Trials,Tribulations, Travels, Tastings...and Occassional Transcendence

Trials,Tribulations, Travels, Tastings...and Occassional Transcendence
Sock on the Great Wall

Thursday, December 31, 2009

Welcoming in 2010!

I am not one to set resolutions for the next year, however, I feel this year I need to do some sort of reflection on the past 365 days. With some deep, heart-felt contemplation (I actually thought of this during today’s morning commute) I decided it would be a great idea to outline the positives from last year and try to, if possible, build upon them for this imminently approaching year. If something on my list can not be “built” upon well, then I just want these optimistic actions/goals/events in writing – if for nothing else, it’s an ego boost :)

1. Reconnect with friends I lost in 2008/2009. This is a tough one but with some firm effort combined with the setting aside of my stubborn, Russian pride the roads to recovery underwent some re-surfacing. I am hoping that this one can be “built” upon for both friendships, although I do feel that with one of them, especially, the road is as strong as ever…especially because I am going to be her (old) maid of honor or something. With the second friend the reconnect has been more recent, but with our extensive history and the feeling that she is a part of my family I know our friendship will heal even though our road was laid with cobbles. I also know that cobbles are sturdy, stand the test of time and make your voice funny when your ride over them!

2. Spend more time relaxing. I have a hard time sitting still. It could be the ADD; it could be my type A personality, or just the fact that I always have to be doing something – productive or otherwise. The times spent in my jammies watching The Office reruns on the iBook, curled up under the flannel covers with my man, and the Mapledale Zoo surrounding us, are the times that I find myself the happiest. So why not do it more in 2010?

3. Keep working out. I love to work out. In any shape or form especially when it involves the great outdoors. Riding my bicycle in the woods, trail running, snowshoeing, hiking, climbing…etc. Pure elation. I know this one will never be an issue for me to keep building upon. However, I would like to get a bit more serious about racing and training. I began going for 05:30 workouts each workday with a co-worker/friend of mine about three months ago and realised that I can set my bar higher each month. With this kind of motivation who knows what can happen. So in 2010 I think I will focus more on keeping track of my training instead of my usual status quo workouts. To be continued…

4. Keep eating healthy. No brainer here. For all that know me know that I have never really had too difficult a time following a healthy diet. I think my secret is that I don’t diet. I just eat when I’m hungry, eat dessert when I feel like it, don’t eat meat or dairy (I am not a vegan – I am not even a vegetarian, I eat fish and eggs) and make sure to eat healthier, organic, non-GMO (when possible – gets harder and harder with the 90% of all our soy being genetically modified), low-glycemic foods. I find that the more information I receive about the food industry and the production of our foods, have definitely influenced, and continue to influence, my decisions and daily choices. As much as I still love the smell of bacon, I resolve not to promote the suffering of factory farmed animals. That said there are free range farms out there, and with some research, I am certain there are farms that even treat their animals with humane care prior to slaughter. Ignorance is NOT bliss. I cannot judge those that choose to eat from those farms, I just choose personally not to. So for 2010 I will keep eating healthy! And perhaps stop ranting about the horrors of factory farming. (Everyone I know is getting a DVD of Food Inc. for Christmas in 2010)!

5. Focus on my job. I feel that even though there are days when I don’t know what I am doing or where I am going in my career, I need to focus on each and every aspect of it. This past year I found myself connecting to it a little more and with that a sense of fulfillment was found. My boss must have seen it, as well, because he promoted me. So I suppose I will keep working hard in 2010. Or, perhaps, even work harder.

6. Pay off debt. This one will never go away, what with my ridiculously high student loans (thanks R.I.T.)! Regardless I am going to try and not buy any big ticket items this year and focus on dumping as much cash as possible towards whittling those bad boys down. I even took on a second job to help. To be continued…

7. Stay on the wagon. I quit drinking almost a year and a half ago. This was probably the hardest thing I have ever done for multiple reasons. While many people in my life have accepted it many still have not. That is the hardest part of the whole process. In the words of my friend John “people just don’t like extremes”. Makes sense, but I am not condemning anyone for drinking, so why would they condemn me for not drinking? Regardless I am still not drinking and I must admit I don’t miss it – I do however miss some of my friends. On the positive side I feel great each day, I find my athletic abilities have improved and I am certain that my liver is thanking me (as well as my remaining three brain cells). 2010 will continue to be an alcohol-free year for me.

8. Dress better. This may sound a bit superficial, but I want to look more professional in 2010. I always feel as if I am dressing for an outdoor adventure (well, probably because most of the time I am) however this year I want to wear nicer clothes. I have them in my closet. They’re there, just hanging, collecting dust. I must wear them! Simple enough, right? It’s easy enough to make Pata-gucci look office/professional with some accessories :)

9. Keep reminding Trevor of how I feel. I only hope I express to him all of my affection and positive gratitude. This one comes naturally so “building” upon it will be easy in 2010!

This, as most of my life, is subject to alterations and additions so stay tuned and have a Happy New Year!

Monday, December 28, 2009

Christmas in New Paltz

Ginny! Coolest dog EVER! (shhh don't let my monsters know this).

My favourite place to be all weekend - right in front of the fireplace.
Christmas day hike at Black Creek.
Frozen pond - of course I was the is-it-frozen-enough? tester. It was solid the whole way through. Perfect for some pond hockey!
Really? I was thinking of going in for a dip...
At one point I thought T was going to disobey the sign - YIKES!
Princess Misha guarding the tree.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

New Works

Trevor has created another masterpiece. Go here to check it out!

Monday, November 30, 2009

Better Late Than Never

It's over. Thanksgiving is over. The food has long been digested and the few days off from work have been enjoyed. I have been so engrossed with my daily grind that I couldn't even put "pen to paper" to express what I am thankful for. Proposal submitted, work-out skipped, now it's time and there's no time like the present, so here goes.

