Bike to…School. Work. Play. Bike Everyday

July 12, 2014

“You’re a rockstar,” the lady at daycare said as I walked in to pick Lucy up fully clad in spandex and my helmet. “Don’t you work on the mountain?”

I can’t say this is an unusual comment. Even in our hyper-active mountain town, there are still plenty that see cycling as a fringe activity, rather than something that can be incorporated into daily life. The conversation finished with the lady saying she was trying to loose weight and should try riding her bike again. For me, that made the grueling ride more than worth it – inspire one person to get on a bike.

In our family, cycling isn’t a fringe activity. While I don’t ride the 8 miles with a 9% grade for the final 4 every day, I do try to ride a bike a day. Whether it’s doing a ride on some local single track, cruising down to the river to paddleboard, or even just going to the store to pick up groceries my bikes are a part of daily life. Even in winter, we roll out the fat bikes or put studs on the Xtracycles to get around. For Lucy, we have her Strider, the Chariot and a Yepp bike seat for the Xtras so no matter what we are on, she can be along for the ride.

And with any luck, Lucy will be just as addicted to bikes as her parents are.

Training for TNRL and the Stryder WC w/ @jessdowning

Thoughts While Pedaling During a 24 Hr Race

May 30, 2014
Every campsite needs its gnome mascot.

Every campsite needs a gnome mascot.

Competing in a 24 hour mountain bike race has always been on my to do list, so when a friend suggested putting together an all women’s 5-person team, it didn’t take more than 30 seconds to say I was in.

I rode as much as possible during April and May, but it wasn’t enough time for the brutality that is riding at race pace for 15 miles every 5 hours or so. It takes more determination and training than I would ever have to do any less than a 5-person team!



Hola de México

March 3, 2014


Not since college have I been willing to leave the mountains during ski season for a warmer climate consisting of beaches and the ocean. It took my dad turning 60 and the opportunity to go to Cancun as a family vacation to convince us to leave the skis behind for 10 full days in January. (Luckily, we didn’t miss anything at home snow-wise…)

This was Lucy’s first big “overseas” adventure. She’s been to Canada a few times now, so it was not her first international trip, but the first one that she needed to have a passport. I downloaded a learn Spanish app since I’m out of practice, and started working on my Hola’s and Donde Esta el Bano?’s. And then started salivating over the thought of real tacos (although knowing we were going to an all-inclusive time-share property in the Hotel Zone, my expectations were not high on finding great authentic food).

Bend, Ore – Adventures in May

June 21, 2013

The month of May took us to Bend, Ore. for my cousin Shannon’s wedding. I’ve up until now tried to avoid Bend purely on the principle that I’ve heard it’s a multi-sport mecca, and if we were to visit, that we would never leave. Not far from the truth.

After pulling an all-nighter (NEVER AGAIN!), we pulled into Bend at 3:28am. Our friends Jimmy and Shannon (different Shannon….) left their door unlocked so that we could go in and crash in their guest room. Lucy had not slept the final 4 hrs of the drive, and so we were all exhausted and so thankful for a bed…

Bend went something like this: Breakfast, Coffee, give Lucy to Grandma and Bubba, Bike, Coffee, Dinner, Bed. Lunch somewhere thrown in. There was some beer in there as well for me. Did I mention Coffee? Rather than a tour-de-beer, we did a tour-de-coffee (something we both can agree on…). And the riding, oh the riding. Saturday: Whoops. Sunday: Tiddlywinks. Monday: I let my mom use my bike, they rode Funner (in a downpour). Tuesday: Mzarak. Awesome. Plus riding around Bend is great with all the bike paths.


Mud season fun

November 7, 2012


Mud season. Usually it causes groans or a last minute vacation to somewhere warm like Moab or Mexico. But for some, mud season also means the start of cyclocross season. And for the first time in the seven years I’ve owned my Kona Jake cyclocross bike, I actually used it for its intended purpose.


Lucy learned to use a cowbell.

A cross race is unlike any other bike race – the course laps are short and require you to dismount and remount your bike numerous times (and not just because I can’t ride a technical section…). There are wood hurdles to jump over and super steep hills you have to run up with your bike slung over your shoulder. And you ride until they tell you to stop – typically about 45-55 minutes. The adrenaline is high and the spectators are rowdy. In short, it’s a total blast.

Herron 'Cross, 2nd Place, Women's B race.

I got a trophy! 2nd Place of 2 women in the Women’s B category! Sometimes it pays to be a girl. No competition.

Adventures with Lucy – Summer, Summer, Summertime!

September 28, 2012

Checking new routes.

Road Trip to Hood River? Check. Road Trip to Colorado for two weeks? Check. Skiing on Logan Pass in Glacier NP in June? Check. Weekend of camping and biking? Check. Climbing a peak? Check.

