Wednesday, December 22, 2010


Stale jelly beans are the next pure energy supersonic fuel--I'm sure of it. I killed my intervals with Bucky in tow. He held on tight as there was massive wind and a storm brewing. We rode as fast as possible to catch the pockets of blue in the swirling grey sky. I think I'll make Bucky a little rain jacket out of a Ziploc bag. Yes, Tucson brings out the crazy cat lady in me.

Photos! I totally took them during the intervals, clif shot in one hand, camera in the other, no hands on the bars, pushing 300+ watts. Psych...This isn't that type of blog--You may have mistaken this blog for a different Wheeler blog.

Picture Rocks Looking Threatening

Pockets of Blue

The Promise of a Leprechaun and Lots of Tasty Marshmallows

And my favorite song of the ride...

If you're into Pajama Jeans and stale jelly beans...

I know I rant and rave about the LUXURIOUS snowbird lifestyle I have in Tucson. I mean, I'm going on exotic coyote spotting safaris, collecting only the finest gravel for my water bottle, working out at the finest sports clubs on VIP passes, and picking up poop of pure-bred canines large enough to fit into one of the HUGE purses that are in fashion today. (Why do women have such large handbags? For schoolbooks? Oversize compacts?)

But unfortunately, Monday evening after my postponed and dreaded gym workout (I successfully snuck into the club again.) and all day yesterday, I had to hanker down and finish a project for my other not often talked about regular job. I saved the largest amount of work for my day off the bike and it turned into an all day and almost all night affair consisting of me in my pajamas and eating everything in sight. I find that when I have to do something that I don't want to do, I just try to mask the monotony with CANDY and other crap. Yeah, maybe that's called emotional bingeing. Not sure. I usually try to keep all crap out of the house during times like these but I managed to find some stale jelly beans which almost broke my teeth.

Anyway, so you can imagine me--a massive blob in plaid pants and bed head--with my laptop and a box of jelly beans and granola bar wrappers all around, typing away, while some reality shows about dating a millionaire or picking out wedding dresses are on TLC and Bravo on TV. I can feel myself getting larger and for some reason I still keep thinking about the ice cream cones at McDonalds only a block away, but then I think, "Oh the effort! I'll have to put on real clothes if I leave the house!" A total sloth. Then a commercial for Pajama Jeans comes on and I actually perk up to watch. It was as if they were speaking to me! They would go awesome with my Snuggie that I've been meaning to buy for days like this. But $40! Oh to be rich and have an assortment of Pajama Jeans....someday...

Anyway, it occurred to me that I was in a seriously foul mood. I was tired and had no motivation. I was dreading the intervals for tomorrow (which is now today) and wondered what happened to my beautiful sunset/Tucson motivation, but I couldn't worry about that now because I had to finish the deadline. The thought of not being able to pay my bills in a week was more convincing to keep working than listening to my shitty attitude that just wanted to stop and watch reruns of King of the Hill.

This morning, even though I had finished my deadline in the wee hours of the morning, my bad mood persisted. I got up, microwaved some coffee and did some chores and started to feel better. I thought about how today's workout isn't a make all or break all but rather just part of the process. It doesn't have to feel like a deadline or a big test--just get the work done and call it a day. I started to feel lighter (even though my fingers were swollen to the size of jimmy dean sausages from the massive junk consumption of the night before).

I understood, too, that concentrating on delivering my best work for two disciplines was difficult for me. I'd like to think I'm superwoman and can maintain a full time job and then also be the best cyclist, but then I would not be giving cycling the respect or energy it deserves--I'm convinced that to be the best, it has to be your full-time job. People winning the Tour or the Giro or World Cups probably aren't spending 30 hours a week, writing about security and privacy principles for clinical trials. But maybe they are...but I just can't handle it at this point.

I learned this lesson last year. I worked 40+ hours a week and rode 16-20 hours--most of my rides were at night. I remember times (more often than not) within those hard weeks that I was being a shitty girlfriend, really cranky--oh there was this episode with the brake pads...sigh, an average employee, really sensitive, really irritable, and just mentally overloaded. Some may think, "oh Jennifer, that's you ALL of the time!!!" I can assure you, it's not. I have AT LEAST 3-4 facebook friends who can vouch for me that it's not.

