Is it OK if, for today’s post, I drop the “beloved goofball” act and just tell you what’s going on in my life and what’s on my mind?
It is? Oh good. Thanks.
First, I’m employed again. I’m working at a startup, and it has me traveling pretty often. And when I’m not traveling, I’m still working. Really hard. To the point of not having a lot left over, actually, timewise nor mental-energy-wise.
That’s OK. It’s a startup; I knew I’d be busy.
But while I can live with the likelihood that I’m going to be continuing to be posting less often here than I used to — at least until I’ve got my new job figured out and a reasonable working cadence established — I’m pretty stressed out about one thing that I’ve dropped the ball on:
The 100 Miles of Nowhere.
I love the 100 Miles of Nowhere, and love that it raises a ton of money for great causes (my intention has been for it to raise money for Camp Kesem this year).
But I haven’t done a single thing about getting it planned. I haven’t got a date. I haven’t contacted sponsors. I haven’t got a t-shirt design even started.
So. I have a few questions. Answer honestly, using the comments section.
- If I were to put on a 100 Miles of Nowhere this year that happens in the Autumn (instead early Summer, as is usual) would you want to do it?
- What features of the 100 Miles of Nowhere are actually important to you? Which is to say, what would you feel bad about if it weren’t part of the event?
What do you think of the idea of the 100 Miles of Nowhere having a minimal amount of swag, but a fairly major prize being awarded to a random participant?
In a least-swag scenario, would you still want to do the 100 Miles of Nowhere if the only thing you got were a t-shirt?
- Racer stories posted in the blog
- The race plate
- The race t-shirt
- The swag (energy food, energy drink, coupons, water bottle)
- The fundraising
- The silliness and absurdity of it
- The timing of it (i.e., Summer vs Autumn)
I want to make the 100 Miles of Nowhere happen. And one way or another, I’m going to. Your feedback will help me get a sense of what’s important for me to get started on, and what I can let go, just this once.
I’ve been planning to do an update on the Fatty / Beeminder Weight Loss Challenge for a while now. In fact, I was excited about it, because while it’s not like I’m high up on the Leaderboard, I’ve been doing really well. I mean, check out my progress on my Beeminder chart:
As you can see, I’ve been dropping weight, nice and steadily. Sure, it bounces around a little from day to day, but I’ve been staying on the yellow brick road. And for the past few days, I’ve even been on the low side (which is the “good” side) of the yellow brick road.
In fact, I had hit my halfway point: 164 pounds. Nine down, nine to go.
Thus, I had every intention of doing a little boasting today.
Spoiler alert: there will be no boasting today.
Disaster (AKA The Hammer’s Birthday) Strikes
Last Saturday was The Hammer’s birthday. She turned 46. Now, I know some of you are thinking, “What are you doing, revealing her age on your very public and award-winning blog?”
Well, if The Hammer were normal, that might be a problem. But she’s not normal. Not even remotely.
For her “birthday party,” for example, she wanted to go on a big mountain bike ride. So we did. A 41.7-mile, 6,000 feet-of-climbing mountain bike ride.
The Hammer got seven new QOMs. And she looked like this afterward.
When you can ride like that and look like that at age 46, you don’t need to hide your age.
Anyway, after the ride, we decided that between it being her birthday and the big ride we had just done, we deserved to go out to eat. So we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Settebello, where we met The IT Guy and ordered the following:
- A Caprese salad
- An Insalata Grande
- A Margherita pizza
- A Settebello pizza
- A Vico pizza
- 3 Diet Cokes. Seriously.
That is, for three people, a lot of food. But, you know, we had ridden hard. We were hungry. It was — as I have mentioned –The Hammer’s birthday.
So we didn’t feel too badly about it.
Then we said goodbye to The IT Guy, and drove back from SLC to Utah County, where we decided that — just this once — we deserved to get dessert.
So we went to The Chocolate.
Usually (yes, we’ve been there a few [cough, cough] times before), we split a dessert: almost always a white chocolate macadamia nut Cazookie, which is a giant fresh-baked cookie in a pan of its own with a scoop of vanilla ice cream on top.
But it was The Hammer’s birthday.
So we each — and I am not exaggerating — got one of our own.
And that was stupid.
By the time The Hammer got through about half of hers, she was done. She pushed it aside, not feeling great.
So I finished hers (along with mine, of course) for her.
Disaster, Part 2
The next morning, I told The Hammer, “There is no way I am going to step on the scale today. I just don’t want to see the bad news.”