My health most importantly, for without it, I would not be able to enjoy the quality of life that I have. I am grateful everyday that I have the physical ability to ride my bikes, climb rocks and trees, run multiple miles without (too much) pain, play with my doggies in the park, etc. Trevor had the swine yet I, with my superior genetic health, beat it! Not a runny nose, not even a fever. Sweet, right? I thought so, but I think that makes me a carrier, which I'm not too crazy about...meh, I still never got it! Mental health? Well, that's an entirely different issue (I am thankful for that, I suppose, as well :)

My family. As dysfunctional as we all are, I know I can count on some of them when needed. Some is better than none, right? The fact that we are scattered across the globe helps immensely!

My friends. Through the ups and downs, the times past and present, I know who I can truly count on and those that can truly count on me. Unlike my family, I know they will all be there when needed. The fact that we are scattered across the globe doesn't help, but I think it makes me appreciate them that much more.

My "kids". I do not have children. I do not want children. I have pets, they are my children. I know, I am on the road to becoming a crazy "dog/cat" lady. I am ok with that! My two dogs and cat I would be lost without. Each day, no matter how long I leave them for each day, they greet me with such happiness when I return. That's truly the best expression of unconditional love!

The best for last - I am so thankful for my partner. I cannot say enough to iterate exactly how grateful I am to have such an amazing man in my life. Each day I am thankful for having him there to support me, listen to me, offer me advice, just be there. He has made me see the world in a different light.

I know there are so many other things that I am thankful for. The aforementioned list are the ones most important to me. They are the ones, if I had nothing else, that would keep me going. Who could ask for more than that?

Monday, November 16, 2009


Some days I feel as if I am standing in a crowded room, screaming at the top of my lungs but no one hears me...

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Happy Birthday To...

Whoa it's been a while yet again. In previous posts, I already admitted that I am inconsistent, so I am going no further with trying to defend myself. Ok, well maybe a little towards my defense (from whom am I defending myself from, anyway?). Regardless, I have been busy remodeling my kitchen and taking classes, both of which have come to an end (thank god). So now it's back to just my regular busy life not the extra busy life. At least I have a better recall of my college math as well as a sweet "new" kitchen to drink coffee in!

I have yet to post my pics from our trip to New Paltz and the Catskills and more importantly the most incredible mountain biking of October at Peekskill/Blue Mountain. I will get around to that, meh, in about two weeks or so.

Anyway today is Trevor's 30th birthday! (I think he is the only person that reads my blog anymore, and even that is questionable). Big day for him and an even bigger day for me! Why? Well, because he is now in my age bracket. That's right, I am no longer a cougar today. Most know that Trevor is a little bit younger than me, just a smidge. The difference is negligible, however, being in your twenties is slightly different than being in your thirties. That said, he is now in his thirties, as I have been for...just a little while...only a couple of....months, yes, months. In all reality, it doesn't matter how old I am, after all today is not about me, it's about him. I only hope he has a most wonderful day! Happy Birthday, Trevor!

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Dryer Days?

The weather is not cooperating! WTH? We drove down to New Paltz on Thursday night in some mild weather. Thursday was by far the nicest fall day we have had in...well...I can't remember when. Checking the forecast for the weekend showed partly cloudy, mild percent chance of rain. Or so that's what led me to believe - they were WRONG! It poured yesterday. Pretty much all f--in day. From late Thursday night. To early this morning. Why is this so vexing to me? (More importantly why is my blog becoming a weather channel recap)? We want to ride bikes! Is that too much to ask for?

Originally we were going to hike up 3 peaks in the Catskills and camp out on one of the mountains for a night. I, however, decided it would be a much better idea to catch the cold that all of my co-workers have brought into our office making the decision to go camping a bad one. Well, really, it's not a bad one - I am just so scared of catching pneumonia again, that anytime I get anything more than a slight head cold, I tend to put my outdoor-in-inclement-weather activities on hold. All, of course, except for mountain biking. I figure a sweat inducing ride will knock the germs right out. Why is this different from hiking multi peaks? Well, in some form of twisted justification (if you're a doctor please feel free to correct my thought process, here) riding consists of a shorter time frame where I would be sweaty and once done I can take a shower to warm up. Camping, on the other hand, you get all sweaty climbing then once stopped you (or at least I do) tend to get clammy, then subsequently the chills set in, that combined with having to sleep on the cold ground all night creates a recipe for more sickness. (I do have an R-4 rated camp pad - not enough for cold blooded me). Throw in a cold to this noxious recipe and it equals an uncomfortable feeling within my lungs and I, as I have mentioned, do not want pneumonia ever again. It took me way too long the last time to recover. So, yes, NEVER AGAIN!

Now it is Saturday and it the world outside is completely saturated and covered in a cool, damp blanket of grey. The caffienating rush of my hot coffee, smell of faux bacon and (real) eggs is drawing me slowly out of the mental haze that I awoke with this morning. Checking the weather (yes, again), even though it's success rate has not been stellar, it is showing sunshine by midday. We are planning on riding today regardless, so I suppose it doesn't really matter. The trails are going to be a muddy mess no matter what the meteorological gods have in store for this afternoon. I know, I am not a fan of tearing up trails after a long rain. But it has been way too long and besides I heard mud cures colds (definitely do not refute this despite your MD/educational background - I know I am right on this one)!

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Day Dreaming of Dry Days

It has been 12 days since I last rode Vlad. Coincidentally enough, it has also been 12 days since we last saw the sun. Oh wait, I think it broke through the clouds for approximately 4 minutes today and once for 15 minutes last Tuesday. In all reality I am dying to ride my mountain bike. He's getting lonely hanging out on the bike stand in the basement. Poor Vlad. Poor me.

I know some people embrace riding in inclement weather, I however have not reached that level of oneness with the rain. I can ride in the snow, winter winds, ice, and cold with no problems. When it rains, though, I just cringe at the thought of getting on my bike and riding at high velocities while soaking wet. Hypothermia is not fun for me.

On the other hand, I have no qualms about running in the rain so that has been the training plan as of late. One of my co-workers and I have been meeting at the office at 6 a.m. three times a week and running between 4-6 the rain. I cannon lie - I am really enjoying our runs and getting a workout in prior to the work really energises me for the duration of the day.

