Come down

I’ve been down for more than a week since last Sunday’s race disaster sinking my bike in a lake in Plant City. But I’m coming around since the holidays are right around the corner and I’m on vacation until January when school starts again. Right now, I’m scheduled to teach eight classes next term so here’s hoping this winter break helps prepare me for that! I’m still going through regret from racing (and swamping my bike) last weekend. But I told myself a long time ago that I would rather regret things that I did than things that I didn’t do, and I was feeling strong and healthy and my bike was running perfect, so I signed up and after a mid-pack start, my goggles were worthless and I regretted not preparing my roll-offs for the race. (I never had the luxury of roll-offs growing up and so I didn’t know what I was missing. But I do now.) Matters worsened as my trusty glove-across-the-goggle wipe was not sufficient; maybe it’s because I’m faster than I was in my teens but I could not see so I took off my goggles, which is something you are never supposed to do! And everything happened so fast with my protective layer gone and mud globs in my eyes from the rear tires of the guys in front of me. I only lasted about 3.5 miles until they ran us through a shallow pond and I fell into a rut from a previous race that sucked me in and sunk me to my fenders. Race over.

The ol' girl wouldn't start after we took a swim so I took my first DNF of the race season.
The ol’ girl wouldn’t start after we took a swim so I took my first DNF of the race season.

Turning 30

I finally turned 30 – an age I have felt since I turned 19, actually. Don’t get me wrong, my 20s were fun and full of memories, but I’ve been looking forward to turning 30 so that I can finally feel the age that I am. Turning 30 means I won’t feel as awkward telling people what I do, like it’s more acceptable to have the career I have had now for 3 years. Maybe now I won’t hear, “Aren’t you a little young to be a professor?”

However, everything that I thought I would have figured out by 30 – mortgage, married, kids, etc. – I’m not even close, but I’ve succeeded in areas I never would have imagined myself. And now, I have an excuse when people ask why I don’t want to go party or clubbing – “I’m old and want to go to bed early.”


It’s funny: I swear, the day after my birthday I woke up so full of awareness and total freedom like I was reborn or something crazy. I decided I want to better promote myself and think I’ve spent too much time promoting others (students, companies, friends) and not dialing into what I really want to do (social media consulting, documentaries and photojournalism) so that’s one of my goals for this decade. I have been looking forward to publishing the novel I’ve been working on for 11 years by now but that deadline passed so I set another (coming soon.) I’m also dialing in my yogi headstand (Sirsasana), which is considered “one of the most powerful and beneficial poses you can do. Practicing headstand has been frequently cited as a pose to counteract the symptoms of depression,” and works the core like nothing else!

 Less ego, more breath.

Photography 101: Moment

Pretty packed parking lot off Snow Hill Road on Saturday.

I rode my mountain bike this weekend more than I have all year starting with a 15-mile trek Saturday morning through the trails off of Snow Hill Road where I’ve pedaled since 8th grade. We ran into at least a dozen bikers that day and a few people on horseback. The perfect weather made conditions near prime for the sandy trails, some of which I remembered from years past pedaling for miles by myself in the brutal summer. It’s nice to still know my way around no matter where we go. This time, it was interesting to ride without my clips and in my low-profileNikes for a change. I lost my pedals a few times though especially when trying to bounce up and/or over something. But I could still climb some of the “hills” that used to get me out of my clips when I was younger. And I would have crashed a few times hard if I had have worn them. As my sidekick Andy said as he was following me hanging it out around the turns. “You can ride the corners a lot differently without clips.”

Sunday, we tested my suspension settings, taller gearing, better front tire and a new Leatt neck brace, thanks to Andy!
I met up with my teammate and we put in a few hard hours. She has some potential blackmail GoPro footage of me ping-ponging off the trees prior to us tweaking the boinkers.
We pedaled another 11 miles to the Environmental Center and hit the MTB bike trails but  most of which were underwater and then it started to rain so we put down the hammer for the 9 miles home; so with the shortcut a total of 23 miles.

Not every rider can pull off wearing spandex

Photography 101: Moment

Our lives are made up of big events and tiny moments. Ultimately, life is fleeting, and oftentimes it’s these small moments we love to document.Think about the fleeting moments you experience each day — from a quiet, precious moment with your child to a busy commute through the subway, among strangers.


Today’s accomplishments included dialing in my ol’ pogo stick, which included two or three clicks on the suspension to get it right.
Meanwhile, I’m riding my friends orange 200 and back to having fun on the roughest practice track we’ve been training on. Surprisingly her bike handled like a Cadillac. It nearly ripped out of my hands when I turned on the throttle.

Good Tidings

Good Tidings – Present-day you meets 10-years-ago you for coffee. Share with your younger self the most challenging thing, the most rewarding thing, and the most fun thing they have to look forward to.

- The most challenging thing will be finding out what you should do with your time, the most rewarding thing will be winning (at anything: a new friend, better job or just the local race down the road,) and the most fun thing you have to look forward to is the freedom of riding your motorcycle and sharing that travel with others.

Slinging mud

The audience applauds the panelists at the "Mudslinging" Civic Dialogue recently.
The audience applauds the panelists at the “Mudslinging” Civic Dialogue recently.

I was recently invited to speak as a panelist at a Civic Dialogue about “Mudslinging,” or negative campaigning as it related to the race for Florida Governor last week.

