Welcome to Quad Town

Reunited and it feels so good! 
After working 52 hours in the last 3 days, I got to ride my bike tonight.  Me and my lil Surly girl (Her name is Misty) headed out to Tiny Piney for the Wed Night Ride.  I had never ridden this route before…a bit nervous that I would end up in the back with some poor soul waiting on me.  I was elated to see some of my friends show up for this one…my bike folk make me smile.
I contemplated doing the 20 miler, but knew I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t go with the 27 mile group…so I sacked up and went for 27.  The group started fairly mellow and eased into a nice, steady pace.  Since I STILL don’t have a bike computer, I had no earthly idea how fast we were going.  I just know that I was breathing hard and sweating profusely by mile 5.  It hurt.
I managed to hang with the main pack for a while, but slowed as we met our first real climb.  Same shit different day.  I’m so used to getting dropped that I wasn’t even phased.  I just put Misty in a big ring and took advantage of the flats, descents and short climbs…those are my strong points.
I got pretty excited to be haulin’ some major booty right before we turned off towards the river.  Little did I know I would meet my arch nemesis…BIG ASS FALSE FLAT.  A guy I was riding with offered to get in front and pull, but I had NEVER had anyone ride my wheel before.  I was kind of excited to give back for all the times I sucked someone’s wheel.  I’ve never really been anything but last, so I wanted to do some work.  And trust me, my happy ass did some work.  I was DYYYYIIIINNNGGGGG.  I felt vomit chunks rising in my esophagus.  My hips hurt…my quads burned.  My lungs hated me.  I kept going.  The next climb was a total nightmare, but I pedaled anyway.
The river was nice and flowy. Big ring.  Fast and fun.  Still not much of a break in sight.  I took another turn in the drivers seat and pulled a couple guys.  They passed me.  Big climb.  Mama was tired.
After a few small climbs and some hardcore pedaling to catch up with the guys in front of me, I made it back to the shop.  Success was mine.  I was pretty happy with my ride considering I hadn’t been on the bike since Saturday.  More than that, I was stoked to go all out.  Tonight was probably the hardest I’ve ever ridden.  Welcome to Quad Town.


My Lonely Bike

My Tennessee paramedic license posted this morning.  Engage penny-pinching
A-hole NOW.  Work has a whole new feeling…the ISH just got realer than real.  Sunday will be my first shift working as a medic…is it a full moon?  I expect the bottom to fall out of the City of Kingsport.  Let’s do this thang!
On a less sketchy note, I did NOT ride my bike like a boss this week.  I came home from the SORBA camping trip late Sunday night and worked 62 hours in 4 days.  I had BIG plans of riding on my days off, but those plans were thwarted when we spent every second of our Tuesday shift running calls.  No sleep = no bike riding.  Yeah, I know I should have applied rule #5, but I dare you to do my job without sleep for 24 hours and then try to ride a bike.  Let me know how that goes, ok?  Thank goodness for Wed Night Ride…even if it was only 6 miles.  I got to ride with the girlies and move my legs before heading back to work for another 24 hours.
Speaking of bikes and girls, I officially took on my 3rd job this afternoon.  I will be ATTEMPTING to fill the very big shoes of Kit and working at Piney Flats Bicycle Shop.  I’m super stoked to be a part of such a good group of guys.  I’ve always wanted to do something like this…and maybe I’ll learn a thing or two about bikes.  I’m also working on getting my bike patrol certification.  I have a ton of free time now that school is over and I intend on making the most of it.  I’ll be the only bike patroller going over the handlebars…that, I’m sure of.
My body has been overly tired this week and I’m bummed I didn’t get on my bike more.  I feel so unprepared for the Barbaritos Triathlon and even more so for Pisgah Monster Cross.  I can’t believe race day is almost here and I’m way behind…it depresses me actually.  I know that being an Archer speaks volumes on my determination and drive…but will that be enough to get to the finish line?  My mama was always so good at adapting and overcoming life’s bad lemons…and my brother can get on a bike any day of the week and crush it.  Am I made of the same stuff?  Can I do this?  God, I hope so.
I know I’m strong and have come so far in both my career and my bike training, but will it be enough when the shit hits the fan?  When someone is dying right in front of me, will I be able to move the knowledge from my head and let it speak through my hands?  When I’m all alone at mile 30, will I be able to tough it out to mile 70?  What happens if I can’t get out of my dark place and pedal my bike to the finish?  How will I handle my first death of a child?  I’ve been put here, in this very place for a reason…and when the time comes, I’ll do what needs to be done. 
After all…I’m an Archer.