So yeah, the point is that I have to make it work. And to make it work, means working my real job as little as possible and then hankering down for those 2-3 days to just make enough to get by. It's much more fulfilling--and easier to me--to focus 100% on cycling for 6-7 days and then have 2-3 days of straight work than to dilute either discipline. I can deal with not having any money, and I'll sell hand-crafted yarn God's Eyes earrings on ebay if needed (Heck I sold plus size theme sweaters one season, why can't  I sell these?) I'm an optimist and I know if I continue making things happen and working hard--which may still include a stale jelly bean binge here and there--I'll be able to prove myself and support myself on cycling alone.

Well, that's my dream at least--how cool would it be to ACTUALLY be able live your passion? I know I'm pro and that's the idea, but it doesn't work like that. They (as in those in charge of the budget) don't say "Oh I see you have potential--here's oodles of money that I'm going to take from all the national champs and world champs' budgets to give to you." No, just like anywhere, they start you out small and then expect you to prove yourself, prove you're an asset, prove that you have what it takes to persevere during a long season, injuries, and still be a valued team member. That's tough to invest without immediate gains (for both the team and the athlete)--it's like investing in a start-up company--but those who can make it through the process make it in this sport. So many people have potential, but as we all know, there's oh so much more to it than potential. It's those who can come back from a stale jelly bean overdose--or avoid the situation in the first place--who ultimately persevere...really.

So that's my goal..after getting out of bed this continue the journey of proving myself and completing the process...oh and to score me a pair of those HOT Pajama Jeans....oh and to never eat another jelly bean again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Adoption Face

So part of my off-the-bike training is "Volunteering: the practice of not being totally self-absorbed." It's kind of hard not to be when every day you're 80%--at least--focused on yourself, your training, how you feel, what you eat, etc. etc. Many will say cycling is a very selfish sport--as are most sports at a high level.

To fulfill my training requirement, I'm volunteering on Mondays at the Pima Animal Shelter as a dog walker. And dammit, I'm going to be the best dog walker! :) No, I actually love talking to the dogs and giving them hugs and running around with them until they're smiling.

Also, I want to help them get adopted and a happy dog is an appealing dog. So I'm working with them to work their adoption face and best assets. I admit, I've watched a few episodes of America's Next Top Model, so I thought about Tyra and tried to give them pointers when I could. Some needed a little more help than others.

Here are a couple of the models I walked.

Butch--He didn't need much help with his adoption face as he sauntered with the confidence of a pure bred German Shepard and a demeanor of a true gentleman. He could easily win the heart of any lady.

And then there was Moo--with a name like Moo, he's going to need some help. Moo is a pointer mix and a sweetheart but he likes to howl like a hound dog and add some whimpers in. I told him to give me his best pointer pose but he just whimpered :( So instead I decided to howl in unison with him, and then when I gave him a pat on the head and a quick snuggle, he immediately was quiet. It was pretty endearing.
And then there was Nexxus--either a spin on Lexus or the hair products. (I secretly renamed him Prancer as he was bounding and prancing everywhere. They really love their walks!) He is so lightweight that he would jump and then fall over backwards like a featherweight. But his real asset are those eyes--I told him just bat that baby blue and that deep brown and he'd have a home in no time.
And then the winner of the Adoption Face competition goes to...Meadow! Oh Meadow reminded me of my sweet Louise. As soon as she saw me, she said, "Oh Hello! I'll go on a walk and love you and sit and anything you want." She broke my heart--but I knew if she won me over in a second, she'd win another over very quickly.
Perhaps Meadow will grow up and acquire the sophistication of my former dog, Louise! (Who lives with my friend now--thank goodness she has a good home.)


Sunday, December 19, 2010

Sunset Ride

Oh today was one of those days that started out sluggish and then just ended up gorgeous. I went to a couple of cycling Christmas parties and then ended up getting up around 10 this morning. See what happens when you ride for four hours and then have three beers? Yes, a hangover. Just say it--PARTY ANIMAL! Pathetic, I know. That was the first time I actually finished a beer in months. It tasted really good. For me, alcohol=slow. I'd much rather eat a chocolate bar than a pint of beer. But to each his/her own...

Anyway, I ended up sending out some texts for ride partners and was told to meet my friend Paul at University of Arizona as he was picking up a few of his friends and then we'd go on a ride. Paul is damn fast so before committing I was like--wait, what kind of ride is it? He assured me it was a 3-4 hour easy ride. And when he rolled up like this, I knew he wasn't lying.
Oh but I spoke too soon. Who knew Dan (his back attachment) and Paul could move so quickly on a tandem. Paul would say "Up! Up! Up!" and I would have to push some good wattages to keep up. On some of the downhills, I was huffing and puffing to try to stay up--because I did not want to get beat by a tandem--I mean, who gets dropped on a straight downhill? 

