Dead Butts and Public Broadcasting.

Okay folks, we’re gonna talk about Dead Butt Syndrome. I can’t say for sure, but you probably have it and I’m sorry. I’m pretty sure I have it, too. I came to this realization when two of my favorite worlds converged – public broadcasting and biking.

Do you ever listen to OPB? If you don’t, you should. And if you do, then perhaps you’d recognize the dulcet tones of a Mister Casey Negreiff – Producer for Morning Edition (or the helluvastellar-journalist, Amelia Templeton, wife of Mr. Negreiff). Casey has to be at work really, really early in the morning. When most of us are logging some serious R.E.M.s, Casey is sitting down in front of a microphone where he’s expected to put together complete sentences using big words about complex topics. What he says will be broadcast all over Oregon and SW Washington and to anyone else in the world who streams the station digitally (which is a surprising number of people).

With a job like that you might think that Mister Negrieff would take it easy on himself, sleep in until the very last moment, then hop in his car and drive to work. But he doesn’t. Instead, he rolls out of bed and onto a bike. And when I first met Casey many years ago, he didn’t even own a car – which meant he biked to work 5 days a week, 12 months a year. Rain, shine, snow, ice, darkness. No other choice. No option to be late. Seconds count when you’re doing live radio.

So when Casey casually shared a bit of biking advice with me, I was all ears. Sometimes when I’m riding I try to focus on using different muscles. This sounds super nerdy, which is probably why I liked it and have continued to think about it all these years later.


Two thumbs up for biking. Still standing after Lolo Pass.

As I can best recall, it’s the idea that sometimes you focus on your quads doing the brunt of the work, or your hammies, or your butt. Now Casey’s not a mountain biker, but he does do ridiculous long road rides like Portland to the Gorge via Lolo Pass. (I know, disgusting.) Still, we’re mountain-bikers not roadies. There’s no time to think about using different muscles when we’re trying to hit the skinnies and shred the gnar, yo!

Except those times when you’re not. And instead, you’re climbing and it feels like foreevvvver and you need something to distract from the misery. That’s a great time to do the Casey Method. Which is exactly what I was trying to do the other day on some horrible climb I’m sure I’d been coerced into, which is when I discovered something truly awful. I couldn’t use my butt muscles. No matter how hard I focused, they just wouldn’t engage. Which is ridiculous, because our glutes are all huge and meaty and seem like they should totally be our secret turbo-boosters on climbs (as I write that I find it hard to not picture myself riding up a hill with 2 flames coming off my ass – in a good way). 


Climbing slickrock in Moab. No butt flames. Boo.

I made an offhand mention of this problem to Dr. Gerbi over at Hood River Chiropractic and she immediately responded “oh, yeah, Dead Butt Syndrome”. What?! Is it contagious? Curable? What am I up against? She went on to explain (in much more medical and smart-sounding terms than I’ll use here) that DBS is a silly name for a real thing, Lower Crossed Syndrome. Which is essentially a muscle imbalance where some of your muscles start doing too much of the work, resulting in other muscles saying sayonara baby! If you’re not using me, I’m clockin’ out! Before you know it, your hip-flexors are super tight, you’re walking ever-so slightly bent forward, your gut protrudes, your back hurts, and your butt won’t engage. Turns out it’s a pretty common problem among us ladies who’ve had kiddos (a natural next step following whacked out stomach muscles, crouched breast-feeding posture, toddler on hip etc.) But it’s also a common problem among folks who spend a lot of time sitting, at a desk, staring at a computer, like you’re probably doing right now.

So here we are, looking like a bunch of damn neanderthals as our sweet backsides waste away. It’s really so sad. And I’d like to tell you that I have the cure to Dead Butt Syndrome, but I’ve only just identified the problem in myself. So all I can do is wish you good health and good luck while I go donate to my local public broadcasting station and grapple with how to raise the dead.

UPDATE: 10/26/16 Nothing like a dead-butt to rally the troops. Check out this article just shared by the folks over at MTB Project. Apparently, dead butt can also affect our knees! Holy crap, that’s serious. Wake up your glutes, people! I’m doing the “fire-hydrant”as I type…


On Wednesday nights my sweet love and I have started getting a regular sitter to hang with the kiddos while we go on a date. We consider it cheap marriage therapy. Not long after we had our second kiddo, a friend gave me some great advice . She said that it’s important to have some “side-by-side time” before you have some “face-to-face time”. This epiphany occurred to her after she found herself going on post-kid dates with her hubby and sitting down to dinner, speechless. The pressure of the moment,  the desire to make adult conversation and not focus on the kids, was overwhelming. Instead of reviving their youthful love, they sat quietly across the table from each other, not quite able to get into the flow of their renewed, freedom. It freaked her out. Was their marriage failing? Doomed? Not meant to be? With a slight tweak of the night, going on a hike or bike or some sort of adventure together before dinner, they changed everything. That “side-by-side time” lubed the gears and got things moving by dinnertime.