Just cause you feel it, doesn’t mean it’s there.

The heart is a tricky little monster.  You put so much trust in it.  I mean, come on…it keeps you alive.  It pumps your blood.  It is almost solely responsible for your being.  Why wouldn’t we give our heart everything?  Is there any reason to doubt it?  After 32 years of trying to figure out what I want, who I am and where I’m going, the consensus is….I don’t have a stinkin’ clue.
I’m at a point in my life where I’m constantly questioning my decisions.  Did I make the right ones?  Am I following the path most suited for me?  Am I being true to myself?  Just because I feel it, is it really there?  Am I a good daughter?  Am I a positive female role model for my nephew?  Did I make the right decision about moving back to Tennessee?  The list goes on…and on…and on.  It’s overwhelming at times.  I don’t want to miss something.  I don’t want to be afraid to choose the road less traveled. 
I’ve lived in various places over the years…and my soul is a mountain soul.  My heart aches for my little Mammoth town…and Boone…and the Rockies…and Asheville.  I melt each and every time I visit these places.  I see old faces and wish things were different.  Just because I feel this, is it really there?
I’m still carrying around a pocket full of part time jobs, in spite of my recent upgrade to paramedic.  I have a bachelors degree in recreation management…a field that I truly love.  My resume is filled with cool jobs, real-life experience and great references.  I’m a hard worker.  I put everything into what I do.  Since obtaining my paramedic license, I’ve been questioning my decision to put myself through the last 14 months.  Did I choose the right path?  Will I EVER find a full-time job as a medic, with a service that I truly love and stand by?  Will this ever work out?  I have my doubts…but try to stay positive.  There are so many things I want to do, it’s hard to pick ONE.
I want the total package.  I want to be able to have my cake AND eat it AND not gain any weight.  I want the job, the man, the dog and the freedom to live my life as I have for the last decade.  I want everything and nothing.  I want my space.  I want to be surrounded.  I want to be a jack of all trades and a master at SOME 😉  I want a room full of snowboards, bikes, climbing gear and…wait…I already have that….well….that’s a start.
So, how do I know if I’m where I’m supposed to be?  Will I have doubts and strong feelings no matter which path I choose?  Do I stay here forever or do I fuel my desire to be a free spirit?  Do I take a chance on a new job that may or may not be what I’m made for?  Will I ever be fulfilled?  Not really sure if I will…and not really sure if I’m supposed to be. 
Is my heart playing tricks on me?  I guess some things we’ll never know for sure…

