Friday, August 31, 2007


Ah eBay. I love you, I hate you, you're like a game to me. I have been playing the eBay game last night and today trying to purchase a new toy. It looks like this...
I have a camera which I love and use to take pictures "like constantly" according to my mates, but it is somewhat large, and very fragile (I just about ruined it at the Grand Canyon due to sand). Since I love water, waterfalls, and activities that require portaging through water, I wanted a waterproof camera. When I found out this camera can be submerged to 18 feet and also handles drops from 5 feet and 200 lbs of crushing pressure, I was sold (think ability to withstand a bike wreck). So after playing and winning the eBay game, I became the proud owner of Olympus Stylus 725 Mu.

It will gets its inaugural test during our honeymoon as we explore the beautiful waterfalls and ocean kayaking found in the land known as Hawaii. Nothing can stop the picture taking now.

Thursday, August 30, 2007


1. There is a hole in my front yard and we have no water now (and have not had water for over 16 hours now). I live in the desert and I am thirsty. Diet coke is yummy though.

2. They (they being the DAMN THE MAN) are talking about converting my 6x8 cube to a 8x6 cube for [finger quotes] modernization purposes.

3. I will be attending a Bucky The Badger game this weekend in Madison WI for my friends' wedding. I will be wearing my OH - IO gear of course, in hopes that someone wants to fight. Best line ever during last year's National Championship Disaster Game of 2006 to obnoxious USC fan in our section... "well my girlfriend could kick you ass". Thanks baby thanks.

My life is awesome.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007


Beef stroganoff glistening with tangy flavor, delicate white corn niblets steaming with juicy succulence, freshly baked rolls soaking up butter ready to be inhaled three bites at a time...

Hungry yet?

And finally, aromatic red Shiraz, masquerading as a glass of happiness in liquid form. Oh how I love three buck chuck while watching a movie that takes place on a French vineyard.

This was my evening last night, and yes I cooked the above meal for my man. Aren't I domesticated?

Monday, August 27, 2007

Absolute Bikes Race Report

On Saturday, my friends Sarah, Eric and I traveled up to Flagstaff for the Absolute Bikes Old Fashioned Mountain Biking Race. I really started mountain biking around three months ago, so even though I am still uber-beginner, I like reading about awesome racing and I felt that I wouldn't fully understand the sport until I saw a race first hand. The race was held just north of beautiful Flagstaff, Arizona, which for those that don't know is the highest city in AZ. The city is located at >7K ft elevation on the side of Mt Humphreys (a 12,800+ ft mt). It is an amazing place to ride with sunny beautiful temps of 70s, trees, grass, wildflowers, hills, rocks, and very twisty turny tight singletrack. Basically everything I DON'T have while riding in Phoenix. Since this was my first biking venture in any of these conditions, I decided to skip the beginner class of the race and go straight to the sport class which was two laps instead of one of the 11 mile trail. More for the money right? Always the bargain shopper, me.

Anyway, we got up there about an hour before the race and I was immediately overwhelmed by the hordes of professional looking racers in their fancy uniforms and special bike shoes. I was too busy trying to get my bike wheel reattached properly (quick release my a$$) to have time to get nervous. All of a sudden I am lining up at the back of a huge pack of mostly all male riders and people are taking off in 5 minute intervals. Suddenly its my turn and I nervously ask some other riders if the course will be marked because I don't want to get lost and never be found again. Follow the pink tape, they say. Gotcha. Bang. Pedal.

I am suddenly flying along a dirt road that stretches forever, up up up through a beautiful forest and all I can think is "I can't believe I am doing this." I quickly found a rhythm and just followed the lead girls up the mountain. I found myself in fourth place but closing in on third and finally glanced behind to see no one was relatively close. At some point, the dirt road climbing (2.5 miles in) ended and all of the sudden I was going down. I started cranking and reeled in third place thinking "Oh this is fun!" Just as I go blowing by her, I notice the person frantically pointing to the right towards a narrow path of singletrack entering the forest. Oops. Looks like I am supposed to be turning...can't stop ahhh. I went into a skid and turned my bike sideways in the first of many graceful (and not so graceful) wipe outs. I am pretty sure the girl I had just passed laughed her butt off as soon as she passed me. I would have, I am sure.

So I get up quickly, assure the concerned course guide that I am fine and take off into the woods. Something about this high speed wipe-out really destroyed me though and I immediately felt sluggish and tired and completely uncoordinated. People starting passing me, including some of the other girls, my friend Sarah, and many of the expert men on their second loop. It went something like this...climb onto bike, pedal until hitting large rock, lose balance, get frustrated, climb off bike, hike a bike and then start all over. The whole climb on the first lap I sucked. I ran into a tree while a guy was passing me, I went over the handlebars a couple of times just due to hitting a root or rock and not being able to bail out. I finally got to the "its all downhill from here" point and was almost too tired to feel happy. I even hit some loose sand on an easy downhill part and had my most painful crash of the day so far.

