Being a Mom and Becoming a Mountain Biker

March 1st, 2016

As we get older it’s not easy to take on new challenges, especially ones that are physically demanding, are potentially dangerous and offer technical barriers.   Back in 2004, a year before our beautiful daughter was born; I thought I was quite happy running, swimming and riding my road bike. Little did I know that I was about to fall in love with riding and racing mountain bikes.

Before Indie was born I was a competitive triathlete and road cyclist. I assumed that after we’d settled into parenthood I’d gravitate back towards training and racing again. In the final weeks of my pregnancy I asked my OB/GYN doctor how soon I could get going again. She looked at me with a lot of wisdom in her eyes and said three words: “Time, energy and desire.” I rolled my eyes with a “whatever” attitude. She didn’t know me. She didn’t know how motivated I was to get back in shape and work towards an athletic goal. Post-Indie’s birth those three words came to help me much more than I ever could have expected. They were a gift. They gave me a license to have guilt-free non-exercise days and to accept the wonderful new role of being a mom.

Here’s how they helped me to transition into parenthood with much more grace than I thought was possible:

Time: how can such a little baby take up so much time? Having a productive day took on a whole new meaning. Getting the dish washer emptied was a productive day. Allowing myself to honor time made it ok to not get my usual 20 things done in the day and to not worry about getting a workout in.

Energy: how can caring for a newborn be so tiring? I have never napped in my life. I certainly did after Indie was born. And I did so without guilt by accepting that my energy level was what it was. This made it ok to nap and forego a workout.

Desire: I’ve been an athlete all my life. How could I not be motivated to go train? Love. Falling deeply in love with this tiny bundle of joy. I didn’t want to miss a thing. It made it easy to give up trying to ride my bike or go for a run.

I lived by the ‘Time, Energy, Desire’ mantra for about 18 months. However, once an athlete, always an athlete. I love physical challenges. It’s how I’m wired. After 18 months I was itching to get back at it. But I wasn’t hungry to race as a triathlete or road cyclist any more. I needed a new challenge. My husband suggested cyclo-cross.

In 2007 I raced in the masters Cross Crusade races in the Portland area. I had a blast. Previously I hadn’t ever ridden off road. No trails or gravel road riding. After a few races I realized it wasn’t my fitness that held me back, it was my bike handling skills. I was determined to figure that piece out.

The following year I started mountain biking, thinking this would help me become a better cyclo-cross racer. On an old hard tail mountain bike with V-brakes I tried to embrace riding off-road. It didn’t come easily and was not without frustration. I’m not a big risk taker in life and that held true to mountain biking. I was a cautious learner. I didn’t want to get hurt. After all I still needed to be mom. After  trail rides, the focus and concentration left me mentally exhausted, gripping the handle bars way too tight left my arms a sore mess, and not being able to figure out how to go down steep hills without feeling like I was going to die left me incredibly frustrated. But I stuck to it, and I am so glad I did.

Dirt Series clinic, Post Canyon

Family Man at Post Canyon: Having fun at the Dirt Series Clinic

I took some clinics. I got some instruction. I became a student of mountain biking. I learned about my bike. I watched videos. I read books. I rode with good riders who became my mentors. The feeling of terror slowly was replaced with a little confidence. The clinics I had taken gave me a foundation to build on. I figured out how to descend, how to get my bike around a switchback, how to use my suspension, and use my body position to manipulate the bike. I learned something new about me, the bike or the trail from every single ride. I’d come home giddy from excitement (I still do!), and over time I become more comfortable with calling myself a ‘mountain biker’.

Now I race my mountain bike; cross country, short track, and (who would have thought?) 100 mile races.  I like seeing that as I get older I don’t have to accept getting slower. Fitness is only a part of riding a mountain bike. I keep learning how to be more efficient and competent. Technique is worth so much. Forever a student.

cyclepath, short track

Racing for Cyclepath Racing Team in Portland’s Short Track Series

Best of all is, I get to ride with my now ten year old daughter and watch her figure this crazy sport out (a lot faster than I did, I might add) AND I get to help beginner mountain bikers get off on the right foot. I love to see their astonishment and sense of accomplishment when they figure something out or have the confidence to trust me when I say “You can do it. Give it a try”.

cascade locks, NWTA

With my daughter, Indie, at Cascade Locks: NWTA Take a Kid Mountain Bike Day

Last year I took a friend mountain biking. I had talked this trail up as being super fun and playful. After one lap my friend wasn’t getting it. She was frustrated. She didn’t feel confident in taking the bermed corners. I started to give her some help, a few pointers, breaking down what to focus on, how to move her body. After the second lap I saw a huge smile on her face: “I get it. I get what you mean by playful. That was so much fun”, she said.  I love that. It takes me back to my early days of figuring it all out.