As it turns out, I probably should have stepped on the scale. Perhaps a small dose of bad news would have served as a reminder that there’s no such thing as consequence-free eating for me.
In which case, perhaps I would have skipped eating the cake and ice cream at The Hammer’s family birthday party that evening.
Or at the very least…I wouldn’t have had seconds.
And I probably would have avoided snacking on the (very delicious) leftover saffron-and-butter rice as I cleaned up the dishes after dinner.
Oh, how I wish I were making any of this up.
Which brings us today, and me getting back on the scale. Allow me to show you how that looked in Beeminder:
See that tiny red dot waaaaaaay above the yellow brick road? That, my friends, is what a 4.6 pound jump looks like.
Yes, over the weekend, I gained 4.6 pounds. And as you can see, that puts me two pounds off the yellow brick road. And I have ’til midnight tonight to get back on it, or pay the $5 fine.
Will I do it? I really don’t know. I will tell you that I am currently quite hungry. And that I furthermore had an awful lot of caffeine this morning, which facilitates rapid (albeit temporary) weight loss in at least a couple of ways I’m aware of.
But there is a silver lining, if you can call it that. And that is this, The Hammer’s weigh-in for today:
You know how they say “Misery loves company?” Well, that is never more true than when you have a sudden and sharp weight gain.
And while her gain puts her into — as opposed to below — the yellow brick road, that’s still a 4.2 pound gain. Which doesn’t exactly take away the sting of my embarrassment.
But it certainly helps.
PS: For those of you who are doing the challenge: How’s it going? Anyone else having monster weight spikes following a night on the town?
People email me all the time, asking me if I want stuff. Even more often — lately — they email me asking if I’ll write a post about their Kickstarter campaign. Which is kind of nuts, when you think about it: expecting someone to promote something that they not only haven’t tried, but which doesn’t even actually exist yet. And may in fact never exist.
(I of course reserve the right to reverse my philosophy on promoting Kickstarter campaigns when I inevitably start one of my own.)
Where was I? Oh yeah, getting stuff. Companies send me stuff, pretty often. And there was a time that when they asked me if I wanted their stuff, I’d say, “YES PLEASE SEND ME WHATEVER YOU’VE GOT.” And then I’d get it and discover I didn’t care enough about it one way or another to write about it.
And then I’d get a pang of guilt every time they followed up, asking, “When are you going to talk about this thing we’ve sent you?” because I knew that the answer was, “Never,” but I’m way too non-confrontational to come out and say that, and so would just mark their email address as spam.
(I’m pretty sure I just ensured, by writing that, that nobody will ever send me anything again.)
Now, unless I’m absolutely positively sure that I really really really want something, I let companies know that they can send me stuff, but I won’t write about it unless I actually love it. Not just like. Love.
And I’ve got a few of those things — stuff that’s stopped merely being a new thing to try out and has become a really good part of my life — to talk about in the near future. Like, for the next three or so posts, I’m going to talk about stuff I’ve recently fallen in love with.
Stuff I would — and do — recommend to anyone.
The Camelbak Relay
[Disclosure: Camelbak sent me a Camelbak Relay at no charge.]
I’m pretty sure Martha Stewart would back me on this: water is a good thing. Good water is even better.
And the Camelbak Relay — an ingenious water pitcher / filter —does in fact make water better.
Like, a lot better.
Basically you pour regular ol’ tap water into the top, at which point it gets filtered once.
Then, as you pour water out, it gets filtered a second time. The result is awesome, for a couple of reasons.
- It filters fast. As you fill the pitcher, it filters as fast as your tap (or at least my tap) can go. And when you pour water out of it, it pours nearly as fast as a free-flowing pitcher does.
- It filters great. I’m not putting the water that comes out of the Relay under a microscope, but I don’t really need to; the municipal water I have is just fine, microbe- and bacteria- and other-tiny-critters-wise (at least, as far as I know, and if it isn’t…well, I’m not sure I want to know). But I can taste the difference. And everyone else in the family can too.
And you know what? When you have fast, hassle-free, great-tasting water, you…drink more water.
What’s more, if you’re a cyclist, it’s really nice to be able to fill your bottles — this easily fills four bottles, so The Hammer and I are taken care of even for long training rides — really fast with cold, good-tasting water.
And — as long as people obey the rule of filling the pitcher when it gets close to empty — even with seven people living in our house (The Hammer and me, my four kids, one of The Hammer’s kids), this holds enough for everyone when we eat at dinnertime, too.
