Great Allegheny Passage

For years now I’ve wanted to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC.  I asked David if he’d like to do it for Thanksgiving break and he was down.  David’s a great biking partner, has lots of experience and has biked from Canada to Florida, and the West Coast of the US, multiple times.  He knows how to self-support tour, and bike maintenance– two things I don’t have.  I have ridden tours before but never carried my own gear.   It felt good to know I had a strong and experienced rider with me, as well as the best company.
We set out to do the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) and C&O but only did the GAP–and thank goodness for that.
If it hadn’t been for David encouraging that we (me) take our time, and enjoy the ride without worrying about the destination it would have been a less pleasurable ride.  We did
the hardest part of the ride (the GAP is uphill, the C&O is downhill) and still got to enjoy it.

David and Elena bike the GAP

We started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and biked out with our final ostentation being Cumberland, Maryland.
We had our first hiccup before we’d even made it out of the parking lot when David’s chain broke.  We got a new chain in the strip mall near the path and off we went again. A few miles in, David’s derailer cracked and fell off.  Within the first 15 miles of our ride we got to stop for two mechanicals.  After that we didn’t have any mechanical issues until about mile 140 of the GAP when I got a flat.  In total we did about 160 miles.  I am looking forward to doing it again but when the weather is warm.

Day 1
Munhall, PA to Connellsville, PA (approximately 52 miles)
-uphill, in freshly laid wet sand—slowed us down more than we’d anticipated.  Camped in Connellsville at a free site with an adirondack.  Fires weren’t permitted and the weather hovered in the low thirties.  Had pizza for dinner in Connellsville.

Day 2
Connellsville, PA to Rockwood, PA (approximately 46 miles)
-uphill no more wet sand–thank goodness! Weather was warm in the mid 50s, we even stopped at around 20 miles to take a walk down a foot path with a directional arrow that said “Gorge”.
Slept in a campground in Rockwood that charged $10 per person, provided firewood and newspaper as an igniter…but man it was freezing, in the twenties.   This was the night we realized that my sleeping bag was not for cold weather.

Day 3
Rockwood, PA to Cumberland, MD (approximately 45 miles)
Mostly uphill.  Got a flat tire and had to walk 5 miles before I got to a bike pump.
Got lost in Frostburg but also had the best meal of the trip at a little place David found, called SHiFT.  You can now see a pic of the two of us on their wall of cyclists.
From Frostburg to the Cumberland Amtrak was a super speedy downhill ride.

Day 4
Amtrak Station in Pittsburgh to Munhall, PA (approximately 10 miles)
I am not sure about calling this a full day, as we arrived at the station a little before midnight at the end of day 3 and only rode 10 miles to the car/where we started on the GAP.  It was an easy ride from station to car, although difficult to get on to the path from the station and we got a bit lost, the darkness and exhaustion also added to the adventure.


TOSRV 2014

TOSRV 2014 with friends!

Dear Columbus Outdoor Pursuits (COP),

As  Tour of The Scioto River Valley (TOSRV) bike ride continues to dwindle in participants, I thought it might be helpful if I reached out, again.

I am a Latina, born in the 80’s, who enjoys cycling long distances. I have done TOSRV 4 times now.  I did not participate this year and as it is I do not anticipate participating again—until some changes happen.

If you want to reach younger people, understand younger people aren’t white, and they aren’t middle class.  Ohio is getting less and less white. Seriously. We are brown and young.*
Ideas on possible ways to reach new people:
1. Sliding Scale entry fees. (Given white people have every conceivable systematic advantage I wouldn’t charge POC. However, let’s be honest COP, you all aren’t that progressive.) I suggest you make a sliding scale based on income. Making it free for those on free/reduced school lunches. Perhaps, income forms like the YMCA uses for sliding scale fees.
2. Discounts for all first time (at least for the last 5 years) TOSRV participants.  (Can’t we compare lists from the last 5 years or so to see if they are “first-time” participants?).
3. Whether or not you choose to have it on Mother’s Day in the future—provide discounts for Mother/Daughter pairs (this also will encourage more women to ride).
4. Discounts when you register 4 or more people together. This encourages teams, and friends to get others out. For example register 4 people at once and one person is free.
5. Work with local breweries. For example, those of you who register as part of the Seventh Son Brewery Team, get to take part in their beer sampling party in Portsmouth!
(Tour de Upland by Upland Brewery was recently cancelled but that was a fun weekend of drinking and cycling—check with them on suggestions of combining microbreweries and cycling.  Tour De Upland included meals, cycling, beer, camping and a band for the same price as TOSRV + COP membership.)
6. Create “no-drop” groups: a ladies no-drop group, a first-timer no-drop group etc and allow people to sign up for these when they register.
7. Pay POC and young people to help you come-up with ideas. Don’t expect them to do the work for you and don’t expect that you know how to reach these communities.
*”Ohio Hispanics have a median age of 25.8 with over 21 percent of the population aged 5 to 14 years. For comparison, the median age of Ohioans taken as a whole is 39.3 years”


A little more than two months left until the half-ironman.  I am scared.
However,  two weeks ago on Tuesday May 31st rode 85 miles with Andy and Ben to Yellow Springs.

