this was just the wake-up call that I needed. I was obese and unhappy. When  a friend of mine challenged me to see who could lose the most weight by a certain date, I turned to the Atkins diet. I removed grains from my diet. Slowly, my symptoms went away. I started to exercise, first by doing Tae Bo in my living room. It felt good to get my heart rate up! I quit the daily injections and committed to getting my health in order. I called it a healthy denial. I wanted to give MS the big FU.

Followup MRI showed a healing of the lesions which had been active, so I continued to do what I was doing in the way of diet and exercise.
The only time I’ve had a recurrence of symptoms was in 2009. I had reintroduced grains into my diet, thinking I needed them to fuel my new love of cycling. I was under a lot of stress at the time. In 2010 I gave up grains again in an attempt to alleviate irritable bowel symptoms. I have had zero relapses of multiple sclerosis since.

My own theory on it is that for me personally, grains cause systemic inflammation.  It turns out there are many other sources of carbohydrate for fueling my body. This is only my experience, and I realize it does not apply to everyone. It is simply my observation over the years of what works for me.

I fell in love with bicycling in 2007. In 2008 I decided to try our local mountain bike race. I had never been athletic or competitive in my life, so it was a huge step for this former gym-class-skipper. I won my class. I’ve been racing ever since. It has been a growing process, but since I have detached myself from the outcome or awards in my races, it is pure joy. When I think about where I came from and what I have overcome in my life, just the fact that I am out there doing it is a win. That’s all I need. My life is so much richer and fuller in every way since I had my wakeup call.

This may explain to those close to me, why I seem impulsive at times. This also has a lot to do with why I push myself physically and test my limits.

My message is this: There are no guarantees on tomorrow!! You can do and be anything you want to in this life. Now get out there and do it!

“Your adversity is your greatest teacher.” – Paul Chek

24 hour solo mountain bike race, 2013

First Long Bike Adventure – 2012

First Bike Adventure – June 2012

Preface:

Mapping it out

Tomorrow morning at dawn I will set out on my bike adventure. It consists of approximately 215 miles. Mostly county highways and roads but also a good amount of crushed gravel rail trail. Before I depart I want to make some notes as to the journey and my reasons for wanting to embark on such an adventure.

This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years. The idea of heading out on my road bike with everything I need (which is really very little) and sleeping under the stars appeals to me. I like living like a gypsy, if only for a couple of days. I like sightseeing on 2 wheels. It’s the perfect speed. So much can be missed in a car, and it’s hard to cover much ground on foot. On my bike I can enjoy the scent of a cedar swamp and see the wildflowers by the side of the road in detail. I plan to stop along the way for all historical markers as well as several streams. I’ll ride early in the morning and well into the evening so that during the heat of the day I can soak up some atmosphere in a small town coffee shop if I happen across one.

My summer employment plans were derailed. At this time, due to financial constraints, my racing is on hold. Rather than be all depressed about my situation and before I just go find any minimum-wage job to get by, I want to take this adventure. I’m about to take my final semester of school and then get a real, full-time job and learn about being financially comfortable again. It’s been a long time!

Making Art into a touring bike

Of course I would not want this trip to be anything but meaningful on a deeper levels. The reasons I am doing this include:
-My sister, Becky Sann, who is severely handicapped and will never know the joy of riding a bicycle.
-My childhood best friend, Connie Norton, who was murdered when we were 17. This past week my ex’s girlfriend came across a letter Connie had wrote to me in high school as well as some photos of the 2 of us. Damn it, I miss her. She meant so much to me. I’m riding with her on my shoulder. I can only imagine the amazing woman she would be today.
-My battle with autoimmune disease. In 2000 I was numb from the waist down like my legs were asleep. I had a hard time walking for an entire month. I questioned whether I’d be able to function normally again. MRI showed active brain lesions. I gave myself injections to slow the “Possible Multiple Sclerosis”. I believe my healthy diet and lifestyle have sent whatever it was into remission. I’ve only had slight symptoms at times since then. I fight back when it happens. I will not give in to it!
-Because I know that I’m physically and mentally capable. I’m certain there are others in this world who would do this if only they could. I can. And I will.
-My battle with obesity. I’ve come a long way. I am grateful for where I am and have my eye on where I’m going.
-I am working on learning to live in the moment.

Rather than dwell on the destination (which will be quite nice I’m sure) I have been relishing the planning. The mapping. The scavenger hunt for supplies to do this on next to no budget. The packing and repacking to whittle down space and weight. Figuring out how to mount the borrowed pannier rack to my bike with no rack mounting provisions – using my neighbor’s “junk” stash of hose, clamps, nuts & bolts. The unknown of where I’ll sleep tomorrow night. The generosity of those who are helping me make it possible: My kids who are caring for the animals. Elvis Bauman for the pannier rack. Terry Gibbs and his friend for the water filter. My neighbor, Harry, for his supplies. Ben Koenig for his awesome lighting system and a spare tire “just in case”. Denise Coppock for the rice muffin recipe. Laina for her iPod for when mine runs out of battery or when I need some Florence to sing along to. Randy Wegener for his constant support and creativity, and in advance for some meat on the grill when I arrive 🙂 The ride will be enjoyed in the moment. The ups and downs are inevitable.

Above all I will approach this with a heart full of gratitude. For my body. For my bike. For my amazing friends. For the sunshine. For the rain.

Inspirational quotes

My bike will be decorated with inspirational/funny quotes. If you’d like to add one, shoot a message my way and I’ll scribble it on tape to secure to my bike for when the going gets hard. I’ll be checking in only once or twice each day due to a short-lived phone battery. My intention is to arrive in Beechwood, Wisconsin Tuesday evening before dark.


The Ride:

As described in my previous note, I decided to take a bike adventure to exceed 200 miles in 2 days. I borrowed and scavenged the equipment I would need to get it done and set out the morning of June 18th, 2012. Here are my trip notes:

4:00am: My alarm goes off. I’m sleeping halfway dressed to go. It’s raining out. The tailend of a thunderstorm that was moving through and disturbing my sleep. I made a breakfast of eggs, sausage, and dates. Got everything loaded on the bike rack. Woke Laina up for a goodbye hug and a departure picture.

4:40am: Just about ready to roll. Walking the bike down the driveway because the road is all torn up yet, and I tipped my bike slightly. The whole load fell off. Got it all secured a little better. Hopped in the saddle and heard Laina holler, “Happy birthday!!”. She’s so funny.

A few miles down the road is a nice climb. What a way to start! On the descent I heard something hit the pavement. My stainless steel thermos of coffee. Now it has character. Got that secured better too.

50 minutes in, Just north of Enterprise on County Road G I saw a rather large animal crossing the road and I stopped. It was a decent-sized black bear. It stopped to look at me. I’ve never been that close to a bear in the wild before. I reached for my phone to turn it on and take a picture, because it was just standing there so beautifully. I was scared but I wasn’t at the same time. Before the phone loaded up it continued across the road. Good bear. I noticed my legs trembling when I started to pedal again.

Rain clouds looked ominous, so I stopped at the gas station in Elcho to put my sleeping bag in a garbage bag and use the restroom.

Mile 47

From there I took 45 south to County Highway B. I enjoyed the scenery; a little old almost-forgotten town, a golf course, and several farms. Just west of Antigo I made another stop. This time for sardines, bacon, and rice muffins. I was about 47 miles in. The wind against me but that was my only gripe. I was making good time and physically feeling quite well. No rain yet. In the small town of Aniwa I was supposed to find a bike trail that connected to Mountain-Bay, according to the map. I asked at the 1-pump gas station but they had never heard of it, and said no one really bikes in that area. Where the map said to get on the trail I saw just a grassy, unmowed snowmobile trail. That would not work with my road bike. I continued on back roads, some gravel and some paved. I passed “Bogus Rd.” and laughed out loud. Bogus. The trail was bogus.