When I finally caught up towards the end of the downhill , I said, "Man, y'all have fat asses! I could barely hang on." They took that (the fat ass part) as a compliment, of course, and laughed at me pouring sweat while Paul stayed cozy in his arm warmers the whole ride.

Anyway, the ride turned into a longer ride than I had planned to ride when I finally managed to get out of bed this morning--and it was well worth it. When I was riding home, I was able to catch the Tucson sunset and again feel that reassurance that everything is well in my world.

Seriously, I love riding my bike.

(Excuse the static--it was a little windy)

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Baby on Board!

Well, there's a new addition to the family--his given name is Buckshot but we call him Junior. It's funny in the sense that his innards were supposed to be filled with buckshot but it turns out he's just filled with 75% rocks and 25% water. Maybe that's why he ain't so bright...chaw chaw chaw.

Anyway, enough of the silliness. Buck is a water bottle (which I now call potion bottles because no one carries water anymore just bottles filled with magical elixirs, aka potions) filled with rocks. Buck gains weight each week and will have to be filled with more dense material than rocks in the future, like buckshot. Apparently, weighted potion bottles are all part of the PRO gram.

Sometimes,  I think my coach just has me do stuff to see if I'll do it. Like the time she made me fill my jersey pockets with delicious candies until they were overflowing and then had me do a sprint workout in the hot sun. The candies melted all over my pockets went flying everywhere, pelting my bike and my legs, leaving chocolate spots everywhere. She said by doing this, I would experience first hand how eating junk food can be a nuisance to your performance. No, this is all a lie. She never had me do this. But if she told me to, I would. I am learning to put my full trust in my coach. This is new to me, as I ALWAYS KNOW BEST. No, not really. I actually like being told what to do. I'll just secretly ponder over it and dissect and analyze and question but still do it. I'm learning how to let go of that. If I can't trust, then I'll be a constant coach hopper, team hopper, etc. I remember Joe Friel saying something like any training plan will produce results--the problem is that often athletes never complete one, but rather jump from plan to plan getting lackluster results. So yeah, trust. I'm working on it. I guess it's called maturity.

Speaking of maturity, back to Buck. I know since I have a baby on board while climbing and descending, I have to make sure he is safe.It's horrifying to think of him tearing out my water bottle cage bolts and flying over the mountain. Oh poor BISCUIT (my bike)--and Buck of course.  I checked out some car seats online and although I was impressed by the Baby Bella, I didnt' want to make a fad decision.

I leaned toward the more classic styling and protection of Eddie Bauer.

So, after researching the features, I built a car seat for Buck on my bicycle. To minimize side impact, I chose to mount him on the seat tube. I removed my carbon bottle cage--lightweight and fancy but will it protect my baby in a collision? Probably not--Titanium is the way to go. Lightweight and sturdy. I heard Garth Algar saying, "You'll never afford it, Wayne! Live in the now!" That's why it's great to have friends. My friend Dejay hooked me up--a titanium bottle cage complete with titanium screws. Oh yeah!

Then I knew I needed to secure Buck so I created a seat belt for him--it just straps around the neck! Perfect! Hmmm...I'm such a great mom, securing my child around the neck. Then I zip tied the straps from behind to ensure they didn't slip.

(The zip tie in the back reminded me of when I would tie the straps of my hand-me-down swimsuit together in a the back when I was younger to keep it from slipping down. So I would run around at the pool as a child with a faded pink one piece, saggy butt, and straps secured with a rubber band like a ragamuffin kid. My mom--who I spent my summers with--was horrified when she saw my swimsuit concoction. But see mom, my craftiness came in handy!!!)

Anyway, here's a look at Buck pre-ride.

 All went well and after several hours of climbing, I definitely started to get tired of carrying around my child. Maybe next time I'll invest in one of those cloths that the hippie moms use rather than putting it on my bike...stay tuned.

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Heist

I've turned into a criminal in Tucson...and I somewhat enjoyed it!

Even though I'm in sunny Tucson, I'm still ordered do leg press at a gym to build "at-home Booty Pops." I can't afford to join a gym in whatever city I decided to land that month so THANKFULLY my new Tucson friend, Christy, let me borrow her gym card to use for the handful of times I'll go to the gym while I'm here. I just had to pull off my new identity...

As I mentioned in my previous post, I entertain myself by building dramas in my head. So, instead of just using the gym card, I treated my visit to the gym like a big bank heist.