I still reflect on those three words: time, energy and desire. It helps me find a healthy balance between being mom and bike racer.

Refrigerator Oatmeal

January 20th, 2015

This has become my new breakfast obsession: refrigerator oatmeal. It is such an easy grab and go breakfast. It just takes a little planning because you do need to make it the night before.

First, I make a base, to which you can then add your various different flavors.

Refrigerator Oatmeal

Refrigerator Oatmeal

BASE INGREDIENTS (for two mason jars):
1 1/2 cups of Oats
1 cup of Almond Milk
1 cup of plain yogurt
1/4 cup of hemp seeds
1/3 cup of raw cashew nuts

Mix all the above ingredients in a large bowl. Add enough milk / yogurt to have a runny texture. Overnight the oats will absorb the liquid and by morning it will have more of a creamy texture.

To the above base you can add so many different flavors. Here are a few of my favorite:

1. BLUEBERRIES, LEMON AND COCONUT
– – 1 cup of blueberries
– – Juice of half a lemon
– – Maple syrup
– – 1/2 cup of shredded coconut

2. PUMPKIN SPICE

– – 1 cup of pumpkin puree
– – Maple syrup
– – 1/2 cup of raisins
– – 1/2 – 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

3. BANANA AND RAISINS
– – 1 sliced banana (toss with lemon juice to prevent browning)
– – 1/2 cup raisins
– – 1/2 – 1 tsp vanilla extract
– – 1/2 tsp cinnamon
– – Honey

4. CHERRY AND CHOCLOATE
– – 1 cup of cherries (frozen berries work if fresh aren’t available)
– – 1/2 cup of chocolate chunks
– – 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
– – Honey

5. STRAWBERRIES or RASPBERRIES
– – 1 cup of berries (frozen berries work if fresh aren’t available)
– – Maple Syrup
– – 1/2 tsp almond essence

6. APPLE AND CINNAMON
– – 1 cup of diced apple (tossed with lemon juice to prevent browning)
– -1/2 cup of apple sauce
– – Maple Syrup
– – 1/2 tsp cinnamon

Raspberry Refrigerator Oatmeal

Raspberry Refrigerator Oatmeal

DIRECTIONS:
Once you have the base made, add your flavors. Mix well. Pour mixture into two mason jars and fasten lids. Store in the refrigerator overnight. By morning time, it will have a nice creamy texture.

For more ideas head over to The Yummy Life website.

Clean Quinoa Salad

January 22nd, 2014

This is my go-to quinoa salad recipe that we discovered when we did the clean detox program. All the ingredients are deemed ‘clean’ which means:

– that they have an alkalizing affect inside the body
– they are not potentially an irritant or allergen
– they do not have an inflammatory response in the body
– the raw uncooked ingredients means they contain enzymes that help with digestion (cooking destroys these enzymes)
– no preservatives and low in toxins

 

Uncooked Quinoa

Uncooked Quinoa

SALAD INGREDIENTS:
— 2 cups of quinoa
— 1/2 to 1 cup of currants or raisins
— 1 cup of diced carrots
— 1 cup of chopped almonds
— 1 cup of chopped celery
— chopped mint
— chopped parsley

DRESSING INGREDIENTS
—  1/2 cup Olive Oil
— 1/4 cup Lime juice
— 1 to 2 tsp. of honey, maple syrup or agave

DIRECTIONS:
Bring 4 cups of water to a boil. Add 2 cups of quinoa and cover. Cook on medium heat for 10-12 minutes or until all the water is absorbed.  Rinse in cold water and drain well.  Toss the cooled and drained quinoa with the rest of the ingredients. Mix the dressing ingredients in a glass jar. Give it a good shake and pour over the quinoa mix. Add chopped spinach and chicken for a more complete meal rather than a side dish.

Runners and Cyclists: How to help Prevent Injury, Improve Function, and Increase Efficiency

October 9th, 2013

What limits you when you are running or cycling? What prevents you from going longer or faster?

For most people it is because of a pain/ache, injury or tightness they’re experiencing. More often or not this is due to a lack of function, which can cause poor joint alignment. When we lose function our bodies use compensative movements to make up for the gap in function. Certain muscles will work overtime to help support the mis-alignment. This leads to uneven fatigue patterns which can then lead to injury, pain and stiffness.

