Family

PTSD from that time my parents tried to kill me with fish

About six weeks ago, my parents invited Andrew and me over for Sunday dinner. “I’m marinating hamburgers and a salmon burger for you,” my father said excitedly.

Then they cancelled a few hours before, because they do not love their only child.

Dinner was rescheduled for the following Sunday. “I’m still marinating those hamburgers,” my father said. “They’ll be so flavorful!”

We gathered for dinner; everybody ate their beef burgers while I had my salmon patty (which had been marinated and cooked separately). It was flavorful: brimming with the delicious flavor of fish. Nobody else tried the salmon.

The next evening, I started feeling badly. I crawled into bed early, hoping it would pass, but soon became horribly ill. To briefly and non-graphically summarize the subsequent five hours: I exploded and begged for death to come take me away. Andrew watched sympathetically, because marriage means you cannot run screaming when your spouse is disgusting.

Eventually we concluded that medical intervention was required. While I was a biohazard in motion, Andrew was kind enough to load me into the car without requiring that I climb into a trash bag first. Then we spent 8 hours in the emergency room. Apparently Virginia is not a Death with Dignity state, which is how I am still here writing this post today.

Thankfully the episode passed eventually and I recovered. When my father and I met for sushi (oh, the irony) a week later, we put the pieces together and discovered that the salmon burger was the culprit. Apparently the package of frozen burgers clearly says “DO NOT DEFROST” but my parents were like, hey, let’s not only defrost this bad boy, but leave it thawed for a week before feeding it to our kid. When I saw my mother the next day and mentioned that she tried to kill me with a fish patty, my usually doting mother replied, “Hm. Really? Hm. So anyway…”

I love you, Mom. And, Dad, that marinade was great. But next time, let’s do meatloaf.

So fast forward to yesterday, when my roommate joined Costco and brought home a huge bag of frozen salmon fillets. She excitedly offered to thaw a fillet for me and while my first instinct was to scream NO WAY, PLEASE DON’T KILL ME, I said sure, that sounds great, I have a few extra pounds that I can’t wait to crap out violently.

The fish was waiting for me in the refrigerator around dinnertime, but I couldn’t bring myself to commit. It wasn’t until after getting home from my Target date with Julie at 9pm (yes, that’s a thing, Target is wonderful) that I had to face the music and cook the salmon, or risk letting in sit in the fridge overnight and become rife with fatal diseases. The package said to bake it for 15-20 minutes, so I baked it for 35 minutes and then set it on fire for good measure.

Okay, not that last part, but only because it was late and I didn’t want to set the smoke alarm off. Once the salmon cooled from an internal temperature that rivaled the sun, I took a deep breath, ate half of it, and then waited. It has now been 24 hours and everything seems to be okay internally, so I just microwaved the other half (for so long that it partly exploded and partly caramelized) and ate it.

This is the definition of living on the edge.

Posted on in Family, Life, Travel 1 Comment

Reunited and it feels so good

Life here in Tucson is great! I’m just sitting here at the kitchen table, stress eating and waiting for the locksmith to arrive. My car keys are missing and after ransacking the house and dumpster diving the neighbor’s rolling trash can (try to look dignified while doing that), I’ve resorted to calling a professional. The $46 fee is spent at this point, so now I’m really hoping the keys are locked in the car. If not, I will be devastated that my keys are still missing because I will have no way to go buy the alcohol required to move past this.

Other than the obvious, things are good. I did the famous Shootout group ride on Saturday morning and while I wanted to die a million deaths during the ride, my first thought after it ended was that I couldn’t wait to do it again. Sunday was a sufferfest up Mt. Lemmon, noteworthy for the glorious moment around mile marker 9 when another cyclist called out, “I love your blog!” and for the fact that I neither cried nor panicked on the descent. It probably had something to do with the planned post-ride stop at Le Buzz; my subconscious was all, GET ME THE EFF OFF THIS MOUNTAIN AND TO THE COFFEE.

On Monday I drove back to Phoenix to do my time trial bike fit at Cyclologic. It felt like going home; I showed up in sweats, Steve brought me a cup of coffee, and I flopped onto the couch and started whining about being sore all over. Then I made it maybe an hour into the session before the snacks came out, and there was definitely a point where Steve had to tell me to put down the sandwich and get on the bike. In the end, we found a TT position that is as comfortable as one can be while hunched over a bicycle like an overeager frog. Steve probably really misses the quality time we spent together, but I’ll be back once more next week to flop all over the studio dramatically and talk about how my butt hurts.