But I am still dreaming of mountain biking. Especially now that Trevor has his new ride...please, please stop raining! Please?

Anyway these are photos from the last time we rode, it was September 19 in Letchworth State Park - Finger Lakes Trail. *sigh* It was a beautiful day. I miss the sun....

And my stripied socks miss carbon bike shoes....

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

1 in 3

It's raining here in the Croch today. It's about 50F out. It's damp. Cold. Dreary. So then why the fuck do the people in my g-damned office have the fucking airconditioning on. I am wearing a long sleeve shirt. A sweater over that shirt. A fall (fully-lined) coat on over that. And I am still freezing. WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Big Times

Yesterday was a big day. A day full of events that will change two people's lives for the better. A day that will leave a lasting impression of it's grand happenings etched into the minds of all who were fortunate enough to experienced them.

The first momentous moment occurred in the early hours of the morning, before breakfast, over the first (perhaps second) cup of coffee. Trevor purchased a carbon Titus Carbon X frame. He has been researching bikes ever since Utah, where upon first saddle, he fell in love with his rented Titus Motolite. I, of course, tried to compete with this unorthodox, rented (whored out) love yet soon gave up as I realised it was a losing battle. I thought I was in the clear when we returned but his obsession only grew more profound with each day that passed. He finally couldn't take it any longer - broke down and bought a frame (concubine) to have to himself.

His day progressively grew more eventful with the creation of his blog. He had some photos professionally taken of his work and now it is on display for the world to see. Being the proud supporter that I am of his work, I am urging everyone to check it out - because he's incredibly talented and his work reflects that (that is my unbiased, unprofessional opinion).

To add more luster to his already shiny, carbon day - Trevor sold his first piece. During last year's open expo weekend at RIT a couple came in to the wood studio and fell in love with Trevor's lattice top table. Due to the fact that the table was in an art exhibition for the duration of the summer, this was the earliest he could get it out to them. So, now the table is gone and the proceeds are going towards my replacement...uh, I mean, a beautiful carbon bike frame. (I have Vlad - I have to keep reminding myself of this).

On top of all these profound, life altering events one of my closest friends retired yesterday. I think of this woman as my surrogate Mom. I met her when I was 22, fresh faced, just out of college, not knowing what to do with my life, at my first temp job. We immediately became friends and have been that way ever since. Roz took me under her wing and guided me through my dysfunctional adulthood to help me become the woman I am today. Really, I owe her and her husband so much as they have gone above and beyond for me throughout all of these years. I love these two as if they were my own parents! I am so happy for her, now her next step is to relax and be a housewife for a couple of months then off to her next ventures. My personal, unsolicited opinion is that she should get into some sort of design/interior decoration type of work - she is amazingly talented in this department and has such an incredible eye for it! Their house is like a museum of all that is fun and fantastic. I can't say enough about it!

So how was my day momentous? Just by being able to be a part of theirs, I suppose. I spent the day cleaning, running errands, then celebrating Roz's retirement. That was enough for me for it to be a great day!

Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Long Time Coming

It's been too long again. *sigh* I just have to come to terms with the fact that I am inconsistent in pretty much every aspect of my life. I have also realised, or rather come to accept, the fact that I am a commitment-phobe. Knowing this about myself is not a new realisation, but the older I get the more it seems to create an anxiety within me. This self-awareness comes in many forms, but did not become blatantly apparent until a co-worker asked me to get a ski pass for this coming season with her. My immediate hesitation, subsequent over-analysis, and then finally a reluctant decline to this invitation made me stop and reassess so many other aspects of my life. I follow these steps with pretty much everything I do, which ultimately result in me not doing much of anything.

For quite some time now I have been “preparing” to take my GREs. I started a Master’s program which did not require any GRE/GMAT tests because I completed my undergrad there. Not feeling enthusiastic about that particular program I decided to put it on hold and search for a program that I feel excited about; one that is challenging and makes me optimistic about my career again. I think I have pinned one down, more on that later, this post is about the (long, drawn out) path that has lead to this very tiny, first step. Anyway, this GRE preparation has consisted of me buying a book, occasionally reading it, occasionally taking a practice test (which, I am ashamed to admit, I do not do that well on…shocking, I know). Regardless, I thought I was making the commitment, when in reality I was doing nothing more than wasting time and talking about what I should be doing, rather than just doing it.

After the ski pass incident and the reevaluation of my methods to madness (or methods of madness, meh, it’s all madness in my realm), I am changing my ways. That’s right; I have staged my own intervention. Well, not really, I am just trying to be more of a commitment-phile. SO to test my new character trait, I phoned RIT yesterday to sign up for a GRE review class…and I did get enrolled in a class…which starts today. Great, so now I don’t even have time to go through the mental process of over-analysing and ultimately negating my positive endeavor. If the cards are in my favour, I have to go with it, otherwise, I might spend another two plus years f*cking around trying to figure out what the hell I am supposed to do with my life. This most certainly does not answer all of my questions, and perhaps some of those will never be answered, but at least I am heading towards a goal. And more importantly I am committing myself to it!

Friday, September 4, 2009

Too Many Mother F*ckers

This is what I do on Friday nights...hi-larious though!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Her New Self

I was reading the news this morning (as I often do with my first cup of coffee), more specifically a story about a woman who underwent a horrible ordeal and how she dealt with it. She stated in the story that she would tell everyone she met of her ordeal in case anyone wondered why she wasn't "acting like herself". At first I thought, 'well that makes sense', after all she had experienced this traumatic event which probably had changed her view on life as well as her outward reaction to relating to the populous. I thought, how cathartic for her to be so open and to allow people an opportunity to glance into her world. This seemed to be a coping mechanism for this woman or just an explanation of why she was different, or rather behaving/reacting to daily interactions differently. That was my first reaction.

My second reaction (after a second cup of coffee) was perhaps she wasn't behaving differently rather that she was behaving as someone she had become as a result of this trauma in her life. Perhaps the event made her the way she is and there will be no returning to who she was before. The events in our lives shape us, right? So why would a terrible event be no different than a positive one? She is going around telling everyone she meets of her ordeal sort of apologizing for acting in some way other than 'herself'. But the truth of it is that after an experience with this certain trauma 'herself' will never be back.