Unfortunately, I just didn’t have the energy for that tonight. After hanging with my (amazing and energetic) kiddos today, I should want to hop on my bike to ride, but I felt exhausted and guilty that I wanted nothing else than a nap. I’m more of a morning exerciser. By 6pm I’ve got a pretty long list of reasons why I shouldn’t go sweat it out. So I talked us out of a ride (despite perfect weather and tacky trails) and instead we drank margaritas and beer, and ate Mexican food. Now I’m capping the night off with some Milk Duds and Sour Gummy Bears. Oh my.

That’s reality for us everyday folks. An imperfect commitment to our passions. I have a ride planned for tomorrow morning at 6:45 am. Gross. I will curse myself in the morning – and be so glad I did it when I’m done. So consider this a little long-distance-interweb show of support from one to another. Do what you can, and don’t worry about it when you can’t. Tomorrow is a new day. Whew. I’m off to bed.

UPDATE: I made the ride. We did it. 6:45 am came a bit too quickly, but thanks to the support of some good girlfriends I was pedaling away by 7:10 and breathing that crisp fall air. I was greeted with a steaming morning latte (thanks Jos!) and a tupperware container bursting with moist carrot muffins (you’re a dream KK!). It’s easy to forget feeling sorta crappy when you get to start your morning with folks like that.


So if last night was ‘reality’ then this morning should be ‘rebirth’. Okay, maybe that’s a bit dramatic, but listen…when you’re draggin’, and wondering what the hell you’re doing, huffing up a hill on 2-wheels, and then you come around a corner and the morning sun trickles through the trees and lights your path just as your Endorphins (and that latte and muffin) finally kick in – you can’t help but feel that life is looking Pretty. Good. A simple, fresh start that gets things reset and ready so you can go after it again – whatever it is. Trust me on this one.



Love hurts.

A friend once told me that if you don’t fall when you’re riding then you’re not pushing yourself enough. I get what she’s saying, but come on. This humdinger kept me off the trails for 10 days, and I don’t even have a good story for it. I was riding down sweet, sweet Kleeway here in Post Canyon. A trail I’ve grown to love. It was named after Matt Klee – a force for good in the Gorge riding scene, who unfortunately died in an accident before I ever got the chance to know him or give him kudos for all his hard work.

Kleeway is a swooping, hillside ride that moves from clearcut into forest. An alternate downhill route to the ever-popular Seven Streams. I’ve heard some grumblings from folks who don’t feel it’s accessible enough to all skill levels – ie. that it’s more advanced than they’d thought it was going to be – but I beg to differ. I have a blast riding it, even if I roll a lot of kickers and can’t even imagine gapping the gaps. Plus, since it’s a bit wider than your usual singletrack, you have a bigger landing pad when trying some of the smaller jumps.

I’d like to tell you that when I had my crash it was because I was shredding the trail like a pro – but, I wasn’t. I can’t even remember the exact spot where I fell. I didn’t black out, but I hit quick and hard. My bike and body were pile-driving my head into the dirt before I  had a chance to try and catch myself. Ouch. I lay there and groaned long enough to assess the situation. My riding group was long gone and fortunately, no one was zipping down the hill behind me.

I crawled back onto my bike and rolled the rest of the way down Kleeway. Once I hit the upper parking area I stuck to the road until I met my group waiting for me at the bottom. I didn’t feel like being tough and frankly, my knee had a big flap of skin hanging off that was really grossing me out. I got my group’s advice on preferred knee-pads (more on that in the future) and bid them adieu.

At home, my hubby tried to use our hose with a spray nozzle to clean out the wound, but the combination of pain, a messy gash, and 2 curious kiddos crawling on my achy bod, made me realize the job was not going to get done and the flap might just need some professional help. Off we went to the Emergency Room for some family bonding on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

The nurse told me my knee looked “gross” and the doctor told me it looked like it had just “exploded” on impact. Thanks to some magic injections, a fancy cleaning syringe, and a tetanus shot, my knee was cleaned and stitched up in no time. And, of course, the best time to take your bike in for a tune-up is when you won’t be needing it for awhile. So off it went for a tune-up to get ready to ride another day.