Aside from training and the trip to Phoenix, things are pleasantly uneventful. The roommate and I spend 96% of our awake free time gathering, preparing, and consuming food and hot drinks. There is an overly sensitive smoke detector in the kitchen and I’ve learned that when it starts shrieking, that doesn’t mean the house is in flames; it merely means lunch is ready. This place is starting to feel like home, except that my dogs are a million miles away and nowhere will ever truly be home until it is covered in their fur. But this is a good place to be for now.

The locksmith just came and broke into the car, where I found the keys sitting in the trunk. Funny how a self-inflicted wound cost $46 and yet all I feel now is joy and relief. As my roommate put it, “Less than the cost of a night at the theater and probably feels even better.”

2015 Julie and Angry Grandma

Julie is adorable at Stella Java, but Angry Grandma does not approve.

2015 At Stella with Jules x 3

The more Julie, the merrier.

2015 The Shootout

We survived the Shootout, but thank god that guy in the back had the good sense to carry extra water.

2015 New Kits

Hooray for our new Sugoi team kits! Hooray for the end of labial abrasions!

2015 The Dinner

This is what I’ve had for dinner almost every night for the past two weeks, except that the pile gets bigger every day. A week from now, I’ll be serving dinner on a hubcap.

2015 Jules on the Ride

Riding with Julie makes everything more fun, even when there is a relentless headwind and a long uphill grind.

2015 Bike Food Fail

I had this brilliant idea to make mochi to eat during rides – tasty! cheap! easy to digest! – except that I ended up with golf ball-sized blobs of rock hard rice phlegm. They look terrible, but at least they taste…….terrible.

2015 Jules Wins The Ride

The crankier I got on the ride, the more cheerful Julie got. When we ended up adding an extra 10 miles to the trip home and I prepared to throw my bike into a ravine and punch squirrels, Julie bubbled over with joy.

2015 Drafting

I shamelessly hitched a ride on this guy’s wheel to get home after Julie turned off. Also, see that chick off to the right dressed like it’s snowing? It’s nearly 60 degrees. Tucson considers this to be cold.

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Life, The Pets, Travel 1 Comment

You made my dreams come true so here are some nice socks

This trip has already been amazing – while I’ve written about many of the wonderful moments here, there is so much more that has been left unsaid. I feel like a different person than I was a month ago. Happier, lighter, more confident, more relaxed. I’ve met so many new people and dropped into so many different places and lives. It’s give me a chance to let go of many of the bad habits and dead weight I was carrying around at home. Instead of wishing my life were something bigger or feeling angry that it’s not more like I’d hoped, I’m getting the opportunity to make it everything I’ve ever wanted.

Holy shit, that feels good. I feel so lucky to have this be my life right now.

It’s not all luck, though. I have people – my parents, my coach, my friends and teammates – who are making this possible and being part of the experience in a way that makes it so much richer. There aren’t enough postcards or thank you notes to express how much I appreciate the love and support these people provide each day. When I’m homesick or uncertain, these people make those feelings disappear.

But none of this would even be possible without my husband. Without Andrew, I would still be at home watching the house, walking the dogs, and riding the trainer each day. Without Andrew, I would have to actually remember how long I like my crank arms and what tires I need. Without Andrew, I would not have the absolute certainty that wherever I go, regardless of distance or time, I am not alone. He drives me crazy sometimes and drinks too much soda and buys too much Rapha, but he is my person and has made it possible for me to live this dream. I will never be able to truly express how grateful I am for that…but I’m sure Rapha would be happy to help me try.

Wedding Day

Posted on in Cycling, Family, Life, Travel 1 Comment

In which we address labial abrasions

Monday morning after Valley of the Sun, I had a bike fit scheduled at Cyclologic in Scottsdale. My appointment was with Steve Merz, Lead Cycling Analyst, but Paraic McGlynn, founder and Chief Technologist, came in to provide input (and make dry, delightful comments like, “Hm. You have Bont-shaped feet.”). The session was awesome; they made a lot of adjustments that already feel like improvements. I also got to hear phrases like “bony protuberance” and “labial abrasion” all day, and the guys were polite enough to ignore my inability to stop giggling. We didn’t have time to start working on my TT fit, so I’m going back this upcoming Monday for another visit and to discuss the updated state of my bony protuberances.

