Archives for category: love

I don’t want my partner to share everything that I do. Even the hobbies I do share, I still need time to work on alone. Things like bouldering or learning to play the uke or guitar — I need to be alone to figure out my body positioning without getting shitty beta [and let’s face it, I stand well below average at 5’1″, so most of the beta out there is shitty (to me)] and to swear at my hand as it still refuses to make a barre chord. (Look, I know I’ve only been playing for three weeks, but conscious incompetence is painful and it feels endless.) There are things that can only be done with persistence and nobody needs to watch me bang my head on the wall as I work through the minutiae.

But riding (dirt, in particular)… Riding is like sport-climbing to me. It’s something I want (and perhaps, need) to do with someone. I want someone there to laugh at me when I get thrown off my bike and to ask if I’m okay before helping me pick Herbie up. I want someone to share in the fixing of flats, to share in the well-earned view at the top. I want someone to have my back out there and I want that someone to give me snuggles after I’ve unintentionally done leg day because I’ll be dropping Big Herbie a lot and this Herbs is kick-start only. (Godspeed, legs.)

It’s no big deal in the grand scheme of things — it’s a blessing enough to have a partner who wholly trusts my capability and decision to ride at all — but damn, sometimes, I really miss having a partner who rides.


I had the opportunity to borrow a guitar indefinitely, so here I am with an acoustic guitar in my possession. I’ve made attempts before, but the learning curve for my then-weak, tiny hands always felt a little too steep. This time around, even though I still have the same tiny hands, I’ve logged quite a few hours on the ukulele in the past couple years and I have calluses and finger strength for days from climbing which are greatly helping to smooth out the start. I can’t get over how big and resonant it is and how incredible the steel strings sound in my empty, tiled living room. I’m all heart-eyes over here.¬†Cheers to new challenges!

I’m worked. I have a decent amount of mental energy and upper body strength left, but my lower body hasn’t been this exhausted in a very, very long time. Admittedly, I tend to have a weak lower body, but a five hour hike (75% of it with a 20+lbs pack with lots of uphill stair-casey single track and scrambling) and lead-climbing for almost nine hours of non-stop movement really tested my physical limits.

The shitty thing about climbing is always the approach and the descent. Unfortunately, whether you’re a large-framed 6′ tall male or a small-framed 5′ short female, the minimum amount of gear required to climb safely is the same. And carrying gear is a part of climbing. I was lucky today to have a partner who was willing to swap packs after I’d finished testing my physical limits, so I got to max my body out in my fun(??) experiment in seeing how fatigue, hunger, exposure to the sun and wind, and a demoralizing one-hour off-trail detour affected my head game once on the crag.

After years of needing to coddle my body, I’m extremely happy with how well I coped physically. I successfully led and multipitched for the first time with my also-learning partner with minimal verbal guidance from below. I never felt unsafe until the surprise rattlesnake encounter by our hike leader on the hike out. I’m writing this after getting home and going to a social event, while not having a headache. It still feels borderline miraculous to have a body functioning this well.

Trip summary: We should have been much more prepared for the strenuous hike, navigating, and having enough sustenance. But I’d consider it a personal success and I think a group success in how we overcame obstacles and worked as a team.

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Beautiful rocks and beautiful people to witness my learning to lead and rappel outdoors and working on my nerves.

It’s nearly March and I’m antsy, antsy, antsy. Big Herbie isn’t ready for the season and we’re already having some beautiful spring days out here in between the showers.

A lot of people start on dirt as kids or teens and find their way onto the street. I spent almost a decade riding street only, afraid of dirt and its rough-and-tumble-and-snapped-collar-bones reputation, but last year, I finally found my way onto dirt for the first time on a little XR100 and it blew my mind.

Everything was brand new to me. Let the bike fishtail under you. When in doubt, more throttle. Don’t touch the front brake. Let the handlebars wobble. Lean away from the turn. Sand? More throttle. Small rocks? More throttle. Medium rocks? More throttle. Big rocks? Okay, put a foot down, knock it down into first, and take it one boulder at a time (for now).

But the one lesson that street riding taught me still applies here: tenacity. Get up. Pick it up. Keep going. No one else is going to ride your bike home for you, so you better get back on and make it back to the trail head. I love hiking with the Doofus, but there is nothing else in this world like brapping up a hill to the crest, cutting the engine, and feeling the breeze whip around me as I revel in the silence.

Time to call my mechanic!

1. My bike was in the shop for a week and then we had a few days of rain, so I finally had the opportunity to ride yesterday morning for the first time in about ten days. I rode to work cackling in my helmet the entire way, feeling like I was cheating at life because it seems almost unfair that I get to enjoy my commute this much. I patted her tank as I zipped downhill through the curves, whispering sweet nothings to her. Nearly ten years on, every chance to ride still feels like a gift.

2. I’m looking forward to getting my new-to-me dirt bike into ridable shape so that I can start using him for commuting. I love my SV, but sumo is a whole different beast. And even more than riding sumo, I’m excited to get back to riding dirt. I expect lots of dropping (he’s one-toe-touch-tall for me), lots of heavy squats and swearing, and lots of tired and sweaty grinning like a madlady and I can’t. fucking. wait.