Ben, Elenamary, Ela, Ellen after completing first triathlon of June

Ben, Elenamary, Ela, Ellen after completing first triathlon of June

June 8th did a Sprint Tri (1/2 mile swim, 21 mile bike, 3.5 mile run) with Ben, Ela, and Ellen.  Ben and I have trained together but I think this maybe the first time we’ve competed together.  It was a really fun race and one of the best parts was there were sample wetsuits you could borrow for free.  I am short and fat and when I’ve tried on suits in the past, they always ended up putting me in a men’s suit for those 6 feet (1.8m) tall.  I am 5’4 that is an extra eight inches, and while I do appreciate an extra 8 inches and manly cut in other situations, this is not one of those.   It also sat weird on my boobs.  Anyway, at this race they had Athena suits and it fit perfectly! Now, I actually want to get a wetsuit—some day when I have a disposable income or a sugar daddy.

John, Ant, Jess, Elena

John, Ant, Jess, Elena

June 13th rode 85+ miles with Antonio, John McPocho, and Jessica.  John and I have ridden a lot together, and Jess and I have trained and done triathlons together—they both know how to ride and came prepared. Antonio is a totally different story. You may remember Antonio from Shark Week. Antonio is the kind of dude who is very much “Meh, why the fuck not? Let’s try this” kind of dude. Antonio showed up on a mountain bike with no support for his bottom bits, no gloves, no long rides or any training under his belt, and with a backpack full of water. The man is a beast.  We had a good ride from Columbus to Yellow Springs most of it on the Rails to Trails path.  I am in love with that path because it is well maintained, has water every 10-12 miles, is quiet and my favorite flat!

I have good friends, who are a great support in my training.
I’ve another Sprint Tri (same distance as above) in less than a week and Andrej and Ben will be doing that one too, and Matt C. will be joining me for an Olympic in July.

This is exciting.  I am thankful my body is letting my attempt all this, thankful this is how I get to spend some of my time.

Ich habe die Qual der Wahl

There is a phrase in German, I absolutely love, “Ich habe die Qual der Wahl” it would somewhat equate to “I am being tortured by the choices I have”.

I am very thankful that I have two great opportunities one professionally and one personally but Ich habe die Qual der Wahl. I am unsure which to choose, and I must choose as they are happening on the same date. I have the opportunity to travel to South Carolina and compete in triathlon at the USAT Collegiate Nationals with the OSU team, which I have never done before and may never have the opportunity to do so again. I also have the opportunity to create a summer program for Latino high school students on heritage language development in the medical fields that will give these students access to college credit and exposure to a university campus, and as part of this program am being invited by my department, expenses paid, to the “Midwest Heritage Language Summit: Fostering the Languages of Your Community” conference in Michigan.
Both the triathlon and conference are on Saturday, April 23rd—Ich habe die Qual der Wahl. Yesterday, after talking to my friend I had decided I didn’t want to die having missed out on the opportunity to go to nationals but I am totally okay dying and not having made it to another academic conference. Then today, after talking to my academic mentor I felt I should go to the conference. The conference will have direct impact on the work I want to do not just in the next 3 months but the next ten years.
I am trying very hard to be thankful that I have both professional and personal opportunities but this decision is torture.

2016 tentative races

A tentative list of some bike tours, USAT sanctioned triathlon races, and 1/2 marathons for 2016.  I would still like to add a push-pull competition, maybe a full marathon in the fall, and really anything to fill in those empty months.  As always, I love it when friends join me and if there is some kind of sporty thing you are already planning on or would like to plan, I’m all about adding and adjusting this calendar.

17th, Columbus, Ohio, USA, Half-Marathon
Broke Man’s Winter Warm-Up: This is a no frills race with multiple options on distances from 3.5 miles to 13.1 miles.  I have registered for the 13.1 mile course.  I have done Broke Man races before and have really enjoyed them.

6th, Columbus, Ohio, USA, Indoor Triathlon
OSU Indoor Triathlon:  This is a pretty chill triathlon, and is memorable to me as the one my wonderful friend Melanie did with me while she was nine months pregnant.  It is completed within the OSU gym and is completed by time and then afterwards the distance with time is calculated to estimate time needed to complete a sprint distance triathlon. In total this is a 10 minute indoor pool swim, a 20 minute stationary bike ride, and a 15 minute run on an indoor track.

6th, Bogotá, Colombia, 10km run
Run Tour Avianca: 10km run in urban setting of Bogotá Colombia. Totally just doing this for fun if I make it down to Colombia in March.