This new apologetic person has now become who she is. This person who is afraid and unsocial, spilling her guts out to anyone who will listen, is her new self. Whether she likes it or not. So why must she 'explain' herself as to why she is not 'herself' anymore? Why does she just not deal with the past with the help of her close confidants/therapists/etc. in private and go out into the world as her new self? Perhaps she doesn't want to be her new self, as this new persona was created by a wretched, most unfortunate circumstance. Understandable, but what if she were to embrace this new self, cultivate it, create a stronger more resilient self? What if she took this negative event and channelled it into something positive? I know this sounds a bit like an "easier said than done" situation, but seriously how powerful is our mind?

I think I need more coffee to continue this train of thought...and I really need to get back to work...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Best movie I've seen in quite some time...Tarantino does it again! Christoph Waltz is amazing in his role!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Final Day

Day Four:
Our last day in Utah :( It started out rough, due to my mindset, but ended up pretty amazing! I think I will let the pictures do the talking...
Wasatch Crest Trail - incredible x-country riding!
Trevor posing for Colorado Cyclist :)
More amazing views from the Wasatch Crest Trail
Desolation Lake
Jennie cutting the most delicious vegan chocolate cake (which she spent hours making that day). Thanks again for everything, Jennie! You are awesome!
Oh yeah, it was my birthday or something...

Monday, August 17, 2009


Thank you Bike Snob for making me laugh on this crap ass Monday.

Canyon Day

Day Three:

This morning we tried to wake up early but due to the late night prior, we had a tough time doing so. The summer riding rule in Utah is get out early, take a siesta, party the night away. Good rule on paper - hard rule to live by. At least for me anyway, most likely because I am so used to running non-stop from the moment I wake up until I pass out sometime between 10 and 11pm. As much as I love my naps, I find it hard to settle down during the day when there are good daylight hours for the accomplishing so many other things.

After breakfast the four of us (Jennie, Joel, Trevor and myself) set out to ride Corner Canyon. The first part of the trail is this sick climb (yes, more climbing - which despite all of, my legs never got tired. The pain was mostly in my lungs - which felt like sandpaper - and in my heart - which felt as if it could burst on the next pedal stroke...that's pain in the legs. Strange, right?). Did I mention this climb is sick? I don't know the length or elevation gain, however I do know it was long (felt like miles and miles) and there was alot of elevation gain (many thousands of feet). I was definitely struggling on this climb, however, no more so than any other climb, and at least my motor didn't quit this day. I kept chugging along in my granny gear thinking "Alright, I'm doing it! This isn't so bad". That thought was swiftly crushed as a runner passed me up the hill. That's right, a runner. I think he was in his 50's as well. Awesome.

Once at the top I caught my breath and prepared for the descent. What an incredible descent it was! The trails dropped into every kind of technical terrain ever imagined. They weren't too difficult. They weren't too easy. They were just right! Fast and sweet! Some rock gardens thrown in with switch backs, berms full of soft sand, hard packed fast trails with some roots and stones, a couple of bridge crossings through the dry creek beds all while flying downhill. I just wanted to let go of the breaks and fly...that downhill was the sweetest I have ridden in a long time! So great that once at the bottom I was ready to do the 'throw-up-humbled-by-a-middle-aged-runner' climb again just to taste the sweet reward of the downhill again. But it was late morning, it was getting hot and we were all hungry for breakfast number two! Porcupine Grill for brunch!

The rest of the day was really relaxed. Jennie took us over to her roadie friend Nancy's place for a party. Nancy reminded me of one of my close friends here in the Croch. She was an older woman but only in number. Her energy was boundless and her hospitality was impressive.

Trevor and I took off during the evening for a little canyon drive. Remember the roller skate? Well, it barely made it up Little Cotton Wood Canyon. I swear the hamsters under the hood were stroking out on the ride up. On the way down I think we wore through the brake pads and the rotors. Meh - that's why it's a rental. Regardless of our little car, the ride and views were spectacular. LCW Canyon is such a beautiful drive and we caught it right during sunset. It was romantically perfect!

Monday, August 10, 2009

I came, I saw, I was Conquered

Days One and Two:

Utah! I have been back for more than a week and still have not recapped my amazing trip to the land of Mountains and Mormons. First and foremost I must give a shout out to our incredible neighbors, J and T, who let us use their airline privileges for our personal flying pleasure. (Let me just say that flying standby, while a bit nerve racking and kind of challenging, was a much nicer experience than I had imagined! Except for the air sickness that I experienced on the flight from Phoenix to Philadelphia on the way home - this was not due to the standby status of our flying nature, however, but to the day and a half old sandwich I decided to inhale shortly after take off. I do not recommend this!) The next thanks I must give is, of course, to our incredibly gracious hosts, Jennie, Joel and Kailash! Without this awesome trio we would not have had a place to stay, personal guides to the sweet, sweet trails, set up for our incredible rides for those trails or a shuttle to the mountains on the longest (kind of harrowing) ride of the trip (thanks again for that, Jennie. So sorry about getting lost.) Last, but not least thanks to Revolution for the use of a couple of sweet (what I rode) rides (what T rode) on those trails!

We flew in on Friday evening, picked up our roller skate...uh I mean rental car* and met up with J.Dubs and Kai in the airport lot. We had approximately 30 mins. to get to the bike shop and set up our rentals before the shop closed, so off we went. First view out on the expressway were the mountains. It was rush hour, it was hot - but wait, it was hot! We had just come from Rochester, where the sun is seen rarely and for some reason this summer has been unbelievably cold and wet - so the fact that it was hot was more than welcome...oh and did I mention there were mountains!

(*note - when a rental car agent asks 'You really want the economy car?' more than once, truly reconsider your choice. While we can only learn from our mistake we hope others will learn that a Toyota Yaris is not an ideal choice for mountain canyon driving.)

