Wednesday, March 7, 2012

part 2

After napping for a few hours, we got up and got going around 11 pm. We had some oatmeal for "breakfast" and another cinnamon roll before leaving the cozy cabin. On a funny side note: As we were preparing to leave, the phone rang. Cindy was outside helping another racer getting comfortable in the bunkhouse, so I answered the phone thinking it must be an emergency if someone was calling this late.... Oh no, it was just a friend calling to chat about Cindy and Allen's upcoming wedding the following Saturday. Allen was taking the snow machine to Willow "airport" to help his elderly relatives get on a bush-plane to fly out for the wedding. He then was turning around to drive the snow machine the 60 miles back- in horrible weather off course. They had planned on getting married on the frozen river, but with the storms and snow where going to have to change plans and get married inside. Surreal!!!! I hope they had a fabulous wedding!!!

Anyway, Eric and I got back on the bikes, happy to only have 12-14 miles to Skwentna. Part of the trail was ridable, but it was challenging with the "powdered sugar" snow and lots of tracks from walkers. My right leg was really starting to protest and I had to use my arms to lift it every time I got back on my bike. Eric's knee was also hurting from all the uneven walking... Sometimes the foot-steps in the snow were wide and sometimes it was like walking a tight rope and pushing your bike way out to the side!!

After a while I couldn't really put any pressure on my leg when getting started on the bike. Luckily, Eric is trained in high velocity, low amplitude SI joint mobilization (in addition to being a general contractor he is a great physical therapist :-) In the dark, I laid down on my stomach (since my camel bak was under several layers of clothing, and impossible to get off) in the snow and Eric popped my SI joint back in place by pulling on my leg. What a relief, I was able to walk and ride again!!!

We reached Skwentna roadhouse around 4 in the morning. After an enormous plate of biscuits and gravy we decided to sleep for a while before making up our minds on whether or not to continue on. After a few hours of sleep we got up and started chatting with Jeff, Heather, and Jay. The weather prognosis called for more snow and we found out it had taken Pete over 12 hours to get to Shell Lake, only 2o miles away. We were all tired of pushing our bikes though the snow and the thought of continuing to push for several days was not very appealing. We also knew that the further in to the race we got, the harder and more expensive it would be to fly out. Cindy at Skwentna called a bush-plane service but they weren't sure if there would be a window in the bad weather to come and get us. As we were having pancakes they called back and said they would be at the airstrip in 30 minutes. We quickly packed up our stuff and rode/walked to the airstrip!

Me and Jay in the back seat of the 4 seater plane

Packing up the bikes in the back of the plane

Not exactly the outcome we had hoped for, but it was still a memorable adventure, as always!! Congratulations to the 18 racers that did finish the Iditarod Invitational this year. Pete Bassinger won the race to McGrath for the 6th time, Anne ver Hoef won the women's division on foot, and Ausilia Vistarini was the only woman to finish on a bike this year!!! Geoff Roes (current record holder of the Western States 100) won the walking division!

Thanks Bill and Kathi Merchant for making this race possible and for all of your hard work before and during the event!! A big thank you to all of the volunteers, especially Cindy and Allen for opening up their home and taking care of all the racers!!!

Monday, March 5, 2012

Iditarod Trail Invitational 2012

Me and my fully loaded bike at the start

For those who don't know, Eric and I bailed out of the ITI after almost 3 days of pushing our bikes through the snow. This year, there was so much snow-and no trail to speak of- that we only got to Skwentna Roadhouse, the 2nd checkpoints at 90 miles in those 3 days. Amazing to think that we reached this checkpoint in only 14 hours last year. It is different each year, and always an adventure!!

Looking back, I know we made the right decision for us, even though it was pretty disappointing at the time.

We started out at Knik lake at 2 pm as usual with 46 other runners, skiers, and bikers. We were able to take a paved road for a few miles but when we reached the trail, the pushing began. We ended up post-holing with a group of about 10 "riders" and at 4 am we finally decided to stop and bivy in a spot with some trees. It was quite warm, so I was pretty cozy in my sleeping bag and was able to sleep for 3.5 hrs or so.

We packed up our gear in the morning and continued on towards Luce's, which is a little lodge right on the river. We reached Luce's some time in the afternoon and were pretty surprised to find all other riders who were in front of us, hanging out and eating. Pete B and a couple of other guys had just stopped to make some water where we bivvied, and then continued on breaking trail all night until they reached Luce's.