I love elite athletics because instead of seeing the body as a thing about which to be shy and modest, it becomes merely a machine that we analyze and discuss openly. Having two men I met hours earlier talk about the chafed state of my girl parts should be awkward, except that by this point in my cycling career, it seems like talking about the weather.

Now I’m settled in Tucson for two weeks to train and eat tamales. I’m living with a retired psychiatrist, something I didn’t find out until we started talking my first night in her house. When she mentioned it, I thought, “okay, be cool, she is your roommate, not your MD,” and vowed to not bring up any of my issues. Then like 40 seconds later I was talking about feelings while thinking SHUTUPSHUTUP this poor lady does not want to psychoanalyze you in her kitchen at 9pm.

She’s been a great housemate; quiet and clean with a penchant for healthy eating that puts my habits to shame. She also recycles and composts, practices which bring into stark relief how much trash I actually generate in a day. I’m a tidy person by nature, so it’s not like I’m exploding all over her house, but the trash and dirty dish output has quadrupled since my arrival. Her regular dishes are also too small for the vast quantities of food I pack away in a single sitting, so I’ve taken to using her mixing bowls to eat my meals. She doesn’t bat an eye when I’m eating breakfast out of a bucket or flopping around on the floor doing corework in my snowman boxers, so this arrangement seems to be a success.

I’ve spent the past three days riding Mt. Lemmon, which is great for training and measuring the size of my penis against all of the other male cyclists on the mountain. Yesterday Coach Sue had me doing interval repeats from mile 0-5 of the climb, and on my first set, I passed a group of cyclists and collected three that sat on my wheel for an extended stretch. When I slowed for the rest between intervals, one of the men pulled around me and said, “Hang in there! Good job!” I didn’t have a hand free to punch him in the nuts, so I settled for saying “THANKS” and then promptly dropped him when the next interval started.

Pro tip, boys: try to keep your patronization in your pants.

The mountain is a beautiful place, both because of the scenery and because of what it allows you to find in yourself. There is no hiding on Mt. Lemmon; the grade is almost entirely uphill for 20-something miles. The suffering is lovely and every time you think that surely you cannot climb another foot, you do anyway. And by the time you finish descending the mountain, it seems like doing it all over again wouldn’t be that bad and possibly even fun.

It’s like all of bike racing rolled into one ride. Beautiful, painful, and an excellent excuse to eat everything ever.

2015 Cyclologic 1

The Cyclologic shop with a window into the fit studio.

2015 Cyclologic 2

Steve getting intimate with my bike in the fit studio.

2015 Cyclologic Bike Fit

Nothing makes me feel more like a misshapen troll than watching slow-motion videos of me riding.

2015 The Pelvis

Steve looked over while I was taking this picture and said, “You’re nose deep in a men’s pelvis. I have a woman’s pelvis if you want to act like a baby coming through the birth canal.” After that, he was my favorite.

2015 Mt Lemmon View 2

The beginning stretch of Mt. Lemmon.

2015 Mt Lemmon View 1

More Mt. Lemmon. If you look off to the right, that long ribbon of road is Catalina Highway, the access road between Tucson and Lemmon.

2015 Appropriate Signage

An appropriate sign, considering my continued proliferation of post-cold phlegm. The upside is that I have plenty of ammo with which to assault unsuspecting wheelsuckers.

2015 Cactus Revenge for Terzan

After my teammate Terzan was attacked by a cactus ball during a roadside peeing mishap, I sought revenge on her behalf.

2015 At The Bar

Julie had a brilliant idea for filling up this empty bar with me, me, and more me in a photo.

2015 Tan Lines

What good are early season tanlines if nobody back home is going to see them in the flesh until May, when everybody is already tan??

2015 ToC Promo Event

Julie went to the Tour of California team and route announcement event yesterday and stole the show with her charm and winning smile.

Posted on in Cycling, Life 3 Comments

Three cheers for not quitting

If I could go back 12 months and tell myself something, I would say, “This season will not be what you expect or want, but it is what you need to grow up on and off the bike.”

If I could go back 6 months, I would say, “Don’t give up (and stop crying, for christ’s sake). Things are about to work out and this will all have been worth it.” I might also recommend taking a pass on that bird tattoo.