We’ve stopped using the filtered water dispenser built into the fridge; this pours faster and tastes better.
Basically, in the very short time we’ve had the Relay, it’s become a taken-for-granted part of our lives.
For cyclists — or for anyone — I can’t recommend the Camelbak Relay highly enough. If you like water, you should get one. And if you don’t currently like water…you should definitely get one.
Last week I stumbled upon my pictures of my trip to Africa.
Two years ago, Elden and our two teenage children — Melisa and Brice — were given the opportunity to visit Zambia and see firsthand the efforts of World Bicycle Relief. As I scanned over the pictures on the computer I was reminded of their smiles.
The Zambian people have amazing smiles.
The pictures instantly brought a smile to my face. “What an amazing people,” I thought. “These people that have very little worldly possessions have the most authentic smiles I’ve ever seen.”
It’s easy to forget how truly blessed we are to live in a country that provides so much for us. Meanwhile, the people of rural Zambia consider themselves fortunate when they have clean water to drink, a clean hole in the ground for a bathroom, a roof over their heads, and a school to attend (even if its more than a three mile walk each way just to attend it).
The very real and pressing concerns they have to think about don’t even register on our conciousness. In our world, all these necessities are taken care of and taken for granted — so we can worry about more important things like fancy cars, fancy bikes and fancy places to live.
Making a Difference
The “Power of Bicycles” is WBR’s slogan. WBR provides bikes to young Zambian girls and caregivers in rural Zambia. By providing bicycles for these young girls, we are providing them with a future.
Before receiving their bikes, they sign a contract promising to use their bike for transportation to and from school. These will enable them to spend the time it takes to walk to and from school, to spend on their studies.
Having a form of transportation allows them to be more productive in their chores around the village and lessens some of the burden placed upon them in collecting water from the well and making the trek into the market.
I also love the fact that WBR provides bikes to the caregivers of the village. As a nurse I can sympathize with the plight of these good people who are trying to care for the people in the area.
These caregivers could end up walking for hours each day and only be able to see a few people. The bicycle enables them to move between patients much quicker.
Leaving My Comfort Zone
A few months ago, Elden came to me with the idea of becoming an athlete ambassador for World Bicycle Relief. My immediate response was NO WAY! I’m a very shy, introverted person. I don’t like to be the center of attention — I’d rather fade into the background.
But the more I thought about it, the more I remembered the smiles of the people of Zambia, and I started to change my mind.
How could I pass this opportunity by? That would be the selfish thing to do. If I could possibly help bring one of those smiles I love so much to some young person’s face in Zambia, how could I pass up the opportunity? I needed to come out of my comfort zone and help!
So here I am, asking you to help me bring a smile to some young people in Zambia. Lets come out of all of our comfort zones and bring a smile to at least 120 Zambian kids by providing bicycles to them.
Smiles for Them, Smiles for You
I would like to bring a smile to one of your faces, too. Specifically, I want to take you mountain biking and/or hiking in beautiful southern Utah.
And one lucky person who donates at my fundraising page between now and the end of April is going to win an amazing weekend riding (or hiking, or running, or just enjoying the beauty of the place) at Gooseberry Mesa, staying and hanging out with Fatty and me, as we give you the full on Best-Friends-of-Fatty-and-The-Hammer treatment.
Here’s what we’re gonna do.
First of all, we’ll find a weekend (or possibly some weekdays — we’ll find something) that works for all of us. Probably this Autumn or next Spring, when it’s not miserably hot in Southern Utah.
Next, I will fly you out to Utah and we will spend the weekend at and around the Gooseberry Yurt. Last week, Elden and I had the opportunity to spend the weekend in the Gooseberry Yurt. Elden spent a considerable amount of time bragging it up. And I would have to agree with everything he said! What an awesome place to spend a few days.
I have to admit, though, that mountain biking on Gooseberry Mesa is NOT my favorite type of riding. I prefer to keep the skin on my arms and legs intact…not left in small quantities all over the rocks on the mesa.
But I cannot say enough about the beauty of the place. You don’t need to be a biker to enjoy it.
I actually went on a trail run. I loved enjoying the views from the mesa as I ran along the edge.
So if you’re wondering: no…you don’t have to be an absolute technical hardcore virtuoso to enjoy a weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt.
All you have to do is love being outside and going on walks, or hikes, or reading a good book in a beautiful, secluded, private place.
