Friday, February 18, 2011


Overcoming fear is essential in bike racing. The mind is a powerful machine that shapes the ability to succeed. Whether to will yourself to push harder and grind up a hill when your lungs and legs are screaming to stop and the blood is boiling in your veins or even learning to hold back and be patient for the right time to attack.

For quite a long time (years) I have developed a pattern of fear based on experiences and negative thoughts that have taken hold and are triggered by sensory feedback when I am descending, cornering or riding fast in a pack.

I won't list them all here, but over my years of racing, I have held onto personal experiences with danger and injury as well as internalizing what I have seen or heard happen to my fellow racers. This build up of mental negativity has become a disability for descending and cornering in packs. Willing myself up a hill has been the easy part. My wiring has become a bit backwards to the traditional biker thinking (I only go uphill for the downhill on the other side).

Over the past year or so, I have been more seriously paying attention to the mental aspects of riding and racing. I've worked with Carrie Cheadle on learning to control my flight response by reconditioning my response to the sensations of going fast (feeling the wind; hearing the wind in my ears) as well as working with my coach on the finer points of technique.

Yesterday, I was able to successfully focus on the FUN of descending fast and working on NOT defaulting to using my brakes on a fast descent. Coach B was a big part of the success for helping to talk through what to focus on when I feel the fear response coming on. Thinking about a time when it IS fun to go fast and I don't worry about falling...snowboarding! Perfect- while snowboarding, the wind in the face and rush of sound is exhilarating. My mantra for descending has become "skiing fun" when I notice the response coming on and think about what is causing it, I repeat to myself "SKIING FUN" and am able to relish rather than retreat. :-) Small steps, but my speed yesterday on descending Madrona hill was much improved and I forced myself to keep my hands from hovering the brakes most of the way down the hill. Wooo - good feeling. Lots of adrenaline - keeping the focus on the fun. Rewiring the response. That's what it's all about.

Sunday, May 2, 2010


The engines of the Stinson are loud even with my headset on. I'm sweating slighlty with a hint of fear and I feel blood rushing in my head and behind my eyes. I clench my teeth and the armrest on the door.

You are smiling. We skim over the field not more than 200 feet off the ground. I can't see Dean's plane, but you call out to him over the radio and make a joke. You turn the nose of the Stinson lower and we drop a few more feet as the field falls away from us into a gully. Gaining airspeed until the field rolls back up and the engines roar even louder. We are lower than any tree top would be if there were trees in the fields. We climb with the field and shoot over the top of the gentle Palouse hill lined with a fence and Dean is flying level and perpendicular to us just as we crest. It takes your breath away just a bit as you tense and become much more focused on powering the Stinson up, up, up. We climb over the hill, over the field, over the fence and rocket over Dean's plane. The radio is silent and then you break out in a great "Whooopie!"

I laugh my relief. We look at eachother and you are laughing outloud. You look forward and continue laughing into the radio, "Hey, Dean. We gotcha." Dean responds something back and we laugh. The adrenaline release is starting to flush us both. Slight panic starts to trickle back in my stomach and you bank and turn the plane back to find Dean for some more play, but with a little more caution. I am able to quelch the racing of my heart knowing that you are a skilled pilot and know the Stinson's capabilities well. But you still enjoy pushing the limits.

Later, after I have put up a bit of protest, you tilt the plane back and we bend over the sky towards home. The gray sky parts slightly to the southwest of us and I can crane my neck to see the setting sun burning a bright orange red over the horizon.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Cute House

The cutest little house in West Seattle is (fingers crossed) going to be for sale! Josh has been working for the past several days on cleaning up the bathroom, re-grouting & now re-caulking the tile. He also spent 2 hours cleaning the tile in the kitchen. I've been getting rid of dust bunnies, cleaning cabinets, touching up paint & washing the blinds. When the bathroom is done, I'll be repainting in there, too.

We found a great house for us not too far from where we are now that we are excited to put an offer on. Both of us are a little more reserved this time, since offers have not gone so well in the past. There was the 50's style house on 37th with a huge deck & awesome view of the sound that the owner did not want to sell on contingency. Then there was the totally remodeled home in Belvediere that they listed under priced so they could drive up offers. Anyway, there are some issues with the current house we are looking at, which may steer others away - then there is the whole economy & financial crisis that may leave people on the fence too.