If I could go back 3 weeks, I would say, “What you are about to do will be totally worth it. This is what it means to live the dream.”

On stage 3 of Valley of the Sun, we pulled off a 2nd place finish for Sarah and a 4th place GC finish for Laura. The crit was fast and fantastic – it was too exciting for me to even register how shitty I felt, except for a few instances of hacking and coughing that got quizzical looks from other riders. Don’t mind me; I just quit smoking last week. Twenty16 kept the pace high while FCS/Visit Dallas threw out multiple attacks, so I just had to ride the wave at the front and make sure Sarah and Laura were set up as needed. I loved this race. After burning my last match at one to go to help Sarah position for the sprint, I jumped on the sidewalk and rushed back to the finish to see the end. It was so thrilling to watch my teammate sprint her ass off against a huge field to finish so well. The three of us played our hand as best we could and I wouldn’t be more proud if we’d won the whole damn thing.

I’m also proud of myself for being the racer I was this past weekend. The person who cried through starts and dropped out of everything seems long gone. Sure, I still get nervous as hell, and yes, I cried a little when I started to warm up on the last day. But this time it was because I was sad to still be sick, to be away from home, and to be saying goodbye to my teammates later that day. And then the tears passed and the racing started and holy SHITBALLS it was great. I am so glad the people in my life made sure I stayed in the sport long enough to get to this place.

2015 Julie the Baller Soigneur

Julie was a kick-ass soigneur, always with ice cold diet sodas and a pacifier on hand. You know, just in case I got too fussy.

2015 Laura and the Sprinklers

Laura fell over laughing about a lady getting drenched when the automatic sprinkler system near the crit course came on.

2015 Taillight

I’ve now done a crit and a full stage race with my taillight still on. Not seeing a reason to stop now.

2015 VOS Stage 3 Podium

Sarah on the podium for stage 3!

2015 VOS GC Podium

Laura finished 4th on the GC! Also, this may be the first 20-deep podium I’ve ever seen.

2015 Pepper Love

So much love on this team. And beer. Lots of beer.

2015 VOS and that's a wrap

After the racing was done and the cars were packed and everybody left, I needed a moment to sit down, take a breath, and eat the scrambled eggs and kale that had been in my car for five hours. While the eggs weren’t exactly delicious (or sanitary) by that point, it was really nice to just be there, leaning against my car on a gorgeous day, thinking about the awesome things we had just done and everything that is still to come.

2015 Terzan and the Art

This was hanging above the bed in my Tempe hotel room. Seriously. WTF? Some hotel employee must have brought this in and been like, “yeah, my preschooler made this but it’s too ugly for the fridge, you take it.”

2015 Balcony View

The view from the top-floor balcony. After the team left Phoenix, I spent a free night at the Graduate Tempe, compliments of a prime we won in race last weekend. Who says bike racing doesn’t pay?!?!

2015 AZ Sunrise

The upside to waking up before sunrise is this. (And only this.)

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Life, Travel 1 Comment

Phoenix Rising

It’s been nearly a week of living in Phoenix and because I am an asshole with a short-term memory, I’ve pretty much forgotten that everybody back home is still suffering miserably through a chilly winter. As a sign in our condo says, “Phoenix: Where Summer Spends Winter” (but then goes on to say “…and where Hell Spends Summer.”) It’s so nice to ride in shorts and cultivate my sunburn! And now that I have made enemies of you all with my bragging, I will mention that I have a cold, it hurts to breathe, and I’m hacking up phlegmballs. See? There is fairness in life after all.

The week has been uneventful, aside from the part where we’re all living off zinc, emergen-C, and paranoia. It’s almost a relief to already be sick because when you are in team housing, it’s only a matter of time. At least I have stopped waiting and started suffering already. This is what is called trying to find the silver lining.

We have found a new home in town at Bicycle Haus, a place to buy all of the fancy bicycle things and get great coffee. The people there are very nice and welcoming (HI JOHN), even after I kept showing up with more riders and more requests. I am excited to show Andrew the shop when he comes to Phoenix, right after I steal his wallet so that he is unable to buy everything. That is the best part of being a wife: I get to crush hopes and dreams every day.