I think about the time I came back through the finish line and had to decide if I was going to take a second lap, I realized that I was so completely out of my game that I needed to snap out of it. I was hurting (hand, leg, arm) from my last crash, but mentally I was ripped. I remember thinking, you are riding so badly because you are frustrated and timid and it's killing you. So I kept right on riding through the finish line and started lap #2. At this point, for whatever reason, I felt a calmness spread over my body. I stopped breathing heavily. I started hearing birds, seeing wild flowers, smelling pine... and I just rode. Up the dirt road, onto the singletrack, up up up the rocky climb that so killed me last time. I hardly had to get off my bike. The path was almost deserted this time, since the good people were already past and the beginners had stopped after one lap. I think I rode at some points for 15 minutes without seeing a soul. I just rode and enjoyed the ride. I wasn't looking at my time, but I remember thinking, just learn from this, get better, stop less and ride more. And I did. I came to the downhill part and thought "Wow, that wasn't that bad at all that time." I just let go on the downhill, letting off of my brakes the majority of the time. And when I rolled across the line, I was smiling ear to ear.

See my smile :)

I ended up getting 7th out of 9 women in the sport class to finish in 3:15. However I got second in the 20-29 category as many of the riders were older (hence the trophy). I beat my friend Sarah (fellow ODP member who got third), but only because she had a couple of flats. But really, I didn't care at all about my final placing. I was just happy that I dropped 16 minutes off my time on the first lap from a 1:45 to a 1:29 and had zero crashes. Overall it was a great learning experience. I always feel I get so much more out of something when I have to fight through the quitters mentality that plagues the depths of my psyche.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Weekend of Fun

This weekend was fun. On Friday, we ate some delicious chicken quesadilla lovingly prepared by Tom. Saturday was fun too. I ate some pizza and drank some blueberry beer. Sunday was tons of fun. I ate an egg crepe and bought some shoes and a webcam and then ate some chicken in a taco form. Wasn't my weekend fun?

Haha, I was told that I blog too much about my [finger quotes]adventures and should be more well rounded. As you can see, my time outside of my [finger quotes]adventures is so very interesting and the whole world would definitely come read my blog every day if I focused more on this.

Oh you were curious about the race? Well let's just sum it up like this...

I got one of these: (Don't get too excited, 2nd place isn't as impressive as it sounds)

But not because I didn't do one of these: (I actually did at least four of these plus 1 tree)

I am sore but happy that I finished the 22 miles of pure hell fun and TEAM ODP came home with two pieces of hardware. More details in the next post.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Team ODP Is Born

Team ODP Hard at Training While Playing in Pretty River

Let me let you in on a secret... big things are happening in the minds of some rugby players turned adventurers. Things such as 'adventure teams' and 'competitions' and 'possible sponsorship' are being bandied around. It is still very hush hush, but this weekend, TEAM ODP may be making their inaugural debut.

It may occur here. And it may involve these people pictured. MAY. Let me introduce said team. First we have crazy rugger extraordinaire known as 'wee uno' who hails from Kansas City, MO. Though she be small, she be mighty and will definitely lead the pace in almost all activities. She scoffs at bicycle suspension and has been known to take flying leaps off furniture on the attack. Next, we have crazy rower #2 aka 'amazing widdler of spoons' who calls southern Indiana home. She brings survival skills and determination to the team as well as knowledge of edible plants and race orienteering experience. She once set off at the young age of 22 on a voyage to row across the Atlantic Ocean and only capsized on day 45 when hit by a giant wave. After clinging to the top of her flipped ocean vessel for a day, she was picked up by pirates who taught her to sail. Finally, there is me of course who will always yell IO when hearing an OH. I'm the excitable incompetent member with beginner skills at everything whose real reason for doing these races is the picture taking locales and something to blog about. I enjoy computer things, get to design the team logo and most likely will be chief organizer aka pants wearer since I am bossy. There are actually other members of TEAM ODP who I am not introducing here since they aren't currently actively participating in our debut.

Oh and what does ODP stand for? We know, but we can't tell. So figure it out. A cookie to the winner... if I haven't eaten them all.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

The inevitable path leading me.

Motivational Artistry Found at the Verde Hot Springs

So they say you really figure out who you are in your mid 20s. It may be true. I am still a-changin, but things seem to be coming more clear. I am a very lucky lady with family and friends and also this really cute and sometimes funny guy who also happens to be my soul mate. We sometimes take each other for granted which is pretty normal once a relationship is well past the golden hour of discovery, but the good thing about making the larger than expected transition from long term bf/gf to husband/wife is that you are forced to contemplate just how much this person means to you . We get to think of things in terms of forever and joint bank accounts and 'u really you need to learn to put the toilet seat down already'. As for jobs, passions, what you want to accomplish with your life... that is still a definite work in progress.