I found out that although there's no photo of Christy on the card, there is one on the computer when they scan the card. So I asked her what her facial expressions were on the card, how her hair was done, etc. and then practiced replicating this look so I could sneak by the front counter. I think I pulled it off well.

Then as I pulled into the gym parking lot, I realized that if my identity is suspected, they may ask me to verify my personal information. I spent some time memorizing my name and address, including zip code. I came up with a few alternatives like..."well what do you have on file, I've moved...or ...oh you must have entered the wrong street before." Once I had all that set, I walked to the entrance. Before I entered the facility and realized i had no idea where the scanner was or if I was supposed to hand the card to a staff member, etc. That would totally give away that I was new to the facility if I couldn't pull that off. So, I stood outside and acted like I was on the phone, even talking to an imaginary person on the other line so I could slyly watch another member walk in and see the protocol.

Then it was time...I walked in casually like I was busy and handed my key chain over (of course, I had put the card on my key chain like a pro). I then looked at my watch and made the proper facial expression as the staff member scanned the card and looked at the computer and then looked at me. Then I heard the words, "Have a good workout!" I was in. I felt like I should put a finger to my ear and whisper, "Squirrel to White Rabbit--I'm in."

Instead I immediately scoped the place, and found the goods--the leg press machine. All was well until I realized that it was a leg press with advanced levers. I was only experienced in leg presses pre-2008 with standard controls. I panicked, panic for the safety of my legs, panic that if i fumbled around, it would be obvious I wasn't CHRISTY, who was a member since 2008!!!! Lord!

Luckily, after a minute or so I figured it out and all was good. I became more comfortable and noticing I was getting some standard looks from the Venice Beach tank top men who desperately wanted to give me a "How you doin? What's your name?" I practiced in my head, "My name is Christy. My name is Christy," but luckily my farmers tan, headphones, and stench from a ride previously in the day kept me safe from passers-by.

I finished my workout and then strolled out of the gym...mission complete...this time at least.

PS My butt is REALLY SORE. Curses to the Leg press of the future!!!

Monday, December 13, 2010


On my ride today along the Ajo Highway and up Sierrta Mountain Rd., I spotted the following items:
  • 10 Border Patrol vehicles
  • 2 Helicopters
  • 1 Fed Ex Van (which I suspect was housing the illegally imported fruit from California that the Border Patrol was most likely on the prowl for--maybe they have a more sophisticated operation than the checkpoints on the northern California border).
  • 1 pink beaded necklace
  • 1 Powerade bottle filled with urine
  • 1 Trap and Skeet Club of Tucson--where Olympic dreams come true (the sign said)
  • 1 Cindy Lou's II Cafe--(yes with the roman numerals)
I rode four hours tempo alone. My feet were hot. But to get through this ride I relied on my trusty ipod, which contained the following songs to keep me going:

  • "Home" Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes
  • "Animal" Miike Snow
  • "Are you sure Hank done it this way?" Waylon Jennings
  • "We are the People" Empire of the Sun
  • "Good Morning" Dandy Warhols
  • "Take Ecstacy" !!! (chk chk chk)
  • "Love Me Girl" Yeasayer
  • "I Remember" Yeasayer
  • "The Commander Thinks Aloud" The Long Winters
  • "Fallin and Flyin" Jeff Bridges (Crazy Heart)
  • "Not Afraid" Eminem
  • "Empire State of Mind" Jay-Z
  • "Breathe Me" Sia
Play a few times, mix with Pandora Helio Sequence, Outkast, and Gorillaz radio and you've got yourself a four hour mix!

I also make up stories about my "sightings." Whose necklace was that? What was REALLY in the Fed Ex truck? Why did one of the Border Patrol cars have a smashed in bumper? Trap and Skeet sounds like Bend and Snap from that Legally Blonde movie. Where is Cindy Lou's first Cafe or is she just Cindy Lou the second? I'd like to meet Cindy Lou the elder, the original.

How could I ever be bored of training?

Saturday, December 11, 2010

When life brings you lemons, make Mt. Lemmon-ade!

Chaw chaw chaw. I should really have a musings column like Peggy Hill.

Today I had to ride one of my LEAST FAVORITE rides (which is my LEMON of the post--see how it all just ties together? genius!), which is 3-4 hours of 65-70rpms at tempo to threshold pace. Seriously. It sucks, not because it's physically strenuous (which it is supposed to be), but because I can't ever seem to get my leg speed average within the 65-70 range while not going too hard and not going too easy. It drives me nuts to watch that little yellow meter and click through to see my rpms and heart rate.

