Nov 29, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 11/29/2014
Hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving and is enjoying the long weekend. I am back in Maryland for the holidays! I've been home since Wednesday, and have been busy catching up with family and friends.

On Thanksgiving, my family kept up the tradition of going to the annual Turkey Chase 10K. My brother, older cousin, and I ran the 10K, and my aunt and younger cousin ran the 2 Miler. I haven't run a race since Pike's Peak back in April, so it was great to feel that race atmosphere again. I was definitely not running it this year for time, since I am still regaining my running fitness that I lost from my ankle injury.

I started running with my brother, and we kept an easy conversational pace. However, at about 2 miles, he had to stop and walk because of stomach issues, so I went on ahead. Around mile 4, I caught up to my cousin, who started a bit ahead of us in the corals. He was walking, so I slowed down to ask him how he was doing, but then he started running again. I ran with him for the next mile or so, but lost him when he had to stop and tie a shoelace. 

I finished, then my cousin, and brother. My parents were at the finish line to greet us, and we all met up afterwards. I can't believe that another Turkey Chase is over. It's nice to have an annual tradition, and I hope I can come home for Thanksgiving to run it for as long as I can. 

After the race, we went home and I started cooking. Every year, my mom makes the turkey and I make all the sides. I had a seven sides on the menu this year, so I got busy cooking. And then eat. Needless to say, a lot ;)

On Friday, instead of going out shopping at a ridiculous hour, I went to a my old yoga studio for a class. In Boston, I've been trying to practice yoga at least once a week at the weekly Lululemon class. I haven't found another yoga studio to practice at, and I really miss the one at home. The class was 75 minutes with a lot of core work, so I was sweating. 

The only shopping I did on Black Friday was at a bike shop. I needed to pick up some winter gear, since I am going to try to cycle in Boston for as long as I can. I also needed the gear because I was planning on joining the 50 Miles to Nowhere ride with my bike club. Unfortunately, I didn't really pack cycling clothes, and wish I had my jacket. The Saturday ride was pretty cold! It was in the 30's with a bit of wind. Despite that, there was a good turnout. Lately, I haven't been riding much because of school, so I'm glad I got the chance to ride. 

My Thanksgiving break has been fun and relaxing so far. It's so nice to get a break from my studies. Less than a week before the end of my first semester of dental school!

How has your Thanksgiving weekend been? 

Nov 11, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 11/11/2014
It's been so long since I've posted a training log. I haven't raced since... May, which was a cycling road race. For the entire summer from June to August, I was cycling across the country and then I broke my ankle on July 20th. It's been a long journey to heal and get back to where I was before the accident.

Some details about my injury: I broke my ankle on July 20th and found out that I needed ankle reduction surgery. I had the surgery on July 24th, where a metal plate and seven screws were placed in my ankle so that it would heal properly. I was in an air cast and on crutches for 6 weeks, and I progressed to bearing weight and walking in my air cast for another 4 weeks or so. I started walking without the cast around September 25th and have slowly regained the strength that I lost in my left foot. Physical therapy has helped, and I am happy to say that my strength has almost fully returned to normal, though there is still a bit of pain and stiffness.

As you can imagine, being unable to run and cycle has been pretty tough. Especially after moving to Boston, where I see runners everywhere, especially along the Charles. I had to exercise a lot of patience, but I must admit I jumped the gun on my recovery and started doing more on my ankle earlier than was medically advised. Don't worry, everything's still healing perfectly.

Right now, my goal is to get back into running shape and regain my speed. My long term goal is to Boston qualify, because heck, I'm going to be in Boston for the next four years. I'm not sure how feasible it will be, especially since dental school will keep me busy.

As for my cycling, I haven't been able to get out much. I missed most of the fall season because of my ankle, but once I got rid of the air cast, I started cycling outdoors. I actually cycled on my trainer with my air cast! Since moving here, I've met a few cyclists and have gone on a few shop rides with Community Bike Shop. I am trying to do a longer ride at least once a week on the weekends, but it's getting colder and darker earlier, and I am a wimp.

Here's what I've been up to for the past week.

