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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.


Dragoon Mountain Bike Ride to Petroglyphs

October 7, 2010

Balanced boulders of the Dragoons.

For Saturday’s jeep road ride in the Dragoon Mountains, I join Southern Arizona Mountain Bike Association riders Tom, Dick and Susan. We drive to Tombstone, AZ, and take a left on Middlemarch Road toward the Dragoons. We hit National Forest roads and stop at Tom’s campsite to begin our ride. It’s hot in the mid-day sun, and I can’t belive Tom’s weather forecast of “50% chance of thunderstorms,” never mind those dark clouds in the southern sky.

The jeep road meanders over the rolling foothills at the base of the Dragoons as we head toward West Stronghold Canyon where the Apaches hid among the rocks for years, evading U.S. Army cavalry troops. Read more here

Congrats to the Winner of the SS 69’er!

October 6, 2010

Congrats to Matthew Pearson, winner of the SS 69’er!  I wanted to have a picture, so it took a while, but Matthew made the drive from Fort Worth to the Dallas area to pick up the bike (he is way taller than me, so he will probably need a longer seatpost)

Congrats to Matthew Pearson of Fort Worth--Not Bad for $10!

Many thanks to all who donated to my cause–I really appreciate it, as will the hundreds of Indians who will be served by your generosity!  Enough money was donated to pay for most of the 1000 pairs of glasses that I will be taking.

Cyclocross Beginneth

Yesterday marked my first cyclocross race of the season of an eight-week series, and my second ever.  Conditions were perfect and I mostly stank, finishing 17th of 24 riders in the “C” (read fatter and slower) race.

Somehow, road fitness only translates loosely into ‘cross fitness.  I rode the frankenbike which is not ideal for cyclocross racing because it is approximately 3″ too tall for me in standover height.  It is, however, the better evil than my 1998 full-squish, 35 lb Specialized FSR.

I had a blast, however, and now have a goal set to improve.  I may race again next Tuesday.

Cyclocross is hilly!

September 30, 2010

My first race was last week. Like all good racers, I decided the morning of the race to switch out my tires. Like all good stories, this lead to me having issues inflating them (wider tubes, but shorter stem). So as my race started, I was pumping up the tire. I eventually got it working, but I started last.

In fact, if you were to look at the results of the race, I didn’t start at all. I’m not sure how that happened, they called out my number every lap, wrote down my times, etc. But, let it be known, I did start.

So I started behind everyone, and quickly realized that although I was in the beginner division, there are different types of beginners. In the same way I remember fluent French speakers taking Beginner French in University (easy mark) it seems like some of these people were more than mere beginners.

For those who people have never been in a cyclocross race (that was me last week), usually it’s done in a field with a few hills and some tight corners. I’d have had no problem on my mountain bike with disc brakes, but I found some of the turns hard with a cross bike. But, each lap made me more comfortable, and hopefully faster (I’m not sure about faster).

Beginner events are only 40 minutes, so the race felt like it was over before it even started. Although the results state that I didn’t start, I know I did, and I didn’t finish in last. That’s only because someone had a mechanical problem, but too bad for them.

I’ve got a race close to my house this weekend, so I won’t be changing any tires the day of the race and will be ready to kick some butt!

My cousin took some photos of me in the race, but she lost her cable. So they should be coming soon, when they do, I will post them.

Wahine Warrior All Women’s MTB Event

September 26, 2010

Yesterday was the first, hopefully annual, Wahine Warrior Women’s MTB event here in Phoenix.  The event organizers were looking to put on race that welcomed and encouraged women to get out, and enjoy a race without the pressure of racing with men.

The race was out in the McDowell Mountains, run on some of the very same trails that made up the Cactus Cup race from years ago.  When we pulled into the parking lot, it looked like every other local mountain bike race, except that the riders prepping to race were all women.  They had 3 events, an endurance race, time trial, and cross country.  I had registered for the cross country, but decided to do the time trial as well.