(Thanks cycleops for making the Joule one year too late--which you can see both your heart rate and cadence and watts and time at the same time should you choose to do so. However, I can't afford the $350 or whatever upgrade so I'm stuck with the little yellow candy box.)

Anyway, I decided to ride up Mt. Lemmon because there are no stop signs and the terrain is consistent. Dotsie--my coach--would say, "You're letting the mountain do the work for you. You need to learn how to do the work yourself" But after stopping at least 15 times at stop lights on the way out to the mountain, unable to maintain a steady pace or heart rate, I chose the mountain. EEP!

It was all going well for a couple of hours, until my knee started getting BUGGY AGAIN. I averaged the correct cadence, but I think I ended up going too easy, as I just ended up with an average in my low to mid tempo zone. But dammit! She said threshold somewhere in there. So then of course, I feel like I failed the workout--you see why I HATE this workout, which I've attempted about 6 times now and never gotten it right? Oh but I hear it's so good for me, so, of course, I will persevere...Oh it's December, looks like low cadence is taking a sabbatical until next season. Oh, do you have to go? You'll be, no, I think it's best you go...really...we'll see you next year. Ok then bye!

P.S. I've always hated doing things that didn't immediately come natural to me. That doesn't mean I quit--it just means that I use ALL CAPS when describing them. For example, BOWLING--why can't I KEEP MY WRIST STRAIGHT? Or say, YOGA! Why can't I even make it through the opening OHM thing (You can tell I really know what I'm talking about--OHM thing. Is it even spelled OHM?) without fidgeting in the CROSS-LEGGED POSITION because my hips are too tight to sit like that?

Anyway, so after I hit three hours, I turned around--yes, I didn't finish the climb. It wasn't worth hurting my knee further. But yes, it hurt more to turn around. I was only a few miles...away...BUT there was a bear crossing sign a little ways back and it was Bear Brunch time...I'm sure of it.,.better safe than sorry, I (Yes, I think I made that saying up.)

About an hour later when I was up somewhere in Sabino Canyon, I was glad I turned around. My ride ended up being over 5 hours and took up all of my day, but seeing 5 hours was satisfying, even if I did average 90 watts during the last part--I just photo shopped Christmas trees and santas over that part of the graph when downloading it to training peaks--my coach will never notice.

I also realized I "work" on the bike WAY more than I work at my computer job now. I guess it's the ol' saying of being passionate about what you do is the first priority and cycling has definitely taken my priority. I've also developed a passion for Arnica and figuring out why my knee is wonky. I've never had knee pain and I've always pedaled slow--so don't even comment...maybe it's the low cadence, genius...and don't you dare bring the leg press into this. She has NOTHING to do with this!

So, with my Encyclopedia Brown-like sleuthing skills, I've figured out several things thus far. I removed my custom insoles and the pain disappeared. I raised my seat and the pain further disappeared--But now the pain has switched positions and moved further down the inside of my knee--sneaky little feller. I am now going to move my cleats back to where they were MONTHS before where the knee pain started and see if that helps. My online doctor told me that medial pain was often caused by cleats too close to the inside of your shoe. I noticed my right cleat is about a bundle of 15 hairs farther in than my left. I said AH-HA! and then threw the shoe down, ate some food and iced my knee with a bag of corn, opting to take care of it tomorrow.

(Quick photo of Encyclopedia Brown--exploding plumbing case, perfect for cyclists.)

Maybe I should just go to Scottsdale and have a pro PT look at everything. Sigh. I already made and cancelled that appointment. Even though it may not seem like it, I really do get tired of trying to get the pea out from under my saddle.

Here are some GREAT phone photos from my ride. I think my "Self-Portrait" shows a lot of artistic promise if this whole bike racing thing doesn't work out.

The beginning of Mt. Lemmon

On the way up...pretty cool.

Awesome Self-Portrait. I don't even have boogers--obviously I wasn't working hard enough.


I've been in Tucson for a week now.

If you want a little deeper in my head, try the "Blog Post w/ a Soundtrack" experience and click play while you read :) I've been hooked on a couple songs this past week and this is one of them.

And here is a montage of my week:

On the drive to Tucson, I spent the night at a rest stop in Northern California. The only three hours not driving from Thursday morning to Friday night. We slept with the Big Rigs. (Insert appropriate Lot Lizards joke.)

The morning drive into California and my first taste of the warm air and sunshine.

Dean riding down the highway in Marana on our first ride in Tucson.

Heading to Saguaro Park

Soloing down Gates Pass, feeling euphoric to be starting my next journey.