Career wise, I am still in phase one, with phase two to begin at some later point. I want to be inspired, I want to help people, I want to change the world (or at least just one person). But for now, I am cranking along and will continue to until the transition to phase two becomes obvious.

As for passions, I have never been lacking in those. I tend to get into things and try to go to the expert level as quickly as possible. My fam likes to make fun of me because they claim I am always have a new adventure to tell them about. "What mountains (note the plural) did you climb today?" my eldest sister will ask me during our weekend chat. But I think I realized something lately... that all of my varied hobbies of hiking & biking & running & rock climbing & endurance related activities & love of water were all leading to just ONE thing. I think I was on the inevitable path leading towards this conclusion and I didn't even know it.

The destination being the discovery of adventure racing. The sport that encompasses everything that I just inherently loved to do. Adventure racing is something that I could get into... like REALLY into. I may have never discovered this sport had I not moved to the land of the sun, rocks and cactus. But I can't turn off the fountain inside of me. It bubbles with excitement when I talk about it, read about it, and dream about it. I blame Arizona and the 10 mountain ranges I can see from my window at work (not my actual window, I work in a cube ala 'Office Space' but we have a hallway). I blame the fact that everyone I meet here rock climbs and that people go canyoneering on the weekends between their jobs as doctors and school teachers. I blame my adventurous friends who feed my desires by listening with excitement to my plans and enhancing on them. I blame stores like REI and frisbee friends who have discounts there and are gear hounds. And lastly I blame the fact that its hot as hell in the city all summer long so I have no choice but to escape to cooler locales in nature which fill my waterfall jumping, cave exploring, mountain bike riding, and camping dreams. And I blame my lovely fiance who has always supported me in everything I do and who grounds me when I might jump off the mountain in my excitement.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Bad Bad Bad

I just ate three cookies one one after the other. There were a bunch sitting in a conference room at work. Argh. Where is my self control? Sometimes, I am really good and other times... The wedding is exactly one month away people, I DO NOT NEED TO BE EATING THREE COOKIES in the middle of a work day. As the great Homer Simpson would say "DOH!'

Monday, August 20, 2007

Just a Nice Sunday Afternoon Ride

WARNING: Be advised that this usually family friend blog entry contains some material which may be unsuitable for fragile sensitive people.

I just don't get why people think my friends are 'crazy'...

Don't worry we are still alive, the snake didn't get us. Nor the 100 bats that flew out of the cave at our heads at 100 mph. But we didn't get to explore this cave that we found on the Ak Chin Indian Reservation while out biking due to this angry spitfire. Ahh maybe next time.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Desert Heat #2 Adventure Race Report

Desert Heat AR #2 Nearing CP 4 (pic courtesy of Angel)

Team Desert Pirates (Sarah & Ryan) are not the new adventure racing gods... but neither are we.

Both teams finished in a very close battle where we believe that Tom and I achieved a one minute victory (unverified due to egg breakage penalties) but really it was like being the smartest kid on the short bus. (No offense meant, don't take it that way.)

In other words, we both sucked. Tom and I took the strategy of going out with the big dogs, and followed the race favorites out of the gate. They were sprinting and therefore so were we. The first two checkpoints were short runs to pick up different objects. The first object we were given was an egg which we then had to find a way to carry for the rest of the race without it breaking. The second was a ball of some sort which we then had to carry on a tee across a lot to our partners. We then jumped on our mountain bikes to compete the biking portion of four consecutive checkpoints. The first part was on a mountain path Tom and I have ridden on which is down hill and very fun. We were actually ahead of the big dogs but they soon passed us on the bikes. I took off after them however and stayed with them for the first checkpoint. My strategy at this point was to follow the leaders since I figured they knew what they were doing. Due to this, I did not take the time to pull out of maps and check exact instructions. This ended up backfiring for us since I didn't pull my instructions out to realize that CP 2 was actually just a word on the back of a stop sign. The team right ahead of us did it so quickly that we didn't notice it. Once we got to the third CP we realized our error but weren't sure what to do. Now we know we should have immediately turned around, but at the time we just kept going. The fourth checkpoint was up a steep little mountain where my friend Angel was manning the checkpoint. She seemed surprised to see us and told us we weren't that far behind a pack of the leaders. But we knew that we were screwed since we had missed CP 2 so we weren't that excited. Once we got back to the TA which was CP 5, the race officials told us that we had to go all the way back to CP 2 and then do 3, 4 and 5 again to officially continue the race. This was very disheartening, but we took off back down the same huge loop we had just completed. On our way back down from CP4 for the second time (Hi again Angel!), we ran into our friends the Desert Pirates and unfortunately Ryan was pushing his bike. He has gotten a flat and had no spare tube. Looks like they were having as good a race as us... :( The final two CPs were trekking up some small mountains and weren't that difficult but we were tired and hot and had completed more mileage than other teams. To make it worse, when we ended, we found our egg broken which tacked on a five minute penalty. We didn't get dead last, but we probably came pretty close.