Summer is full of road trips, camping, climbing, biking and everything else to do in the mountains. The goal was to do at least one “adventure” a month for the summer to take advantage of where we get to live.

April: Long weekend to Hood River, OR, to visit some friends and do a road trip test run with Lucy. We took our road bikes and did a cool ride on the old Columbia Gorge Hwy. And saw lots of cool waterfalls!

May: Two-Week trip to Colorado. Biggest adventure was the transmission going out on the car a mile from Dave’s parents house… Wedding. Biking. Lots of friends and grandparents. Needed a vacation from this vacation.

June: Skied on Logan Pass. It finally stopped raining, so we took advantage of the last weekend in June and went to Glacier National Park with some friends. Lucy (9 months) and Cooper (age 3 months at the time) took their first ski. Lucy slept in the backpack the whole time. We were all quite the sight at the visitor’s center – skis always get double takes in the summer from tourists, but add two babies to the mix? We got more stares and pictures taken of us than I think the bears did that day…

July: First attempt of a camping trip in Helena. Successful if only because we got to camp so late that Lucy was already asleep. But she slept all night! Laura watched Lucy on Saturday so Dave and I could go bike the Helena Ridge Trail. The next weekend, Patrick and Loni came up from Bozeman and we went to Stone Hill and did a full day of climbing and kid wrangling. Camping attempt #2 was foiled by not remembering the tent…

August: Grandparent staycation! While my mom was visiting, we planned a mini getaway which ended up just being a full day in the Park. What we thought was a simple summiting a peak (like one with a trail…) was a full day of scree scramble on Mt. Siyeh. Hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it was stunning, amazing, and I never have to do it again. Then a more manageable hike to Link Lake. Lucy spent lots of time swimming in lakes in August, and had a rash to prove it.

September: Lucy’s 1st Birthday party, but even bigger was the CINO HEROICA! We’ve been trying to do the Cino ride from Kila to Hot Springs for 3 years now, and finally pulled it off. 110 Miles of mostly dirt roads. Dave road 60 miles, and I road the return at 50 miles. The Land Cruiser was one of the support vehicles so whoever was driving still got to be involved. Lunch of salami, cheese, bread, wine and tiramisu was awesome. The next weekend Dave adventured on a bike epic with a friend, so Lucy and I had our own adventures at home, including a bout with the flu. Then we climbed Mt Aeneas in the Jewel Basin for Lucy’s first peak.

And there are still three more days left until October!

Oh, Canada – Nelson/Whitewater Ski Trip

February 2, 2012

The Alpine Motel was our base for the weekend. A short 10 blocks to Nelson's city core, it was a great spot.

One of my favorite reasons to live in NW Montana is the proximity to Canada. Before I moved to Whitefish, I had never been to our northern neighbor, but now I’m addicted. Having Fernie under 2 hours away fills the need for when I’m craving steep slopes and Indian/Thai food.

We ventured to Nelson, BC this past weekend for our first trip away from home with Lucy. Five hours to the Northwest, Nelson is a little creative hamlet in the Kootenays. Surrounded by lakes and mountains, it has a similar vibe to Whitefish. We came here a few years ago for a backcountry yurt trip, and I was excited to return and spend a bit more time in town.

Our ski destination was Whitewater, just a short drive from town. Dave and I split the weekend up so we each got to ski a day and babysit a day. I took my day to hang out in Nelson. I relaxed in the hotel watching TV (that alone is like a vacation!) and knit while Lucy napped and then we took a walk downtown and explored the shops and tastes of Nelson. The community is very ‘hippie’ and many of the restaurants have an organic or vegetarian leaning. I had lunch at the Kootenay Bakery & Cafe with a bowl of curry soup, a panini grilled cheese and a steaming cup of Matcha (a great alternative when I don’t want more coffee…paired with almond milk, it was delicious).

I couldn't decide what flavors to take back to the crew, so I got one of each!

A trip to NYC back in 2008 got us hooked on cupcakes (thanks Magnolia), and so I was delighted to find a local cupcake shop! Flavors like Dark Chocolate Raspberry and Espresso were tempting, but I had to go with the Chocolate with Salty Carmel frosting. And oh it didn’t disappoint. I bought a 6-pack of mini cupcakes to take back to the crew for a post skiing snack.

The finale of my culinary adventure on Saturday was dinner at Baba’s Indian Cuisine. Like I said, I have to go to Canada to get Indian food! The rest of the crew was exhausted from a full day of powder skiing, so we hit the sack early for day two and my turn to ski!