We dropped off our gear, finally met Joel (stamp of approval!) then set off to meet Steven and Haley at dinner. I finally got to meet the elusive Flahute and his new lady friend (she is great, by the way, and has freckles). After a delicious meal with very cool new people and, off course catching up with Jennie, we went back to the house and subsequently passed out. The next day we were off to The Canyons to pre-ride the race course for a race that Jennie was still undecided on racing. Upon arrival she was set on having a relaxing ride with us. The first part of the course was approximately 3/4 mile of 1000 ft of climbing. (We are at altitude now, mind you - not relaxing!) I thought I was going to throw up. I couldn't catch my breath properly, so my heart rate skyrocketed right from the start. Sweet, I haven't even reached my '29th' birthday and this is how it ends? Not if I can help it. I tried to climb but the lack of O2 humbled me and forced me off the bike just going into the second part of the climb...wth? It was very frustrating, but I knew it would be a difficult acclimatisation process. Trevor, of course, had no problems. He just flew up the hill as if we were still at sea level. (I really need to work on my hill repeats).

We did the half lap and I learned quickly that once you get past the nauseating amounts of climbing you are rewarded with some sweet downhills pretty much the rest of the way. The single track was awesome! Rocky, not too rooty, dry and a little sandy in sections but so fast and so much fun! Once down we rode around and chatted with some folks that Jennie knew (which is almost the entire bike community in SLC, I am learning). By the time we ended our social cruising, Jennie decided to enter the race...20 mins. prior to the start. Awesome! Trevor and I had to ride up another trail on the western side of the course to find a good spot for spectating and cheering on our friend. This trail was decidedly more steep and more of a lung burner than the course - aaaahhhhh no more climbing!

We finally got to the spot - a shady area above the, we were soon to learn, down hill wipe-out spot on the course. Not only did we see everyone come into this fast, rocky descend at high velocities, we also saw quite a few of them bite it (and some bit it hard) in this section. Primo spot! At the last lap we rode down the fire road to the start and ran into Jennie beginning the last climb into her last lap - she looked great! We then waited for all the riders to go by and when they did we tailed the riders, entered the course on the half lap section to go up midway and watch them descend from there. This too was a great spot to watch the race. We met a race course medic who had a Santa Cruz Blur so I of course had to strike up a conversation with him. He put my thoughts into words when I asked him why he didn't race. His response 'It's way more fun to just cruise in these hills...I like watching them kill themselves.' My sentiments exactly!

J.Dubs finished the race a respectable 4th place in the expert division - yay! Waiting for the awards ceremony we met up with Theresa, Ruth, Gigi, Carl and some other friends of Jennie's (sorry I don't remember every one's name). It was great to meet some of the men and women I who I saw killing it out on the trail as well as some others whose blogs I have been following for quite some time now.

The day winded down with a really nice dinner party at Jennie's dad's home. After a day and a half of getting used to the altitude, the party was just what I needed to refuel, relax and soak in the mountains during sunset. More to come...

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sad Day

Even though I didn't know Susan, Elden or their family I, as many readers of Fat Cyclist did, came to form a sort of connection with them. We read daily updates on Susan's struggles, perseverance and strength. We cheered her on - whether on our rides for The Cure, through donations, or whatever individual way we could express our support. Just because we didn't know Susan personally doesn't mean we don't know her. Elden brought this courageous woman's struggle to the forefront of the blogging world creating more awareness and raising more in donations than most organisations. I think we all can relate as most of us have experienced the loss of someone important to us to such a disgusting and demoralising disease. In this case I wish I could say I could not, but unfortunately I can empathise with Elden and his family during this difficult time. Keep fighting for Susan, for Vera, for Vasily, for Tina...

Rest in peace, Susan.

Thursday, July 30, 2009


Yesterday I felt it was necessary to get out on a mountain bike ride. Necessary so that I don't get absolutely killed in the mountains of Utah. Necessary so as to sharpen my skills before my trip out west. Necessary because...well...I hadn't been on my mountain bike since the weekend prior to the Hardcore 24 - when I decided to inhale an entire tuna sub then subsequently pre-ride the race course feeling like I was going to die from a distended stomach. Calculating it now, it had been over a month since my last mountain bike ride. How does time go by so fast? How have I managed to go an entire month without riding Vlad? I have been road riding quite a bit and running some here and there, but mountain biking is my favourite! It's my first choice in outdoor activities! Has it been the rain and wet trails that have prevented me from the winding through the woods? Or the fact that I have been working odd hours resulting in my being tired more than normal? Honestly I don't have an answer to any of these questions. All that was obvious to me was that I needed to ride yesterday. And ride I did.

I had it set in my mind that I would go to Dryer Road and drop down some fun trails, wind back up, drop down again, repeat. Wednesdays are group ride days with my boss and some of his friends. When work and time permits I love to ride with them as they are pretty fast, they all have great technical skills and they're just a fun group to ride with. Yesterday no one could make it except for my boss and I - so I suggested Dryer because I am comfortable there and I had my mind set on riding there (and once my mind is set...). Well, it began raining and raining some more then the rain turned into a steady mist creating muggy, humid and most likely messy trail conditions. Talking to my boss he said he didn't want to ride Dryer wet because the trails get too torn up and I agreed. So during this conversation he and I pretty much had resigned to not riding when he throws out "Hey let's ride Tryon. If it's too muddy we'll just stop". Yikes! I haven't ridden in over a month and he wants to ride the most technical park in the area?!?! - and it's raining which means all the rocks, roots, bridges will all be slimy and the steep hill climbs will all be washed out!

Even though I consider myself a competent rider, I still consider Tryon a humbling park. No matter how great I feel and how great my technical skills are, this place always tends to kick my ass. If it's not the super-steep, lung-burning, quad-firing climbs then it's the balance beam ledges with sheer drops on one side (which I have fallen down - a nice tree stopped me and left me a little [giant] reminder of it's kindness on my thigh) or the many rocky stream crossings...*sigh*. I really didn't want to go and get my ass handed to me leaving me in negative mental state for my impending trip. But I had to go and be tough - after all I can't wuss out on my boss since no one else was riding and it was necessary for me to ride, remember?