From there I had to take Highway 45 for a brief period of time, to N, to Bluebird Lane. When I got to 45 I stopped to put my high-visibility gear back on. Lots of traffic, lots of semis. It’s a bit of a thrill, but I was happy to be done with it as soon as I could. Bluebird Lane was a bit hilly. I noticed a goldfinch flying alongside and then just in front of me for quite awhile. I’ve never really paid attention to their flight pattern. This one seemed to be leading my way. Pleasant little bird.

Around mile 73 I arrived at the Mountain-Bay trail, which parallels Highway 29. I was going to take an extended rest at Joe Bikeler’s coffee/bike shop in Shawano. Now, I’ve been on some rail trails. They’re typically crushed gravel and easy enough to manage on a road bike. This one had plenty of hard-packed dirt, and with the rain that had moved through in the morning I found my roadie tires pretty squirrely! Interesting ride! The payoff was shade and no traffic, so I stuck with it.

Mile 80 I came across a scenic covered bridge and stopped for photos. That was near Bowler. Found a gas station for a restroom break, banana, and cold water. Back on the trail, I was startled by an odd sound as a pair of sandhill cranes crossed in front of me, audibly upset. I stopped to let them cross. One started heading my way so I got out of there, apologizing for disturbing their home.

I came across a couple near Shawano – the only other people I saw on the trail – who were on their way from Michigan to Seattle. Their bikes were all decked out with racks and bags. I can definitely see doing that later on in my life. They informed me that the bike shop is closed on Mondays. When I got to Shawano I was at mile 103. It’s been 4 years since I’ve done a solo century. Actually at mile 100 I did a little “Woohoo!!” in my mind. I needed a break so I hopped off the trail and went in the direction of town to find a coffee shop. There were a couple of guys working on something out in a yard so I asked them for directions. They invited me to stay and play volleyball with them that evening. Ha! I thanked them politely and stated after 100 miles I was in no condition to play volleyball.

Next stop was not the coffee shop after all. It was a small park with a shade tree – sardines, bacon, rice cakes and almond butter. Phone conversation with Randy who advised me to continue to Bonduel and find shelter there from a severe thunderstorm that was to hit in about an hour. I was pretty much sick of the rail trail and it’s leg-sucking wet gravel by then but the thunder in the distance prodded me to Bonduel. I walked down a grassy hill at an overpass, hopped on my bike, and rode into town. There was a home with 3 little kids out in the yard yelling something at me. I stopped and they yelled “There’s a BIG storm coming! You have to get out of the storm! The lights might even go out!” I thanked them for telling me about the storm and asked if

Lovely Oasis!

they knew where I might find a restaurant. The pipsqueak little boy offered their house. He was adorable 🙂 At that point their mom walked over and told me I’d find a restaurant just up the road. Rooster something. When I arrived there were no cars in the parking lot. It was totally a mom-and-pop kind of diner. I peeked my head in the door and asked the waitress if they would be open for awhile. She responded that yes they would and to bring my water bottles in so she could fill them up. Toni. *Awesome* waitress. I sat there and ate, drank coffee, and charged my phone while the storm passed. It was perfect. Other customers had come in the meantime and they were full of questions. Apparently it’s not a common thing to do?

My conservative goal was to make it to Angelica, about 112 miles in, and find a place to spend the night. All I brought was a sleeping bag. I wanted to sleep under the stars. I knew I would not sleep much anyway but needed to shut my eyes for awhile. With Randy’s help, we came up with that I could probably make it to Seymour. If I was really doing great I could make it to Freedom, around 150 miles in. That way day #2 would only be about 60 miles and I could take my time.

I was feeling pretty good after the diner. I altered my route and took Slab City Rd. I was greeted with a rather large hill, and then another. The downhill before crossing 29 was absolutely a thrill though! I felt the fatigue on the next large climb and eeked down into my granny gear. Thank goodness for triples. 7mph up those hills. Seated climbs to conserve energy. I wanted Freedom. Not Seymour.

French Rd. to Seymour. Dusk and time to put on the night gear. Thankfully my mom sells high-viz equipment so I was set. I had 2 blinking lights on the back, reflective vest, band on my ankle and band on my pack. Commuter headlight on blink setting and mega-headlight (Light & Motion Stella) from Ben Koenig. Sunset was peaceful with it’s hues of pink over golden fields. Now I know where “America the Beautiful” came from. We really do live in a beautiful place. Riding after dark felt pretty incredible. The cooler temperatures perked me up. Fireflies ushered me into Freedom. I was ready to be done riding for the day. With a little guidance from Randy I found a place to throw down my sleeping bag, complete with the luxuries of a bathroom to clean up a bit. I got everything ready for the next morning, then watched stars and heat lightning while I drifted off. Note to self: pack something you can use for a pillow the next time! Between my sore body, pounding head, and not being able to get comfortable using a hat for a pillow, by 4 I was sick of tossing and turning. I was reaching for ibuprofen when my alarm went off. By 4:40 I was back in the saddle. 150 miles in. A new record for me in one day. 60 or so to go!

Morning was clear. The birds were waking up with the sun. I was cruising past farm fields in the direction of pinks and yellows. Flocks of birds scattered around farm fields. One bird seemed to chase me a bit, cackling as if I’d invaded it’s space. You never get that experience in a car. In fact you miss out on so much in a car. Biking, to me, is the perfect pace to see the world. I experienced the sights so much more fully. I could smell the earth and the trees. I could feel the damp air on my skin. Around 5:30 a fuchsia-colored ball rose into the sky. I stopped for pictures and to just take it in.

From there the traffic was fairly heavy into Wrightstown and there was no paved shoulder. Crossing the Fox River felt like a milestone to me for some reason. It was a rush, speeding down the hill to the bridge while another cyclist was climbing up and giving the nod. Speeding over the bridge and letting the momentum carry me up the hill on the other side, almost all the way. I stood and gave a few pedal strokes to the top. A couple blocks later I was greeted with a smile and a “good morning” from an elderly man out for a walk.

Not long after I came to the Fox River Trail. More gravel. Great! I shed my reflective gear. I grabbed a bite to eat and some blackberries that were ripe along the trail. I knew I would be meeting up with someone very special – the only person I’d want riding with me on this trip. A few miles up the trail I thought I saw a rider coming my way. Sure enough. Who else could it be?? There she was! Margaret hopped off her bike and greeted me with a wonderful hug. Ah… my best friend. We visited all the way back to her house, stopping mid-hill to pet kittens near a farm. At the house I visited with her and her hubby over coffee. She fed me eggs and bacon. It was hard to leave!

Back on the bike at about 11:30am it was *hot*. The whole trip up until that point I had not felt like I was frying or anything, but I did then. The roads were not marked so several times I had to stop and verify I was on the correct route. To do so I would seek out the tiniest bits of shade from the sparse trees. It’s very flat, windy, and bare. I felt very exposed and vulnerable. Sweat dripped off of me. I took several breaks to stand in shade and eat, drink, take my helmet off, whine….. I was feeling worn out on the hills, slowly going up in my granny gear. I felt like it would never end. I had anticipated 60 miles that day but it was looking like at least 70. The headwind was relentless. I wanted to just stop. I wanted ice. I thought about going to the Birkie with Laina. I thought about sparkling snow in the woods. I turned left on “Little Kiln Road” and found it ironic. More like “Big Kiln”, thank you very much.