Overall, not what we wanted, but I still had fun (Tom might feel differently). Our weak point is still our orienteering, but this time, it wasn't so much our path, just our following of directions. We actually navigated pretty dead on for all checkpoints. Oh well, I like to think we won the 11 checkpoint race. To bad the race was only 7. I think I am tired of sprint ARs and am ready for some real distance. The sprint races really favor experience since you will not win if you screw up at all. Plus, I always feel like I am just getting going when the race ends. I actually feel better as the race goes on, where Tom was killing me at the beginning and hating life at the end. He claims to have retired from the sport, but I am just going to give him a little break, Team Buck-I will be back. On tap next, is our ladies only team ODP (i could tell you what it stands for but then I would have to kill you) taking on the Desert Women's AR race schedule. This will be our time to shine people. Stay posted!

Friday, August 17, 2007

Race in < 15 Hrs Update.

My shoulder is doing much better. My bike has been pimped (lubed/fixed/trued) at the bike shop and is ready to go. Tom is going to make it back into town tonight from his work trip. His leaking front tire tube has been replaced. (By me all by myself!) We are ready to rock tomorrow. We have just been informed that we need to bring a blindfold along with our other gear. Hmmm, as I said before, it's just marriage counseling people.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Beginners Mis-Luck 2nd Ed.

So after yesterday's post about pain, blood, wrecked bikes and beginners bad luck, you would think that the bad bike karma would be finished for the week. Wrong. I very innocently tried to make the world a greener place by bike commuting to my frisbee practice last night. It's an easy 4 mile ride up a somewhat busy road with a bike lane that I don't think twice about. It was dark by the time I started, but I had a head light and a blinkie so I was well prepared. About a mile from the field, I had just gone through an intersection and was riding along right after it in a non bike lane section due to a right hand turn merge lane. All of a sudden, a huge bus came whizzing by so close that instinctively I angled my bike to the right towards the large empty turning lane. Just as I did this, I ran over a diagonal railroad track and put my tire directly in the opening that the wheels roll through. It formed a perfect fit to my mtb tire and hence the bike immediately and abruptly stopped. Guess who didn't however... See the drawing below for further clarification. Luckily I skidded across the empty turning lane rather than into traffic, but still I destroyed by bike light and bent up my handlebars and breaks. Luckily I was able to break my fall with my body and only hurt my right shoulder and knee and hands and ankles (sarcasm). I guess I was lucky I didn't break it with my head. Anyway, I am fine and mostly just sore, all except for my right shoulder which is preventing me from lifting my arm and my crooked bike which I took into the shop. But don't worry, I am sure I will be ready to go by race time on Saturday. I mean, karma has to reward me at some point doesn't it?
And they say that mountain biking is dangerous...

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Beginners Mis-Luck

The lucky winner of today's "most unfortunate accident award" goes to SudaBear for going on her first ever ride on her 'new but slightly too large for her pseudo road bike masquerading as a mtbike' and walking away with four new lovely stitches in her hand. We went riding around her house and were mostly just riding on the road when we saw a nice area of dry hard dirt known as a construction site. Beginners + construction sites with really fun bulldozed dirt hills and jumps = falls. I turned away for one minute and next thing I know ... she is on the ground. I rode over to her and asked her if she was okay and it went something like this... "giggle giggle giggle, I think I need to go to the hospital, giggle, I feel nauseous, giggle." I went something like this "are you serious, oh my god you are, freak freak , did you hit your head, freak, wow look at that blood coming out of your hand, freak, that doesn't look good, where are we, freak." The unlucky part was that as she was falling, she hit the only jagged rock in the near vicinity to slice open a large gash on her hand (she did not hit her head thankfully). I called her roommates who were nice enough to come pick us up and take us to the urgent care hospital to get the stitches. SudaBear is a trooper however and said she had a lot of fun and is willing to try again later...maybe. I am officially 0-1 on helping others learn to mountain bike, my opponent being the mountain.