11/2 Sun- 4 treadmill miles, progressive run

11/3 Mon- 30 minutes stationary bike, intervals

11/4 Tues- 45 minutes cycling on trainer

11/5 Wed- 4.6 treadmill miles, pyramids

11/6 Thurs- 5.4 treadmill miles

11/7 Fri- rock climbing

11/8 Sat- 37 miles cycling

11/9 Sun- 60 minutes yoga

Nov 7, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 11/07/2014
I was invited to participate in a fun link-up called Life in Pictures, where I share a bunch of photos from the past couple of weeks. No captions, so you can guess what I've been up to! Hint: there's a lot of yummy food involved. I wouldn't be me if there weren't ;)

Enjoy and happy Friday!

Fit Fed and Happy

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

A photo posted by Jojo (@runfasteatlots) on

Nov 5, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 11/05/2014
Wow, I am the worst... Sorry to keep you all in suspense after my last post about two weeks ago. I had a busy weekend traveling down to Maryland to see my 4K teammates, been busy with exams (as always), and was just plain lazy over the Halloween weekend.

I am continuing with my story from this past summer, as I was cycling from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR with my 4K for Cancer team. Here are the previous parts to my story if you need to catch up:

Part 4- The Part You've Been Waiting For
Part 3- Into the Tetons and the Best Hike Ever
Part 2- Back to Jackson, WY
Part 1- Life Updates

So here was my situation:

1) I was 99% positive that my ankle was broken
2) I was in a hard to reach location on the side of the mountain, approximately 7 miles and 3,000 feet in elevation from the trailhead
3) Three of my hiking buddies were MIA because they continued on ahead and were going to meet us later. At least I wasn't alone and was with Chris.
4) Both our cell phones had low battery and almost no cell phone service.

After assessing the situation, the next logical step was to call for help. The location I was in wasn't the best, so Chris walked around the area trying to get better cell reception. After a few tries, his 911 call went through. He explained the situation and was transferred to Search and Rescue. Since we weren't the ones planning the hike, we didn't really know how to describe our location. In my current state of mind, I could barely recall anything. All I remembered was the name of the peak across the canyon: Desolation Peak. That name stuck in my mind for some reason...

The dispatchers tried to pinpoint our location using the cell phone signal, but it kept cutting out. The call was dropped, but at least someone knew we were out here. Chris tried to call again and again, but the signal was lost. The other hikers in our group had phones with them, so we were hoping that when they met back up with us, their phones would get a call through.

At that point, the swarms of mosquitoes were coming back. It was also getting chilly as the sun sunk behind the mountain peaks. As we were waiting for our friends to find us, the reality of my injury sunk in. Of course I wouldn't be able to complete the cross-country bike ride with a broken ankle. I thought how ironic it was that although I never got injured on the bike (while my teammates had countless mishaps, even flipping over handlebars), I had to get injured on a rest day. Although I didn't know the extent of my injury, I was determined to stay with my team until we got to Portland, even if I had to hobble around on crutches and ride the support vans every day. I was going to continue the trip, nonetheless.

After what seemed like at least an hour, our friends finally made the descent and found us. They looked very concerned, so I tried to make things more lighthearted with jokes and laughs. I hated to make everyone so worried about me. One of my friends had the best cell reception, and was able to reach Search and Rescue again. He was able to describe our location better, and they said that they were on their way. 

It was a long wait, but we finally heard the unmistakable sound of a helicopter overhead. It made a few passes in the canyon as they assessed the best way to reach me. Two rescuers were dropped off and hiked over to meet us. They took a look at my ankle and tried to see if I could bear weight on it. Just lifting it from the rock it was propped on was painful, and I was too scared to try to walk on it. There was no choice but to fly me out, so they began to prep for a short-haul. I thought they were going to lift me up into the helicopter and fly me down. Nope. I was going to be harnessed, lifted, and flown down essentially dangling from a helicopter. Needless to say, there are some risks, but I had no choice. Part of me was thrilled to able to fly down the Tetons in such a manner. I mean, this is (hopefully) a once in a lifetime experience. And of course part of me was scared shitless. I couldn't help but think about how this could go terribly wrong...

First, my ankle was protected in an air splint. I was getting pretty cold, so one of the rescuers gave me his jacket. Then the harness went on and a helmet. One of them was going to fly with me and support my leg while the other stayed behind to hike down with my friends. The helicopter slowly approached us with the ropes and they were attached to my harness. I felt them lifting slowly, bearing my weight in the harness, and I was airborne! 