We are hopefully optimistic at this point. If it doesn't work out, there is an older home in Alki that would fit our needs - just the older layout & needs a new roof, chimney work, old window panes replaced & some exterior paint redone and finishing the basement.

If those don't work out at all, then the cutest little house in West Seattle will be all sparkly clean.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Friday, December 12, 2008

Visiting Dad

I just spent most of the week with Dad at Mom & Dad's house while he was home between surgeries in Houston & going back down for radiation/chemo. When he had first gotten home, the day after he passed out and hit the wall with his head since he was dehydrated from travel & anemic from loss of blood from 3 surgeries in 2 months. He was not supposed to pass out or hit his head after having his head opened up for surgery on his sinus through his brain cavity. Not so good! He started running a temp after that & Aunt Missy took him to the ER at Deaconess, but they did not have a bed for him, so he finally got transferred to Sacred Heart where they kept him longer than he would have liked. Finally, he was back home, but needed someone with him while mom was at work for pulling things together for the year end & meeting with CPA. I came over on Monday and he was still pretty weak. It was kind of shocking to see him so weak. Uncle Jim was there and then left & Dad & I finished watching a movie he had started & I worked on my laptop. An employee came to visit him who had lost his mom to brain cancer .Then mom came home and made Dad a steak since he had really been wanting a steak since he got home. :) Mom & I had left overs from Aunt Julie's dinner the night before & it was so yummy! She is an amazing cook.

The next day, Dad was pretty owly, but he wanted to get out, so we went to coffee at the Skyway cafe at Felts Field and met up with some of his friends, we then went to a machine shop that does the truck beds for the company & chatted with the father & son who run that. The son's name is Stacy, then Dad was getting weak. He brought an ensure with him & had that & we drove home and I made him lunch & gave him his iron & vitamin C pills, then I went back to work in the living room on the laptop. Later in the afternoon, we went for a walk. He took his cane & Dinky came with us. Dinky was so excited to get out & walk with Dad. He kept running ahead & running all over. Dad was only going to walk to the cul-de-sac, but we walked all the way down to Morris & back pretty slow, then he rested awhile & I went back to working on the lap top. David & Kiana came over to visit at night.

The next day, Dad was in a better mood. After a getting some work done, we went out again and stopped by Action Auto where his friend Bob works, but Bob was out running errands so we chatted with someone else there. Then we stopped by Spokane Rock Products and Dad talked with some guys there for a bit before we went to Winkler's Trucking where Dad & I talked to Brian W for a while. We were out for quite a bit & Dad did well with his Ensure snack for energy. :) When we got home, he watched a movie & I went back to work. We went for another walk later in the day & Dad was moving much faster & we walked farther too. He was howling at Aunt Julie's dog who was barking at us from a distance by the end of our walk. Aunt Kathy & Uncle John brought over a 9 pound lasagna with fixings. Yum! We chatted with them while the dinner was cooking. I went to the gym after dinner.

In the morning the next day, Dad slept in a bit more. He started watching a movie while I worked, then Aunt Kathy W., Jennifer, Grandma & Patty came to take him to lunch at Western Concrete. He was out for quite awhile, but his energy was getting much better. When he got back, he went back to watching the movie & resting. I had to work on a report, so we didn't get to do our walk before it got dark. In the evening, I decided to head out since bad weather was coming in the next day. It was hard to say good bye to Dad & I gave him a tearful hug goodbye & he kissed my hand & asked me to go to church on Christmas for him. I said I would do that.

Here are some quotes from Dad:
"it's my $100,000 hair cut."
"You wake up in the morning & say well, I don’t feel like I’m dying today."
"Live hard & die young"

“One day you’re a walking talking fire breathing human being and the next day some one hits you with a hammer.”

"Yolanda was my charge nurse. She was a big black lady. She was real nice. They had me read and sign all the list of things I can’t do and made Linda read and sign that she read & understood everything as a witness. When they got the meat rack wheel chair to take me out and I was sitting there at the door, I said “Yolanda, come here I’ve got something to tell ya.” When she came over I said, “You know when I was 5 years old, my mother beat me 20 times a day because I wouldn’t do what mommy said and I haven’t changed much.” She laughed and before I left she gave me a hug."

"This is my daughter, Carrie, she’s here babysitting me."