Apply Rule #5 and Shut Your Mouth

I went to bed last night with the plan of riding my first metric century this morning.  Come hell or high water, my happy ass was getting on the bike and pedaling until the computer said 62.whatever.  I didn’t care what had to happen…mama had a date with her Surly. 
First thing I noticed was clouds…crap.  Next thing I noticed was the happy little text message from my friend Alan, telling me to “be careful” and “rain heading your way”.  I didn’t care.  Funk dat.  I’m riding a metric century…and the world can kiss my ass today. 
On my way to Lamar School, I pregamed with a little Rage Against the Machine.  By the time I arrived, I was ready to smash some skulls and/or ride my bike.  I put all my crap together and waited for my friend Sean…poor guy agreed to ride with the slowest human on the planet.  Bless it!
And away we went…
I felt pretty good by the time we rolled through Chuckey.  It looked like rain…pretty much from the start…we kept going.  I’m not sure what mile it was when I came to the realization that we were not making it to the car without a fight.  The sky looked pissed.  The wind was howling…of course, we spent 95% of the ride in a headwind.  Here it comes….BIG ASS RAIN DROPS.  I lived in Boone for 4 years and spent a lot of time riding on the parkway in the rain, but this was serious.  The damn sky was falling.  Glasses fogged up.  Water moving across the road.  NO BRAKES.  Freezing.  Water running into my eyes/nose/mouth.  I just laughed.  We were probably 20-30 miles out at this point…nothing to do but pedal and laugh.
The sky eventually had mercy on us and the sun came back out…hot and ready to kick my ass.  By mile 57, I was starting to hurt.  This was my longest ride ever….by 7 miles.  Time to see what my legs had left…for what I THOUGHT would be 5 more miles.
I stood up and punched it for every climb till we got to the car…it hurt so bad.  I just had to know what my legs were capable of at the end of a loooooooooooong ride.  And they worked like magic.  Like freakin’ magic.  I just wanted to see the car.  And eat.  And drink a beer.  Or 12.
I saw Lamar School.  I saw the car.  I laughed.  I sighed.  I laughed some more.  I was STOKED to make it through my longest ride ever.  I laughed some more…
In a week’s time, I’ve managed to accomplish more than I ever thought possible.  I passed my practicals, passed my National Registry paramedic exam, signed up for Pisgah Monster Cross, rode 20+ miles on my mountain bike AND pedaled through 67.5 miles on the road…on a 20+ lb steel framed Surly Crosscheck.  Take that bitches. 
When in doubt, apply rule #5 and shut your mouth…

Hurts So Good.

I’m lying in bed. In pain. My ass hurts. My legs hurt. My skin is covered in thorn and stinging nettle scratches. My face hurts from laughing. My tongue hurts from sticking it out like Michael Jordan all day. I have mud on my legs that may never wash off. I’m pretty sure my bruises are forever.
And I’m ecstatic about it.
I got back on the Surly this past Wednesday after a couple days out of the saddle. Hammered my slow booty up to Watauga Dam.  My little riding partners decided not to tell me about this climb until we were on our way…punks!  The climb was LONG and it was HOT.  I was wheezing the entire ascent.  My speed was similar to a snail…almost fell over on some of the steeper sections.  I didn’t fall over.  In fact, I made it to the top.  Winning!  The descent was worth every pedal stroke.
I was looking forward to TNR this week, but alas, the rain gods had other plans.  We all knew it wasn’t going to happen, but we faithfully showed up with bikes in tow…ultimately aware that we would just end up eating and drinking beer.  My practical exam for my medic was the following day and I wanted to distract myself from my nerves.  Instead of a bike ride I ate beans and cheese…drank a 22oz beer…ate a Chocolate Silk Pie Blizzard from Dairy Queen.  Oh…and made the practical exam my BITCH! 
Friday was quite possibly the most frustrating, exhausting, anxious and nerve wracking moment of my entire existence.  I was a hot mess on the inside, showing nothing more than a red face on the outside.  I cried in the shower.  I cried on my way to the testing site.  I wanted to cry after every single station I completed.  I just kept telling myself to “hold on” and “breathe”.  If I had made it this far…I must know what I’m doing.  After I completed my final station, John Dabbs took me out in the hallway and started talking.  I just stared…he kept talking…I stared.  He finally held out his hand and muttered the words I had been waiting to hear…CONGRATULATIONS, YOU PASSED.  I immediately broke down in tears like I was Miss Tennessee in the Miss America pageant.  The stress and anxiety I had felt over the past 14 months just broke…on my face!
Knowing I had to take my written National Registry test on Saturday, I decided to support Kari’s Heart Foundation and ride the 28 miler that morning.  It would be a workout and I might shave off some anxiety before the BIG test.  Well, I got what I asked for…it was a beast.  I went out with the goal of pushing it as hard as I could, without dying.  I succeeded and felt amazing.  I felt like ass crack during the ride, but I wasn’t last…I made my goal…and I walked away in better shape because of it.
Took my test at 3…spent less than an hour at the testing site.  Drank wine.  I either failed miserably or I nailed it…won’t know till tomorrow.  The suspense might kill me in my sleep tonight.  Fo’ realz.
Today I took on the task of riding Rocky Fork with some amazing people.  My new friend, Anet, is a MEGA endurobeast and talked me into signing up for Pisgah Monster Cross…which is 70 miles and 10,000+ feet of climbing.  I figured I needed to get started on training…sooooo, we spent 20+ miles and 6+ hours in the saddle.  Climbing.  Climbing.  Climbing.  And climbing.  Her husband is equally as beastly on a bike.  They amaze me.  I suffered like a dog and loved it.  The views were amazing…the company was amazing…the day was…amazing.  Today was proof that I’m moving right along and getting stronger on the bike.  I’m amazed that I could even complete a ride like today…and blessed to be able to.  I’m overwhelmed with my passion for this little metal thing with two wheels.  Both on and off road.  I think I’ll keep pedaling…