The ride down to the valley was probably five minutes long, but it is an experience that I will never forget. Let me tell you, the view was spectacular. The sun was setting as I was lifted above the peaks of Garnet Canyon. My view stretched for miles across the valley, and I could see the lakes that we hiked around earlier. I tried to take it all in while I could. The wind was also very strong and very loud, almost to the point that it was deafening. I was just glad that I had on an extra layer to keep me warm.

The helicopter slowly lowered me in a field, where there was an ambulance, stretcher, and many first responders ready to unhook me and load me into the ambulance. There were also a few onlookers gawking at the girl dangling from a helicopter. After I landed and safely in the ambulance, I was headed to the hospital in Jackson, WY. I was a bit worried because my friends were still on the mountain and they had to hike down in the dark. I also didn't have my cell phone on me, so I didn't have anyone's numbers and wouldn't be able to reach them. I tried to relax as the EMT inserted an IV, took my blood pressure, and chatted with me.

Oct 23, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 10/23/2014
I am continuing with my story from this past summer, as I was cycling from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR with my 4K for Cancer team. You can read the previous installments here:

Part 3- Into the Tetons and the Best Hike Ever
Part 2- Back to Jackson, WY
Part 1- Life Updates

In my last post, you could probably sense the tension building and can guess what happens next. What comes next in my story is probably the most thrilling moment of my life. In both a terrifying and exhilarating way. 

Where I left off last time was nearly 10,000 feet above sea level, precariously perched on the ledge of a mountain in the Tetons. My small group of hikers just split up; Chris and I were staying put while the other three continued to climb. We agreed to meet back together at 6, at the latest. It was only four, and I had an uncomfortable feeling about staying so high up the mountains so close to dusk. We did not have the foresight to bring headlamps and getting stuck in the mountain after dark would be potentially dangerous. Although I wanted to start heading down soon, the other hikers really wanted to reach the summit. 

As the sun was getting lower and the temperatures cooled, the mosquitoes started coming out. They were relentless. We kept moving from one place to another, trying to avoid them, but they would return in swarms. The later it got, the thicker they came. Thankfully, I brought a few long sleeved layers and a bandanna to protect most of my exposed skin, but they were still driving us nuts. When I couldn't stand it anymore, I decided to head back to the trail in hopes that there would be fewer mosquitoes there. We left a message for our three friends who were still climbing so that they would know where we were. 

In order to get back on the trail, we had to descend down that grassy slope that I felt sketched out by, cross a boulder field, and a stream. Chris let me head down first and waited until I was safe distance away to avoid getting hit by loose rocks. I started down the steep slope very slowly and carefully. I knew that there were some patches that were slippery and a lot of the rocks were loose. When I cleared the trickiest section, I hollered to Chris to start descending. I continued on and started to retrace the path I took climbing up. The slope wasn't as steep at this section, so the steps I took were bolder and I didn't step as gingerly. 

It's when I let my guard down that accidents happen. I took one misstep, hopped slightly, chose a poor landing spot, and landed on my ankle wrong. I heard a dull pop and screamed. I knew instantly. 

There wasn't immediate pain. More like a gradual awareness of it combined with fear that made it worse. Panic started to creep into my mind as I realized the implications of my injury and my physical location so high up the mountain. So inaccessible. 

Poor Chris. He was out of my line of sight, though close enough to hear my scream and my calling out to him. I must have scared him nearly to death, which made me feel worse. He got to me as quickly as he could, and tried to calm me down as he assessed my injury. I had already tried to elevate it on a rock, which was not easy because I was sitting on quite a steep slope. I tried to move it a bit, but that made the pain nearly intolerable. 

Chris asked me if I thought I would be able to stand on my ankle. I didn't think that I could.

Carrying me out was out of the question, since we were seven miles from the trail head down some pretty steep terrain. Not to mention that boulder field full of loose rocks and stream that we would have to cross to even reach the trail.

Getting rangers/medical personnel to hike me out was also not possible for the same reasons. And it was getting closer to dusk and by the time they reached me, it would be completely dark. 