SudaBear's hand after four stitches.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

This Weekend's Race

The next adventure race in the Extreme Heat series is this Saturday and 'Team Buck-I' will be back to avenge our last minute mistakes from here. This time, the course consists of mountain biking and trekking and is slightly longer than last time ~20k. I am excited because Tom and I have been practicing our 'stay on our bikes while cruising down rocky and loose dirt hills' skills this whole summer. We should be better off on this portion of the AR as opposed to adventure tubing from last time where we had no measurable talents other than swallowing dirty river water. I went up to the Phoenix Mountain Preserve last night (location of the AR) to practice riding the trails and get landmarks in my mind. It is so fun there... tons of rocks, climbing, and fast downhills where my no-suspension back tire tries to throw me off. Good news is that I conquered every downhill and almost all uphills without getting off the bike (as opposed to last time I rode there where I got off my bike in the form of flying over the handlebars). So my technical skills are definitely improving. This is not to say that I am good...hah not even close.

But I am looking forward to the race this weekend for no other reason than I will for the first time be pushing myself on a bike in competition with others. I hope this bike race will be the first in many more.

Plus the Desert Pirates are going down (our friends Ryan and Sarah who beat us last time due to a misjudgment in navigation on the LAST checkpoint). If we lose to them again, I will blog on Sunday about how they are the best team ever, and we bow to their superiority. It's not going to happen... I am like Rasheed Wallace in guaranteeing a victory.

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Halfway to the Motherload

Road Home from Four Peaks

Operation 'Conquer Browns Peak & Scout The 4 Peaks Motherlode Feasibilty' was a smashing & scratching success. After a very long bumpy 1.5 hr drive down the 4-wheel drive only road, we finally hit the trailhead at 8am. The hike started through a nice easy climb up a wooded mountain side which was an interesting display of re-forestation following a 1996 forest fire.

In no time at all we were up to the saddle (the official end to the hike) at the base of the peaks and we started the rock scrambling to the top. There is one main scree chute to climb up which although being very steep, was fairly easy for those with any sort of rock climbing abilities. In less than 1.5 hours we were standing on the top of Browns Peak looking down on Lake Roosevelt, Lake Apache, the Superstition Mountains and the Four Peaks Wilderness. At this point in the morning, we had not seen a single other group of hikers. Our lofty future goals include tackling the 'Four Peaks Motherload' which is simply climbing the ridge line to hit all four peaks in one day so this trip was also supposed to be used as a scouting expedition. I have read that the hardest climbing is between Browns Peak and the next peak over. I figured that if this was the hardest, I would check out just how hard it was. Since it was still so early, the gang was game to try to get to Peak #2 (unname peak just south of Browns).

View of Ridgeline Looking South

Shortly after we left Browns Peak, we found ourselves traveling down loose steep rock with a lot of brush and cactus. As we were sliding down a steep nearly vertical section, Tom yells, "Look at the size of this turd!" Ah, honey really? You are this excited about excrement? Then I got a look at the size of that turd, and damn it was big. So big, that there is only one animal that makes fresh poo the size of that and it walks on 2 or 4 legs depending. According to the in-true-net, this wilderness region has the largest population of black beers in the state. So of course I snapped a pic, cause everyone wants to see a giant fresh turd. Most of the traverse to the second peak was rock scrambling and tiptoeing along a slanted ridge with some actual rock climbing thrown in for good measure. All very fun. After reaching a false summit , we finally reached the real deal without encountering any large animals and got to sign our names in the geo cache. At this point, due to water constraints, it was really time to head back.

Tom Bouldering Up to Peak #2

We reached several places which required a little back rock climbing of about 25 feet, but overall there were plenty of hand and feet grips to make it a doable but exciting decent. At the saddle between Peak #2 and Browns Peak, we had to decide whether we should go back up and over Browns Peak to the path, or just bushwack down the side of the mountain. Well I usually like to leave the known for the unknown, so we decided to venture into the bush. It ended up being a big mistake. From high on the mountain, the bushes looked small and friendly. They ended up being the meanest scratchiest, born on the wrong side of hell sadistic trees masquerading as bushes. We ended up spending two hours bushwacking through briars and while cursing leaving the nice rocky trail (see bushes below). We finally got back to the car throughly scratched but still glowing from the day after 5 hours. We only saw our first fellow hikers 20 minutes from the end. I just love the freedom of a day spent in nature with no agenda, no conference rooms, no deliverables and no limitations to what we might experience.

Our Bushwacking Decent Between Browns Peak and Peak #2.

Friday, August 10, 2007

We are off!

We are leaving at 6 am tomorrow for the 'Conquer Browns Peak & Scout The 4 Peaks Motherlode Feasibilty' expedition [discussed here]. I am excited to stand at the highest point in this part of the state at 7,657 ft and look down on our little world.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

10 Things About Me

Things you may or may not know about me...

1. I grew up without a tv. I read about a million books before I was 10 and also spent a ton of time outside playing. Favorite game: kicking the ball over the telephone pole and catching it on the other side. Think it had an influence? I still read a million books and still kick balls outside.