We started out in a new technical section that had been built since the County legalised mountain biking in this park (a hard fought battle that we won! yay!). I hadn't ridden these new trails yet - it seemed there were piles of them everywhere we looked...and they were AWESOME! Even with the mist and humidity (the kind where everything sticks to you, the kind that makes each breath almost soupy, the kind that brings out millions of mosquitoes, the kind that gives you swamp ass before you even start the ride...) it was an amazing ride. The trails were wet in some parts but mostly hard packed. The roots and rocks were covered in a slimy, damp coating, but Vlad just flew over them without any issues. The stream crossings were deeper than usual but the water felt so good on my over-heated calves. As I rode through the trees their branches, wet with rainwater, cooled my arms in the most welcome way. We had to end due to loss of day light and my boss's need to get home to his family but I could have kept on riding. I hadn't felt that great since the weekend Trevor and I rode Shindagin (I still haven't recapped that trip - but it was INCREDIBLE!). The 15 minute ride home was the perfect cool down and mental recap time. I got home feeling great about my skills, thankful that I haden't lost my mountain mojo and even more excited for Utah!

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Great Salt Lake

["Then I'm sure...I could stand...on...the Great Salt Lake" listening to the Band of Horses this song came on and inspired this post.]

I am going back to Utah. After a (two?) year furlough I am going back to the land of lowered alcohol content, Mormons and Warren Jeffs (is he even there? or in Texas now? or in jail? meh, whatever...). It's long overdue. I am excited, to say the least, to see my friend J.Dubs and meet her man. I am also excited to finally put some real life personalities to the blogging personalities that I have been introduced to through Jennie. It's funny to read the daily lives of some people and feel like you actually know them through the blogging world then get the opportunity to finally meet them in 'living colour'. Can't wait.

Did you know the name Utah came from the Ute Indians and it means people of the mountains? I didn't either, but I think it fitting since the state is full of beautiful mountains as well as 14 alpine ski resorts, 5 national parks and some sweet, sweet rock climbing. Yes, once upon a time I used to climb rocks tied off to a rope and a belayer sporting ballerina slippers with sticky rubber soles. Once upon a time I actually had a little muscle on my upper body and great core strength. Not so much anymore since most of my climbing friends have moved away (don't blame them) and the remaining climbing community is way too incestuous and full of drama that I just can't deal. It's ok, I know someday I will get back on rock!

Oh and did you know that Utah boasts the highest literacy rate out of all the states in the continental U.S.? This does not surprise me ever since I saw a documentary on how the FLDS run their compound...uh I mean 'community'. The kids don't know what the word 'play' means. They think that working in the gardens or cleaning their homes is fun. When they are asked to write for class (usually LDS bible versus) they do so with impeccable penmanship and grammar...and these were the kindergartners! They also had no knowledge of such frivolities as Disney Land or candy or cartoons. Yikes!

Anyway, back to my trip to the desert. Why is it that I chose to go there in the summer when the heat is at its worst? Well, to be honest, I wanted to go for my birthday and it happens to be during the hottest time in most places...unless of course I choose to vacation south of the equator where I will be put back into winter. Of course, I have considered a ski trip to the Chilean Andes during our summer, however my lack of funds have to date prohibited this trip. Someday.
The weather here has been less than stellar, so even cooking in the desert is an improvement to the mess we have experienced here in Crapchester. Just to give an idea - this summer has been a cross between a cold, grey, rainy Juneau and a hot, steamy, rainy South Florida. Either way, my hair is frizzy, my underwear is constantly damp and I am perpetually miserable. Besides Utah has a dry heat and dry is welcome respite at this point (hah like standing in front of your hair dryer while next to the oven). That's ok, I am so excited to see Jennie, to ride mountain bikes at altitude and to have Trevor experience all of it with doesn't matter what time of year it is. And I hear the higher you go into the mountains the cooler it gets, so that in itself is enticement enough. As for the biking at altitude, I am not sure my lungs or heart are ready for the feeling that they are in a vice grip for each time we go out hard...mentally I think I am ready for that feeling again. I vaguely remember it from the last visit when I decided it would be a good idea to go running the morning after a party at Jennie's place - I thought I was going to throw up. Well, in all honesty that was probably the vodka from the night previous. Whatever I am ready for a 40 mile mountain bike ride with a heart rate of 230 bpm (don't people die from such things?) Meh, I am Russian, we are strong like will take a lot more than some thin air to kill me off. So, Jennie if you are reading this, I can't speak for Trevor, but I am ready for the pain that you and Joel are planning on inflicting upon me! Bring it!

Ok, maybe just a little at a time though...

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Ode to the Leo

Why does time fly so fast in the summer? So here I am posting more than two weeks after my last post...crazy procrastination, or rather I have just been busy with work and life. Well not too much to report or perhaps too much to report. It has been a wet summer here in Crochester so far - which, much to my dismay, amounts to not as much mountain biking as I would like. But we did find a way to enjoy the water even in the rain - whitewater kayaking! Playing on the rapids is probably the next best thing to riding through the trees...I did say 'next best'. Anyway, back to work. Oh (the whole reason for signing into my blog during the work day) I did just come across this ridiculous article on and I figured my birthday is coming up so why not post it. Lame but kind of cute if you're into the zodiac/astrology thing (my sister is quite proud of me right now, I am certain). Enjoy.

This dramatic, creative, and outgoing sign has the keyword "magnetism" for good reason. Fiery and self-assured, it can be almost impossible to resist the Leo's charm. Whether it's time spent with family and friends, or efforts on the job scene, a Leo is going to bring much to the table.

Friends and Family: By far the most generous of the Zodiac, Leos make loyal and giving friends. They'll go out of their way to help, even when it conflicts with their own schedule. The Leo is a strong, confident personality who has the ability to make almost everyone comfortable. Unassuming and gracious, they love to host parties and events. The Leo is rarely found alone - interacting is second nature. Close friends are chosen for their ability to keep up with the Leo's energy, along with a strong sense of dignity and a commitment to individual values. When family is involved, the mighty Lion will do whatever it takes to defend their loved ones. Loyalty for the Leo means a lifetime. They pride themselves on being there for family through thick and thin.