3. I was taking a break from bouldering today when a lady with a helmet caught my eye. I chatted her up about her ride (FZ) and then we went our separate ways. Then, on my way out of the gym, another lady walked in with a helmet, so I smiled at her and said, “Lady riders! There’s three of us here!” She replied, “Then all the bikes out there belong to ladies!” and we both cheered. (And that third lady had the most beautifully modded R Nine T I’ve ever seen — I wanted to touch it so badly, but I’m a civilized rider, thankyouverymuch.)

Hayden lives for two things: mealtime and chasing his ball or frisbee. Hayden is Lucy’s favorite at the park. Lucy, a compact Schnauzer/Aussie Shepherd-mix,  is an insane bundle of energy with a prancing run and a propensity for chasing other dogs. No store-bought toys for her; other dogs are her toys, and Hayden is her favorite.

Hayden is her unwitting rocket, she is his shuttle. He pays her no attention because he’s learned that she doesn’t want his toy. The only sign that he even realizes she is there is his slight acceleration when she’s hot on his heels. He only has eyes for his toy, she only has eyes for him. She gives him just enough space so that she doesn’t get tumbled during the unpredictable launch and she waits just a fraction of a second for him to take off so that she can find her position half a body-length behind. Always chasing. At full speed, they’re a formidable and mesmerizing duo worthy of a couple gasps from onlookers every time. 

When forecasters predicted five steady days of rain, her human and I commiserated as only high-energy-dog owners can.

He shrugged as he said, “We’ll probably last until Saturday or so before we cave. My wife says, ‘You know, you can always wash the car.'”
“But your car, right?,” I asked.
“Of course, my car,” he nodded with a wry smile.

Savants usually have some drawback trait (perfection is rarely found) and Lucy and Hayden are no exception. They also share the unfortunate honor as “rudest dogs at the watering hole” at the park. It’s actually a three-way tie with Cindy, the black lab. The way Hayden uses his mouth to drink is not unlike the way an alligator slams its jaws on its prey, sloshing more water out the sides of his mouth than he gets down his throat, leaving behind a disgusting drool-laced foaming slop (which I hurriedly throw out and refill with fresh water while muttering apologies at these polite-dog owners [honestly, where did you guys get your mild-mannered dogs?]). Lucy is insistent about washing her paws in the bowls and sometimes laying her whole upper body in the tipped-over bowl and resulting puddle. Cindy’s habit of sussing out any water source within the park, whether in bowls or in hidden puddles, has her human always carrying around a pre-emptive towel and yelling, “Damn it, Cindy!” whenever we hear a splash. As much as we try to monitor their behavior around the water, we are no strangers to towel-lined cars. I’ve met mature dogs, mature puppies, even, and I’m coming to terms with the fact that Hayden simply is not.

Hayden sprained a toe last Sunday slipping on some wet grass, and I kept him home from the park for an agonizing 72 hours. (No concern necessary, he still got his thrice-daily walks.) We went to the park yesterday after he lost his limp and then he reinjured himself in a collision towards the end of the session. It turns out, as Hayden found out, no matter how determined, you cannot run through a pitbull. Luckily, the pit, solid as a rock, emerged uninjured, but Hayden limped off the field.

This morning, he emerged from the crate with a very slight limp, but by the time I got home this afternoon, he had no noticeable deficit in his gait. We found ourselves in a brief spot of sunshine between two storms, so we headed down to the park to take advantage of this respite. After I had him trotting after lazy throws for about 20 minutes and monitoring his gait, Lucy showed up with her human and it was game on. I think he was waiting for her to show up because once she arrived, he started pushing his toys at me with renewed insistence. They went full-throttle for a while before I called him off and we headed home.

When we got home, all of a sudden, he started walking with a significant limp, even though nothing happened at the park that would have reinjured his toe to that extent. I suspect that Hayden has realized that I won’t take him to the park if he is limping and he masked his limp until he had gotten his fill of playtime. And once his focus is on the ball, he forgets his injury and loses any ability to recognize that he is experiencing pain. If you’ve seen the focus and drive in a police dog’s eyes when they’re given a task, you would recognize the same gleam in his. I can see him as a failed police dog — passed all marks for intensity and focus, failed for intensely focusing on things his trainer did not want him to focus on.

After owning Sachi and Clay, two highly self-monitoring dogs, dogs that would limp for a bit at the slightest incident just from the surprise, ladies that would look at you in disdain if they needed to pee while it was raining because ugh, my feetses are wet, Hayden is an entirely new animal to me. We definitely got his name right. Originally “Jake” from the shelter, bringing to mind images of a monotonous khaki-clad call-center employee, he was renamed after the motorcyclist Nicky Hayden who inherited his number 69 from his dad who selected it because it would look the same upside down in the dirt.

The next 48 hours should be raining steadily, so I’m anticipating a good amount of couch time as he recovers and I read through these rainstorms. Miu always joins us in our cuddlefests and I’m happy to be trapped inside, listening to the pitter-patter on the roof. Saturday will be our next opportunity for the park, but I’ll be manipulating his toes before we head out there again, lest he fool me twice.