9th, Valle Del Bravo, México, Olympic Distance Triathlon,
Triatlón Valle de Bravo 2016:  This is a sanctioned race, which I have competed in before.  Last time, I over swam the swim and swam off course.  This race does have shorter and less competitive distances for those who are interested.  It is only a little over an hour out side of Mexico City.  Course was well maintained and decently well marked.

17th Cincinnati, Ohio, 1/2 Marathon
Cincinnati Broke Man’s Half Marathon: Another run in the Broke Man series.  I figure this is just part of good training for the 1/2 Ironman in August.

1st Lorain, Ohio, 1/2 Marathon
Lorain Broke Man’s Half Marathon:  Again a no-frills race, 1/2 marathon…using it as a training run for the bigger races in late summer early fall.

7&8th, Columbus, Ohio to South Portsmouth, Kentucky, Bike Tour
Tour Of the Scioto River Valley (TOSRV):   This is a fully supported ride, our gear is carried for us, we camp out on the Ohio River and then turn around and come back the next day. I’ve done this ride a few times and find it very enjoyable.  There are awesome SAG stops every 25 miles and the route is pretty flat.  It is approximately 105 miles each day, so a total of about 210 miles.

20-22, Little Smokies, Shawnee, Ohio, USA,  Triathlon
American Triple-T:  “3-days, 4-triathlons, 140+ miles, 1-epic event”  It is a sprint distance tri, two Olympic distance tris, and one 1/2 ironman distance tri.  I am unsure about this but need to decide by January 5th…because then the price will go up. I’ve really wanted to take part in this but there is a Mexican sanctioned race I can do in my home state of Guerrero this same weekend and try to qualify for worlds…I am unsure so including both.

21, Ixtapa, Guerrero, México, Olympic Distance Triathlon,
Triatlón Ixtapa, 2016: This is a sanctioned race.  I have not competed here before and am a bit nervous as it is supposed to be very humid and hilly.  However, it gives me one more shot at worlds.

5th Füssen, Germany, Bike Tour
Allgäuer Radltour 2016:  This is a 120km supported bike tour.  This area is mountainous
and I hate hills but the timing and area is perfect.  From Füssen to Moosburg (where I studied) is only 180km so I can also visit my friends before/after the ride.

30th, Teques, Morelos, México, Olympic Distance triathlon
Triatlón Tequesquitengo 2016: This is a sanctioned race.  I have competed here before but only as part of a relay time–it was really hot.  It might give me one more shot at worlds but depends on the cut off date for qualifying.

12-14th, Nashville, Indiana, USA, Bike Tour & Camping
Tour de Upland: “The best weekend of the year is back August 12-14 2016! All the biking, camping, beer, and live music you can handle.”  It is put on by the Upland Brewing Company.  I’ve done this weekend trip a few times now and found it to be quite enjoyable.  Biking is only supported on the Saturdays and all SAG stops have beer.  They have different routes you can take varying in distance usually between 10-110miles…I imagine because I have a 1/2 ironman the following weekend I will only be cycling about 20 miles (it is also very hilly) and I won’t be drinking…so lots of time for me in the pool and just hanging out.

21st, Delaware, Ohio, USA,  1/2 Ironman Triathlon
Ironman 70.3 Ohio:   1.2mile swim, 56 mile bike, 13.1mile run.  I hope to seriously train for this race and do the course multiple times before the race, as I live maybe half an hour from the site.  If you want to go out and do this course with me, at any time, holla’.

11-18, Cozumel, Mexico, Triathlon Worlds
World Triathlon Age Group Championships:  This only happens if I qualify and I make the team.

2nd, Columbus, Ohio, USA, 1/2 marathon
Columbus Broke Man’s Half Marathon:  Again a no-frills race, 1/2 marathon…using it as a maintaining run.

8th, Acapulco, Guerrero, México, Olympic Distance Triathlon,
Triatlón Acapulco 2016:  I am looking forward to this because hopefully I will be in good condition from a solid spring, summer and fall of training and if I can do well at this race I can qualify for 2017 worlds.

In The Fall

I have some great news.  After a little more than a year of having my first full-time 9-5 job, I quit.  I am glad to have had that experience and to realize how wonderful it was to not have ever done that before.  By leaving work, I am also temporarily leaving my PhD program, this is good news. I have been in desperate need of a break, to read more, to write more, and to finish this damn book. I am excited for this time.  I’ve already started reading more books of transcendentalism, self-reliance and coming-of-age stories—as I develop into a new phase of life.

I had not written as much this year, afraid to share about that which has taken up most of my time and any repercussions that might come from sharing.  My time being occupied also limited my exercise and training.  I still want to go to age-group worlds.  Now, I get to focus on that as well.  I get to focus on me and the things that give the foundation of me.

This reminds me of a short video, Lonnie sent me, that on occasion I watch to remind myself what is NOT the point of life.

In The Fall from Steve Cutts on Vimeo.

A short hand-drawn animation created in Adobe Flash and After Effects about one mans reflection on his life. Music by Guided by Voices.!/Steve_Cutts