2. I regularly put 11.8 gallons of gas in my 12 gallon tank of gas. I hate wasting time at the gas station and since I don't drive very far most days (I live 1 mile from work), I put off filling up my tank day after day.

3. I am obsessed with reading about Mt Everest. I have ethical issues with climbing it, but I find it fascinating and have read many many books written about it. I plan on visiting Nepal someday and just hiking around the lower parts of the mountain. What are my ethical issues? Much to do with loosing your humanity due to lack of oxygen which will cause you to do things that you would normally never do like walk past a dying person or leaving all of your waste on the trail.

4. I ran hurdles for 12 months a year, 7 years of my life. I have never ran another hurdle since the day I ran my last race at the Ohio State track meet my senior year of high school. I placed 2nd twice but never won the big one. I don't miss it, although maybe I will coach some day. Evolution of sports/passions for me: hurdles -> rugby -> racquetball -> hiking -> ultimate frisbee -> rock climbing -> biking -> adventure racing. I presently try to balance all activities concurrently (except hurdling) which keeps me busy busy busy.

5a. My first introduction to music was Amy Grant's 'Baby Baby' which my two older sisters and I created a synchronized dance routine to. It was then that I realized I had no real dancing ability and have not magically created any since then. I love dancing, even when I make others laugh.

5b. On another note, if you haven't discovered the amazingness of Pandora Radio you need to. You can type in any artist and it makes a station of that musician along with other singers who sound similar to her. My current love stations are: Lily Allen, Natasha Bedingfield, Chris Pureka, Lucas Prata, Lasgo, Nelly Furtado, Akon or Ani Difranco depending on the mood.

6. I have been dating my fiance Tom since I was 18 years old. I am now 26. That is a LONG LONG time. Needless to say, I am marrying my best friend. He's the best, very cute & sometimes funny (he needs new quotes though since Dumb & Dumber and Old School are getting old).

7. I fell out of a car going 45 mph around a curve when I was four years old. I had to get 70 stitches in my head and have my broken arm strapped to my chest for months. I don't remember anything about it other than being pissed that I lost my brand new grape gum which was in my hand.

8. I hate sleeping as I feel it is just wasting time. So I stay up late every night and then struggle mightily to get up every morning. I don't really like sleeping in on the weekends and don't really take naps unless I am super tired. I do love and appreciate caffeine.

9. I love reading blogs about professional endurance mountain bikers and adventure racers. They are always crazy people who are living life in a way I admire: fearlessly pushing themselves through pain and fatigue to achieve something that most people don't understand. I also love reading about people transforming their bodies into Iron(wo)men. This can be summed up accurately by simply saying, "I like reading blogs. Period. It's better than TV."

10. I have never considered myself a writer, never had a journal, only took 1 writing class in college, and have only written required things for as long as I can remember...until this blog. Not sure why I was inspired to have a blog, but I enjoy writing in it, really enjoying doing adventures that give me things to write about and now have an excuse to take the 100s of photos I already took before anyway. I don't really have an objective for this blog, although a lot of my friends and family read it, but I also get a lot of international readers as well so that is cool. I guess I hope that I can enlighten the world on what an interesting place Arizona is since I know that cactus and sand is the perception of the whole state. Why are you here? Let me know what you think about the blog.

Wednesday, August 8, 2007

Sitting bored w/ TV on...nope now it's off.

Recently I had the show "1 vs 100" on as background noise while I played on my computer.

Me: "This show is popular because it is targeted towards dumb people, who are mainly the people who watch this shit." [I realize that I am calling myself dumb here.]

Tom: "Well that is sort of judgmental now isn't it?"

TV Announcer: "Which of these three choices has the most number of cells? A) a gray squirrel B) an amoeba C) Britney Spears"

TV contestant: "Wow this is hard, I have never heard of an amoeba, but I think its some sort of deer or something. Is a deer larger than a person...hmmm i'm not sure..."

Me: "I rest my case."

I would just like to say that there is not one show on television that I will watch this summer. Is anyone else tired of reali-bitey tv? It makes me happy that I don't really watch it anymore because every show is exactly like every other show anymore. Most tv shows fall into either really annoying/rich people shows (Laguna Beach, Bachelor, anything on MTV), crime shows (CSI 1, 2, 3 and Vegas), and talent shows (every other show). I just don't get any pleasure out of watching tv anymore, so I will turn it on, flip through my non digital cable stations and then 10 minutes later turn it back off. I think the internet IS my television now anyway. At least until college football season sucks.

My New Secret Playground

I feel like I just discovered a secret treasure chest buried beneath my house. Or at the very least was just handed a free gym membership. You may wonder what amazing thing Hannah is babbling about this time. Try a secret undiscovered bike trail in my back yard that goes for miles. I was 12 miles along nearing full blown dark before I could persuade myself that I needed to turn around and head back. And I had not seen a single person since the first mile of the trail. You may ask how is it possible to find a trail like this in a huge city riding distance from my house? Well ladies and gents, it's called the 'rez'.