A letter to you…

Dear Mom,

Today is the day.  For the last 14 months I have been thinking about it.  Remember when you said I could do anything I put my mind to?  Remember when you told me my gritty determination would get my what I wanted some day?  Well, let’s see if you were right.  I mean, I’ve made it this far…I know SOMETHING, right?

I wish you were here to calm my nerves…you were so good at that.  I had a dream about you last night…it was nice to see you.  Could you do me a favor and show your presence in the room today while I’m testing?  I’d appreciate that. 

I promise that I’ll treat people the way I watched them treat you when you were sick.  That’s what keeps my head on straight at 3am when I’ve been running calls all night…when I’m jaded…when I’m fed up with the BS calls.  I get that one really sick person and I think of you…and it makes all this worth it.  I hope and pray that I can be a paramedic you’d be proud of.

This is it.  Probably the biggest thing I’ve ever done in my life.  I’d give anything for you to see it.  Wish me luck.


What doesn’t kill you…makes you bleed.

Beer.  The best bandaid a girl can get.
People are always using that lame-O line, “What doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”.  We just assume “they” are correct…but is there any truth to it?  I’m torn.
I had one of my scariest mountain bike crashes yesterday on Bays Mountain.  I wasn’t going particularly fast, but it was rutty and loose…and I chose a craptastic line.  I saw myself heading straight for a tree.  I tried to turn out of it, but my wheel caught sideways and launched me over the handlebars, feet still clipped in, right off the embankment.  Luckily I’m somewhat of a “tree hugger”, because that’s what saved me from going off the side of the trail.  My ankle got caught between the bike and the tree…and it hurt.
I quickly got up after a few choice words and a John McEnroe-like reaction.  I knew if I stayed on the ground I would cry…and girls don’t cry in front of a bunch of boys. 🙂
Getting back to the car was a combination of painful movements and a more timid attitude.  I was scared.  I don’t like being scared.  When all the guys were up ahead of me, I let the tears fall.  I was in pain and I scared the beejesus out of myself.
Riding down the fire road, I began to think about my last few relationships and how they compared to my mountain bike rides.  I’ve taken a few hard diggers lately.  Kinda makes me afraid to get back up and on the bike at times.  I have a blast on my bike…riding with friends…in the woods.  The feeling I get flowing through the trees is amazing.  I don’t so much enjoy the climbing, but I know that’s part of it (and it makes the descent worth more). 
I’ve taken a few hard diggers in the relationship department over the last couple of years.  Makes me afraid to get back up and continue on the journey.  I’ve experienced some of the most amazing moments of my life in the company of others.  I’ve also experienced some of the most heart wrenching moments in the company of those same individuals.  Did it make me strong? 
I figure if I can get up, brush myself off and keep moving after some of the disastrous relationships I’ve been in, I can keep riding my bike.  Believe it or not, a broken arm heals faster than a broken heart.  I’m still not sure if those experiences have made me stronger or more cynical…we’ll see.  The unfortunate difference between the heart and the bike is…you don’t get to choose which trail your heart takes.  Just hold on for your life!
So, would I rather have a broken ankle or a broken heart?  Hand me the crutches….