Thursday, November 6, 2008


My Mom says my dad has a triple A type personality. He’s a guy who is tough to keep up with or keep down. Born the 2nd child of 7 to a ranching turned construction family, he grew up always working hard and became a raucous young man. When my grandfather started the family’s construction business, my dad started helping out when he was 16. My dad worked & paid his way through 2 years of college, but dropped out after meeting & marrying my mom. He did though pay for my Aunt to attend music college since piano & music was her passion. When my dad met my mom, he was into muscle cars & fixing them up. He was also into racing stock cars. I don’t think my mom ever thought that my dad would continue to race stock cars with a family, but my dad raced cars, getting better & better each year & harder and harder to beat, until I was 10, my brother was 8 & my sister 7. When dad was not working in the field on a job site, he was in the shop or on the phone getting crews lined up for the next day’s or week’s work. Outside of the race season, it was also the slow time of year for construction, Dad would spend lots of time with us sledding & pulling us up the sled hill behind a snowmobile. It was the time of year we got to goof off with him. Even when he was so busy with racing & work, I loved every minute of it. I loved to smell the mix of grease, dirt & sweat when he would come in for dinner. I loved going out to the shop to tell him he had a work phone call. I loved the family camping trips around the region with the stock car in tow to watch dad race & we’d all lose our voices screaming at the top of our lungs for him to win. Through the years, dad racked up many wins, series wins, trophy dash trophies, thrilling tales, late nights and heart ache from disagreements with Mom on the amount of money going into the stock car.

When I was 10, my grandfather, my dad’s dad, died in a small plane crash. He had been training another pilot on search & rescue tactics during a search & rescue effort for another downed plane. The other pilot’s plane had a major mechanical engine failure. They both perished in the Cascade Mountains in Washington State in September of 1990. My grandpa had built a private airstrip on the land my grandparents used to raise cattle on. When I was 2 he became a pilot. He had gone on to become the President of the inland northwest chapter of the Washington Pilots Association. With his death, my dad gave up any & all aspirations of racing stock cars ever again. He instead threw all of his energy into getting his pilots license. In January of 1991, my dad became a certified private pilot with Visual Flight Rating (you can only fly in weather when you can see the ground). We loaded up as a family & set off on what was to be the first of many family adventure/vacations in the Cessna Turbo Charged 210.

My dad did many things with his new found passion. He went on to become the vice president & then president of the inland northwest chapter of the Washington Pilots Association (my brother & sister & I all got to help fold, stuff & stamp newsletters to members). Dad also became a volunteer for search & rescue flights. I don’t think he ever turned down when the call came out that someone was missing or a beacon was going off. Dad also became quite the bush pilot & we spent almost every weekend in the summer time flying into a wilderness airstrip for camping & hiking in Idaho, Washington & Montana, but mostly in the Frank Church wilderness area in Idaho. Dad also became an advocate for private pilot use of wilderness airstrips to maintain the public’s ability to access nature & the wilderness areas. He also advocated for responsible use among pilots & other users of the wilderness areas. Dad volunteered annually to organize & fly a group of kids from an orphanage in our town into the wilderness to allow them to experience the beauty of the wilderness areas.

At work, my dad appreciates hard working people, but has a soft spot for people down on their luck. He is always willing to give (almost) anyone a second chance if they can show they are willing to work hard. It’s pretty common for them to employ people with criminal records, prison work release inmates, former drug addicts and alcoholics. Dad tries not to get too involved in their personal lives, but some of the people have now worked for the company for over 30 years & have become dear friends. Some of the people who needed a second chance had young kids at home or with their ex’s that needed support. Dad needed people willing to work hard.

Anyway, that is a just the tiniest bit about my dad. To fill in a few more details, the guy is 6’4” 230 (now – used to be 210), a big social butterfly, a straight talking son of a gun, the most intelligent person I know, a royal pain in the butt, a “crude dude”, a big lovable Dad and my hero from day one. He’s fearless and always has been. He’s always looking for some way to make things better, to go faster or farther without limits. He took up rebuilding old rotted out wood boats in the winter time for something to do. My parent’s now have a big Chris Craft they keep on the coast that he completely rebuilt, rewired & revarnished. He did all the electrical & engine work himself. His latest boat project involves making his own jig & steaming new ribs in the middle of the winter with a home-made stove pipe.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Benny Lava

Check out this crazy video.