Career and Money: Leos are doers. "I will" is the key phrase for this sign. There's a lot of energy packed into this sign, and they're always going to be busy, regardless of whatever else is happening around them. They are ambitious, creative, and optimistic. It's not enough to just do the job for a Leo. In order to suffice, it must be done to the absolute best of their ability. Once committed to an employer, they will go all out, but the best situation for the Leo is to be their own boss. Careers that allow for the Leo's dramatic flair, such as acting and entertaining, are ideal. Such positions give the Lion free reign. Other occupations such as management, teaching, and politics are well-suited too. Anything that puts a Leo in a leadership position will give this sign the opportunity to do what comes naturally to them.

Leos love to surround themselves with the things they fancy. Since money usually comes readily to the Leo, there's always more where that came from. "Money is meant to be spent (on things, say, such as bicycles)" as far as this sign is concerned - and spend they will. Generous in spirit, a Leo will give away their last dollar to help a friend out. They're always confident that there will be more, and there usually is. There's never a lack of work for a Leo. In fact, there's generally more work available to them than they can keep up with.

Love and Sex: This fiery sign is passionate and forthright with their affections. When it comes to sex, you can expect the Leo to be adventurous, fun, and highly energetic. There is a definite line of division between sex and love for Leos. Mates are chosen for their willingness to allow the Leo to take the lead, shine brightly and be independent. They look for uninhibited lovers who aren't self-conscious. As accepting as the Leo is, a mate needs to be an intellectual equal to cut the mustard. Leos are loving, fun, and very giving to those in their personal life.

Health: Each sign has a part of the anatomy attached to it, making this the area of the body that is most sensitive to stimulation. The anatomical areas for Leo are the heart, sides, and upper back.

Ruling Planet: The ruling planet for Leo is the Sun. Considered the masculine principal of the horoscope, the Sun rules men in general, health, leadership, rank, authority, progress, energy, dignity, the capacity for experience, and the sense of identity.

Compatibility: Leos are most compatible with Sagittarius and Aries. (What about the Scorpio?)

Likes: The theatre, being admired, taking holidays, fun with friends, expensive things (like sweet, full-suspension mountain bikes!), bright colors.

Dislikes: Being ignored, facing difficult reality, not being king/queen.

Strengths: Warmth, humor, pride, joy, creativity, passion, generosity.

Weaknesses: Arrogant, stubborn, inflexible, self-centered, laziness.

Charismatic marks: Regal manner, powerful, strong, muscular.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

It's All Crap!

I just received this in one of those forwarded email chains. I am usually the first to delete these sorts of mailings, however after a crap-ass ending to the weekend, this one is kind of pertinent and it did cheer me up for a moment. So lame as it is I am paying it forward and posting this on my blog. Don't like it? Well, then don't read it!

ONE. Give people more than they expect and do it cheerfully.

TWO. Marry a man/woman you love to talk to. As you get older, their conversational skills will be as important as any other. (What 'eye candy' stops being interesting?!?!?).

THREE. Don't believe all you hear, spend all you have or sleep all you want. (I will disregard the 'sleep all you want' part!).

FOUR. When you say, 'I love you,' mean it.

FIVE. When you say, 'I'm sorry,' look the person in the eye.

SIX. Be engaged at least six months before you get married. (??? I got nothing).

SEVEN. Believe in love at first sight.

EIGHT. Never laugh at anyone's dreams. People who don't have dreams don't have much. (Yeah! no one likes a dream crusher).

NINE. Love deeply and passionately. You might get hurt but it's the only way to live life completely.

TEN. In disagreements, fight fairly. No name calling. (This one should be rule #10 on my work sites).

ELEVEN. Don't judge people by their relatives. (This one is hard to do, especially in most cases - including my own).

TWELVE. Talk slowly but think quickly. (I do both quickly, usually resulting in a jumbled mess).

THIRTEEN. When someone asks you a question you don't want to answer, smile and ask, 'Why do you want to know?' (I use this one all the time).

FOURTEEN. Remember that great love and great achievements involve great risk. (Balderdash! It's all supposed to be easy, breezy - that's the American way damn it!).

FIFTEEN. Say 'bless you' when you hear someone sneeze.

SIXTEEN. When you lose, don't lose the lesson.

SEVENTEEN. Remember the three R's: Respect for self; Respect for others; and Responsibility for all your actions. (Very pertinent)!!!

EIGHTEEN. Don't let a little dispute injure a great friendship. (Sometimes the little ones get big...but this is a good one for certain).

NINETEEN. When you realize you've made a mistake, take immediate steps to correct it. (More pertinence).

TWENTY. Smile when picking up the phone. The caller will hear it in your voice. (I have tried this, not sure if it works).

TWENTY-ONE. Spend some time alone. (Hard to do when surrounded by my little four-legged friends :)

Friday, June 26, 2009


Tomorrow is Saturday - FINALLY! Next to Sunday and Friday (or any day that finds me on a bike rather than in an office) it has to be my favourite day. Tomorrow is also a road-trip-to-mountain-bike day. What does all this mean? Me in a very happy state of mind, body and spirit! It seems that I have been going somewhere each weekend since the weather has turned nice (debatable as it has been raining pretty much every weekend - but it's a warm rain, so...). No complaints here as any excuse to get out of Rottenchester is a good one in my mind.

Last weekend we spent in a torrential downpour at Allegany State Park for two of my friend's wedding reception. Even though the skies opened up on us early that Saturday and didn't subside until...well, I don't know exactly because it was still raining when we left Sunday morning...the weekend and reception were absolutely lovely! Despite the rain, event goers decided to hold a friendly tee-ball game. This started off with two people and eventually ended with almost all the attendees participating - in the pouring rain! Quite impressive how people persevere through the gloom to make for a great day. The other perception I had of this gathering was that, unlike most wedding receptions, the focus was on the guests and the enjoyment of the day rather than on the couple. This spoke volumes about this particular couple. They are two of the most gracious, sincere and wonderful people I have ever met. Genuine and kind. Most people don't shine a light to these two, however, they took the focus off of themselves that weekend and diverted it to us. I never realised it until T and I recapped the weekend on our drive home. I thought 'wow that just says it all right there about who they are'. May they have a long and happy life full of love, laughter and adventure. Something tells me they will!