After a quick stop at Nelson favorite Oso Negro coffee in the morning, we headed to the hill. It snowed 7″ the night before, and there was a freestyle comp happening at the mountain, so the parking lot was full. Dave set up camp in the lodge with Lucy and the rest of us headed up the lift. The snow was great, and most of the ‘runs’ are tree skiing – not a lot of cut trails. The trees were nicely spaced and so it was fun to just rip through them! Unfortunately, since it had snowed so much, patrol was doing avy control on some of the more extreme terrain. But we got plenty of steep lines and long fall lines to satisfy. Whitewater still has the mom and pop resort feel, but it was bought a few years ago by a development company, and the plans in the lodge show a large development plan including high-speed lifts and lodging. So it was great to be able to experience the mountain as it is currently.

Coffee Break at Oso Negro

Looking forward to a return trip in the future with a longer stay to explore the side country and a visit to the hot springs north of town!

Lucy was at home hanging with Dad in the ski lodge

Addy (at 37 weeks pregnant) and I on the lift.

Adventures with Lucy

December 3, 2011

I spent all my twenties convinced I’d never have kids. I’ve never been a baby person, so the thought of having one I was responsible for wasn’t appealing. Well that thing called the biological clock started ticking when I hit 30, and while I still wasn’t into the baby thing, I do like older kids, and I figured when I got to be a real adult, it would be nice to have my own family.

So now at age 32, I have Lucy. Three months ago she entered our lives after 42 weeks of incubating. I’m smart enough to know that having a baby is drastically changing our lives, but determined not to let it steer. I’m counting down the days when I can put ski boots on her and get a Stryder bike. She already spends more time in the Chariot than she does the car seat; and a PeaPod seat for the Xtracycle is on the wish list.

And she has the added benefit of being born in Montana.

So while quick day trips to ski in Fernie may be far and few in between, there are still plenty of adventures to be had.


Shuttle Babe

Adventures in Cooking from Scratch

July 28, 2011

We’ve been on a mission to reduce the amount of pre-packaged and processed food consumed at home, therefore making as much from scratch from possible. I also want to make all my own baby food when the little monster starts to eat solid food, so its been a good test of skill and time management…

This task seemed very daunting at first, but with a little creativity and this wonderful thing called the Internet to find recipes, it hasn’t been too terrible. First I started with making my own granola, which after burning a few batches in my 1970s oven, have finally almost mastered. Having a CSA this summer from the great people at Ten Lakes Farm in Eureka has also been an adventure in vegetables. How many ways can you use a head of cabbage?? We’ve also joined a chicken CSA and so get two locally raised full chickens each month (thankfully plucked and gutted). The meal I’ve been the most proud of? South Carolina Pulled Chicken sandwiches made with the local chicken, buns from Wheat Montana, and topped with a coleslaw made entirely from scratch with cabbage from the CSA and a homemade dressing. Delicious! Darned if I didn’t take a picture of it… Next time.

Tonight I tried out a black bean burger recipe I’ve had for awhile. Made crock-pot black beans over the weekend (once you make your own, canned beans are so gross), and made patties just like you would a hamburger with the addition of red onion, breadcrumbs (homemade!), eggs, and threw it in the broiler for a few minutes! Much easier than I thought. My goal is to make a pot of beans every weekend as they are so useful, and like always, quesadillas are my fall back meal.

The raspberry bushes in the yard are ripening, and rumor is the hucks are in too! Next up, foraging for berries. Huckleberry Rhubarb crisp may be the next thing on the menu.

The Unexpected side of Sub-par recycling

April 11, 2010

One of the few dissapointments I’ve had in Montana is the recycling available. I can recycle aluminum, plastic 1 & 2, newspaper and magazines, cardboard. Better than Carbondale 5 years ago, but the lack of glass and tin can recycling kind of drives me bonkers. I wanted to come to Montana because it’s “Colorado 10 years ago,” so not sure why I was expecting some state-of-the-art recycling systems.

But there is a flip side to this “issue.” I’ve been trying to become less dependant on packaged goods. And buying boxed wine is more Eco-friendly with its cardboard rather than glass, and not because I’m cheap….right? Our local grocery store has a fantastic bulk food selection. I’ve been getting dried beans to rehydrate, black pepper in ziplocs (refillable), and I’ve made a commitment to start chopping my own tomatos rather than the easy petite diced (although I don’t think I’ve ever diced anything “petite”). Ideally we’ll have our own house this summer to actually grow the tomatos! And I’ve learned how to make my own broth out of veggie scraps.

Today I baked my own bread with Wheat Montana flour, made granola, and we tried our hand at homemade mozerella (using milk from Victor, MT). So while it pains me to throw that can or glass beer bottle away (thank you New Belgium for making “Sunshine in a can,” now just need to find some up here), at least I can source many of my items locally. I can’t wait for the farmers market with the Flathead cherries, and getting some Farm-to-Market pork (next to my favorite local bike trails, Pig Farms), and growing our own peppers so I don’t have to have my mom keep sending up green chili from Colorado.

This is not to toot my own horn on sustainability, but I’m a bit excited with the challenge of massively reducing my waste. Now, to find that electric scooter to get me up the hill to work.

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