In New Holstein I stopped at a gas station for a bathroom break and water. The air conditioned building felt so good, I purchased some almonds and a meat stick and hung around for a bit. I knew that mentally I could finish this trip but I worried if physically it was stupid. I’m familiar with heat exhaustion. With the wind and heat I knew I was working harder than I should for such a distance. I called Randy to whine some more. He broke the rest of the trip down into 3 sections for me. I had about 21 miles left to go. So, I kept on. Stopped at the Sheboygan Marsh restaurant for a small Coke and ice water to fill my bottles. I drank some and poured some on me. I wanted to be out of the wind more than anything. I knew my next stop was about 7 more miles –

Fudgienuckles in Glenbeulah. The name is just so funny, I had to stop in. I ordered a Pepsi. Keep in mind I have not had that stuff in years. I didn’t care. It tasted really good right then. The bartender asked how far I’d ridden and at that time it had been 213 miles. The people at the bar made a big fuss over how amazing that was. It felt funny to me, and kind of surreal. I didn’t stick around for long – just long enough to suck down that ice-cold Pepsi and make the final 9 mile trek.

Leaving Glenbeulah the terrain starts to be beautiful again. I welcomed the hills of the Kettles because they came with trees, and shade, and wind protection. Also I knew that I’d be done shortly. That was a great motivator! At mile 220 I heard a very funny-sounding bicycle horn behind me. I turned to look (WTH?) and there was Randy, driving home from work and figuring I’d be somewhere along that stretch of Highway

A. He drove alongside me for awhile. It was such a good feeling to be almost done and have someone to share that with. I felt relatively strong. As we got to his road, he backed off and let me enjoy the last few moments solo. It was the first tailwind I’d felt for the entire trip. I know I was smiling and not just on the outside. I felt like I was flying, 24mph effortlessly, thrilled to have actually accomplished this crazy goal in my 4th week back on the bike after being injured for a long time. It was the absence of what I love that made me appreciate it more. I did it because I CAN. There is nothing like the simple pleasure of riding a bicycle.

Lake Superior Soul Ride 2012

Sometimes in life, when an opportunity presents itself we have to go for it. After my first overnight bike adventure this June, I was bitten by the touring bug. It was a one-way trip, consisting of 150 miles the first day and 73 the second. It was brutally hot and windy, but with some friendly encouragement I completed my mission. I loved the planning. I loved the pace. I loved stopping for historical markers. I loved the sunrise from the seat of my trusty road bike.

Soon I go back to school for my final semester. I will graduate this December and will be seeking full-time employment shortly thereafter. This summer, my job requires me to work part-time from home, so I have the flexibility to go places. I do not have much in the way of funds. Therefore, if I want to go see Lake Superior I need to ride my bike. That works for me! I’ve had a lot weighing on my mind the past few months about the direction I want to take as a nurse, relationships, and self-love. As a little girl, I spent hours on the north shore of Lake Superior at my grandparent’s house, hunting for rocks or bits of smooth pottery. As a grown woman I find solace in The Big Lake. I wanted to dip my feet in its cold water, and sit among the sun-warmed, smooth rocks. I wanted to feel the sand between my toes. I wanted time away from home and all of its distractions, to deeply reflect on some recent revelations. I wanted to cast the events that have haunted me since my early years into the depths of the waters. I felt that coming to peace with some issues from my past would help me to become a more effective nurse, mother, and eventually a partner.

Trip planning began a few weeks prior. I laid out one route to Little Girl’s Point, near Ironwood, Michigan. I’ve been there before. Camping is convenient and agate picking is decent. However, I accidentally deleted my route! This caused me to seek other destinations. I settled on the Porcupine Mountains, near Ontonagon. The distance was perfect; approximately 130 miles each way. I know I am capable of that, although I have never attempted two rides over 100 miles in one week. In fact, up until this year, I had only done one century ride per year. Last year I did zero.

I decided to ride up in one day, spend the second day at the lake, and ride home the third day. I would have to find someone to care for Willow while I was gone, and had other obligations to address. I do not have much in the way of gear, so I wanted food I could eat without cooking and while remaining true to my paleo style. Planning for these trips is very fun. I make sure the routes go through small towns so that I can refill my water. I’m prepared to answer the call of nature in the woods, but it is nice being able to use a gas station restroom.

I am fortunate to have local friends who help me by outfitting my excursions. I called on them for a pannier rack, panniers, and a lightweight tent. The panniers and tent have traveled the world, sporting over 31,000 miles of adventure. The panniers are decorated with patches from such places as Newfoundland and Iceland. I felt honored to hang them on my bike.

During the trip planning I was spending time reading and reflecting on my own personal baggage. I loaded up Art with baggage to carry also. This was not to be an easy trip. I felt his weight and my own. 

It was a mix of excitement, a strong sense of adventure, and nervousness as the trip grew nearer. I would have no lifeline to call if things went bad. I had to be self-sufficient.

Day #1 Up at 5:00am. I planned to be out the door by 5:45 so that I could see the sunrise as I pedaled. I showered and made a breakfast of eggs, bacon (of course!), acorn squash and black coffee. I sat and read an inspirational story on my front porch, savoring my breakfast, until well after 6:00. I decided it was more important to take my time than to rush out the door. I spend so much of my life in a rush; frazzled and exhausted. The sunrise wasn’t particularly beautiful that day anyway. It was a brisk 46 degrees out and I was going to ride all day. I finally shoved off a little after 6:30.

Mile 2: Road construction. It was the pulverized pavement/gravel blend and it was loose! My bike felt awkward and I nearly tipped over once. I was relieved when I got through it.

Mile 7: I go past this uninhabited lake often and I marvel at its beauty. On this morning it was filled with fog that seemed to be dancing in swirls. I stopped, turned around, and went back to enjoy the view. The morning was brilliant and the chill in the air was refreshing. I was wearing leg warmers with
my shorter bike shorts and it made a very goofy gap where my leg skin was exposed. I pulled my shorts down a little bit every time I heard a car coming. I stopped to try to fix the situation. It just kept happening. I noted the poor combination and vowed to not let it happen again!

Mile 26: First break. Espresso at the Red Canoe in Saint Germain. It was very delicious! One thing about these trips is that instead of saying I’ll refill water at mile “x”, I take water wherever I can. Generally I’ll order a single shot of espresso and ask for a refill on my water bottles. Great service here, and if you’re into that sort of thing, there’s an ice cream shop next door.

Saint Germain is where I picked up the paved bike path. It offers relatively easy riding. It’s fun, with curves and short hills as well as scenery along the way. Of course it’s nice to be out of motor vehicle traffic. I stopped a couple of times to shed layers of clothing on my way to Boulder Junction. There were only a few other trail users out that morning. Some were cordial; some were in their own world.

Mile 51: When I arrived at Boulder Junction, the path was being occupied by the local flea market. I dismounted my bike and walked through the crowd of families, older folks, craftsmen, local farmers, and darting children. The booths offered trinkets, clothing, wooden decorations, birdhouses, local produce and many other items.

Mile 52: Stop #2. Dark roast coffee with almond milk and honey at Dancing Bear Coffee & Gifts in Boulder Junction. I plugged my phone in to charge and enjoyed the plush massage chair. I thumbed through a ridiculously funny book. I ate a small lunch outdoors with my bike. The day had shaped up beautifully. Perfectly warm weather and bright sunshine; it doesn’t get much better.

The county highways between Boulder Junction and Presque Isle are dotted with lakes of various sizes. Lily pads were in full bloom and random trees were starting to show golden and crimson. As I exited the small town of Presque Isle I delighted in a fast downhill, until I realized that with a full load, my bike wobbles at speeds over thirty miles per hour!