The only option that I could see would be to get airlifted by a helicopter. The only problem was contacting Search and Rescue and have them locate me. There were a few factors that wasn't working in my favor: I was in deep into Garnet Canyon. I didn't know how to describe my location since the other half of my hiking party was navigating and were currently out of reach. We all had low cell phone battery and very spotty service. Night was approaching, so time was of the essence. 

I fought to keep the negative thoughts out of my head. When you're stuck in a situation that can potentially get much worse, you can't help but think "what if". I tried to stay positive, make jokes, take selfies. Anything to keep my mind off of the pain and the deep shit I was in. We would figure a way out. 

Oct 20, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 10/20/2014
I am continuing with my story from this past summer, as I was cycling from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR with my 4K for Cancer team. You can read the previous installments here:

Part 2- Back to Jackson, WY
Part 1- Life Updates

July 20th was our rest day in Jackson, WY. I was really looking forward to spending a day here since it's a mecca for everything outdoorsy. They have it all: mountain biking, rafting, hiking, rock climbing, skiing in the winter. The Tetons in the backdrop of our campsite was calling my name, and I knew that I wanted to spend the day hiking into the mountains. Being in proximity to the grandeur of the Tetons enthralled me. We had spent over a month and a half to get to this point of the trip, and being here was pretty unbelievable. We biked to the fucking Tetons. In the beginning of the trip, when we were fighting headwinds and boredom cycling through the Midwest, I would frequently ask myself why we were going across the country the hard way. The winds travel west to east, so going with the wind would've made our lives a lot easier. As if cycling across the country wasn't enough of a challenge. But once we really got to the west, I understood. The incredible views of the mountains that we wake up to every morning is pretty great reward.

 The night before rest days, we usually have fun exploring the town and end up going to bed late since we can afford to sleep in the next day. It was no different in Jackson, and we sat around the campfire late into the night, which meant that no one wanted to get up in the morning. When everyone finally emerged from their tents and figured out what we wanted to do, it was already pretty late in the morning. Some people planned on heading into town to get lunch and do some shopping. Marge, Chris, Max, Ryan, and I decided we wanted to go on a hike. About 7 miles up the mountain to reach a peak, with over 3000 feet of elevation gain. And since it took forever to get everyone organized, we ended up starting the hike around noon. Not the best start to the day.

Despite our late start, we figured that we would still have enough time to finish the hike and planned to have the van pick us up by 8pm at the latest. Since we were camping and didn't have electricity, most of our phones were low on battery. We turned them off to conserve battery so that we could call the van when we needed a ride back to the campground. 

The trail went around a couple of lakes at the foot of the mountain, then started winding up a lot of switchbacks. As we ascended, the trees were getting more and more sparse, and the view was getting better and better. I would pause every now and then to take it all in (and catch my breath). 

Can't help but smile the whole time when the views are so gorgeous :)

The trail ended as it approached a boulder field in Garnet Canyon, and that's when we decided to get off the path, cross the boulder field and across a stream to get to a peak on the other side. We were planning on going up Nez Perce as far as we could. 

 This is the view from the other side of the canyon. You can see the trail and the stream we crossed to the lower right of the picture. The boulders were a bit tricky, since some were loose and at some points I had to use both hands to climb over them. Above the boulder field was a steep grassy slope with a snowbank that made the surface moist and slippery. I was sketched out climbing up, and we had to be especially careful since there were loose rocks that could come crashing down onto whoever was climbing below. Let's just say there were some close calls.

After climbing up the grassy slope, there was a leveled out section where we stopped to rest and take pictures. We were getting close to the summit on one side, and the other side was a spectacular view of the canyon, lakes, and the valley. 

Again from this picture, you can see the trail on the opposite side of where we were. That's how far we were off the trail.

After resting for a bit, Ryan, Marge, and Max wanted to continue on to see how high up they could climb. I was feeling a bit nervous after climbing the last section, so I decided to take it easy and stay behind with Chris. I explored the area a bit, took more pictures and video with my GoPro, and sat back to enjoy the view. With my feet hanging off the edge and looking at how far away the trail head was, I thought how great it would be to turn into an eagle and just soar down the mountain. It would be so easy.

Oct 19, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 10/19/2014
In my last post, I gave you all an update about what I've been up to recently. Mainly busy with dental school. Exams and fun things like that.