I hadn’t had a chance to pre-ride, so the time trial was my introduction to the 3 mile loop.  The course was fast and flowy, all single track, and surprisingly, little sand.  I was able to complete my lap in 18:43, good enough for 2nd place in the Cat 3 group.

And we are off!!!!

The cross country race started at 10am, and the temperature was already close to triple digits.  This was my first MTB race in probably 10 years, and I was debating where to line up…in the front so I had a good position for the hole shot, or towards the back where it would be safe to just hang with the pack.  In the end, the front won out, and as the race started I hit the single track in 4th position.  I was hoping I had enough lungs and legs to hang with the fast girls.  Within a few minutes I figured out that the rider on the front was setting a pace I could keep up with, and I just settled into the race.  I was waiting for one of the riders in front of me to pass, and thought I would jump on their wheel and go.  I waited, then passed one rider, and waited some more.  Finally, the rider in second position went, and I went with her.  We were able to gap the group, and I spent the rest of the first lap trying to hang on to her wheel.  Once we hit lap 2, I was worried about blowing up.  I was downing CarboRocket the best I could on the twisty single track, but was fearful I wasn’t getting enough to drink.  I started to get goose bumps on my arms – never a good sign in the heat of the desert!  I kept drinking, and tried to ride within myself.  That second lap seemed like an eternity!  I had a brush with a cactus, got passed by some, and passed others.  Finally, I crossed the finish line – very thankful that I didn’t have to complete another lap in the ever increasing heat.  In the end, I was 4th overall Cat 3, and 1st in my age group.

A hazard here in the desert!

The race organizers succeeded in creating an event that was great for first timers, as well as those who were looking to stretch their legs after a long, hot summer here in the desert.  They succeeded on both counts, and hopefully events like the Wahine Warrior will get more women out experiencing the fun that mountain bike racing is!

Last Chance to Donate and WIN!

September 23, 2010

Tomorrow the winner of the single speed 69’er will be announced!  You will have until approximately noon to donate (although please continue to donate if you just would like to help and don’t care about winning) until the winner is drawn and will be contacted via email.  Thanks to all who have already donated!  Every ten dollars equals one chance to win the bike.  You don;t have to have a PayPal account to donate, you can also use a major credit card or electronic check.  Your secure donation will help purchase glasses and medicines to help the very needy in India, and many children like these:

How can you say no to these faces?


I have ordered some glasses already from the Lions Club sorting facility in Midland, Texas.  I hope to take nearly one thousand pairs of glasses with me and will likely see about four hundred people over the course of three-and-a-half days.  Last year we ran out of some critical medicines, so hopefully we can have funding for more this year.  The area we are serving is a hotbed for tuberculosis, for which we saw a dozen cases last year, as well as malaria, dental problems, chronic back and neck pain (from days spent bent over tending to rice crops), cataracts, and one unknown pregnancy.

Here is a picture of my clinic last year, set in a 9’x9′ dirt-floored schoolroom.  This year we are to have a slightly larger facility.

2 clinic lanes and an optical in 9'x9'.


Following are a few more pictures of the single-speed 69’er.  I am also including a new Spaceman flask holder by Ahearne and a Surly flask to hold your hydration beverage of choice (CarboRocket in my case).  Rumor has it it will also hold whiskey.  Let me assure you your odds of winning are still quite good!  Please dig deep and help those much less fortunate.  Winning a $1200 bike for $10 would be an excellent investment!

Win me!

Donate to win.

Surly Tuggnut tensioner: also serves as a bottle opener!


Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

Click here for specs.

Click the Donate button below to donate!

First race on Sunday

September 21, 2010

A friend at work has decided to do a few ‘Cross races too, so I’m able to do an out of town race for my first race. So this Sunday I’ll be doing my first race of the season. Ultimately, for this race I’ll be aiming to survive and figure out how to improve for other races.

I’m excited!