It felt very encouraging to see the “Welcome to Pure Michigan” sign. I thought to myself, “I rode my bike to Michigan!” Quick stop for a Lara bar and I was on my way. I had forgotten my map of the Michigan part of my trip. I knew M-64 would take me to the lake, but I like having other options.

Mile 76: Marenisco, Michigan. This is one small town! I stopped at the local gas and grocery store. It appears to be from the 1970’s inside and out. They sell a few groceries and have little area with 2 seating booths for people to sit and eat. I was tired mentally by this point. My shoulders were sore. My saddle had turned into a brick ten miles prior. I felt slightly overwhelmed at the prospect of 50 more miles. I looked at a map the kind clerk offered and purchased a Rock Star energy drink. At this point I popped in an earbud and put on some of my favorite music.

Mile 90: I perked up a bit, but found it difficult to get comfortable on my saddle. Large, rolling hills sprawled out before me as I rode along the west shore of Lake Gogebic. I knew I had to pace myself differently than ever before, because I had to repeat the trip on Day #3. I felt the weight of our collective baggage, and I knew I was not even close to my destination.

Mile 102: Bergland, Michigan. I remembered coming here in 2008 for Tour Da Lake. It’s a mountain bike ride around Lake Gogebic, with several stops along the way and a potluck at the end. I was in a group of riders that would sprint between stops and drink beer while other riders filtered in. It had been a very memorable day, with the sound of fat tires screaming down the pavement in a tight paceline. Today I was in need of a break from the breeze that had picked up. There was no wheel to draft on. I was having mental issues and there were 20-30 more miles to go. I determined I would not make it to the Porcupine Mountains in time to stop at the Visitor’s Center and talk to them about camping options. I knew there was a self-registration for backcountry camping and also Union Bay Campground was open until 11:00pm. My new goal was to make it there in time for sunset.

I departed Bergland, noticing how beautiful the rock was along the roadway with its hues of cream, rust and crimson. I nearly went off the shoulder of the road taking a photo, and as I snapped it saw the large and ugly graffiti polluting nature’s beauty.

Mile 112: A hornet stung me in the lower right arm. Goodness, that hurts! I saw it stinging me, full of anger. I wondered why it was so angry. I was just riding my bike. And then I got angry! I was angry at the hornet. I cursed out loud, and worried that my many allergies might include bee stings. I was stung last month at a local mountain bike trail, but in this situation I was in the middle of nowhere with no cell service. My anger and the pain distracted me from my aching legs and the wind.

I felt as if a tailwind had come up as I rolled towards Lake Superior. I was clipping along with relative ease once the bee sting subsided. My excitement to see the seemingly endless blue water was spurring me on.

Mile 121: First glimpse of the lake! Isn’t it majestic?? I wanted to jump and shout. Instead I rode along with an ear-to-ear smile. I was celebrating on the inside. I was pure joy. I rode my bike to Lake Superior.

 

 

 

 

Mile 123:  
I stopped at a campground for prices but was unimpressed. I did not want to camp close to other people. I wanted solitude. I did not need any luxuries besides perhaps somewhere to charge my cell phone, which is also my camera. I continued on to Union Bay Campground and found them very helpful. They understood just what I was looking for and that I could not hike very far with my bike and his baggage. I purchased a two-day backcountry camping permit with the offer of being able to charge my phone there any time. I was given ideas as to which trails to hike that weren’t terribly hilly. From there I rode back to the turn for South Boundary Road, where I would be riding up to find a camping spot. I leaned Art against a road sign and descended the steep bank to the beach. This is what I came for. The cold water felt very healing on my tired legs. I marveled at the bouquet of rocks and the sound of the waves. I looked as far as I could see and the blue sky met the blue water on the horizon.

Because I had to go find somewhere to camp yet and set up the tent, I caught just the beginning of a spectacular sunset show and then climbed the steep bank back to my bike. The Union Mine Trail was a 1.75 mile climb away. My legs felt incredibly heavy.

 

 

Mile 128: I made it to the trailhead. The hiking trail was sandy and cumbersome while walking next to Art. Dusk was upon me and I thought about where I might have put my small camp headlight. There are certain parameters for backcountry camping that have to do with how far a person can camp off the trail or proximity to water. I noticed what looked like an old, slightly overgrown trail. I followed it over some sticks and through some brush, and it opened to a perfect spot for my borrowed Bibler I-tent. I set up camp, put on my compression stockings, and got cozy in my borrowed lightweight sleeping bag. This spot was perfect! I could hear the Union River bubbling its lullaby. As I was dozing off, a tree fell nearby! It was very unnerving as it shook the ground beneath me. I got up to make sure I hadn’t heard my bike fall or that the tree hadn’t fallen on my bike. All was well. I started dozing off again and heard curious critters flitting about. I spoke to them and felt thankful for the birds and critters for sharing their home with me. I proceeded to toss and turn all night long. The next time I will have a sleeping pad for sure!

Day #2  

Daybreak was upon me, but I tried to stay in my sleeping bag as long as possible. It wasn’t cold out, but I was cozy and in absolutely no hurry to do anything. As per my usual, I wrote my to-do list for the day, except this one was far different than normal: “Hike, massage legs & shoulders, find coffee, go agate hunting, write”.

 

 

 

 

I absolutely love backcountry camping! It’s such a sense of freedom. No crowds. No youngsters shouting. Chickadees for neighbors. Curious squirrels scurrying among the trees. I located my breakfast and found a place to sit on the riverbank while I enjoyed a piece of jerky, some mashed sweet potato, a Lara bar and my thermos of still-warm coffee.

The Union River flowed over small rocks and curved to the left just past where I sat on a bed of pine needles. The soft patches of moss were beautiful hues of green against the rust-colored dirt. What a serene setting for breakfast. Once I was finished I re-organized my gear, made the decision to leave the tent set up and stick with this spot as a base camp, then hung Day 3’s food in a tree so that I would not have to haul it around with me. My body was sore from the miles of Day 1 and from the previous weekend’s cross-country mountain bike race. With everything organized, I grabbed my notepad and paper and set out for my hike. On the bank of the river I found the perfect rock to sit on.

My purpose on this trip included putting some thought into those things which make me happy, independently of anyone else. Self-love is important. I think I have it, and then I realize that I don’t. If I did, I would not be sticking around in relationships far too long, hoping for something that will simply never exist with that person. I would not devalue myself hoping to gain the love of someone who has no interest in giving love. I wrote down the things that make me happy, some of which are: riding my bikes, inspiring others, being the kind of friend who can be talked to and trusted with anything, being at bike races, being lean and muscular, hunting for agates… I could go on but those are some of the big things.

Recently I realized that I have had a relationship pattern my whole adult life. I tend to choose emotionally unavailable men. While outside of a relationship I feel quite independent, strong-willed, determined, and full of positive energy, when I am in a relationship I tend to focus on the other person and lose sight of myself. Then everything goes haywire! I wonder why that person doesn’t feel so strongly about me or why he is not as romantic as me. I choose this type every time, and every time it

does not work out. It seems it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. I know it won’t work from the beginning. I know he will not be there for me on a deep level. I go through the relationship like I used to race, turning myself inside out and trying my very hardest – except there is no trophy here. There is no love. It just is not that important to the other person. I distance myself emotionally and things fall apart. I get tired of trying. The realization was that it started way, way back, with a father who would show up out of the blue, make promises to me, and then not follow through. I might not see him for years at a time. I suppose now that if I choose men who are not emotionally available, and then it does not work out, and I leave the relationship, I will not be hurt. At least not to the degree as if I were to fall deeply in love and then be left by him. I have attracted distance into my love life, be it physically, emotionally, or both.