After a cheeseburger and fries, we rented one of the small rooms to get some sleep before the next section. We were hoping the snow would set up as it got colder at night and that we might be able to ride a little bit. It was about 100 degrees in the room and we kept the window wide open. I slept like a rock on my upper bunk, and didn't wake up until 2:30 am after 7 hrs of sleep! I had a Snickersbar and a cheese-cookie (thank you Janice!) before taking off for some more pushing toward the first checkpoint which is Yentna Station, another "lodge". Here, we stopped for breakfast with Jeff Oatley, Heather Best and Jay and had a plate of yummy pancakes and eggs as well as a couple of cups of coffee.

When we got back on our bikes, the sun was starting to come up, but the light was really flat so we had to keep our head-lamps on to try to find the track from the riders in front of us. We were able to ride short sections, but continued pushing for the majority of the time. Our pace averaged about 2 mph, not exactly flying.... We had been told that someone had their house open to all racers 10 miles or so from the Skwentna Roadhouse, the 2nd checkpoint. It was a long day of pushing along the river and we were very happy to finally see a handmade sign that said "Alaska Ultrasport". It was early evening when we reached Cindy and Allen's small home on the river. Allen told us to come in and make ourselves at home.

One of Cindy's cute dogs outside her house

Cindy's awesome cabin on Yentna River

Cindy and Allen were AMAZING! Several other riders were resting in the small cabin, and before we even sat down at the kitchen table Cindy had served us bowls of homemade chicken stew and bread. There were a giant jar of cookies as well as cinnamon rolls on the table as well, and it all tasted wonderful after a long day of pushing. Both Cindy and Allen were so welcoming and generous opening their home to all of us. Not only did they feed us, they also offered us to catch some sleep in one of their 2 guest-cabins. We found sleeping pads and blankets under the bed, where Jeff, Heather, and Jay were resting/sleeping, and got pretty comfy on the floor.
To be continued.....

Thursday, November 10, 2011

On her way to the Counting Coup.....

Cancer survivor Cheryl P is training hard for the Counting Coup in April

Follow my client/athlete Cheryl P on her blog as she trains for the grueling mountain bike race "The Counting Coup"in Southern California. The Counting Coup is a 44 mile race with over 8000 feet of elevation gain.

Cheryl is truly an inspirational woman who started biking in her late 40s to literally save her life from cancer and serious alcohol addiction.

Check out her blog at: and read her story below:

I was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1989 when I was 30 and lost both breasts, followed by six months of aggressive chemotherapy. Seven years later, at 37, I was in for a regular check-up and after a bone marrow biopsy, I was told that 98 percent of my plasma cells were cancer and that I had six months to live, that I had a rare cancer called multiple myeloma. I was hospitalized at once and I lost everything. From 1995 to 1998 I was on high-dose chemo therapy and had two bone marrow transplants back to back. My life was over, as I knew it. I worked hard for six years to finish court reporting school and being a single mother of one daughter. My little girl was only five when my hair fell out the first time. All she knew was her mommy was going to die. I have lost too many good friends to cancer. I had no medical insurance and fought for everything I could get. Several doctors in Newport Beach teamed together and treated me for free, getting the chemo donated to me for the breast cancer. There was Dr. Burns, Dr. Barth, Dr. Long, Dr. Harvey Heinricks, all who took care of me on their own dime. I started a cancer support called the Walking Fish Society, for young adults with cancer from 18 to 40. Why? Because people think fish don’t walk and they think we don’t live.

The doctors are not sure why I am alive today. I am in the 3% survivorship of my diagnosis. I had five years of interferon and 13 years of monthly Zometa, which they are now discovering can cause spontaneous femur fractures.

I had just ordered a new bike for Sea Otter in 2009 and my leg started hurting on my left femur. They could not find out what was wrong. After lots of tests, they said the multiple myeloma was back. Right before a scheduled surgery, they changed their mind and said that it was a mistake. They said maybe I have a stress fracture from trauma and there was nothing they could do. (that trauma was from a mt bike crash) Zometa is a drug that won’t allow your bones to heal. I have been off that drug since March of 2009.