Let's pick up where I last left off, which is in the middle of my summer cycling journey from Baltimore, MD to Portland, OR. I had left Baltimore on June 1st with the 4K for Cancer Team Portland on our mission to bike across the country to spread awareness for young adults with cancer. At the beginning of the trip, we had no idea what was ahead of us, what an incredibly wild ride it was going to be. We experienced literal highs from climbing mountains, kindness from strangers, crazy thunderstorms, a terrible tragedy, and an incredible, unbreakable bond among my teammates, which I now call my 4K Family.

 Our team was scheduled to arrive in Portland, OR on August 9th. However, the last day that I rode on the trip was July 18th, riding from Lander, WY to Dubois, WY. It was a tough day, fighting headwinds all day. I was literally losing speed going downhill if I stopped pedaling. At times, I felt that I was riding into a wall. I was getting weary and decided that I wanted to drive the support van the next day. It was my turn for van duty, anyways. Little did I know that I wouldn't ride again for the rest of the trip.

The next day, we were riding into Jackson, WY. It was a gorgeous ride through the mountains, and we were greeted by the Tetons as we approached Jackson. Fun fact: the Tetons, which means "breast" in French, are named so because I guess they looked like the breasts of the earth. So we were treated to lovely views of the earth's breasts. And let me tell you, it was breathtaking. I was riding in the van, which I kind of regretted because it would have been an amazing ride. But it's funny how things work out for a reason. I'll get to that later.

I was in the food van, which meant my job was to go around restaurants and grocery stores to beg for food donations. Our team was running low on food since we were passing through increasingly remote areas. Jackson was our best bet to stock up on food, since it is a touristy town with a lot more shops than we've seen on the road for a while. We also had a rest day in Jackson, so we would have more time to ask around.

In addition to our food-begging duties, my teammate, Helen, and I were responsible for securing camp sites. We usually stay at host sites, such as churches and schools, but we weren't able to secure one for Jackson. Which meant that we would be camping for two days. Camping is usually fun (and it really was), but when you're on the bike for over 10 hours a day, it's nice to have creature comforts such as a solid roof over your head, showers, and hosts that feed you.

Helen and I got lucky and we were able to get a huge group camp site for the team. It was three times larger than we needed, and in a pretty great location. With that out of the way (which was a huge concern), we drove into town to try to get shower donations at a gym, and some food donations. We got the food, but not the showers. Oh well, we would just bathe in the ice-cold stream by our campsite.

Funny story as we were going around town asking for donations. As Helen and I were walking back to the van in the parking lot of a strip mall, a car drives by us and honks. A woman in the car waves and gets out to introduce herself. Turns out, she's the sister of a host that we had back in Louisville, KY. She recognized our van with all the 4K logos and window paint, and knew who we were. Helen and I ended up chatting with her and her daughter. We had a long, pleasant conversation and she was even kind enough to give us a donation.

After a few hours of asking around and getting a few donations, we decided to head back to the campground to set up. We actually got a box full of raw chicken from a grocery store, and even though at first we had no idea what to do with it, we took it (beggars can't be choosers). I was determined to cook the chicken and have it ready for when our riders got to the campground so that they would have a lovely snack waiting for them, so I got a roll of tin foil and BBQ sauce and planned to cook it over a camp fire.

Since it was just the two of us with all the camping gear and the rest of the team was arriving later in the afternoon, we got to work setting up the campsite. We set up ten tents, collected a pile of firewood, cooked the chicken, and unloaded the 15 passenger van of all our teammates' duffel bags. It was exhausting, but we got it done by the time everyone got to the campground. And the chicken was delicious, by the way.

For the rest of the afternoon and evening, the team settled in their tents, bathed in the stream, a few of us went into town for dinner while the rest of the team cooked their dinner over the campfire. I was determined to get an elk steak, so that's what I got. We sighted moose, hung out by the campfire, stargazed and saw shooting stars. Then crawled into our tents to get ready for the next day. It was a going to be a great rest day. Jackson was such a great location to have a rest day since there's so much to do. I was looking forward to going hiking and seeing the mountains up close. And I did. I had the best, most spectacular view of the Tetons, but I'll get into that more next time.

Oct 18, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 10/18/2014
If you have been following my blog since this summer, you would know that I was posting updates on my cross-country cycling journey and abruptly stopped blogging in mid-July. A lot has happened since then, and it'll take me a while to fill in the gaps to my story.

