Sunday, October 19, 2014

Happiness Watts

Lake Tahoe.  Wow. (what's wrong with this photo?)
As bike racers, we spend the majority of the year living like monks.  Training so hard that all you can do is collapse on the couch to recover and try to function like a normal human being. Ride, eat, sleep, repeat.  Cyclists have power meters on their bikes to measure the power that they are putting into the pedals.  This power is measured in watts.  Most cyclists are absolutely obsessed with these numbers because, simply, the more watts someone has, the better.  This year, I was introduced to the amazing concept of happiness watts.  Finally, someone put into words how I tend to approach life as a professional athlete.  I strive to balance between doing my best as an athlete to reach my potential (i.e living like a monk) but to also have fun while doing it.  Years ago, we used to call this an 'average american' day.  Every once in awhile, one needs to sit on the couch and eat pizza like an average american.  Now, enter happiness watts.  It's the concept that I go faster when I'm happy so I should do things that make me happy, like eat ice cream and bacon (usually separate but maybe together includes even more happiness watts).  My coach, Andy, intuitively knows the concept well.  He even included two mandatory pastries into my training schedule on my last day in France for world cup finals.  Now that's a coach that knows the importance of happiness.

This offseason, I am really capitalizing on building up an ample supply of happiness watts. After a short stint at home in Vermont, just enough time to unpack and feel like I actually do have a home, I flew out to Santa Cruz for the Specialized Women's Brand Launch.  Specialized invited non-endemic media to introduce them to the women's brand.  This was an amazing group of ladies who I had so much fun with over the weekend.  I haven't laughed that hard or that much for awhile.  We rode mountain bikes, road bikes, and cruisers, we ate tater tots at Burger, we skipped rocks in the ocean, and generally frolicked around in cycling bliss.  I was reunited with my teammate, Kate Courtney, and my sister, Sabe, and it was as glorious as I remembered.

Then, Jojo and I headed to Colorado Springs for the USA Cycling mountain bike committee meetings.  Here, we discussed the nuts and bolts of mountain bike racing in the U.S and gave our feedback.  This was another great gathering with fantastic people.  Then, we jetted back to Santa Cruz to hop in Jojo's sprinter van to the Santa Cruz Enduro for the weekend.  We camped (so enduro), we shredded in baggie shorts (so enduro), and we conquered.  It was fun to race my first enduro and get to really experience the type of racing jojo has been doing all summer.  It's really hard and also a complete blast.  I won and Jojo came in second so the weekend couldn't have gone better.

After that, I headed up to Tahoe to check out where my sister will be stationed for the winter.  In short, it's awesome.  There are piles of single track everywhere that usually include epic climbs, descents, and views.  We've been riding a ton, and I've accidentally put in a decent training week with all these adventures.  I rode mountain bikes for a solid nine hours over the weekend alone.  I'm stocking up on happiness watts especially since Sabe figured out how to make maple marshmallows from scratch.  Anything Sabe bakes and anything with maple, yes, it's mind blowing.

How have you gotten your happiness watts lately?  Get some. They are important.


 Kate and I frolicking at the Specialized Women's Brand Launch

 Santa Cruz Sunset
 If there's one constant in Tahoe, there's always a lot of females who shred 
 Said shredding females best side 
 Sabe and I at the Specialized launch.  Ocean Spin
 Tahoe.  Lake Marlett and Lake Tahoe.
 We are roasting Sabe's maple marshmallows and taking it up a level

 The Flume Trail.  It drops off a cliff to the left down to the lake
 We rode.  Watched the sunset.  Then, rode for 45 mins in the dark.  Darkness and no lights makes things really exciting

 I love the Tahoe moss
 Amy Shreve chooses the right beverage before the Santa Cruz Enduro.  Total Domination. 
Naturally, I arm wrestled at the USA cycling meetings

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Celebration Tour

A Beyonce concert has been near the top of my life list for a while now.  I looked up concert dates for her 'On the Run' tour with Jay Z this summer and noticed that there last stop was in Paris the Friday after the World Championships in Norway.  I tried to find a partner in crime to go with me to this concert to fulfill my dreams, but, as of a month before the concert, no one was available.  Then, walked in Andrea, my friend from Santa Cruz who was traveling to Norway to hang out with her boyfriend on the bike circuit.  It didn't even take any convincing.  Jordi mentioned the idea to Andrea, and she was already looking into our Air BnB options for lodging twenty-four hours later.  This was the kind of excitement I was looking for, and our own version of our 'On the Run' tour was born.  

It's hard to imagine things getting even better after a bronze medal at the World Championships, but that result just sent me skyrocketing into the atmosphere.  This trip was the perfect way to celebrate a fantastic season.  I drove around Norway with friends until thursday after the race.  We didn't quite have enough time to travel west to Fjord land, but we took in the coast line instead.  It was beautiful, and it wasn't without some travel misadventures that we will remember for years to come. Chloe designed one day of our trip around seeing viking churches. We drove for about four hours and pulled into a parking lot.  It turns out our viking church pilgrimage was a reproduction of the original viking church in an amusement park that was completely boarded up and broken down.  Don't always believe everything you google.  I'm literally still laughing about it. 

I then headed to Paris on Thursday for the first time in my life.  Everyone said I would love Paris, but I thought it would just be another city.  Everyone was right.  I loved it.  There's something different about Paris.  We saw the Eiffel Tower lit up at night.  We saw Monet's 'waterlilies' which was literally life changing.  This is no exaggeration.  I was completely captivated.  This is one of the most beautiful things I've ever seen in my entire life.  Not everyone in the room was completely captivated by 'water lillies'.  Andrea and I noticed an older couple sitting on the bench staring at our legs rather than taking in the painting.  We assumed that they were shocked out how disproportional my quads were to the rest of my body and how many scars Andrea had on our legs.  I guess they hadn't come into contact with many female mountain bikers. We topped off our own 'On the Run' tour by seeing the Queen Bey herself that evening.  It was magical just as I expected.  It was the best concert I've ever seen.  I'm so lucky I got to check so many things off my life list on this trip, and I got to add some more.  I want to go back and see those Norwegian Fjords. 

Now I'm in full off season mode except for racing the Santa Cruz Enduro next weekend.  Let the fun continue. 

 Little Bellas Photo Shoot in Millstone Hill, VT.  Gorgeous. 
 Fall Offseason Adventures in VT.  Lake Willougby.  (taken by GoPro)
 Jojo enjoying Lake Champlain.  (taken by GoPro)

 This is not a Norwegian Viking Church.  This is a broken down Norwegian Amusement Park. 
 World's End.  Norwegian Coast. 
 This is what lighthouses used to look like in Norway.  They lit a fire in the basket
 A Viking Boat. 
 Sitting under a full moon by this tower was a good way to spend the night in Norway. 
 This is a cardamon cinnamon roll and absolutely delicious
 In Norway, they put butterflies in the sidewalks.  Boots courtesy of L.L Bean
 This is a delicious french dessert. 
 Louvre, Paris
 Notre Dame, Paris
Heaven, Paris