Now I have recognized the issue and my job is to work on changing the pattern. This is where self-love comes in. No more devaluing myself. I have a lot to offer in a relationship. The same stubbornness that makes me finish a long race or 150-mile day on the bike will be the same effort I put into my love life. I will no longer settle for someone who does not want or appreciate what I have to give. When someone tells me they do not have the time for me, or treats me harshly (to put it nicely), I will move on. I will be okay and I know that. I love me . I wrote down some personal goals to achieve those things which make me happy. I wrote down some of my values in a relationship, as well as deal-breakers.

Since breaking up with my fiancé last February, I have been seeking out happy couples and questioning them. I often ask how they met, and what they think the key is to their happiness. The common theme is mutual support. They are each other’s #1 fan.

I feel a deep love inside of me, and a desire to help others. I often feel it well up within me and I feel I emanate positive energy. My desire is to use that energy to help others, especially my friends and future patients as a nurse. As I approach my final semester of nursing school, I wanted to spend some time thinking about where I would be able to use my positive energy to help someone in need. It came to me, actually in preparation for the trip and as the miles went on I felt stronger about it. Oncology. If I think battling my way through headwinds and rain is hard, it’s nothing compared to what a cancer fighter is going through. I willingly put myself through these things and part of the reason is for the opportunity to overcome adversity. I have had a taste of life-changing medical diagnosis; in 2000 I was diagnosed with “probable multiple sclerosis”. One day I woke up with the sensation of my feet being asleep. It spread up to my waist. My depth perception was skewed. I had a hard time walking. I went through a battery of tests, revealing active lesions on my brain. I went through self-injections to delay the progression of the disease. It’s a whole story in itself, but suffice it to say that plays a part in how motivated I am in life. I know adversity. Physically, financially, emotionally…abuse in the forms of physical, sexual, and emotional reach way back into my childhood. It has shaped me into who I am today. Yet those fighting cancer are often in the very midst of adversity. I want to hold the hand of someone undergoing chemotherapy and radiate light to them. I want to learn reiki and offer complimentary healing through energy. I have it within me. My desire and passion is to use it for good. If I could be a ray of light for someone going through a hard time my life would be worthwhile. I do not seek praise. I seek to make a difference.

I actually began to write out my “Bucket List”. It currently has fourteen items, most of which have to do with bicycling or learning.

I rose from my rock and writing to hike the Union Mine Trail. It is rich with history, and includes informational plaques along the way with details about the mine which was active there in the mid-late 1800’s. I find history fascinating now, although as a teen I slept through most of history class. There were old mine shafts, stone ruins from equipment, remnants of primitive roads, and quotes from Mr. Spalding, including one that made me chuckle. It was something like, “Murdered 700 black flies”. I guess our forefathers dealt with pests, too. My huaraches (shoes) felt so natural and supple on the rooty, rocky, dirty trail. The Eastern Hemlocks loomed above me and I thought about days gone by in that area. The views of the river were incredibly beautiful, with small waterfalls and rapids along the way. I was hungry again. I tend to forget how hungry I am the day after a long ride.

Back at camp I ate and changed clothes. I headed to the Visitor’s Center to ask about the nearest coffee. I dropped my dead phone off at the Union Bay Campground to charge, and went to the Outpost where I purchased a patch to sew on my future panniers, some lunchmeat, and coffee. As I sat to drink coffee at a picnic table, I was approached by a 65-year-old mountain biker from Eau Claire. It turns out he volunteers for his local mountain bike race. I had to miss that one this year due to lack of funds, but I’ve enjoyed that race in the past. What a small world. He and his grandson were on vacation. We talked bikes, and he showed me their bikes with pride. He said he was too old to race and I argued that no, 65 is not “too old”. I know a 60-year-old who could use more competition!

It was finally beach time. I rode to a place where no one was around. I looked at the vast blue water. The weather was perfect for a bathing suit and with the sun sparkling on the water, I ventured in. It is certainly Lake Superior. I was tentative, especially around my belly. I dipped down just a little. I splashed water on my arms and shoulders. I dipped down again, to my waist this time. I thought about a book that I’ve been reading called “The Flinch”, and I submerged myself – to my neck. I did not want to deal with my crazy, fine hair when it gets wet. Once I was to that point I swam out a bit. The water was so refreshing. When I was back near the beach, I knelt in the water facing the shore. I closed my eyes and just let the feeling of the waves move me. They gently pushed me towards the shore. I was so grateful for that moment. Eventually I went back up on shore, head down and looking for the elusive agate. The sand was warm beneath my bare feet. The temperature was in the mid-70’s with a slight breeze. I found a giant log on the beach and laid down on it to dry. It felt so good to lay there and listen to the waves. I started to doze a little.

The man at the Outpost had asked me if I was going to ride up to Lake Of The Clouds. Oh, how I wanted to! My body was telling me to rest, though. I had come for the lake. I had to get home the next day and I was sore. I closed my eyes again and let the sounds lull me into a meditative state.

Some time later I rode back to Union Bay Campground and picked up my phone. I uploaded one photo and it promptly died. I was busy sitting in a pile of sun-warmed rocks near the boat landing so I just let it be. Once I had tired of rock picking I went back and put the phone back on the charger, I ate. It was only 3:30. There was to be an agate hunting program at 7:00 and for the first time in ages, I felt boredom. I cleaned and lubed my bike chain. I thought about drinking a soda but then I did not. I got a refill on my water and went back to the lake, where I spotted a large, sun-warmed rock that looked an awful lot like a recliner. I took another rest.

I picked more rocks and found some interesting, beautiful specimens. There were a lot of spiders scurrying out among the rocks as I disturbed them. Finally my phone was charged and I checked in with the world. I ate again, and it was time for the agate program. Mr. Wild, the Park Naturalist, was leading the group. It was interesting. All this time I had been hunting on shore but the best is in the water. I tried it out and it felt very good, especially on my sore legs. Prior to this I had just been going in briefly to feel the cool water on my feet and legs, but I would wade a bit and return to shore to look for agates. I picked rocks with a group of about 25 people, ranging in age from small children to retirees. My hunt was successful in the way of other beautiful

specimens but not agates. I did find an interesting fossil. Unlike the other folks there, I was not camping at the Union Bay Campground so I left early. At least this night I did not have to set up camp. I rode to the point where South Boundary Road turns up the hill, and just a little beyond there was a set of stairs down the steep bank. I hauled Art to the beach to wait for the sunset. When I got onto the sand, I wiggled the front wheel and the bike stayed in place. I kicked sand over the wheels and took a series of photos. I went in the water and found a small agate. I ate sardines. I found biting flies. And then, I savored the sunset. I knew that Art and I both would be returning home with less baggage.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I climbed the 1.75 miles to the Union Bay Trailhead with tired legs. I lay in the tent and listened to coyotes yipping. I closed only the screen door to the tent and had a view of the night sky. A shooting star brought a smile to my face and I settled in for another night of tossing and turning.


Day 2 miles, definitely more on the sane side


Day #3

I woke before the sun. I broke camp in the dark, hoping to see the sunrise and allow time to take a different route home. Breaking camp is quick with the lightweight tent and very little gear. I was amused at using Art as a mountain bike down the trail, through sand, over roots. Coyotes were making their eerie noises when I got to the trailhead. I love being in nature. My soul feels at home in the woods, coyotes and all. I enjoyed the 1.75 mile descent on the road, to Lake Superior.

 

The sunrise was stunning! I stood by the roadside and ate a light breakfast. My mashed sweet potatoes had gone bad but it was not a big deal. I took some photos and headed east to Silver City.