Today we are visiting a Pepper Palace store to spread sponsor love (and probably this virus as well). Then tomorrow comes the first stage of Valley of the Sun. I have worked all winter for this day – the first stage race of the season, the first opportunity to throw down in a TT after months of training – and now I don’t even know if I will be able to start. It sucks and I don’t want to make the wrong decision, but here is what I do know for sure: regardless of what happens, I want to race my damn bike. When I look back on where I was at this time a year ago, how I was broken down and anxious and wanting to run away from racing, I feel so happy to be here now, even with this shitty cold. Because this cold will pass and I’ll be able to breathe normally again in a few days, but this confidence that has finally returned isn’t going anywhere.

2015 Zanna and Lindsay in Team Housing

Aside from getting each other sick, this is what we do in our down time.

2015 Lindsay in Team Housing

And this.

2015 Peppers Racing Sun Devil

Jeffrey Buchanan was kind enough to share his great race photos from the Sun Devil Criterium

2015 Lindsay Bayer Sun Devil Crit

Let’s call that expression a ‘smile of exertion’ as I try to make this solo break stick.

2015 Sarah!

We talked about The Land Before Time the other night and concluded that Sarah the Sprinter and Sarah the Dinosaur occasionally look very much alike.

2015 Defeated by the gate

We are staying in a gated community and sometimes the gate is smarter than us.

2015 Zanna and John at Bicycle Haus

On our visit to Bicycle Haus, we got the VIP treatment with fancy coffee made in the shop espresso bar. Then Suzanna tried to touch all of the nice equipment.

2015 Zanna and Lindsay at Bicycle Haus

Coffee tastes better out of a $60 mug.

2015 Sarah and Zanna AZ Ride

Phoenix is lovely. What you can’t see in this photo is the headwind that nearly cracked me yesterday. It was one of those rides where nothing feels good and I almost shrieked with frustration and tossed the bike into the shrubs.

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Day 8 in which the red rocks rocked me

Journey: Flagstaff, AZ to Phoenix, AZ
Number of times I gave the finger: Wait, was I driving? Thought I was just sightseeing…
Cups of coffee: Another Peritus French press with breakfast, a few ounces of Coffee Slingers cold brew chugged before riding, and a Starbucks Americano with an epic view.
Low point of the day: Loaded down with heavy bags and a dripping rotisserie chicken, I wandered around the housing complex in Phoenix trying to find Unit 214 as my pants started to fall down and tears of frustration started. Somebody finally took pity on me and offered to help.

It was unseasonably warm in Flagstaff, AZ yesterday, so instead of driving down south to ride, I used the route just outside town recommended by my Airbnb host. He described it as an out-and-back along a single road. Normally I don’t like out-and-back routes because the temptation to go back is stronger than the urge to go out, but this was one of the most perfect, scenic roads I’d ever ridden and I was pretty much ready to keep going until Mexico.

After the ride, I changed clothes on the side of the road because modesty doesn’t exist when you live out of your car. Then I drove to Sedona along one of the most breathtaking routes I’d ever seen. The magnitude of the scenery was so great that I had to turn off the music and stop eating just to take it all in, things I generally wouldn’t stop doing unless I were dead.

Once I reached Sedona, it was time for more coffee and a visit to Bike & Bean. It’s so weird that people don’t fall all over themselves with awe when I walk into a bike shop (“OMFG, IT’S LINDSAY BAYER, FAMOUS PROFESSIONAL CYCLIST!”) but that will probably change soon, right about the time I get filthy rich from this career. And at least I got another free sticker.

2015 Day 8 Snowy AZ

The struggle is real, people. There is SNOW on the ground here.

2015 Day 8 View at the turnaround

That thing where you ride 20 miles out on the same road and turn around to see that this has been behind you the whole time.

2015 Day 8 I love this ride

Selfies are overplayed. Sure. But there are times that I want to be able to relive over and over, so this photo exists to remind me of this perfect moment on this perfect ride. I was so happy right then.

2015 Day 8 Lindsay Bayer Joy for AZ!

THIS HAPPY

2015 Day 8 Sedona Vista

One of the many astonishing vistas on the drive to Sedona.

2015 Day 8 89a

Do you see everything going on here? The peaks, the red rocks, the cliffs, the trees, the river below? Holy crap. It was nearly impossible to process in person. I could have stood there for a month and not gotten enough.

2015 Day 8 No Parking

I parked and got out so many times during the drive that it probably would have been quicker to just walk to Sedona.

