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

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

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 :)