Here’s to you, Tom.

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Tom

So today is Tom’s birthday. I happen to be in Bend (where he last lived); riding my mountain bike – a sport he first introduced me to, and so, of course, I think of him. Which makes me happy; because he was amazing and changed my life for the better. And sad, because we never got that one last ride together.

And if we had, I would have him help me with my cornering. I’ve been figuring it out slowly, but I know he’d use his patient, mellow voice, to help me do it better. Oh, and I’d get to follow him up a hill, staring at his calves….(focus, focus). And he’d laugh and get all twinkle-eyed when I wiped out trying (I would laugh, too). And he’d gleam his subtle pride when I finally whipped a corner like a pro.

And so here’s to you Tom.

I had a really good ride today. It was beautiful here in Bend. I got a few of those corners. I hit some kickers. I tried to pretend I was a climber so that I’d forget how much the hills hurt. And I thought of you.

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Excited to find “vintage” skis on the side of the road.

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Tom.

 

Butts Alive!

It ain’t just for the ladies! Here’s to fully-firing ass muscles for all! (Kipp, you’re cool if I share this, right???)

And if you’re wondering at the recent obsession with strong backsides, read this (and then, go donate to OPB, cuz it’s fall Pledge and you know you listen and have totally started sentences with ‘so I heard on the radio…’) You can also see the fabulous Julie “Jane Fonda” Caldwell rockin’ some backside busters in these 2 posts: Take That Dead Butts and AssMasters Part Deux.

Now go wake that butt up, folks!

And a Guitar

I was getting a little early morning work done when lo and behold I see a guy climb out of car across the street. He has a fat-tire bike and a variety of black gear bags. After the car pulls away I watch as he carefully places each bag in its appropriate spot – on his bike. Clearly, he’d done this before. Not long thereafter we are in conversation. Turns out he has been riding for months. Carrying all he needs on his 2-wheeled steed. Ryan’s his name, bikepacking is his game (although it’s really a means to another end as you’ll see). Quick to make honest conversation, curious to boot, he needed a ride to Portland and so Tate I loaded up his gear and we headed into the city – hearing and sharing stories along the way. Nice to meet ya Ryan – safe and fantastic travels to you!

(An a loving, long distance bit of love to Old Man Graka. May you heal fast and get back to bikepacking soon yourself!)

Take That Dead Butts!

So a couple years ago, I had my first encounter with Dead Butts Syndrome. So sad, really. And in sharing the horror of that experience, I had very little to offer in terms of remedying a very fixable rear-end situation. One that probably a lot of us are facing.

Alas, that was then, and this is now. And more importantly, this is Julie. You may remember her as my partner in bravery – facing down bears and cougars on an early morning ride. She’s badass in a lot of ways, but for this post in particular – she’s simply going to help you get a badass-ass. (After which, she’ll take you out on a mountain bike ride and simply kick your ass.)

Thanks Julie. Rumor has it she has a line of workout videos coming out soon – all filmed post-ride, in full gear, with a live audience. If that doesn’t work out, you can catch her at the Tucker Road Animal Hospital in her day job as a veterinarian.

A Love Letter.

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To My Gorge Gals,

When I first moved to the Gorge I knew one person. He was gonna be my husband. And he lived with these 2 other people, a girl and boy. And also their dog. And I can remember one day, early on, coming over and learning that the girl was out on a bike ride with a bunch of other girls. I think the guys even said “she’s out on a girls’ ride.” And my tomboy-self puffed up its chest, put its hands on its hips and thought, oh hell no. When I move out here and marry this dude, I am not going to be relegated to going on girls’ rides, I am going to ride with the boys! And for awhile, that was the way it was. Partly because hubby-to-be was teaching me to ride and partly because, well, I didn’t know anyone else.

But things happen and times change and, thankfully, so do people.

I have started this letter many times in my head. I’ve even said some of it out loud. But mostly, I’ve just thought it – usually while riding my mountain bike on a girls ride.

I moved here to marry a manly-nerd. A rare and incredible breed of man that happens to congregate in the Gorge. What I didn’t expect, was to also fall in love with Gorge Women. Where have you been all my life?! You too, are a incredible breed of human. Full of a vim and vigor that has inspired me. And humbled me.

Gorge women are powerful women. You blow snot rockets, wear dirty bike shorts, slaughter goats, and make good bread. Gorge women value a badass bike climb, an early morning run, or the strength to say whoa, what’s up with all this exercising? I just want a beer. You have scars with stories and dreams of more to come. You have taught me that garlic doesn’t come in jars and that there is more to dinner than mac and cheese…though I sometimes still wonder why.

You are bold and brave, but still somehow humble. You give me shit, and make me lattes and muffins, are patient when I drink all your wine, and bring me gas on the side of the road. You’ve had grace with me, even when I didn’t do that for myself. And have dropped everything to support me and my family when I wasn’t feeling strong. I’ve watched you show your vulnerabilities and share your fears – and that has taught me to try and do the same, because I knew I’d be safe. You are moms and partners and professionals, or some combination of all three. And we have struggled and wondered together, at how this all works.

You somehow manage to be strong and independent, yet so quick to draw someone in, and to nurture. I have learned to nurture, because of you. You have handed me stiff drinks, folded my laundry, taught me about nature, made me think, and made me laugh – big, hearty, pee-your-pants kinds of laughs – which, may now be easier since having kids. And you have forgiven me, or will eventually, I hope, for putting such oozy, sentimental, cheesiness down in writing to you.

And – we have gone on rides. Girls rides. Oh, and they have made me feel high. Giddy with adrenaline at what I have learned and at what we can do together.

With much love to you all,

Fox