2015 Day 8 Meat Bar

Nothing like staying fueled with what turned out to be the equivalent of a meat fruit roll-up.

2015 Day 8 Red Rocks

Dear Arizona, I love you.

2015 Day 8 Afternoon Delight

There are worse places for a coffee break.

2015 Day 8 Bike Shop

The famous Bike & Bean shop in Sedona and the newest sticker addition to the growing collection on my dashboard.

2015 Day 8 The Value of Sunscreen

SUNS OUT, GUNS OUT. Apparently when you ride in short sleeves at 7k feet of elevation on a sunny day with no sunscreen, you are rewarded with lobster arms.

Posted on in Cycling, Life, Travel 5 Comments

Day 7 in which I change my favorite color to terra cotta

Journey: Albuquerque, NM to Flagstaff, AZ
Number of times I gave the finger: It was dark for much of my drive, so why bother?
Cups of coffee: One mug brewed by Mr. JBV himself; strong, dark, delicious. The man has eight different ways to brew coffee in his kitchen, so I expected nothing less than perfection.
Biggest accomplishment: I peeled and ate 2 hardboiled eggs while driving. Didn’t take my eyes off the road, didn’t drop below 80mph, didn’t eat any shell. HELL YEAH. This is going on my resume.

After leaving Canyon, TX, I drove to Albuquerque, NM (which I spell by typing “albuququq” and waiting for autocorrect to step in) to spend the night at John Verheul‘s house. We’d previously only interacted online, but when he saw I was driving west, he kindly offered to host me. After telling my parents that I planned to spend the week in strangers’ homes that I booked through a website, telling them that I was staying with a guy from Twitter seemed almost normal.

John was a great host; we chatted at length after I arrived and he managed to mock me for being both old and young. Talented man. He was gone by the time I got up the next morning, but left me a cup of coffee and provided a great route to ride. I repaid his kindness by scrubbing his toilet with his toothbrush. No prob, John, happy to help.

Because I had a specific workout to do, I started the ride on the trainer in John’s driveway, much to the bemusement of his neighbor, the mailman, and the random dude handing out fliers door-to-door. (The flier guy had the good sense to stick the paper in the fence versus handing it to me; pretty sure my DO NOT SPEAK TO ME OR I WILL KILL YOU face and the gasping/sweating/grunting scared him away). Once the workout was done, I went out on the road for a few hours and fell completely in love with Albuquerque. Everything is basically a shade of beige/terra cotta, but it manages to be absolutely beautiful all the same. I waved and smiled at strangers, I took pictures, I motorpaced with a friendly landscaping truck.

On the way out of town, I picked up food at the New Mexican place John recommended and pulled over at a particularly scenic spot to plop down on the pavement and eat. There are times on this trip where I’ve thought about not doing things because they make me look weird or ridiculous, but I’ve gone out of my way to not care or hold back. Those times usually end up being the ones I remember the most.

2015 Day 7 Casa de JBV

Any doubt about being at the right house was erased when I saw this on the front door.

2015 Day 7 Driveway Training

I just can’t get enough of my trainer and what better way to enjoy a workout than to do it where all of John’s neighbors can watch and think his friends are strange?

2015 Day 7 Roadside Horse

After my intervals were done, I set out on the road to explore for a few hours and found gorgeous scenery and a life-sized metal horse.

2015 Day 7 Bernalillo

John gave me a route from Albuquerque to Bernalillo that was both easy to navigate and lovely.

2015 Day 7 Lindsay Bayer loves this lawn

Because John is a cranky old man, he told me STAY OFF MY LAWN and of course I didn’t. So lush! So green!

2015 Day 7 New Mexican Food

I was sent here to get excellent, authentic New Mexican food. Much enchilada, many tamale, so very good.

2015 Day 7 Roadside Dinner

I got my food to go and started the drive to Flagstaff, AZ. When I found an exit with a beautiful view, I pulled off, sat on the ground, and ate five pounds of New Mexican deliciousness. My massive meal looked small in the grand scheme of the landscape.

2015 Day 7 Hobo Paradise

The sign for this said “Scenic Vista” but I think they meant to say “Hobo Encampment”.

2015 Day 7 NM View 2

Once I climbed over a fence and hiked away from the hobo huts, the view did turn out to be quite scenic.