My Turnaround Point Biking on the Ak Chin Reservation

Phoenix, like all of Arizona is surrounded by and encompasses Native American reservation land. The land that lies a half a mile south of my house is the Ak Chin Indian Reservation, and services two small casinos and not much else. To many, it seems like a desert wasteland with no roads, little desert vegetation, and not much to offer. It is mostly fenced off with no access to it. I have always appreciated it though since I feel it is such an effective damper on urban sprawl and traffic near my house. Suburbia has since sprung up on the other side of it, but who cares, I can't see it. Well as most non road bikers know, land that may be considered ugly and useless for hiking, running, or picnicking, can be biking paradise. I have been exploring the area around my house to find non busy road conditions and in doing this, I have found some unknown semi deserted roads down into the 'rez' leading to the casinos. I haven't spent a ton of time down there because I find it creepy, but then yesterday the road I was on turned into a dirt canal path which lead to a tunnel under the highway. Curious where it went, I road through and it came out on a dirt path leading into the wild desert part of the reservation. I started peddling expecting it to end into sand or a cactus grove or something equally unrideable. It didn't end. I pedaled for miles through nice double track lined with cactus veering around and over small hills and mountains. It headed back towards a large range of mountains known as Estrallas that aren't very popular due to having no real roads leading to them. They are also considered too jagged to be very hikeable/bikeable. I passed some very weird Native American shrines to some unknown deities (see side pic) as well as lot of random junk found here or there. Eventually it led into some more technical loose climbs with downhills that my amateur skills were afraid to try. I finally turned around at dark and had to make my back in the dark. My overall stats according to my bike computer were 23.3 miles in 2:15 with an average heart rate of 170. Pretty good considering I crossed one real road the entire time and hit zero stop lights. I will definitely be back to my new playground. I think I could log at least 25 miles in one direction on this trail before hitting the mountains. But shhh, it may not be completely legal...

The Estrella mountains are seen in the background. This picture taken 10 miles in and it seems that the trail will go all the way to them. Who knows how far that would be...I think I shall try to find out some weekend.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Vegas Luck

Cooling Off in Lake Mead

A weekend in Vegas usually means only one thing... little sleep, caliente temps, and too much green spent. Well this weekend didn't really change that, although not for the usual reasons. We headed out on Friday during the 4:30 pm rush hour for the long haul out of town. Vegas is about 300 miles and usually takes about 5 to 6 hours without much traffic. We were driving my friend Sarah's jeep so that we could bring our mt bikes along for our planned Sunday excursion. I am not gonna lie, the jeep is questionable. Direct quote from an email from Sarah before the trip, "I don't mind taking the Jeep, I just want to make the disclaimer that I don't have a spare tire and I do need new tires (I meant to go in this week, but too much going on). But if something happens, it's just another adventure, right?" Hmm, maybe this was tempting fate with a little too much foreshadowing.

Well, about 150 miles into the trip, we realized that we were hearing a loud clicking near the front driver side wheel on every rotation. Hmm this is disturbing, lets see if we can see see anything wrong. Well in the dark, it was easier just to assume it was nothing to worry about since we could see nothing flapping or clicking. Up through the dark dark mountains and over the Hoover Dam we went until we finally rolled into the Lake Mead campground at 11pm. There was 6 of us who were going to camp out and that night, we had a little lakeside guitar & beer session which was all very cool & bohemian. After crashing out at around 2am, we planned on sleeping in and relaxing the next morning.

Sweat, sweat holy heat. I have camped many many times in and around hot places and never has heat bothered me as much as Friday night. I keep my home's thermostat on 85 in the day and 83 in the night during the night to save on electricity. I am very much an adapted desert rat. So to say that I couldn't sleep due to heat meant it was very very hot. I guess Vegas desert is different that Phoenix which will definitely cool down in the wee hours of the morning. I finally got up at 6am to see my one friend Angel sprawled out with very little clothing on the cement picnic table while another friend Alicia was sleeping in the car (not sure how that was cooler). I believe the low was 88 that night and the high in the day was 107 deg F. For once I was happy to get back to Phoenix to "cool off".

Well due to the heat, after jumping in the Lake at 6:30 am to cool off, we decided to pack up and head into Vegas. So we decided to check the car out now that it was light...holy hell, why is the whole axle loose? Well it turns out we had just driven 150 miles through mountains with a completely broken axle that shook with every tire rotation. I felt lucky that the entire tire hadn't just fallen off and we hadn't spun off a cliff into the Hoover Dam. We limped the car to the nearest town Boulder City which is a scary little town out of some 80s twilight zone. The only open mechanic was a trailer with no name where a guy offered to fix the car for around $5.00. Seriously, it was the cheapest mechanic I have ever heard of which just solidified the sketchiness of it all. Him and his 80 year old friend spent the whole three hours hitting on us (they offered to take us to Mexico) before we escaped when our teammates who were already in Vegas came and picked us up.