As I turned on M-64 to ride south about 20 miles to Bergland, I felt a headwind. Great. My knees hurt. My knees rarely ever hurt. I was about 6 miles in when I stopped to gauge the wind. If there was any, it was insignificant. My right arm was swollen and looked odd from the angry hornet on the trip up. I thought, “It’s going to be a long day.” Then it started to

rain. I tried to see the beauty in the miles of forest, in the changing colors of the trees, in the roadside flowers…and when I thought I was maybe on a downhill and stopped pedaling I slowed right down. Mentally I was struggling. I stopped to put my earbud in my right ear and played Victor Schueller’s “Positively Empowered” podcasts. I was going to take a side road that would parallel M-64 and perhaps offer a more scenic view. It was my goal in my head, that if I could make it that far I would be doing pretty good and see some new scenery. I got there and it was loose gravel. It would be about ten miles, so I stayed on M-64. Gravel sucks the life out of my already tired legs. This was not the day for it.

Mile 22: By the time I arrived at Bergland I was having a pity party for myself. I had 110 more miles to ride and it was raining. My legs felt sore. I went into the gas station and bought a dried fruit and nut snack mix as well as a hot cup of hazelnut coffee. I rode to the Bergland Community Park where I plugged in my phone to charge and did some writing. The rain came down harder. I no longer felt like riding my bike. My seat area was sore and I knew getting soaked would not help matters, Chamois Butter or not. I proceeded to eat the entire bag of snack mix along with some other items from my panniers. I rationed out my food for the duration of the trip as I was super hungry and getting low on food. I drank coffee. I whined to friends. And then, I got back on the bike. I had no other option, and deep down I knew that even if I did, I had set out to do this and had no reason why I couldn’t. I took the eastern route along Lake Gogebic this time. It was slightly longer but more scenic. I remembered it from Tour Da Lake, and the memories of that day made me smile. The rain had let up a little and I started to enjoy the ride again. I listened to a podcast about overcoming adversity. Yes!

Mile 40: Quick stop for a packet of tuna and a “natural break”. This was a pretty little place. My head felt much better. I was less than 100 miles from home and just had to get to Stage Coach Road, which by the map appeared to be not too far. I was warm and discarded my long sleeves as well as leg warmers. I enjoyed some of my homemade trail mix of coconut flakes, cashews, dried cherries and dark chocolate chips.

 

Ready to take on the trip, I got back in the saddle and listened to an interview with Tara Mohr about the way in which women tend to speak that makes them sound less empowered, or full of self-doubt. I decided to try to eliminate “just” from my speech, as in “I just wanted to say…” Heck, it should be “I want to say… Why make yourself sound unimportant right off the bat? Sometimes I think I’m too polite. I would not want to be rude, but I devalue myself too often.

My plan was to take Stage Coach Road to US-2 and then a short jog east would take me to a series of roads around small lakes, leading to Eagle River. I arrived at Stage Coach to see more loose gravel. It was a significant road in my plan, and chances were by the map I was using that if what I was seeing was gravel, so were the others, at least for quite a distance. I decided to take the same route that I took up at that point, because it certainly has water stops, and the paved bike path between Boulder Junction and Saint Germain is a good ride.

Mile 45: M-64. Fighting for 7mph. Gassed. Heart beating wildly. Did not look like an uphill, but the moment I ceased pedaling I stopped. I wanted to cry. I did not plan to stop until mile 60. I was working so damn hard, and had so far to go yet, and I wanted to throw my bike in the ditch and thumb a ride. I wanted to be done. I hurt in so many places, and I was exerting far more energy than I should have been. I thought perhaps my tires were flat but they were not. Not even a little bit! I thought I had a wicked headwind but there was just a slight breeze. I was so frustrated. I wanted to yell and scream! I put an electrolyte tablet in my water and decided I had better keep riding. The rain picked up as I neared US-2. I crossed the highway and got soaked as I descended Kimberly Road into Marenisco.

Mile 51: I pulled up to the humble, old little gas station and noted the sign on the door stating that they now sell wine. Oh, so tempting! Instead I bought black coffee, bananas, and peanuts. I plugged in my phone and sat in a booth with my foul mood. It took awhile, but slowly I had thoughts of gratitude creep into my head and heart. I reflected on how fortunate I am to have the physical and mental ability to do this trip. The radar looked like it would be raining for a long time, maybe even the duration of my ride, so I had better be grateful I can ride my bike in the rain. It’s just water, after all.

I was appreciative of the dry place to sit and collect my thoughts. I was grateful for my friends and their encouraging words. I decided to press on after a second cup of coffee. Ten miles to the Wisconsin border, and ten more after that to Boulder Junction, where I would stop for a break and pick up the bike path for some easy riding.

Mile 69: There are many secluded lakes along the route, and although it is a dreary day, this is one of them. I love the uninhabited wildness of these lakes. I was almost to Boulder Junction. The climb into Presque Isle had felt good. It was a steep hill and I powered right up. Raaaaawr! I missed the Michigan roads with their paved shoulders. Traffic on the county highways was busy today and it made me a little nervous.

Mile 73: I saw a sign stating it was 5 more miles to Boulder Junction. I was pissed off. My bladder was full and my belly was growling. “Five more miles?!” I whined to myself. I swung onto a gravel road where I relieved myself and ate sardines.

Mile 76: So it wasn’t 5 more miles. Oh well. I’d rather eat a tin of sardines sitting on a roadside bank of dirt than at a nice coffee shop anyway. On this day I would not enjoy the plush massage chair at Dancing Bear. I was soaked. The bag cover provided in Mark’s handlebar bag made me smile. In big letters that I could read from the saddle it said “BONUS!”. Sure. Bonus rain. Funny. I sat and sipped a dark roast coffee with agave nectar. Rain had pretty much stopped by the time; just a drizzle. It was nice, cool weather which I definitely prefer. I picked up the bike trail. No flea market this time. The water sprayed a fine, cool mist on my legs when I rolled through puddles, and it felt invigorating.

By mile 90 I was thinking food. What would I eat when I got home? I posted on Facebook to find out how long my favorite grocery store, Golden Harvest, was open. I did the math in my head. I was just north of Sayner and if I hurried a bit I could get there in time to pick up some bison and coconut milk ice cream to go with butternut squash fries. That put the pep in my pedals! Not to mention it was going to get dark and I only have commuter lights. I hurried along, although at mile 97 I stopped to use a wayside bathroom and at mile 100 I stopped for a photo of my odometer. Century #5 for the season, done! I had only ever done one per season prior to this year.
I rode like I meant it. I had all the passion and energy I needed. I knew I could see this through, even though with about 20 miles to go my left calf started to feel tight. Towards the end I felt it might cramp. I just wanted to get home in time for groceries. I let that thought motivate me and held a faster pace than I had all day.

Mile 122: I like this road graffiti

It felt nice to be on familiar roads. I had an energy about me. I was amazed at how strong I felt at over 120 miles.

Mile 128: I made it in time for groceries!! Great feeling. Almost home!

And then, quietly, I was home. My cat greeted me at the door. I felt a great sense of accomplishment and personal growth. I made it.

Why I Became A Licensed Massage Therapist

Clients sometimes ask what made me go into massage therapy. Around 2008, as an amateur athlete, I became interested in sports massage. I had a table and a book, and would work on friends and family at home. I was very interested in the muscular anatomy and the aspects of sports recovery.

In 2011 or so, I was doing some deep soul searching. I spent hours on 2 wheels contemplating my purpose in this life. I rode from Rhinelander to Lake Superior on one solo adventure (135 miles each way – lots of time to think). I camped in a tent near the Union Mine River, and started my official Bucket List. I pick something off of it every year. The first thing was to ride in the Wausau 24 solo category – 24 hours of as much mountain biking as a person could do. This year I’m kayaking Pictured Rocks. At any rate, massage school was on my list. Logistically, though, it seemed far-fetched. It is a commitment of time and thousands of dollars. $6k just for school, not to mention insurance, licensure, equipment, etc, etc. The nearest school is over an hour away.

