oh, eddy merckx. i could watch A Sunday in Hell over and over and over…
this weekend was GREAT. so good. super challenging bike ride with new friends, camping someplace beautiful under the stars, and the most fun descending down mountain roads i’ve ever had.
saturday we packed up, and the “support crew” (thank you so much, guys! Adam, Matt, Ryan) loaded up our gear, got food, and headed out by car to cuyamaca rancho state park to set up camp, hike, and get the bbq ready for dinner. briana, justin, and i headed out on our bikes east towards the lagunas mountains. it was about noon. we had 50 miles of uphill to tackle.
cruising through town, the temperature rose degree by degree with each mile we moved east. by the time we were in el cajon, it was blazing hot, and the hills started coming at us one by one.
we took dehesa to japatul to japatul valley to 79. it was basically up, up up.. our campsite was supposed to be green valley, which had a stream we could jump in, and sat at 4000 ft elevation. when the guys in the car checked in, they had double booked us, so they sent them to paso picacho 5 miles further UP the road, literally. at 5000 ft elevation, our new site had a mini gnome house (camping cabin) and was at the TOP of the hill in the camping area. best view and spot, by far, but still… significantly higher elevation, by surprise, at the end of our trip, that i’d tried to purposefully avoid.
the ride was HARD. not impossible, but very difficult. we were smart about breaks and eating (eat before hungry, drink before thirsty, rest before tired…), and found adequate water refilling areas at people’s hose spigots, though kinda few and far between. one house even had a bike rack set up at the end of their driveway next to a spigot :) so kind.
our food, gels, and water were all nice and toasty. a latte flavored clif gel was definitely a latte after being in my back pocket for hours in the heat and glaring sun. not very appetizing to me, bur briana loved it, haha.
we arrived just as dark crept in, with cheers from our camp guys! they had everything beautifully set up, with veggie dogs on the grill and tons of food spread on the picnic table. ate lotsa food, had a newcastle, and took a warm shower (props to cuyamaca. amazing shower facilities). we stayed up by the fire shortly, admired the stars, then turned to bed. everyone had their own spot… B & A took the top bunk in the cabin, matt in the bed of his truck, ryan in his suv, justin on the picnic table, and i took the porch deck of the cabin. i had a wonderful view of the stars, and the temperature was perfect for sleeping outside.
woke up at 530 or so, maybe 6. everyone still asleep, except justin, who was practicing tai chi in a little opening near camp. i packed up my camera and coat, snuck quietly past justin’s line of vision so as not to disturb, and headed out on a morning hike/walk in search of a sunrise shot. the trees and hills are charred from the wildfires that i hear happened several years ago, and it creates an ugly but starkly beautiful scene. the mountain next to us was blocking the sunrise view, but my hike was great. soon, my insatiable appetite kicked in, and i returned to camp after an hour or so ready for breakfast.
everyone was up, eating fruit and bagels. all sleepy bears. cuddled up in blankets with swollen eyes and happy camping faces.
we talked, relaxed, ate, slowly packed up. watched people wash their dishes in a spigot nearby for minutes upon minutes, using the water on full blast, pouring their dawn dish soap all over the grass. yay america. anyway, we all split around the same time around 10am, justin and briana and myself fairly tired still from the previous day’s 5000 ft of climbing.
the descent was pure cycling bliss. about 30 miles of the return is down long winding mountain roads, smooth and never ending (which no one minds, when it’s downhill this time around!). full speed, in the drops, taking turns pulling each other in a full down hill sprint. coasting, flying, surrounded by beautiful scenery, hidden lakes, and valleys. briana is a downhill beast! she flies down those roads, faster than justin and me, without some effort to keep up. we had a headwind on many of the straightaways and shallow downhills, so justin and i took turns pulling the group drafting. we had a great little team of smiling people. what a WORLD of difference it makes to have a good attitude. i can’t thank you guys enough for being such happy and hard working individuals.
of course, we encountered a handful of unwelcome climbs throughout the route back, which were more irritating than anything this time around. we all had the “but today is supposed to be only downhill!!” mindset somewhat, haha. we sucked it up and sweated and panted up those 5 or 6 return hills, and made it back in record time. we met adam at Red Sea Restaurant (an Ethiopian place in city heights), where the lady was sweet enough to offer an indoor parking spot for our bikes. we shared a GREAT meal, drank a ton of kinda funky tasting water, and called it a day well done. adam took B home, and justin and i hustled through the crazy city heights traffic at a pretty quick pace back to the south park area, where we parted near palm st, ending the most epic bike weekend trip ever.
