Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Mountain Systems

The mountains are full of surprises. After finishing our ride on Thursday in 30 degree heat, the weather began to shift. It started with a subtle wind moving through the valley. This quickly escalated to wind warnings on the major highways! After arriving home in the later afternoon, the temperature had gone from 30 degrees celcius to 14 degrees celcius! A cold monsoon-type rain enveloped the evening dropping the temperatures to a hovering 2-3 degrees. Waking up the next morning to snow meant having to change our ride. Our intention was to tackle the Serpent of the Alps: the Col de Madeleine. After freezing our asses off riding through rain in the valley, we realized that the only thing awaiting us at the top of the Madeleine would be sub-zero and snow. The Madeleine would have to wait for another day - thank god for me: the girl who pulls out the wool jersies for any day under 20 degrees celcius!
I remember living in the mountains in the Yukon. The beauty, and the danger of it all is the ever changing environment, the spontenaity of it, the lack of predictability. The mountains have a power about them: a power that, as a vulnerable human, needs to be respected. We tackled the Col de la Madeleine the day following (it was a little warmer - no snow at least)! The Madeleine, or Serpent, took a chunk out of me last year, transforming me from a relatively empowered woman to a wimpering child, gasping for breath. This year was quite different: approaching the Madeleine with the respect that she deserves meant continuing to suffer as she bit at my heels a little, but finishing the climb with a little bit of pride.
Being in the mountains is can be both empowering and humbling. The key to maintaining your pride is understanding that the mountain always wins; occasionally though, on a good day, she will give you a little hope!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Alps Week Recap ..

For all of you who are interested and for who this will make sense, here are the climbs and mileage achieved in the Alps in the last 7 days:
- Les Allues: Vamoral 69.9km with 2019m of elevation
- Les Allues: Brides des Bains, Bozel and Pralogne-la-Vanoise, 87.2km with 2364m of elevation
- La Cote D'Aime, Col Petit St Bernard: 121km with 2300m of elevation
- Col de Telegraphe, Col de Galibier, Alp D'Huez: 125km with 3550m of elevation
- Les Allues to Annecy: 107km with 607m of elevation
- Les Allues: Col des Saisies: 139km with 1882m of elevation
- Les Allues: Val Thorens: 97.4km with 2859m of elevation

Et voila! A grande total of 746.5km of riding with 15 581m of climbing .. and still 4 more rides to go!

Being in the mountains feeds the spirit. There is a limitlessness to it all - the expansive scenary, the mountain air, the sky that seems to go on for ever and the valley gorges that tumble with glacial stream. Riding mountains on a bike has allowed me to realize the limitlessness around me as well as that inside of me. It has allowed me to understand myself as a small, yet pivotal piece of the world. It has allowed me to realize that, as independent beings, we are truly a part of everything around us. Riding in the mountains is spiritual. It is like riding to heaven and taking a look at your spiritual destiny and coming back to the earth with greater understanding. I come back a different person or, more accurately, more myself everytime!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011


I have settled into the Alps. It is an interesting thing really: I feel like I have returned home.
I will keep this short so to update all of you without rambling on too much.
Riding has been fantastically intense. Yesterday was a bit of an epic day climbing the Col de Telegraphe, the Galibier and Alp D'Huez in succession. For those of you who know the Tour de France, these are some of the most famous climbs of the tour for being the most grueling.
Now, when you are climbing for hours against what feels like a wall of wind, your mind goes everywhere in search of distraction. Starting on the the Col de Telegraphe with only 4.5 hours sleep under my belt (I blame continued jet lag and "over" training), required my iPod as a welcome distraction. By the time that we got to the Galibier, I was tired but committed. It was the hardest part of the day for me (and for many others that I ended up riding along side of).
Alp D'huez was an entirely different beast: switch back after switch back of 11-12% made it slow going. It was in this hour of thinking that I realized that, with many things that we do in life, we embark on them with the thought of a certain goal and the insecurity that we may not actually reach that goal. It was only at the 5.5km to go on the Alp D'huez climb that I realized I was going to get to the top. My realization came with the conscious decision to make it happen without allowing for another option. The things we want in life are out there:we simply need to make the conscious decisions to get to the top of our vision and see the obstacles as just another switch-back to get around.
Alp D'Huez was epic - the entire day was epic and I didn't really even realize it until it was all done and I was drinking Orangina at the top!

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Paris Train Station

Greetings from Paris everyone - the next few weeks of blog posts will be from Europe! I hope you enjoy!!

I met a woman named Amelie .. we quickly became friends and now she is on a train bound for the west of France. I waited for her while she got her train ticket in order. This is what I observed while waiting:
- there is nothing more endearing than a man taking care of his aging father
- Rabbits like Pringles .. a woman had a rabbit in her purse. The little guy was ALL over the Pringles! Very cute!
- Women can be sexy at any age: a men like sexy women!
- We all have way too much STUFF - and we take it all travelling!
- Healthy family dynamics can be spotted a mile away - so can unhealthy ones!
- No matter how tired you look, laughing makes you pretty
- We take our phones, electronics and internet access very seriously!
- It is easy to make wonderful connections with people when you are open: thanks Amelie!!

Monday, August 1, 2011

RSA Animate - Drive: The surprising truth about what motivates us

After watching this video, I don't feel so badly about being a non-conformist! In chosing lives that motivate us beyond money, we can be more engaged, inspired and creative.
Take a look and chose the path less travelled!
Enjoy the first day of August everyone ...