As one of four experts who also included the Seminole County Supervisor of Elections, a representative of the League of Women’s Voters along with an attorney and communications law professor, the public forum open to interested students, faculty and staff, focused on whether or not politicians have an ethical obligation to provide truth in advertising. Of course, I outlined a few points and planned one of my first lines: “I remember what my mom used to say: Don’t tell me anything unless it’s the whole truth!”

The commercials we watched all contained mudslinging and failed to present all sides of arguments. But, as the Supervisor of Elections pointed out, the commercials are often paid for by outside organizations and not the actual candidate. Still, the negative ads deter voters in my opinion and I think candidates should be able to control their supporters by not mudslinging. During the dialogue, I brought up the website Politifact that helps citizens find truth in politics after telling the audience: “We don’t know what we don’t know. If I tell you my 90-year-old grandma plowed into your car at the roundabout, you’re going to be mad at her, but if I tell you my 90-year-old grandma plowed into your car at the roundabout after you blew the stop sign, you’re not going to be so mad at her anymore, are you? So it’s all about presenting all sides and it’s not always easy to spot when there’s important information missing.”

In the end, however, I can see both sides because those campaign ads bring in big bucks, like $22 million in TV ads or something crazy like that, according to the Miami Herald. And those TV people have to keep their cushy couches and corner offices somehow, right?

Laughing at a speaker's comment: "What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie that of Sally."
Laughing at a speaker’s comment: “What Susie says of Sally says more of Susie than of Sally.”

In my dreams

I normally dream about people who are on my mind a lot (whether I like it or not.) Sometimes I’m an observer of my dreams and sometimes I’m a participant, but I always see them clearly and know exactly who they are.
But last night was different.
I dreamed about my dirt bike breaking the hot start, which is a button on a four stroke that my two stroke doesn’t even have, but I digress…
So, with the hot start broken, I had to sit out the race this weekend, which is something that I guess I’ll end up doing anyway after re-injuring my neck in Alabama last weekend.
As a result, I made my way back to the hot yoga studio after a 3-month hiatus. The place I found near my house is not a bikram studio (where temperatures reach 105 degrees) like I wanted but it’s hot (around 90 degrees) and it’s yoga.
In last night’s class, I burned 240 calories in just about 80 minutes, which is not a lot but it’s more about strengthen than anything. Plus my heart rate peaked at 150 bpm while I averaged 109.

Interesting to note: of the 25.11 miles I completed at my race last Sunday, I burned 1,080 calories in just under 2 hours and averaged 171 bpm with a max heart rate of 194.

Check out the details, here.

The Gobbler got me


Well, yesterday didn’t go as planned despite the only plan being to have fun. The fun factor ran out just about 20 miles into the 60-mile race, which is discouraging, but my poor neck just couldn’t take the bike pulling on my neck and shoulders any longer and after the 25-mile mark, I crashed in front of a spectator and asked him how to get back to camp through tears. I hate quitting and I haven’t in a while but the decision came whenever I remembered my dad telling me as I child whenever I wanted to drop out of a race that, if I wasn’t having fun, I should quit.
So I did and cried the whole dirt road back to the pits frustrated that the only thing stopping me from having fun is something I can’t fix. It’s not like I can change my riding style to make my neck hurt less. I guess I could have my suspension serviced again. But I think most everyone felt like they were riding a pogo stick yesterday, not just me.
I’m only halfway into my second season of racing since I retired when I went to college in 2003 but I’m almost ready to call it quits again. It hurts that bad.
Still looking on the bright side, I’m learning a lot about myself through all this. I would rather not start on the same row as my competition again. In hare scrambles, it’s different because we’re forced to start on the same row but in enduros you have a choice so from now on, I choose to ride my own race on my own row with a bunch of strangers who I don’t have to worry about.

I also learned that I would much rather curl up with a book than talk to people and maybe it’s because I talk all day at my job and I’m used to being the center of attention but I’m much happier losing myself in a book than sitting around shooting the birds wasting time with meaningless conversation.
I learned that, along with duct taping both hands and right thumb, that I need to swap gloves every race because the blisters just keep coming.
The most important thing I learned is that even if I DNF a race, I could still win a trophy, which is what happened yesterday and that’s a first for me.

Gobbler Getter

The motor home gets 8.1 mpg!

The worst part of enduros is waiting for the actual enduro! Especially this one since it’s a 10-hour drive from Orlando to this race in Alabama. We spent 24 hours in the motor home just getting here after crashing in the Walmart parking lot last night after our steak dinner.

Strolling into Walmart this morning

I’m traveling with two fast friends who I’ll try keeping up with tomorrow though my main goal is to stay safe and have fun.
Tomorrow’s race is said to be 60 ground miles and the weather around 9 a.m. when we start is saying around 40 degrees, which is way too cold for this Florida girl.

Perry Mountain in Maplesville, Alabama

Today we pulled into the track after lunch, got our row assignments, (but no route sheet?) and affixed our scorecards to front of our fenders…we’ve pretty much been sitting around ever since.
Thank God my friend Lee has four girl friends racing an Ironman (swim, bike, run) in Panama City today, though the swim was canceled due to weather, and so we’ve been following their pace for the past 12 hours.
It’s dark out and they are just now finishing – after a 6 hour bicycle ride and a 26.2 mile run. The crazy thing is these chicks are all over 40!

You can tell how bored we are by this spreadsheet!

What big shoes I have to fill as I turn 30 this month. I’m looking forward to keep getting better.