Day 7 Welcome to AZ

The photo quality is poor, but the concept is there: HOLY CRAP, I MADE IT TO ARIZONA.

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Day 6 in which I prevail upon the kindness of strangers

Journey: Canyon, TX to Albuquerque, NM
Number of times I gave the finger: None. Today was all hugs and puppies and candy.
Cups of coffee: 2 cups with my lovely Airbnb host and 1 latte from Palace Coffee Company, the warmest coffee shop I’ve ever visited.
Personal growth moment: Eating salmon out of a can at a gas station. Let’s do that again never.

Morning dawned warm and bright in Canyon, TX, which was great news for my plans to do a 4-hour ride into Palo Duro Canyon. Hooray! Sunshine! The weather app (WHICH I CHECKED, YES, I DID) said it was going to get cooler and windy in the afternoon, so I dressed accordingly and set out on my bike.

Admittedly, it was very windy. But with the sun shining, I warmed up quickly and stripped off my gloves and headband. Things seemed to be going well. Thirty minutes in, I started down the road to the canyon and the crosswind was aggressive, but it was cute to see tumbleweeds ripping across the road and I thought, “Gosh! This is an adventure!”

IDIOT.

Nearly 10 miles later, I’d reached the canyon area. The sun had disappeared, swallowed by what I’d thought were distant mountains but what turned out to be a huge wall of incoming dark clouds. The temperature plummeted and the wind picked up to the point that I was almost knocked over several times. Normal people would have turned around and gone home but you do not read this blog because I am normal.

I entered the official state park and started the descent into the canyon. It was a winding, steep road that would probably have been fun if I wasn’t bordering on hypothermic. While it seemed like I was digging the hole deeper and deeper, my logic was that I’d warm up as soon as I turned around and started the climb back out. Besides, I could hardly feel the wind in the canyon, so clearly that meant it was sheltered.

IDIOT.

When I turned around at the bottom, it was directly into a headwind. You know those moments in life, particularly on a ride, when you realize you are completely and totally screwed? I had that feeling right then. I’d have cried if I wasn’t afraid of making it sleet on my face. It didn’t help to see large paw prints in the loose red dirt near the road.

At that point, my only goal was to make it back to the tiny shop/cafe I’d seen on the way down, because at least there I could reflect on how badly I was fucked in the comfort of a heated building. It was nearly empty when I walked in, but then a few small groups trickled in, including a bunch of men in a sheriff’s truck. Everybody made comments like “rough day for a ride!” but I couldn’t bring myself to shriek YES! SAVE ME! Instead, I finished my cup of coffee and walked out to, I don’t know, ride off into the gloom and die?

It took about 8 seconds outside before I swallowed my pride, went back inside, and asked the sheriff for a ride to the top of the canyon. It seemed far too much to ask for a ride back to town, but I figured any time not spent riding would help. He was happy to oblige as soon as he finished some work, but then another man there walked up, said he was just camping and had nothing to do, and offered to drive me.

While he went to get his car, I chatted with the friendly sheriff (who turned out to be Chief Deputy Crump) and explained how I came to be riding a bike in the canyon that day. My story didn’t sound much better out loud – I do this for a job, I generally know how to check the weather, I am not a moron – but he was kind and shared interesting stories about his work. When my ride returned with his car, I heard Chief Deputy Crump quietly ask his partner to run the guy’s tags. They didn’t tell me they were doing it, but I was so touched by their concern for my safety.

Since they didn’t scream NO DON’T GO! when I walked out with the guy, I figured the news wasn’t bad. Honestly, I was anxious getting into the car with a stranger when I had no cell service and was armed only with Clif bars, but it seemed better to risk the possibility of being murdered over the certainty of hypothermia. When I finally had service again, I checked the weather to see that it had dropped from 52 degrees to 28 degrees with a wind chill of 14 degrees. I was wearing shorts and knee warmers. There was no way that could have ended well.

David (my good samaritan) insisted in not only driving me to the top of the canyon, but also the 15+ miles back to the house. We chatted along the way about how he is traveling around the country living out of an RV and when we arrived at my house, he helped unload the bike and went on his way. My host was waiting in the doorway – she had contacted me during the ride to see if I was okay due to the extreme weather shift, offered to come get me, and was worried about my safety in accepting a ride with an unknown man.