Then, in 2016, my sister was diagnosed with an aggressive form of breast cancer. By the time it was found, it was beyond treatment. My sister was handicapped since she was an infant, and I’m not sure she understood what was happening in her body.

Becky<—Becky receiving massage and music therapy from Aspirus hospice, shortly before her death in June of 2016. When her massage therapist came to visit, she would have a moment of relaxation and it made her feel so much better. It was the most beautiful work I had ever seen.

Later that summer, my husband and I were visiting a friend, who introduced us to his lady friend, an RN/Massage Therapist. I was treated to her massage and knew I needed more of that in my life. The environment was calm and relaxed. The touch was enough to send me to that peaceful state of bliss….. I felt like between these 2 women, I was being urged to at least check into massage school.

My husband, per his usual, was supportive in me checking it out. I was working full time as a hospice nurse, with one overnight of call every week. I had struggled financially big-time prior to living with my husband, so I didn’t think a bank would actually finance me. Still, I needed to know. I started by calling my bank. No problem, and a decent APR. The school I decided on (Health Touch) for several reasons had just recently started and would accept me a few weeks in, due to my medical background. They met 2 evenings per week, 3-9pm. One of them was my on-call night. A fellow nurse switched nights with me, no problem. It all just fell into place. How could I not??

I’m still not sure how it all worked out. The schooling was not easy, even with my background. It was 12 hours of classroom and 4 of driving, plus practice time on various friends/family, plus studying, plus full time work every week for most of it. Nuts! Just goes to show you what a determined soul can make happen.

My original intention was to massage for hospice, but there have been no openings in my area for that. In the meantime, my little part-time self-employment gig has taken over in an amazing way, for which I’m grateful. I still hold most Wednesdays open in case hospice needs me to put on my scrubs and help as a nurse, but there’s talk of transitioning my hospice role to massage therapy later in summer of 2018. I’m totally down with that. I love bringing calm and caring touch to the people.

If that isn’t a rambling answer to the question, I don’t know what is! There you have it. 10 months into my professional massage therapy career and I’m wholly in love. Pursue your passions <3

On Being a Nurse and a Massage Therapist

Many of you know that I’m a nurse as well as a massage therapist. I had met my edge in nursing with overnights on call, and sought balance in my life by going to massage school. My plan was to do each job 2 days per week and have a weekday to myself for solitude/errands/house cleaning/adventures. I left my full-time hospice nursing job and took a casual position, working on a pretty regular weekly basis for Aspirus Comfort Care & Hospice Services. No on-call expectations, help out when I’m available and they need me, etc. Perfect arrangement. Balance. Two wonderful jobs.

My massage business quickly took flight. I expanded my hours for a crazy promotion in November 2017, in which I gave away 100 thirty minute massage sessions to the community. I called it Project Give Some to Get Some, and it was a resounding success! Since then, my calendar has been full 6-8 weeks out. Some clients signed up for a year at a time! My expanded hours have stuck, so my only available day for hospice was Wednesday. Most weeks I work as a massage therapist now 4-5 days (and try to squeeze my husband in on Sundays!).

It’s been some time since hospice needed me on a Wednesday. I generally have massage clients hoping they can get in that day as well, so I give Aspirus first dibs.  As of now I want to say it’s been about 6 weeks since I put on my scrubs.

And a funny thing happened recently. Once I put aside my guilty conscience for having invested in my education to become a Registered Nurse and hone my hospice skills (I do love hospice work), I realized that the very work that has taken over my weeks (massage therapy) is everything that I hoped nursing would be.

I meet a new client and assess their needs. I diagnose (not medically, duh, I’m not a doctor). I make a plan. I implement the plan. I evaluate the treatment (I love it when folks follow up in the couple of days after their massage – it helps me shape their treatment).

I provide hands (ok, feet too!) on care. I provide touch. I provide comfort and space to just be. I nurture. I help. I develop a relationship with my clients that gives continuity to my work. As I get to know them, I give thought to ways I might better serve whatever they’re coming in for.

This is what I went to nursing school for. And I’m finding it as a massage therapist.

I don’t love spending as much time charting as I spend with patients as a nurse. I don’t love turning down overnight call (my body just doesn’t handle that well at all – hello adrenal fatigue!) because I feel like a jerk even though I know it’s not expected. I realize people have pain and die in the middle of the night.

I love being my own boss, too! Heck, if I’m feeling overworked I have no one to blame but myself! I get to work in yoga clothes every day. My meditation and yoga practices benefit not only me, but those I work with.

So here I am, away for a weekend of ashiatsu massage training and excited to learn. Every day I spend in my rental room downtown giving massage, I am so grateful. My heart overflows. I needed more calm in my life and I found it. My work is my creativity. We’ll see if Aspirus feels like keeping me around or if I go 100% in on massage.

Either way, thank you for allowing me to discover and live my highest passion.

Mind Shift

Something shifted in my brain very recently and I have to share. I’m 43. I can’t remember a time I was satisfied with my body. I was a chubby girl, then an obese woman, starved myself skinny in 2009, gained to the point of overweight, struggled hard with my weight until 2017 and FINALLY found what works for me – and with an amount of ease I am still not used to!

For months now, I easily maintain a weight of 125-128. Now, my actual goal at 5’1″ is 120#. It’s a healthy weight.

It’s a number on a scale. I saw this photo of me working yesterday at an Expo and it kind of hit me upside the head. I mean, as recently as the last few days I’ve been “doing a cleanse” or whatever to try to fight my way down to 120 for some reason.

I’ve been knocked down by “Probably multiple sclerosis”, fibromyalgia and an acute tangle with Lyme disease. Twice I struggled to stand up and walk for a period of time in my life. And with this body, I’ve fought my way back. I run 5k on a whim, ride my bicycles to and from work (21 miles round trip), work physically all day long and have the energy to make dinner when I get home. With this body. This. Body. How about just being content with precious gift of a body to enjoy?? It’s actually pretty fantastic.

It’s time to drop the struggle and turn to gratitude. I love the whole foods, plant-based lifestyle. I love the ways I move my body to keep fit. I love my job and the fact that I’m physically able to do it. I love my life. I love my body. I don’t give a crap how fast I can get from point A to point B any more. I do give a crap about having fun and enjoyment.

Grateful and content,

Andrea

On Detoxing

Here’s the thing about me and cleanses. I eat very, very clean the vast majority of the time. When I decide to do a cleanse/detox because that’s my January ritual, I spend the week leading up to it binging. It’s a scarcity mentality, I suppose. I’ll pile on a few pounds and then spend the cleanse bringing it back down. I love the way I normally eat and I’m a healthy weightnow by anyone’s standards. I eat mainly vegetables, some fruit, some grains in the form of sprouted grain bread, rice and quinoa, and occasional seeds. Almost entirely organic. I drink coffee, tea, plenty of water and a glass of organic, sulfite-Pinot Noir several evenings each week.

Maybe it’s a residual from my unhealthy past? This feeling of being compelled to detox after the Holidays? I guess there were about half a dozen holiday cookies consumed. Otherwise, I prepared and hauled healthy dishes to every gathering I attended.