What can we do about this?
Quite simply: restore muscular function to create proper alignment. Muscles are responsible for holding joints in correct alignment. Achieving this will prevent uneven fatigue so we can maximize our biomechanics and have improved efficiency of movement

Sounds great, right? So how do we do this?
Enter ADAPT’s Cycling and Running Durability Programs.

I really like the word “durability”. Don’t we all want to be durable and have longevity in the sports we love playing?  ADAPT’s programs are designed with this in mind.  A lot of work, careful thinking, and testing have gone into these products to make them simple and relatively quick to use, easy to follow and implement and most importantly — be effective.

durability photo2

ADAPT’s Durability Programs
The Cycling Durability Program and the Running Durability Program provide the specific exercise requirements for an individual to perform the sport at their highest ability with protection from common injury.  As the name suggests, the programs keep you “durable” in your chosen sport by restoring and maintaining proper muscular function.  

The ADAPT Cycling Durability Programs are specifically designed to help cyclists and runners maximize performance, whether you are an elite competitive cyclist/runner, serious recreational cyclist/runner or weekend warrior. The programs are designed to restore and maintain the function required for the sport. It is a complement to your current training program and when used consistently, athletes experience protection against common injuries and improved performance.

\durability flow chart

The Durability Programs include:

-A warm up routine called “Pre”.  The purpose of the “Pre” is to introduce ideal muscular interaction before the workout.

– A cool down routine called “post”. The purpose of the “Post” is to counter any compensative movement patterns due to uneven fatigue that occurred during the workout.

– A routine called “Reset” designed to re-establish efficiency of movement when fatigued. During a workout you don’t want to push on through if you are experiencing uneven fatigue. The “Reset” program will help set the body back to neutral.

– A routine called “Cycling Efficiency” designed to improve efficiency of movement.

– 3 joint specific recovery routines called “Supplements”

photo 1

 

How the Programs are Packaged:
The durability programs are available as a pdf file or in a spiral bound 8.5″ by 5.5″ fully laminated 16 page booklet. It’s small enough and durable enough to transport and carry around. My copies still look brand new after 12 months of consistent use. It’s an easy to follow program. You will find it is set out very logically with images of each exercise. If there is any doubt, there is a website available to you if you find you need detailed descriptions of the exercises.

FEEDBACK:
The Running and Cycling Durability programs are two products that I have been consistently using for the last year. I have been able to ride longer and harder than ever injury free. I’ve been able to race competitively in 5-7 hour events with good form throughout. The key is to use the programs consistently to complement your training. And the results will follow.

ADAPT Training
ADAPT Training is a performance training facility in Beaverton, Oregon. ADAPT has created a multi-level approach to training ranging from rehabilitation to athletic enhancement. Their approach is based on the understanding that every human body adapts to their surrounding environment and will lose or gain muscular and joint function based on the requirements of their daily activities. 

How to Purchase:
The durability programs cost $35 each.
Contact Breakaway Training via email (Julie@breakawaytrainingonline.com) or call (503-913-1671) for more information on how to make a purchase.

Quinoa, Oat and Banana Bars

March 7th, 2013

I have been making a batch of the Quinoa, Oat and Cherry bars every week. I made this variation to mix it up a bit. I also tried a savory version: nothing sweet; just rosemary and parmesan cheese. I’m still perfecting the recipe. If you like banana bread, then you’ll love this version.

INGREDIENTS:

1 1/2 cups of Quinoa
1 can of coconut milk
2 1/2 cup of Oats (Trader Joes and Bob’s Red Mill have gluten free oats)
1 1/2 cup of yogurt, kefir or almond milk
1 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (Bob’s Red Mill)
1 cup of mashed, ripe banana
1/2 cup of carob or chocolate chips
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2-1 tsp nutmeg
1/4-1/2 cup of sweetener (agave, honey or maple syrup)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 peanut butter
(Apple sauce or almond meal to change consistency)

 

Oats, Quinoa, coconut, and cherries

Oats, Quinoa, and coconut.

DIRECTIONS: 1. In a large bowl, soak the oats in the yogurt, Kefir and / or almond milk. The longer you can soak the better. I typically soak for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If the oats absorb all the liquid; add a bit more.

2. Bring the coconut milk and 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and simmer until the quinoa is cooked. This should be in about 10 minutes or when the liquid is absorbed.

3. Once the oats have been soaked and the quinoa is cooked, set the oven for 350 degrees.  Combine the oats and quinoa, and mix in the rest of the ingredients. If the mixture is too dry, add some almond milk, yogurt or apple sauce. If it is too wet, then add some almond meal. You want the consistency to be like a thick oatmeal. Pour the mixture into a large greased casserole dish (13 x 9) and bake for 35-45 minutes.