When I wake every morning,  I am excited to get on my bicycle and be in the warm air and sunshine, explore new routes, and also reflect on the choices that got me here, the choices today, and the choices that I will continue to make. It's all about choices, some which suck and some that work out better than imagined. For example, Thursday I wanted a 4-hour ride and chose to explore the city--I stumbled on a bike path off a highway that had stunning views, which were the highlight of my ride. 
I continued down the path and it led me to this sign. I don't believe in fate/destiny, as I feel each individual has the most control over what life will bring. But when little moments like this occur--seeing my name on the only sign in the middle of a desert that just so happens to be on the path I chose that day--I get a big ol' smile and feel like I'm not alone and have a purpose. I hope these moments turn into regular occurrences.

Oh and speaking of choices, I also miss my puppy, Louise.
But it seems she is really happy at her new home, so that makes me happy. I can't wait to see her college graduation photos.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Oh yes, I winter in Tucson...

I left Seattle for the winter. It's funny that I never thought that I could afford to "winter" and was blown away that people actually moved to train somewhere. But wait, now that I'm a bike racer and have said goodbye to my middle-class income, I can now afford to winter? That doesn't make any sense.

The thing I realized quickly is that you can make just about anything happen...if you really really want to. I realized that I don't need everything I THOUGHT I needed to get by AND there are a lot of people out there who are willing to help--not just with monetary contributions but with helping you find a space, connecting you with the right people, accommodating your crazy work schedule (thanks MediaPro), or just providing you the encouragement to keep on pushing to accomplish your goals.

Let me give you an example of how to make it work by divulging information about my finances.

Well, I'm not a trust fund baby and I don't have a big savings account (my net savings to date is $.01 plus a few thousand in my 401k.). In fact, my monthly bills including car payment, student loan, credit card (It was so worth that free bag of cookies and Animal House t-shirt in college for signing up for this credit card), health insurance, car insurance, phone bill, and now coaching is $2184/month. That is a lot. I've made some financial mistakes in the past, as most bright-eyed fresh college grads do (I remember thinking OMG $30k/year is SO MUCH money after making $1200/year in college), and I'm making up for them now--slowly, but every extra penny goes into trying to get myself above water.

So how do I get by? I work on the side as an instructional designer at MediaPro--I've been working for them for almost over 4 years now and did a damn good job to enable the perks they provide today. They give me about 10-30 hours a week that I can complete remotely--so if you ever have any elearning needs....And my personal expenses are low! I am a "house guest" in Seattle when I'm actually there. I rarely drink (too expensive and fattening), I shop at Trader Joe's, cook at home, and I rarely buy any new clothes anymore. If I'm desperate for some new clothes, I go to the value village. I FEEL way too guilty paying $50 for a shirt or $100 for a pair of jeans--I think about all the bike stuff I need. My last major purchases were for drink mix/whey, a tire, a leg press and weights on craigslist so I didn't have to join a gym, and new Specialized insoles for my shoes. My sponsor stuff doesn't start till the new year. If I can pocket $2,500/month then I'm golden--living an extravagant life with $200+ for food and gas! (Do you know what you can get at Trader Joe's for $100? Like 4 bags of food!) So that's $30,000/year take home. And the number dwindles, the more I pay off my debts so that's always encouraging.

Maybe you are reading thinking, well, I don't have a job I can work remotely at--you can always get a job at a grocery store or a coffee shop wherever you move. Maybe you are are reading thinking, well, I wasn't an idiot and don't have debt like that, well, what the heck are you waiting for? You should have been wintering years ago!

Anyway, back to my story...

So...when the snow came to Seattle, I thought uh oh--I gotta go. And within a week's time--and a lot of freakin' phone calls and emails and stress--I managed to sell some of my time trial equipment, arrange a work remotely agreement with my job, and set my departure date for Thursday December 2, right in the middle of my recovery week. (Despite all the craziness, you still gotta train.)

Anyway, so on Thursday morning I said goodbye to the bleak "Is it MS?" billboard outside my boyfriend's apartment and hit the road. (All the mornings when I woke up and my emotional state felt a little off, I questioned my state of health--hey if I could be the "Woman with the 8lb Tumor," I could just as easily have MS.)

And what happened next?

Well, you'll have to stay tuned. It involves truck stops and lot lizards, potato chips, sunrises, a knee injury, an animal shelter, redneck flags, and beautiful purple sunsets.

I'm more of a short story author...a novella at best, but not today. This blog entry has gone on way too long already.