Anyway, back to this coming weekend - Shindagin Hollow! Yeah! T asked me earlier in the week if I wanted to go down and ride there this coming weekend. 'Of course I do!!!' was my immediate response. Or maybe it was 'Hell yeah!!!' Whatever - it was a no brainer. This place is magical. We rode it last year for the first time and fell in love with it instantly. Even though the first day out we rode in the rain (it seems to rain alot around here). This forest meanders from piney to deciduous to plains, from rooty to rocky to hilly climbs to man-made ramps, jumps and rollers...well let's just say this place has it all. To say the least, I am just a little excited! After last year's ride I swore the next time I would ride here would be on a full suspension bike. I guess I am holding true to my promise as tomorrow will be Vlad's inaugural ride in Shindagin! Now to plan whether or not we camp out tomorrow night or just drive home after riding all day...decisions, decisions. When these are the toughest ones we have to make, life is definitely good!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Harsh Reality

I have to come to realise that finding time for writing has been pushed to the bottom of my priority list and getting back into the swing of it just isn't as easy a transition as I thought it would be. It has been a busy spring/summer so far and there doesn't appear to be any reprieve in the near future. Not that I'm whinging or anything, but walking around the facility this morning made me wish for such a break.

The sun is out in full force this morning. It's already a hot and hazy day, but the presence of a wonderful breeze dissipates the heat beautifully. The sky is the perfect shade of blue and it finally feels like summer! Those few moments of walking from one building to the next made me drift off into a lovely daydream...for a brief yet delicious moment T and I were up at the Lake under the cool shade of a tree feeling the warm breeze in our hair watching the white-puffy-perfect clouds go by while the sound of the waves lulled a sweet melody...

Then, just like that, a truck rolled by, the roar of it's diesel engine snapping me back to the harsh reality of my situation. Right, I have to go back inside to the meat locker of a cube-farm and be a productive member of society. *sigh* So here I am - delaying my productivity creatively :)

Monday, June 15, 2009

Can't Trust That Day

Ugh - Monday. Not only Monday, but a rainy one. Did I mention I have to work outside all week? Oh and that I've been up since 4:45 a.m.? Yeah. Good times. The dogs woke me up due to a little, itty-bitty thunderstorm at that ungodly hour. Why do dogs seem to want to go outside in the most inclement weather? It's as if they have an instinctual sense to go storm chasing. Especially Sergei since he is deathly afraid of thunderstorms. Perhaps he is trying to conquer his fear? Meh, whatever. Does not make sense to me...especially before my first cup of coffee has had a chance to soak into my system. Ok, so that is all. I figured I would ramble before heading off to work in the rain. Ugh...

Friday, June 12, 2009

Mullet with Headlights

I haven't laughed this hard since L'autobus was brought to my attention! Enjoy!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

It's Time

It's time for me to blog again or rather attempt to none-the-less. It has been (wait a minute) 7 months? Really?!?! That long since my last entry? WTH? Where did all that time go?

Well, I am in no place right now to recall the last 7 (I am still trying to wrap my brain around that) months, nor does my one reader (do I really even have that going for me?) have that kind of time. Anyway, the real reason that I haven't been on this thing is that I have been extremely busy with life and truthfully just not in the mood to write. Poor excuses? Perhaps, but between working odd, long hours, keeping up with home improvement items, riding my bikes, spending time with those important to me and sleep...well, blogging has just taken a backseat to it all. But here I am, at last, with a spare moment in front of my computer...I would like to say that 'I'm back' then again who knows if I will even have the time or motivation in the next 7 months for the recall of any of my daily occurances or ramblings. Regardless, let me revel in this moment.

Again, I am not going to go back 7 months into the past, however I will go back roughly one month into it. Approximately one month ago I did acquire a new man in my life. I say 'acquire' because this special encounter involved me dishing out a large sum of cash for his permanent company. But in this most unorthodox union, I have found incredible happiness, confidence in my skills, some pain (due to my lack of caloric intake while testing those skills) and miles upon miles of sweet, sweet dirt! Without further ado, I present to you Vlad:
Isn't he dreamy? His big, nobby tires and they way they grip the muddy roots we climb is nothing short of amazing. The way he absorbs our jumps - it's as if I am landing on a soft down throw instead of a rocky downhill. His disc brakes stop on a dime not that we use them that much (ha, ok so we do and when we do they squeal - which in turn makes me squeal with the joy of knowing I won't be biting it any time soon). And don't get me started on his handling skills...whoa. Now I want to ride, instead of work. Ok later, later. Since Vlad has come into my life we have been riding quite a bit. From the hilly mountain climbs with sick views of Jim Thorpe, PA to the hilly, rocky, rooty, crazy-ass-steep-stream-crossings of the Finger Lakes Trail. Of course the main man in my life who is still my first and favourite riding partner (who I also might add was not acquired but rather partnered into my life :) is shown here demonstrating his log riding skills on the FLT in Letchworth. Even with my new ride, I still can't catch T...but I sure do get bruised and battered trying. Did I mention this is fun for me?
The one day we went out to Letchworth, it was post torrential rains and chilly. This was Vlad's first mud bath. No worries, I washed him off afterwards - but he did look pretty sweet covered in a layer of mud and grit!
During my 7 month haitus I also took up a part time gig as a professional tree climber...ok, not really but for some reason I still find trees as enticing to climb up into now (at the ripe age of 29 :-D ) as I did when I was 7. I must assure you it is not as easy as it looks with bike shoes on. Crank Bros. cleats are slippery on bark!
Ok so there it is, the past more than half a year of life recalled. Let's recap shall we? Work, Ride, Eat, Ride some more, Eat some more, Sleep. Got all that?