The rugby tournament kicked off at 5:30 pm on Saturday and was fun although very hot. There were 12 women's teams there from chillier places and most had a lot of trouble adjusting to the heat. We won our first three games by a combined score of 107 - 0. We then went to the semi finals and got destroyed by the eventual winners who out-sized and out-experienced us by a large margin. We finally finished our last game at 1:30 am Sunday morning and only got back to the hotel at around 4:00 am exhausted but happy.

The mountain biking excursion never happened on Sunday due to our bikes being stuck in the jeep in boulder city :( but at least the car was fixed in time for us to head home. We made it home safely even though we almost ran out of gas in the desert. We drove 5 miles after the gas mileage tank gauge said 0 miles of gas remaining. Guess it's inaccurate, good to know. I was all ready to pull my bike out and ride into town to get more gas if we ran out.

Overall, its always an experience with my friends and Tom (who was also in Vegas for a bachelor party) had some pretty crazy times himself. Life is all about the journey.

Third Place Desert Banshees @ 2007 Las Vegas Midnight Sevens

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Vegas is known for rugby & biking, right?

I am off to Sin City this weekend to play in the Midnight 7s Rugby Tournament. I haven't played rugby in a couple of months so hopefully I remember how the game goes. To save some dough, we are going to camp along Lake Mead on Friday night on the way to Vegas. Yippee, I love forcing my friends into my dirty camping lifestyle. I am bringing the bike so we can do some mt biking on Sunday after the tournament (if I can still walk).

For those of you who don't know anything about rugby, here is an instructional video of 15s rugby (we are playing only 7 a side this weekend). I am one of those 'sleek backs' known as a wing that they speak of.

Here is a much more interesting video showing real rugby by one of the best teams in the world, the New Zealand All Blacks. The dance at the beginning of the video is called the Haka and is a Maori tradition meant to intimidate their opponents.

Below is a greatest hits rugby video. Some of these hits are actually illegal (anything above the head) but it still happens quite often in rugby. I actually have some videos of myself that I could add to this, and unfortunately I am not on the one that is initiating the hit. I have recent video of myself getting punched in the face by a Black Fern (New Zealand National Women's Team) player while trying to tackle her and no foul was issued. Oh well, welcome to rugby...enjoy!

Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Bikram Yoga

Scorpion Found By Tent While Camping - May 2007

Lately I have been pretty motivated to work out, gotta look good for the wedding... jk. I am motivated way beyond just one special day. I have spent a lot of time on my bike lately, but have also been diversifying my workouts to include frisbee (1x/wk), indoor rock climbing (1x/wk), trail running (1x/wk), hiking, occasional gym workouts, kick boxing, etc. Last night I was talked into doing bikram yoga, aka hot yoga. Bikram is a 1.5 hr yoga class held in a room where the temperature is 105 degrees with ~50% humidity. I have never in my life done yoga and consider flexibility to be one of my weaknesses, so I knew it would be challenging. I was confident in my abilities to handle heat though since I usually work out during the hottest time of the day. Well it was interesting to say the least. The heat was very oppressive, and I can't remember losing that much sweat in so little time ever before in my life. I noticed it most when we were laying on our backs doing nothing, my heart was still racing and I found it challenging to breath. The poses were difficult for me as a beginner since I was trying to emulate some very experienced people. I quickly found out the discrepancies between ACL knee and good knee are much larger than I thought when my bad knee would start shaking very quickly into a pose. And just as I suspected, I really have no flexibility skills.

But the sweating...oh it was great! I love to sweat, and no I am not being sarcastic. To me, a workout without sweating is no workout at all. At least living here in the desert this is true. I must have sweat the equivalent of a large glass of human liquid release. Pleasant thought huh. So once I walked out of the class and starting thinking about what I had just completed, I realized why America as a whole is so extravagant and wasteful. I had just paid $14 for the pleasure of sitting in a room and sweating my ass off at 105 degrees while living in a city where the average temp this time of year is greater than 105. Add to this was the addition of water into the air in the form of humidity to make things even more unbearable. Following this, I got into my air conditioned car and drove to my air conditioned house and had to drink tons of water to replenish lost hydration. Does this make any sense? Uneducated tribesmen in Ecuador would understand that this is activity is nonsense.

But the fact that we have the luxury of totally nonsensical activities such as this is why we should all feel lucky to have been born into a rich country. Where exercise is a choice, not a survival mechanism. Since I am an extravagant American and I have a 30 day pass now, I am going to do this idiocy again next week.