thanks guys, that was well worth every minute.
briana trucking up the hills on her awesome bike
so close to the campsite. right before the 5 miles 1000ft end climb..quick break.
the camp crew! adam, matt, ryan
the riders! me, briana, justin
so, i have always been a strong proponent of being multidimensional in life… doing what you love, not being afraid to try new things, not getting in a one-path rut, and being successful (whatever that may mean) at several, or many, things at a time. when someone asks you, “what do you do?” you should have many answers! the choices you have in life are limitless, and to not take advantage of that easy fact is a crime against yourself, and those who you directly and indirectly affect throughout your existence. variety in experiences is like free education.
being aware of the values of a multidimensional lifestyle is one thing…but to truly understand it and embrace it is another. the recent years of my life have been sort of a survival struggle, and each day is bringing me new lessons. the amount of knowledge i am still gaining is incredible, and sometimes scares me when i think about how many years i hopefully have left to continue learning… i have felt many pressures… from friends, family, bosses, coworkers, teachers, neighbors… and often when you feel pressure, it is not direct. it’s hard to pin what is making you uncomfortable, and which direction to go with it. sure, it’d be great to make something positive out of every situation, but frankly, not everyone thrives off the same types of pressure.
moving on to my point.
i am almost always happy. i am very good at keeping my head up, and making the best of things (i wasn’t in the past, and i realized how stressful it made me and others, so i put full effort into developing a more positive daily outlook). still, the last couple months were fairly rough, when you lay it down on paper. work was slow as all hell, boyfriend broke up with me, i got hit by a car on my bike (hit and run style), boyfriend came back to me (phew), i got a serious bike injury, i lost my job very unexpectedly, boyfriend left to the wilderness for 5 months. each of those situations was fairly complicated in itself, with lots of flying emotions. here i was afterwards, with no job, no money, still injured from the 2nd bike accident, no companion at home, and 5 long months ahead.
sounds crappy, and it was, but what i discovered was that it FREED me. i am 1500 miles away from my family and my old friends (close to many new friends here in california, and i love you all), which can feel very alone at times… but it can also create a perfect environment for self-focus.
i’ve felt limited many times in the tattoo industry with what type of art is expected…whether that be tattoo styles, painting styles, or what i find attractive artistically or not. honestly, i’ve yet to feel full acceptance in that field, regardless of how much i love to tattoo. i’ve felt limited in the world of academia by its rigidity and silly structures. i am good at it (school) but getting a political science degree from texas a&m wasn’t the most fulfilling learning process. i’ve felt limited by many people over the years in terms of “choosing” a path. get a masters degree and get a real job. delve fully into tattooing alone and dig through the mess of (mostly) scummy asshole tattoers to the top. sounds fun. choose a different path, because artists never survive. “how will you make a living?” how? how? i don’t know. i just will. and, i’ll be HAPPY doing it.. dare me to?
suddenly, i was very alone at home here, with no pressures from ANYONE really. i mean sure, in the background, but on the daily? nothing. me and izzy, chillin in meg’s world, my tiny cabin on a canyon in beautiful san diego. i have enough clientele to make a living from home before jumping into a new shop, and i began taking classes. new inspiration and education time. taking track racing classes at the velodrome. taking collage/painting/photography classes at ucsd. starting to do more long rides. starting to experiment more with painting in ways i hadn’t been able to channel out in the past. i bought a one way ticket to the oregon/ca border, and i am going going to bike down the coast with a new friend…who also offered me a position at her shop, after we met to discuss the 3 week bike tour. reconnected with some old friends. getting in great shape. getting stronger, physically and mentally. have a pile of art projects, paintings, oil, watercolor, acrylic, mixed media, all going at once.
being free, trying new things, embracing a multidimensional lifestyle… learning more, experiencing more, refining some things more than others. finding a more suitable niche this way. amazingly, i’m getting better at all of those things, rather than spreading too thin. it’s a wonderful feeling of growth, and the events of this spring have set me up for a much better future for myself and those whom i can hopefully positively affect in my path.
in the fall, i will be submitting a more thorough portfolio to several schools, and hopefully enter some MFA program (illustration/painting) in CA. the last years were struggle, survival, searching…. and now, finally, i’m feeling like i’m on track again.
“…be yourself- not your idea of what you think somebody else’s idea of yourself should be.”
-Henry David Thoreau