Where to start... before I pick up where I had left off, I'll start with what I've been up to recently.

New City, New Beginnings

My cycling trip ended in Portland, OR in mid-August, and I flew back to where I started from, Baltimore, MD. Although my home is in Maryland, I spent only three days there packing my things and getting ready to move up to Boston, where I will be going to dental school for the next four years. I had spent the entire summer constantly traveling, sleeping in a different place every night, so settling into my apartment in Boston felt a bit strange and pleasant at the same time. I'll always have that wanderlust, and at times, being constantly in a city feels oppressing after all the wild and open spaces I've ridden through this summer. But it's also nice to feel at home in my own little place. I had been really looking forward to living in this historic and vibrant city and I couldn't wait to explore it and call it my home for (at least) four years.

Since moving up here, I started school and met my class of 195 dental students. We started school in the beginning of September, and since then, it's been very busy. Between classes, projects, and studying for exams, I have met and gotten to know quite a few people from my school. We work together, party together, and navigate this rocky first semester of first year together. There have been some rough patches (I'm currently in the midst of an exam block), but overall, it's been a great experience. I'm loving what I do, and I am where I want to be. The hard work will pay off in the end.

Running and Cycling in Boston

Of course since this is a blog about running and cycling, I should be covering all the great runs I've had along the Charles, right? The truth is, I haven't been running or cycling much at all.

What?! And I call myself a runner.

I haven't been running much lately (for the past three months, more specifically), because I wasn't able to run. Believe me, I definitely would've been running more if I could.

Since July, I had been sidelined by an injury, and that's part of the reason why I stopped blogging. Only recently have I gotten back to running and cycling again. I started with a 1 mile slow jog on October 10th, and a 3.75 mile run last Thursday. And I am still sore from that last one. It's going to be a long journey to regain my fitness and get myself back to where I was prior to my injury.

So what exactly happened? That's where I'll pick up next time.

Oct 17, 2014

Posted by Jo W. 10/17/2014
So I haven't fallen off the face of the earth, and I do realize that I haven't posted anything on my blog since July. This past summer, from June 1 to August 9, I was on a cross-country bike trip with 4K for Cancer to raise awareness for young adults with cancer. I tried to post updates of my trip as frequently as I could, given my access to wifi, cell phone service, and whether I wanted to sacrifice sleep to blogging. In mid-July, I abruptly stopped blogging, with my last post from Yellowstone National Park.

Since then, I had finished the trip in Portland, OR, flown home to Maryland, packed up within a few days, and moved to Boston to start dental school. It's been a busy time becoming acclimated to a new city and a new school. Before I left for my little jaunt across the country on my bike, I wasn't sure whether I would be able to continue blogging regularly. I knew that it would be difficult blogging from the road (it was) and that dental school would consume my life (it has), but I really enjoy writing my little blog. And I miss it.

For some reason, I had an all or nothing approach to blogging (as with other things in my life). I would either be consistent and blog every day, or if I couldn't do that, I would just throw in the towel and not touch my blog at all. I figured I could make a compromise, and stop making the excuse that I am "too busy" to sit down and write a blog post. So I will try to catch up on all the things that I missed, both during the trip and after. There are so many stories that I want to share from the road! In the next few weeks, you can look forward to posts about:

1. The story of the end of my trip, and why I stopped blogging
2. Portland, OR
3. Recent bike rides
4. Visit to NJ and MD
5. My running life
6. Dental school

Jul 23, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 7/23/2014
For the past few days, I've been camping in Jackson and Yellowstone, so I haven't had any service or wifi. My phone had also been off due to the lack of electricity. 

I've been enjoying the great wonders of the Grand Tetons and Yellowstone National Park. I am in awe of the beauty of this place. I can seriously look at these mountains all day. 

We spent Day 52 in Yellowstone, driving around, since biking it isn't very feasible. I am cherishing every moment I have with my team, and I am so thankful for this day with them in Yellowstone. 

We had a really great time seeing Old Faithful, West Thumb, and a spectacular jade-colored waterfall. 

"I felt my lungs inflate with the onrush of scenery—air, mountains, trees, people. I thought, "This is what it is to be happy."

