Erikaceae. Strava Employee, cyclist, runner, and teacher.
Stew. Specialized Employee, amazing husband, and cyclist.
And welcome to our crazy little world. Follow us as we juggle married life with our careers, starting a family, crazy adventures, experiences, and a little of everything in between. It’s our life just maybe a little edited.
I was born into a family of cyclist. Both my parents casually road in college and my dad has commuted to work via bike for 35+ years, every single day. I grew up knowing that just 1 bike was never enough and to see the world you would do it on two wheels. Summers meant cheering in front of the television for three weeks watching the Tour de France, trips with bikes strapped onto the back of the VW, and many conversations centered around the topic of bikes. And if you asked your parents to drive you somewhere, chances were the response would be ‘ride your bike’.
My First Bike
For my 5th Christmas, I not only asked Santa for a new bike but a bike for Mr. Bear as well. While I was thoroughly disappointed to see no miniature bike under the tree, my new pink bike did have a pretty sweet basket. This was the bike I would learn to ride with no training wheels, I would experience my first real crash going downhill, and I would roll over my first curb and successfully land (pretty sure there was no air but you better believe I told all my friends about it). It was the bike I learned how to ride with one hand, brake by pedaling backward and utilize its full potential as a makeshift scooter.
Cycling started defining more of who I was around middle school. It wasn’t just a fun activity in the neighborhood or to bring on camping trips, but more of who I was becoming. When my mom and sister were camping with their girl scout troop about 30 miles south of home, dad and I decided to spend the weekend riding down for a surprise visit. My first real long ride (if only Strava was around back then). I was hooked. Of course, at the time I did not have the most appropriate riding gear.
After the 60+ miles (thanks to getting a bit lost in the hills) I ate my first quad (yes 4×4), 2 things of fries, and a milkshake at In N out, needless to say, my body was not used to this yet….
Cycling was also now becoming a mode of transportation. When I quit ‘traditional’ high school, my new school was just over 6 miles. I also worked about 8 miles up the road. Occasionally I would take the bike as an alternative to driving. Looking back I’m surprised I made it….now those routes aren’t even a warm-up but at the time they were impressive. I’m not even sure if my bike had a water bottle cage…
Freshman year I made a promise, if I biked at least 3 times a week (excluding the mile ride to and from campus) and saved enough money, I would buy myself my first road bike. A couple of months ago I found my old notebook which included my ‘recorded rides’. I laugh looking back at it. A 10-mile ride was pretty much the record. In early 09 I bought my first real road bike. Boy did I love that thing. I started riding more and not just because it was easier on a bike that actually worked, oh that’s what shifting is for? In the fall I joined the UCSB bike team and things started getting real.
Not only did my entire appreciation for college shift but I made some amazing memories and great friends. My sister started getting into cycling at home, my mom got back on the bike, and my dad was loving the fact that he was continuing to share his passion with his entire family on a stronger level. It wasn’t just a fun activity for trips or around town anymore, it was now 100% our life.
Taking it to the Next Level
After I graduated from UCSB I took a year off before heading to Sac State. I worked in San Francisco and commuted to Bart on my old racing bike. By this point, I had purchased a CAAD 9 and raced an additional season. I knew what a kit was, and had a closet full of them. I had real road shoes, was contemplating purchasing a mountain bike, and now had a car that could carry my little pod of two wheels.
In 2012 I started the next educational chapter at Sac State. I was living on my own in my own little apartment now with three bikes. I was now the Western Collegiate Cycling Conference Director and I was looking forward to my first ever season racing mountain bikes by welcoming a Scott MTB into my family.
Now is when my collection started to change. Before Stewwie (B.S.S.T. – before the Stewart specialized takeover) I thought my bike collection was pretty impressive. I had my pride and joy, a bright red CAAD 9, my eBay purchased commuter a very old gray and pink accented Cannondale, and a Scott MTB. I’ll admit, the Scott hard tail was not a very wise BSST purchase but I was just getting into mountain biking and I wasn’t going to spend a fortune, plus ‘poor grad student’.