In June of 2009, I was visiting a friend out of town. Somebody knocked at the door. I answered it and my dog run out. The man at the door was very drunk and would not move out of my way. As I stepped around him, I felt something strange and my body just froze in the doorway. Then I could hear it. I said, “Oh my God, I think my leg is breaking”

And it did. My femur snapped in half. 15 hours in the ER – months of recovery, nursing home and painful therapy and the titanium rod on my leg, I got back on my bike!

A friend of mine is Colette McFadden and she rode the Vision Quest in my honor, when the doctors said the cancer had returned. My goal and dream is to finish Counting Coup on my birthday on April 7, 2012.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

La Ruta de los Conquistadores 2011

The 2011 version of La Ruta de los Conquistadores was as eventful and adventuresome as ever!

Day 1 from Jaco to San Jose was a little rough for me. I felt good going through the jungle and mud, but had a major bonk on a long paved climb during the middle of the day. It was very hot and humid and I had a hard time getting enough calories in. Rebecca passed me on this climb, and all I could do was watch her ride away as I was going in slow motion :-) I ended up finishing in 3rd place behind Adriana Rojas and Rebecca Rusch, quite a ways back.

Day 2 is only 45 miles, but has about 11,000 feet of elevation gain, much of it very steep. At times my Garmin was showing 30 percent grade. I felt a bit better this day and Rebecca and I rode together for about 30 k during the middle of the race. It was really nice to ride with her as it kept our pace and motivation up! Rebecca left me on some flat and rolling sections and I ended up about 8 minutes back, finishing in a down-pour weaving in and out of San Jose traffic.

Day 3 is the volcano day! It's a 32 km climb from San Jose to the top of Irazu, topping out at 3015 meters. I was feeling pretty strong and was in 2nd place at the top of the volcano. At the 2nd checkpoint, I was told I was 7 minutes behind Adriana and I was hoping to use the technical downhill to my advantage. After a bit of a traverse, the trail gets quite rocky. It was wet and muddy in spots, but it was really fun. At some point the journalists were on the trail, telling me I was 3 minutes behind Adriana. The day ends with a HUGE drop on a road followed by a few km of a flat section. It is quite sketchy with lots of cars, people, and dogs on the road. I think I lost a little time in the final stretch as I was riding by myself and it would really help to have another rider to work with. I finished about 5 minutes behind 1st place Adrianna. Rebecca came in only a couple of minutes behind me. Jane Rynbrandt with Carmichael Training Systems had a really strong ride and was not far behind us.

The final day of La Ruta features about 4000 feet of climbing in the first 40 km, followed by a paved downhill and then lots of gravel roads as well as the infamous train trestles. As usual, I started out slowly as it takes my legs a while to warm up!! I was hoping to catch some fast riders toward the top of the climb, so I would have someone to work with for the downhills and flats. A mile or two from the top, I did catch Rebecca and we decided to work together to see if we could catch Adriana. We stopped briefly for fluids at the checkpoint and ended up flying down the descent with Adam Pulford from CTS. As we descended we picked up several other riders and soon we had a fast group of about 8 riders as we hit the flat bumpy gravel roads. We were setting a really fast pace and were told Adriana only had 2 minutes on us. It was very hot and very humid and I was working HARD to keep up with the group. There are lots of sharp turns, rail road sections, and stream crossings that are potentials for losing the group, and I knew we had to stay together if we wanted to catch the first place woman. Riding with Rebecca was great. She is a super strong rider who races very honestly and fairly. Adam (CTS) and a Scottish guy were doing a lot of work for the group.

When we hit 83 km someone mentioned that we hadn't seen any signs for a while..... the checkpoint was supposed to be around km 80. We slowly came to the horrible realization that we had missed a turn and were completely lost. As we reached a dead-end with a few buildings we saw some people and a couple of the spanish speaking guys in our group asked where we were. It was all VERY confusing. As I don't speak spanish, I had no idea what was going on. Someone in the group remembered the name of the town with the next checkpoint, and after stopping several times to ask for directions, we were told we were 11 km away. We were all out of fluids, tired, and deflated, but determined to get back on course so we wouldn't be disqualified. Rebecca and I also didn't want to lose our 2nd and 3rd positions in the race.

At one point we stopped at a small store. The Scottish guy had been smart enough to bring money and he bought us all ice cold coke and water!! We continued on, and FINALLY we popped out at the checkpoint. I had 103 km on my Garmin at this point, we had taken a 22 km detour, BUMMER!!!

