Orcas Island

We left Friday Harbour on a ferry and headed to Orcas Island.  We didn’t have confirmation of a place to stay that night.  We had contacted one of the few places that may have some vacancy, so we took a chance.  When we arrived, we drove the peaceful, quiet road, easily sinking into the slow pace of everything and everyone around us.  We found the one small ‘main town’ and a lovely breakfast.  How delightful!! The food was tremendous, the view was spectacular, and who knew what the day held?  After our adventures in escaping from the blazing fires in Oregon (Burning Eyes of Fire) we were definitely ready to turn over a new page on our road trip!

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Choosing to Face the Impossible

Henry Ford Quote

Henry nailed it on the head.  You can, literally, talk yourself into or out of anything.  It is up to you.  I could not have had any more of a lesson on this than the day that I found myself at the bottom of a famous mountain, broken, terrified, and in tears.

Alpe d’Huez is a very famous mountain that has made many appearances in the Tour de France.  Composed of a series of 21 switchbacks winding their way up from the valley to the peak, this mountain is not something to take lightly.Alpe d'Huez switchbacks

When I showed up at Alpe d’Huez, I was not an experienced cyclist, I was not an athlete, I was not in the type of physical condition that one should be to ascend such a monstrous beast.

I had a choice.  I could not even try.  I could simply give up and declare that I needed to find a way to get back up to the top of the mountain without using my own two feet.  Or, I could try.  I had travelled all that way.  I was at the base of a very famous mountain.  I did not know if I would ever be back there.  Crying is great – it relieves a lot of tension.  Allowing myself to completely break down, be honest about my fear, and to fully take stock of my situation, took me to the conclusion that there was only one option.  I had to try.  By choosing to face my fear, I found a mental resilience that I didn’t know was there.

Alpe d'Huez Book Snippet 2
Snippet from Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

I was willing my body up the side of the of mountain, one stretch at a time.  Any progress I made was a result of mind over matter.  Logically, I should not have been able to ascend.  There is nothing logical about will power…it allows you to will yourself to do what seems impossible.  When you completely decide to do something, when you choose to believe that you will, is when you really put things into motion.

Alpe d'Huez Book Snippet 3
Snippet from Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

My journey was nothing as smooth or graceful as the one shown here, by the famous Pantani who holds the record.  My journey was one of struggle, brute force, and putting one foot in front of the other.  I made my own valiant attempt, in my own way.  It wasn’t pretty, but it was one that I will never forget, and one that changed me forever.  The day that I chose to climb a mountain, I chose pain, I chose to suffer, and I chose to find my inner strength.

Check out my Alpe d’Huez climb page for more details about the cycling route, where to stay, and my personal experience with this amazing mountain.

Want to read the full story? Find it here: Just a Girl and a Bike – The Book

Mountain Man

fortress-vern

I met Vern in an office environment.  We were both in the same role, sat close together, and had the habit of arriving early.  Thus, we quickly got to know a little about each other.

Vern was immediately a very interesting person to me.  It quickly became apparent that he was a ‘no nonsense’, get the job done, kind of guy.  I soon learned that Vern had some very interesting life passions.  One of them being to summit mountains on a regular basis. When I first learned of this, I was instantly fascinated.

I have had the amazing opportunity to summit a variety of peaks on my bike.  Vern was a man who summited monstrous beasts by climbing with his hands and feet.  Continue reading “Mountain Man”

A Smooth Riding Companion: Dehnis B DelaCruz

{My feature series on those who have inspired me on my journey continues and stays strong.  Today I introduce you to an amazing rider who supported me and helped my confidence to grow.  If you are curious, be sure to check out this Slowburn post.}

The alarm starting beeping way too early, but out of bed I leaped.  I was pumped.  I had been waiting all week for this.  This morning, I would be joining my beloved Slowburn group once again after many years.

The feat would not be easy.  We would be doing the famous Great Western Loop – A.K.A. GWL.  This ride would see us climb almost 1200 metres and cover nearly 70 km.  The climbing starts almost immediately, and most of it is accomplished in the first 2/3 of the ride.  So,  you literally feel like you are climbing, climbing, climbing…

As the group began to gather, a felt a twinge of excitement edged with a bit of nervousness.  No matter how many rides I completed, I just never knew exactly how I would feel until I started pedaling.  So many things can happen in cycling, so you just never really know what a ride is going to be like.  It seemed like it wasn’t that long ago that I couldn’t even fathom riding a road bike, never mind take on the ride that I was about to embark on.

SlowBurn
Me, Matt Tabaya to my right, Dennis Caco and James Hiner up front.  Dehnis was behind us, and took this beautiful photo.

 

Continue reading “A Smooth Riding Companion: Dehnis B DelaCruz”

A New Adventure: Chamonix Part II

Chamonix Town 15

One day, my husband declared that he had read about a hiking trail called the ‘Tour de Mont Blanc’ which starts in France and passes through Italy and Switzerland.  According to National Geographic it was one of best hikes in the world.  He showed me videos of picturesque trails and breathtaking mountain views.  Thus, the seedlings had been planted for our first hiking trip.  Our usual forte was cycling, so this would be a brand new adventure for us. Continue reading “A New Adventure: Chamonix Part II”

An Island Cycling Adventure

Me on the COAST

Years ago my husband, James, went on a cycling tour of the Sunshine Coast.  He was eager to do it again, this time with me.  Over nine days we cycled a circular loop along the ocean, covering multiple islands on the west coast of Canada.

The cycling tour was not without some challenges, however, it was the kind of cycling that took me back to the days when I was first introduced to this fabulous activity.  Every morning the first clothes we put on were bib shorts and cycling jerseys.  We wore this gear all day until we were at our next location, and checked into the accommodations for the night.  We often enjoyed a café break, and sometimes even a post ride beer in our less than fresh cycling kits.  They became part of our daily routine once again. Continue reading “An Island Cycling Adventure”

Don’t Give Up On Yourself

IMG_2851Don’t give up on yourself.  No one else has.

If you read my post ‘Saying Farewell to the Silver Strand’, you will recall that I was quite happy about the progress I had made riding the flatter, faster routes.  I was super excited that I had really started to become comfortable riding on my husband James’ wheel.  I have done a lot of riding with him over the years, but the winter of 2016 was the first time that I had really been able to stick so close to him so much of the time.  My Silver Strand post was a celebration of this accomplishment, and also a bit of a sad goodbye to sunny San Diego. Continue reading “Don’t Give Up On Yourself”