Or If you are more my style of mountain biker and actually enjoy a climb on your bike — followed by a swooping fun descent — the gooseberry yurt is only a mere 20 minute drive to the famous Hurricane Rim Trail/Gem trailhead, Where you can enjoy a beautiful moderately technical mountain bike ride.
And we are less than an hour away from the entrance of Zion National Park, where the hiking and spectacular views cannot be oversold.
The view from Angel’s Landing. A scary hike, but we’ll take you there if you want!
The hike to Observation Point is unimaginably beautiful. Even Fatty couldn’t take a bad picture here.
Or if you’re like Fatty and Kenny and love riding on technical sandstone, they’ll take good care of you. I might even come along and ride too…for a little while.
When you try tricky moves, sometimes it’s helpful to get a spot…just in case.
And we’re going to take care of food for you, too: I’ll get Fatty to boil and grill you his famous bratwurst. I’ll make a kick-butt quiche. We’ll have burgers, done right. Or if you’ve got a more vegetarian bent, we’ll have Heather cook for you.
If you need a bike, we’ll set you up with a very nice one to borrow for the trip — you won’t need to break down and ship your own.
Basically, we’re going to take very, very good care of you and give you an incredibly fun, relaxing weekend at one of the most beautiful places you could ever imagine.
But you can’t win unless you go to my donation page and donate. And for every $5.00 you donate between now and the end of this month (April), you’ll get a chance at this prize.
So, you’re giving a Zambian girl a great opportunity — and lots of smiles — and you’re getting a shot at a weekend I promise you’re going to love.
That should put a big fat grin on your face, right?
One Last Thing
Oh, just in case you need one more reason to donate: My birthday is this week and I would love nothing more than a simple $5 donation to WBR.
That would make me smile!
My April Fools post yesterday actually had a lot of truth in it. One of those truths is that I haven’t had much time to post lately. I’ll get to the the “why” and the implications of that in another post (soon, I swear), but for right now, trust me: I currently have very little spare time. Many days I have to choose between writing and riding. Writing (almost) always loses.
So it’s really great, once in a while, to be able to get away for a few days. To decompress, ride, hang out with some great friends, and to have — for a couple hours — nothing to do.
And that’s what the weekend at the Gooseberry Yurt was for me.
I’m not going to go into the riding a ton here. I’ve written about riding Gooseberry before, and the video I posted earlier this week tells the story pretty well. Oh, and I’m going to embed it below again, because I’m shameless.
So to recap, Gooseberry is awesome for riding. But it’s the hanging out I want to talk about.
Until this weekend, I had never been in a yurt. I didn’t even realize what one was. So this is what a yurt looks like from the outside:
It’s a round, semi-permanent structure. Thick, insulated canvas is built around a wooden frame with a domed roof above it all.
This yurt is just a couple dozen yards away from the edge of the Gooseberry mesa, which means I was able to take this picture literally from out the front door:
But it’s the inside that makes this particular yurt awesome. Here’s a panorama of the inside, after we had all settled in and spread out:
OK, it’s hard to tell what’s going on, so here are a few details. There’s a nice wood-burning stove:
This, combined with the thickly insulated walls, keeps the cold out at night easily.
And the yurt will sleep nine people — not in cots, but in beds. Here’s The Hammer, playing a little Candy Crush (yes, she’s obsessed) early in the morning.
There’s also a nice gas stove, a bookshelf full of books, and immediate access to all the amazing biking and hiking trails Gooseberry has to offer. All while being in a private, secluded setting.
I’ve been given to understand that the sunsets there are spectacular.
Okay, this one wasn’t. But it’s still not like the view sucked.
So my Core Team friends Kenny and Brad have spent years getting the land for this yurt bought, the permits secured, and the yurt built.
Now it’s ready to go. It’s open for business. And it is an incredible place to spend a couple days and nights. Riding (or hiking) during the day, and maybe reading, eating, and talking at night.
Or, sure, playing Jenga.
It’s a beautiful, homey, relaxing spot (with a strong LTE phone / data signal, by the way, in case you don’t want to fully unplug). And I cannot wait to go back.
And in the next couple of days, I’m going to unveil a little contest where one or two of you will get to come out to the yurt and hang out / ride / hike / relax / eat with us, all expenses paid.
Meanwhile, be sure to check out the Gooseberry Mesa Yurts for yourself, and reserve your spot. My guess is they’re gonna fill up quickly.
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