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Book Pitch on the Arizona Trail

November 1, 2010

Guess what? The AZ Trail 300 gave me a great book idea to pitch! I’m a top ten finalist in the book pitch contest and my proposal will be read at a “pitchslam” this Wednesday in New York City. If I make it into the Top 3, watch out New York, because I’m coming your way for a full-on book pitch workshop with publishing types in December.

Dog running the Mt. Lemmon Marathon at Mile 20, 7,000 ft. elevation.

Meanwhile, I continue writing here in Tucson as the endurance sports correspondent at Tucson Examiner online. Check out my recent articles on the Mt. Lemmon Marathon, Interview with Jeff Galloway and the run-walk-run training method, and Caballo Blanco and the Tarahumara Runers of Copper Canyon, Mexico.

Here’s the pitch–featuring CarboRocket of course!

In Easy to Epic: One Woman’s Arizona Trail 300 Adventure and Beyond, I race my dream mountain bike event, which inspires me to incorporate adventures into my daily life after the race. I bike-pack alone on the AZ300, through snow, hot dust, and herds of javelinas.  I shoulder my bike and scramble down icy rocks in biking shoes of limited traction capability. I clap my hands and shout at a bull blocking the narrow trail. He doesn’t move. I ride into the night, then attempt sleep. My air mattress deflates; the hard desert floor bruises my hip.

After making the cut for Team CarboRocket, an energy drink maker that recruited “athletes who inspire,” I had eight weeks to prepare my middle-aged body and mind for four consecutive days of riding. I crammed night riding, minimalist overnights, trail scouting, and weight training around my day job.  I proclaimed I’d be the first woman to complete the Arizona Trail 300, a self-supported, 300-mile mountain bike race over desert and mountains. Its first 100 miles are on trails shared by immigrants and drug runners.  CarboRocket bestowed upon me one team jersey, one bag of powdered energy drink, and a website password to post my training progress.

An Adventure/Nature book, Easy to Epic entertains and inspires others to go outside and explore.  These mini-adventures don’t require a passport or plane ticket. As vacation time, incomes, and travel budgets shrink, Americans can discover the natural world far away from their busy work schedules, yet close to home. Taking a nature break mid-week rejuvenates the mind, body, and soul, making the rest of the work-a-day world and family life a little better.

Unlike other adventure authors, I don’t have major corporate sponsorship (except that bag of drink mix) or an outdoor job like mountain guide.  After 25 years away from my hometown of Tucson, I’m determined to explore the region’s wild side. How do you squeeze adventure into your day? All you need is a little organization and an early bed time to prepare for pre-dawn peaks on the way to work.  Easy to Epic excites readers to go solo, even when your dad’s pocket knife is your only protection against bears. It also shows how unexpected companions can twist up your usual bike ride or neighborhood run.

Like the essayists featured in Solo: On Her Own Adventure, edited by Susan Fox Rogers , I crave independence and wilderness in the wake of the AZ300. Similar to Mark Obmascik who climbs Colorado’s fourteeners with different people each time in Halfway to Heaven, I describe various hiking and biking excursions in southern Arizona.  Before work one Tuesday, I bike along the poorly marked Anza National Historic Trail and sink into quicksand in the “dry” Santa Cruz River.  I hike up a mountain ridge soon to be ripped open for a copper mine with an amateur tree-grafter to see his combinations of  1000-year-old bonsai and 100-year-old mesquite. With me, the reader explores ancient Hohokham ruins on a popular 3-mile hill walk in downtown Tucson and searches for the grave of the great Chief Cochise in the Dragoon Mountains near Tombstone.

Readers currently follow my adventures at In the past, I wrote for the Philadelphia City Paper and Virginia Commonwealth University alumni magazines. I’ve built the Appalachian Trail in the Pisgah National Forest, NC, and the Buttermilk Trail in downtown Richmond, VA. Now I serve on the coordinating committee for Tucson Bike Fest, and I volunteer with Sonoran Desert Weedwackers to rid the desert of invasive plants.  I work for the Town of Sahuarita, Arizona, as Community Communications Coordinator.

Come with me, explore Southern Arizona in ways both easy and epic, and be inspired to venture outdoors, close to home, but far from the ordinary.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. Lisa S permalink
    November 2, 2010 12:15 pm

    Awesome post Mary! Fingers crossed you get the call to go to NY!!!

  2. marycycle permalink
    November 2, 2010 4:54 pm

    Yes, it’s very exciting, just found out that my childhood friend Mark will be able to read my pitch in New York! He’s an architect who used to mountain bike a lot. Fingers crossed!

  3. ChristyMcB permalink
    November 5, 2010 11:16 pm

    My fingers are crossed too! You are very talented!! =)

  4. marycycle permalink
    November 6, 2010 8:49 am

    Alas, even though my friend Mark from elementary school was able to make my pitch for me in New York, the judges selected other books. Time travel thriller, 1920s Harlem gangster, and 50 trips with kids beat me out. But I’m inspired to keep writing! I know I’ll get an agent and that book deal soon.
    Thanks for your support, team!

  5. Jen permalink
    November 8, 2010 1:49 pm

    Sorry you didn’t make it, but I liked what you wrote — definitely keep at it!

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