We were now on a mission to get to the finish. It had been a long, hard, and hot day, but there were still more adventures to come! As we were riding down a long flat gravel road we spotted a large group of riders standing in the middle of the road next to a support vehicle. When we reached them we were told that a rider had been bike-jacked at gun point and that we should all ride the next section together for safety. How scary!! There was also the bee-section where several riders were stung (some 30 times) and 1 rider ended up taking a 30 foot leap off the railroad bridge and into the water below to avoid the angry bees....

The final 20 km we did a lot of beach riding. The group had dwindled to me, Rebecca, Adam, and a guy from Costa Rica. Although it was great to finally finish in Limon, it was a bit deflating since we lost so much time. Oh well, that's all part of the adventure!! I was happy to keep my 3rd place at least.

Still had a great time as always in Costa Rica. It was super fun hanging out with Eric (racing on his single speed), Mark Jeffery, and Dave Engelbrecht who did awesome their first time at La Ruta!!!!

Sunday, August 14, 2011

Tahoe Sierra 100- Another Epic Race!

Jim Northey and Global Biorhythms did it again!!! This time, Tahoe Sierra 100 (ok, so it was a little short for a century) was even more epic with more technical single track and fun riding than in the past! Jim has worked hard all year in order to get permits to ride on the famous Western States 100 trail and this year's edition of the event was a point to point race.

We started at Icelake lodge in Soda Springs just like previous few years. According to the newspaper, Truckee (10 miles away) has been the coldest place in the country for the past several days, so I was prepared with all my cold weather gear. After a slight case of hypothermia in Italy, I wasn't about to freeze again. Luckily, it had warmed up a fair amount; temps were in the low 40s at the 6 am start. A few days before the race, Eric decided he was going to race too. We were both pretty beat up from Ironbike, and hoping that 2 weeks was going to be enough recovery.

The race started off on some fun single track (cross country ski) trails and then did a long drop on a loose gravel road. I was taking it pretty easy, was not in the mood to slide out and crash in the first 10 miles. I skipped the first 2 checkpoints, I had plenty of sustained energy and a camelbak full of water. There was plenty of fun, rocky, and pretty technical single track, but Jim had said that the race didn't REALLY start until 65 miles, which is when we finally got to ride the Western States 100 trail. I stopped to refill my camelbak, mix some sustained energy and lube my chain at the 50 mile checkpoint, and then again at 65. It was getting quite warm, and I was drinking Nuun, eating Margarita flavored cliffblocks (4 times the sodium), and had to take several thermatabs to avoid cramping. I could feel my calves twitching and my hamstring was threatening to cramp at one point, but with my massive sodium intake I was able to avoid a full blown cramp.

The Western States 100 trail was AWESOME!! We went down a really fun descent followed by a 45 minute hike-a-bike section! I was glad to have done all that hiking in Italy, it felt so NORMAL to push my bike up a rocky, steep trail!! I passed a couple of guys on the way up. I was happy to get to the next checkpoint for more fluids. All the volunteers were super helpful and friendly as usual at this race!! We kept on following the WS100 trail, with more fun descending in to a canyon, and some more hiking mixed with a bit of riding back up again.

I was pretty happy to hear that we only had 6 miles to go at the last checkpoint. I had counted on 13!! There was a really steep climb on single track- glad to have my granny gear- and then we finished on a couple of miles on the pavement!! I ended up in 1st place in a time of 9:20, I think I was 12th overall.

I would highly recommend this race to anyone who is in for a bit of adventure and is not afraid of a little hiking. Rumor has it that there might be even more single track on a longer course next year. See you there!!

Thanks Jim and your hardworking family, friends, and volunteers for another EPIC EVENT!!!

Thursday, August 4, 2011


7 days, 450 miles, 88,000 feet of climbing- IRONBIKE 2011

Many hours of steep hike-a-bike

Amazing views of the French/Italian Alps

Lots of long climbs and high altitudes....

Checkpoint at top of one of the high altitude climbs.

Traversing lots of shale and boulder fields, left-overs from avalanches

Tuesday, May 31, 2011


Recently published the website for my "real job"; physical therapy, personal training, massage, and coaching!!

My PT studio on Mountain Charlie