Between the two of them and the kind chief deputy, I was overwhelmed. Nobody had to help me or be concerned about my well-being; these people didn’t know me at all and I wasn’t their problem. But they went out of their way to look out for me and for that I am still so grateful. This trip has been an amazing adventure and I’ve seen and done so many things, but this – getting to see how strangers stepped in to help another person in trouble – this was the best thing yet.

2015 Day 6 TX is Effing Huge

The ride started out with some really exciting terrain.

2015 Day 6 My New Tumbleweed

I got to spend some quality time with a tumbleweed, which I’ve secretly always longed to do.

2015 Day 6 Palo Duro Canyon 4

This was the last time I saw the sun on the ride.

2015 Day 6 Palo Duro Canyon 2

And here is Palo Duro Canyon, that place where I would be a popsicle were it not for the kindness of strangers.

2015 Day 6 Palace Coffee

Palace Coffee Company, which offered both great coffee, friendly service, AND free stickers!

2015 Day 6 Welcome to NM

Apparently “The Land of Breaking Bad” or “The Home of Great Meth” did not make the cut as a state slogan.

2015 Day 6 Bad Decision

The sign said “Dead End” so of course I drove on, parked, and got out of the car. This sort of thing always ends well.

2015 Day 6 Rock Climbing

What, you don’t rock climb alongside the highway in socks and sandals?

2015 Day 6 Scenic NM

New Mexico is stunning – wide open plains, mountains, red rocks everywhere. It was breathtaking (which may have actually been a result of the intense windchill).

2015 Day 6 Lindsay Bayer Hiking

The face of a very cold person who is thrilled to be doing something stupid (apparently the theme of the day).

Posted on in Cycling, Friends, Life, Travel 6 Comments

Day 5 in which this road trip surpasses expectations

Journey: Oklahoma City, OK to Canyon, TX
Number of times I gave the finger: 0! It was a cheerful day.
Cups of coffee: A French press of Peritus with breakfast and then hits mid-drive from the jug of cold brew that I bought from Coffee Slingers in OKC specifically for the bottle, a fact that would horrify the snooty coffee dorks working there.
More instances of panic because the gas tank was empty with nary a station in sight: 1. I will probably not learn this lesson until I’m walking down the interstate carrying a gas can.
Thoughts from the highway: (1) An 18-wheeler flat-bed transporting huge stacks of exposed hay bales has got to be the least aerodynamic vehicle ever, like a gigantic unshaven leg. (2) Bob Dylan sounds like he is perpetually whining. (3) We took land from the Native Americans, marginalized and abused them, and then appropriated their culture to manufacture tacky souvenirs to sell at “Cherokee Trading Posts” along Highway 40; ouch.

This road trip really came together yesterday. I rolled out of bed late and rushed to do my trainer workout before the next Airbnb guest could walk in to see me gasping and sweating profusely in the kitchen. Then I vacuumed the house (because I’m nuts) and got ready to get on the road. On the way out of town, I dropped into Schlegel Bicycles to check out the store and visit the nearby coffee shop. The barista was exceedingly aloof when I asked questions about the cold brew coffee, but I didn’t have to heart to point out that he was selling me a drink, not rare gems that he’d personally mined.

Then I drove into Texas and stopped several times along the way to see things and take pictures and be reminded of why I decided to drive across the country versus fly. I keep thinking of that expression, “Happiness is a journey, not a destination.” Okay, so it’s cliche. But also, if you actually take the time to pull over and be where you are instead of racing past, it’s true.

2015 Day 5 New Teammate

This is what happens when you leave me unattended in your house. Well, this and cleaning.

2015 Day 5 Okie Cold Brew

Bought this just for the awesome bottle.

2015 Day 5 Drinking and Driving

But make no mistake, this coffee won’t go to waste.

2015 Day 5 TX State Line

I love that Texas literally has a state line on the ground.

2015 Day 5 TX Chainsaw Massacre

I hiked behind this abandoned building in the middle of nowhere to pee and possibly get disemboweled by a man with a rusty blade.

2015 Day 5 TX Landscape

Texas is kind of lovely.

2015 Day 5 Snakes!

I took this photo standing amongst rocks and tall weeds while wearing sandals.

2015 Day 5 Hooray TX!

GOD BLESS TEXAS

2015 Day 5 TX Sunset

This is what I imagined when I thought about driving across the country.

Posted on in Cycling, Life, Travel 2 Comments
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