4. Cool in the casserole dish first before slicing into bars. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Quinoa, Oat and Cherry Bars

December 3rd, 2012

For the last 6 months I’ve been making a batch of these bars every week. They are good for breakfast, make excellent snacks, and can even be a dessert.  I’ve used them to fuel up before, during and after a race / ride. These bars are very versatile and are easy to make wheat-free and/or dairy-free.

INGREDIENTS:
1 1/2 cups of Quinoa
1 can of coconut milk
2 1/2 cup of Oats (Trader Joes and Bob’s Red Mill have gluten free oats)
1 1/2 cup of yogurt, kefir or almond milk
1-1 1/2 cup of unsweetened coconut flakes (Bob’s Red Mill)
1-1 1/2 cup of dried cherries (Trader Joes Bing cherries)
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 cup of sweetener (agave, honey or maple syrup)
2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tbsp vanilla
1/2 – 1 cup peanut butter
Apple sauce or almond meal to change consistency

Additional options:
Chopped nuts
Nutmeg

Oats, Quinoa, coconut, and cherries

Oats, Quinoa, coconut, and cherries

DIRECTIONS:
1. In a large bowl, soak the oats in the yogurt, Kefir and / or almond milk. The longer you can soak the better. I typically soak for 3 hours, stirring occasionally. If the oats absorb all the liquid, add a bit more.

2. Bring the coconut milk and 1 cup of water to a boil. Add the quinoa and simmer until the quinoa is cooked. This should be in about 10 minutes or when the liquid is absorbed.

3. Once the oats have been soaked and the quinoa is cooked, set the oven for 350 degrees.  Combine the oats and quinoa, and mix in the rest of the ingredients. If the mixture is too dry, add some almond milk, yogurt or apple sauce. If it is too wet, then add some almond meal. You want the consistency to be like a thick oatmeal. Pour the mixture into a large greased casserole dish (13 x 9) and bake for 35-45 minutes.

4. Cool in the casserole dish first before slicing into bars. Store in the refrigerator or freeze.

Quinoa, Oat and Cherry Bars

Quinoa, Oat and Cherry Bars

Quick and Easy: Vegetarian Bean Chile

May 10th, 2012

Make a big pot of this and serve it with corn bread one night and a baked potato another.  A green salad on the side makes for a great meal.

This can be a quick and easy recipe if you use canned beans and tomatoes.  However, I’ve been really trying to get away from using canned foods for several reasons: they are more expensive, I don’t always know how they have been prepared, and then there is the whole issue of what the can is made from (some are still lined with BPA).  Try to buy organic (check out Eden Foods products).

Eden Foods

Eden Foods

When I make this from scratch, I pre-soak the beans for 24 hours, changing the water at least two times.  Why pre-soak?  Beans (as well as seeds and grains) contain phytic acid. Phytic acid binds to important minerals and prevents their absorption in the body, in particular calcium, magnesium, iron and zinc. Soaking and sprouting reduces the phytic acid.  When buying canned beans I have no idea how they have been prepared.

INGREDIENTS:
1-2 cup of Black Beans
1-2 cup of small white beans
1-2 cup of Kidney Beans
1-2 cup of Chick peas (Garbanzo Beans)
1 onion, diced
1-2 tbsp coconut oil
5-6 roasted tomatoes (or 1 can of stewed tomatoes)
1 large sweet potato, cut into cubes and steamed
Chili seasoning:
3-4 tbsp of chili powder
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1/4 – 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
1 tsp dried oregano
2 tsp paprika
1-2 tbsp ground cumin
1-3 tsp sea salt
1-2 tsp black pepper

Or use a readymade seasoning like Carroll Shelby’s chili kit. The red pepper is in a separate packet so you can add as much or as little as your taste buds like.

Chili Kit

Chili Kit

METHOD:
Pre-cook the beans.  Saute the diced onion in a little coconut oil. Cut up the tomatoes, toss with coconut oil, salt and pepper and roast in the oven at 400 degrees for 10-15 minutes.  Steam (or roast) the sweet potato.  Add the cooked beans (with some of the water they cooked in), sweet potato and tomatoes to the onions. Add the seasoning. Add water, vegetable broth or tomato sauce or paste to get the desired consistency.   Simmer for 10 minutes to let the flavors meld.

Top with sour cream, cheese, avocado, cilantro, and/or tortilla chips.
Serve with polenta, corn bread, cheese quesadilla, brown rice, or baked potato.