I tracked my food today, weighing and measuring things out of curiosity. I used to do this all the time to try to force weight off (that didn’t work long-term, either). Here’s the breakdown:

Calories total 1437
Protein 34g
Carbohydrates 329g (I never would have believed this would lower my long-term blood sugar control)
Fat 2g
Fiber 45g (yeah!)
Sodium 679mg although I did add some salt to dinner
Potassium 6713mg
Vitamin A 1495
Vitamin C 433
Calcium 30
Iron 86

What I ate:
Breakfast: One pound of Russet potatoes and 1/2 cup red cabbage hashbrowns cooked in water, with seasoned salt

Lunch: Baked sweet potato (a full pound!) with cinnamon and 1 tablespoon real maple syrup

Supper: Diced potatoes 10 ounces and 1 cup diced canned tomatoes with chili seasonings and a good portion of spinach

Snacks: Apple, orange, potato

This fueled me nicely for yoga and fat biking in the snow 🙂 Drank lots of water. Sat in the sauna for 40 minutes. I’ll end my day with rooibos tea shortly. No lack of energy. Clean fuel.

If I wasn’t “detoxing”, I may or may not have added a glass of wine. Makes me think, what are we detoxing from?? Given my history of binging prior to a detox, might it be wise to eat as I do and if I feel the need, perhaps fast for a period of time? Is my motive love, or is it self-deprivation to atone for something I did? Like the binge prior. Hmm….

Easy Menu Planning + What I’m Thinking About During Massages

This is how I’ve done my menu planning for years. Usually I use one card or piece of paper and put the menu on one side/shopping list on the other. I like having my menu with when I shop. I tend to eat the same thing for breakfast and lunch all week, for the sake of simplicity. I will batch cook as much as I can on a Sunday afternoon, or when I have the oven hot for a dinner I will throw in 4-6 yams for grab-and-go food.

For the first 3 weeks of January I “detox”. Actually, I examine habits that I feel are unhealthy and put the kabosh on them for this period of time. This January I am doing it by way of a diet of fruits and vegetables. I want to acknowledge that I do have a coffee habit. I’m not going there. I’ve eliminated coffee several times in the past and nothing good comes of it. I love a rich, organic French roast *especially* in the dead of winter. Gets me out of bed in the dark of morning. The staples I have eliminated for these weeks are the evening glass of wine and grains. I tend to eat rice and sprouted grain bread. I have a glass of wine 3 or 4 evenings of the week. But, not for now……

As I’m writing this, I am thinking, “detoxing from some rice and red wine??” Yeah, I don’t know either. It’s not like I ate more than a half dozen Christmas cookies during the Holidays or anything.

At any rate, here are my menu and shopping list for the week. I made a last-minute decision to trade baked squash for baked hashbrowns – squash was no longer on sale and potatoes were. This is all organic food from my awesome local grocer, Golden Harvest. The recipes are from www.potatoreset.com and would be considered low-fat vegan. The “cheeze” and “queso” are made primarily from a boiled potato, nutritional yeast and seasonings. Yogurt is for my husband. I decided against almond milk for my coffee for now and crossed that off, too.

Menu

 

Here’s my haul for $98 and change:

Haul

That’s a full pound of broccoli to go with a yam for lunch every day. 10″ of Russett potatoes, 11.5# of yams. You get the idea. Plenty of food. Now, I do have some staples here already which helps.

The other thing I wanted to write about is massage. I love this 2nd job. I love it like it’s my brand new baby. I love the learning, and the people, and the atmosphere, and helping my community move a little easier. Want to know what the quiet pauses are if you’ve been on my table, or what I’m typically thinking? Yes, of course my mind wanders to groceries and obligations at times but for the most part it goes like this: Once you’re situated on the table I rest my hands on you. Usually on shoulders. I picture in my mind that I grow roots into the ground. I plug my hands into the energy of the sun. I give thanks for this person on my table. And then I proceed. This ritual centers me. For the duration, I am thinking about what my hands feel and what my eyes see. Sometimes I’m thinking “cool tattoo!!”. Sometimes I’m thinking what other tools I’d like to implement to help your muscles loosen up. If my mind wanders, I gently bring it back, just like in meditation. I think thoughts of appreciation, esteem, kindness and gratitude. If you’ve shared a struggle with me, I’m likely thinking affirmations for you. And as I conclude the session, I place my hands in 4 locations along the body while I say these words (usually in my mind):  May you be filled with loving kindness. May you be free from inner and outer dangers. May you be well in body and mind. May you be at ease and happy. Look up “metta” if you want to know more.

There you have it.

Holistic.

Body, mind, and spirit.

Winter Solstice Reflections, Gyms, Workout Routine

Today is the winter solstice of 2017. Seems that many of us pause and take some time for deep reflection this time of the year. It’s kind of an annual review. Where am I and how does it align with where I want to be? Are there large changes to be made? Habits I’d like to adopt?

I’ve been licensed as a massage therapist for 4 months. While I still work as a nurse most weeks, the majority of my work time is spent in a lovely room, in a lovely space, with essential oils being diffused, my homemade candle flickering, Wholetones music playing and a client that I’m grateful for on my massage table. My intention was to be booked out for 4 weeks at a time by the end of the year, and that’s exactly what has happened. It has taken a lot of effort, but it’s here. I love it so much. I feel like my work is my hobby, my creative outlet and my gift. I love helping people feel better in their bodies. I love learning more.

I am a personal trainer and health coach, but don’t push that work. This is certainly the time of year people are thinking about their weight and health, myself included. I’ve lost 17 pounds since spring with ease by adopting a whole foods, plant-based diet and moving my body throughout the day. Once in a great while I will weigh and measure my foods, counting calories and macronutrients. It’s more to prove a point now, like that I do, in fact, get enough protein without eating animals. And that I do eat a rather large quantity of food. I like it that way. I like that my diet continues to evolve, to be more aligned with the seasons as well as my feelings about animal welfare.

Several people I’ve observed over the years turn to whatever the latest pill or potion is to lose weight, only to gain it back. Not only is the weight back, but the feelings of failure are worn around like a weight every day for many people. I’ve been there! Although I still have my struggles, they’re much fewer and farther between than they used to be. I truly believe the fundamental reason why the pills and shakes fail is that they don’t address the root of the problem. What if you loved yourself enough to nourish your body? What could you love about yourself right now, in this moment? Until you examine why you keep repeating the cycle, it will continue. Also, what are the ingredients in your shakes and bars?? Synthetic vitamins? Isolates? For me personally, I like a large quantity of real food. I like to put away a pound of veggies, or several cups of starch in the form or rice or yams every day. I do not like restriction, and if I think I can just have a little bit when it comes to chocolate or nut butter, I’m lying to myself. I’m an all-or-nothing kind of gal. Serves me well in some aspects of life.

Ok so, here’s my current workout plan:
plan

If you’re wondering what the heck Heart Butt and Blast are, check this site: https://ashleyblackguru.com/heartbutt/ – the Fascia Blaster is the only tool I’ve found that addresses my bound up fascia, and I’m able to see/feel a difference with regular use! I’ve struggled for years with IT band and Achilles pain, so this is huge for me. Most days I do my strength training and blasting in the morning, in my bathroom with the space heater on. I play loud music and do the strength exercises with a resistance band in sets of 10 for the duration of a song. Then I blast one area for a song (left upper leg, for example) and repeat for 3 full sets.

For cardio, you will no longer find me on some machine under fluorescent lights watching negativity on a screen. Here’s my cardio gym on Tuesday. Quiet stillness except for me moving my body through space, and the chatter of winter birds. The forest floor blanketed in sparkling white. Crisp, fresh air. Hills are my high-intensity intervals. I’m finding that a gentler pace and more restorative approach is more aligned with this season.

and Thursday, with my enthusiastic 4-legged soul mate:

 

I’m not so into “Resolutions” but in 2018 I’m taking steps to:
 – replace some evening glasses of wine with tea
 – create a morning ritual to involve a little yoga and meditation
 – create space in my schedule to relax, especially in the evenings