- Sylvia Plath

Jul 15, 2014

Posted by Jo W. in | 7/15/2014
Mileage: 79.1 miles

Today was by far the most beautiful ride of this cross country trip so far. Although it would be easier to ride west to east because of the tailwind, today I realized that going east to west is more rewarding. Now that we are really getting into the Wild West, it's been getting more beautiful by the day. It's incredible to see what Mother Nature has in store for us. 

Our ride today was a bit intimidating: about 80 miles with 4700 feet of climbing. We were going over a mountain pass in Medicine Bow National Forest, which we were told was going to be an amazing ride. And it was. 

The day started out pretty chilly as we left Laramie and headed towards the mountains. At about mile 30, we started the climb. It was about 14 miles of straight climbing, so it would take us quite some time. Lunch was originally at the summit, but it had to be moved earlier otherwise we would have eaten much later. 

I wasn't feeling too great in the beginning of the climb. Maybe due to the lack of sleep or lack of oxygen, I was feeling pretty exhausted. I usually have a lot of energy and am a strong climber, but today I was barely hanging on. As we ascended the mountain, however, I felt my energy coming back. With each turn of a switchback, we were treated to yet another breathtaking scene. We stopped by a mountain stream in the forest, which looked like a scene out of a nature documentary. My adrenaline got pumping, and by the time I reached the summit, I felt like my usual self. 

One of the highlights, other than summiting a 11,000 foot mountain, was spotting a moose! I threw down my bike and grabbed my GoPro and phone to take pictures on top of a snow bank. I wanted to get closer, but was a bit afraid to. 

Shortly after spotting the moose, we summited and were treated to the cheers and screams of my teammates. I feel so lucky to have such a supportive and cohesive team. Seriously, Team Portland 2014 is the best. 

We spent a lot of time exploring the summit and taking a lot of photos. I wanted to get closer to the snow capped mountains in the distance, so I took off running towards them through a meadow full of wildflowers. It was beautiful. 

What's awesome about summiting a mountain is the descent! I was really looking forward to flying down the mountain after climbing for so long. It was a really rewarding descent

The cherry on top of this perfect day was arriving at a great host in Saratoga. Most of the team had home stays, and Ashley, Caitlyn, and I got to stay with Diane and Randy in their beautiful home. We were first fed a delicious dinner at their church, and then Diane drove us around the small town to give us a tour. Saratoga has mineral hot springs, so we checked that out and decided to go there the next morning. 

Home stays are always much appreciated, especially after so many days on the road. It's nice to have the comforts of a home away from home, and we felt very welcomed. We settled in, showered, did laundry, and just relaxed. 

It's been a long time since I've slept on a real bed, and the bed I slept in that night was pillow-soft and so comfortable. I had a much-needed good night of rest, and woke up "late", around 7am. There was coffee waiting for me in the kitchen, and I poured myself a mug and enjoyed it on the large front porch with a great view of the mountains. 

Diane joined Caitlyn and I on the porch and told us her story. She was diagnosed with stage 4 ovarian cancer about a year ago and had a very tough battle. When the doctors thought they got most of it out, the cancer spread to her breast. Although Diane is a lot better, she is not completely cancer-free and her doctors are managing it with chemo treatments every two weeks. She told us about all the support she had from her family and the small community of Saratoga. Although Diane was very sick, I had no idea about her battle with cancer until she shared her story. Diane is an incredibly strong and inspirational woman, and refused to let cancer define her. I felt so grateful to have had met Diane and heard her story. 
Posted by Jo W. in | 7/15/2014
Mileage: 42 miles

Sorry about the lack of blog posts lately. And the fact that they are all out of order. I am currently in Wyoming and cell phone service and wifi has been very spotty. I'll try to post photos and quick recaps of the days that I've missed. 

Day 43 was short, with one big climb into Medicine Bow National Forest. 

Shortly after taking this picture, I saw a huge rock formation and immediately wanted to climb it. A few of my teammates and I decided to go. 

Climbing up the rock formation was so much fun! I'm like a mountain goat and just scrambled straight up the rock. The views from the top were amazing!

We enjoyed the views for a while and explored the rock formation.

Best detour ever!

We got to the host in Laramie, took showers, and had a home cooked dinner provided by the host. After dinner, I had some free time and enjoyed the sunset with the mountains in the background. More mountains and climbing soon!


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