I met Stewart shortly after starting at Sac State. That Fall he helped me purchase my first cyclocross bike, a simple white crux that I got to watch him build. I still had so much to learn but I loved that bike. Although, I never really got used to the braking.
Now I was four bikes in.
That summer Stewart officially started working for Specialized as an intern. Which meant my road bike quickly was becoming out of the question. We said goodbye to my beautiful CAAD 9 (keeping it the family) and Stewart surprised me with my Amira.
Later in the Summer, the Scott was finally getting replaced. Somehow I managed to race an entire collegiate MTB season in the bike and not die. I was slow so that was probably what helped. I was also extremely uncomfortable with descending or going fast. I was like a snail on two wheels. Here I held the record for many descents in the area but could barely keep two feet on the pedals on a mountain bike.
Alas, the Scott was traded in for a full suspension stump jumper FSR. Let’s just say I’m having a very difficult time upgrading this still, I’m still in love with this bike. This bike followed me to Collegiate MTB Nationals (albeit close to last place) and taught me that descending on dirt is possibly some of the most fun you can have on a bike.
So there it was. My road bike had been replaced with an Amira, my Mountain with a Stump Jumper, a new crux was added to the family and my commuter was still an old clunky Cannondale where if you weren’t paying attention the headset would wiggle free….I think I only slid out twice.
Married to Specialized
Stewart and I were married in 2014, which meant another bike needed to be added to the family It also meant I officially joined the Specialized family. Stewart’s Hard Tail Stump Jumper quickly became mine as I refused to give it back after riding it a couple of times. Its speed and agility made the trails back home seem like speed pumps and with the FRS’s support in giving me the confidence in descending the Hard Tail was a breeze.
Yes, our garage is filled with the big S but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I am in love with each and every one of my bikes. They fit well and get the job done. And I have quiet a lot of fun in the process. The bikes in the garage continue to come and go as our little bike family will always be in the process of growing.
*Stump Jumper FRS
*Stump Jumper HT
*Awol (single speed commuter)
*Amira (in the process of selling)
*Crux (coming soon)
*Stump Jumper (coming soon)
Now yes, perhaps I am a bit bias. My husband works for the company and I’m back working in a similar industry. Plus, I’m married to one of the best mechanics in the world (and not that is not being biased, that is a straight up fact).
December 31st, 2016 marked my last run of 2016; my last “mile a day”; my last day of consecutively putting on the running shoes and getting it done.
30,049 ft elevation climbed.
164 Hours and 26 Minutes.
3 Pairs of Shoes.
2 Doctor Visits.
4 Pulled Muscles.
For my last day running in 2016, my last challenge day, I decided to run to the top of Mount Diablo. A 3500 foot climb in less than 8 miles. Stewart followed me on his mountain bike acting as my support and motivator, while my dad followed halfway to the top before turning around to the grab the car. There was no way my IT band and knee would handle the descent.
The first 4 miles were familiar. The single track following at an easy elevation alongside the mountain, before hitting the fire road for 4 miles of unforgiving terrain. It was never ending. There were moments where my legs physically could not move faster, walking was faster. With my head down, I sucked it up and kept moving up. People hike this mountain all the day, how could running it be any different?
With less than 1.5 miles to go, I could see the summit. It looked so close but how was I so far down. I told Stewart I wanted to quit, it wasn’t worth it. My IT band was hurting and my knees complaining. The trail turned to the road, just a few hundred feet. I could see the summit, a view I’ve only approached via bike. I did it. We did it. Mission complete. 366 days of running done.
Except, I couldn’t end my last day being so close to 10 miles….so down the mountain we went to find my dad and the car. Only 1.5 more miles. Done.
Will I do the challenge again? No.
Why not? Because I want to focus on cycling again and get back into the water. Unfortunately, this isn’t ideal when you are trying to do other sports. If I was just a runner then I could make this work….