Originally Written December 19, 2019
It’s day two of our ride. The boys are all tired and stiff today. I stretched immediately after our ride and they just laughed at me…who’s laughing now? Me, I’m ready to go after a pot of coffee. Today’s goal for the ride is to ride into Nogales for a lunch at a taco truck. Oh yeah, that was a goal worth keeping up with the boys I was willing to take on.
Our leader took us through a canyon, up a mountain fire access road that had been mostly eroded down by some heavy rains the day before to a breathtaking lookout spot. The trip down turned into an epic learning experience for me.
The narrow roads in that area were covered in granite rock slabs and granite dust - no sense using the back brake whatsoever. I am a confident front brake user but quickly found out that using front and back brakes was not a good idea. While I manage to stay on my bike while skidding down a steep slab of granite around a switch back, I had to stop and take a minute to catch my breath. Hoping that was the worst of the steep descents was over I threw my leg over my torn seat and headed into steeper territory. The switchbacks and steep descents went on for over 30 minutes until we were finally down into a valley and about 30 minutes to tacos.
I was excited about tacos and didn't realize, while there were no steep descents into Nogales, we still had a few miles to ride on some super gnarly narrow jeep trails. I lived and made it into town for amazing tacos. We (meaning me) decided to head back home via some breathtaking easier riding roads. I'm glad we did as it was getting cold, we were all tired, our bellies full of Mexican goodness and we were running out of gas and daylight. We rode 6 hours that day. I'm proud to say I had the skills to ride all the terrain, including terrain I was not confident riding. As the day wore on I got used to riding and it made me a better rider.
I wonder what challenges tomorrow's ride will bring!?
Originally written December 19, 2019
We have been riding here in Arizona for almost three weeks. Our adventures have taken us into desert areas that have you looking for Wiley Coyote and the Roadrunner, to awe inspiring views over endless mountain ranges in every direction.
We met up with a couple of Ontario riding peeps early December. One of the guys has a house near Tucson and lives here and rides 6 months of the year. He took us out for 2 days of epic riding.
Day one we met for breakfast in a little desert town and headed over to an area near Tubac to ride some newly built single track. After being lost on Jeep roads for a good 30 minutes one of us finally spotted a trail marker. The single track was a total of 28 miles, built in 2 mile sections. Most of my single track experience I have had has been in Ontario, rutted out, muddy, stumpy and nice flowy trails. Yup, this was a whole new experience and challenge for me personally.
The first two trails we did were challenging but I didn't have any problems. I did invent new swear words but made it through without anyone having to help me.
The third trail, well it started off nice, a few challenging rock steps and some deep water crossings but all within my skill set. Then I came around a blind corner and slamming on my brakes I just stared at the challenge in front of me. How the ‘H’ was I going to conquer a trail that started up a steep gravelly, loose, rocky incline, including several rock step switch backs and then a trail on a steep side incline with nothing but large boulders on the trail, a cliff ascending into the heavens on one side and a cliff descending into the depths of hell on the other? I had no confidence. However, I put my bike into first gear and tractored up as far as I could go before I wiped out. Our fearless leader, a highly accomplished rider, had to rescue me a couple times as the other two in our party were themselves having difficulties.
When the four of us finally found a spot to rest I made note I was the only person in our little posse not dying of heat stroke, lack of hydration or energy. I'm 120 pounds, my bike is approximately 240 pounds and I had 15 pounds of supplies in my backpack. After a brief rest and a snack, we rode the remaining mile out of that specific trail, and spent an hour finding our way back to our vehicles on some pretty gnarly jeep roads. I felt good about my riding and patted myself in the back.
Pumped and ready for Carne Asada with Mexican grilled bulb onions for dinner we headed back to the Canuck’s casa for dinner! And a beer or two…
Breakfast. A lot of people say they hate it. I'm not sure why, I get up in the morning, having not had anything to eat for 12+ hours and of course I feel not quite right with low blood sugar, grumbling tummy and all. I am lucky that I have always loved breakfast.
So why don't you take the time for breakfast? Too busy in the morning with kids, getting ready for work? Why not start eating breakfast, I bet it makes a world of difference in the long run. If your excuse is that you don't have any time, well I have a nutritious solution for you that takes 5 minutes the night before and a 2nd option that takes 5 minutes in the morning and doesn't include buying expensive, processed sugar laden commercial cereal. I sometimes eat these for lunch or dinner when I'm feeling lazy.
Since being in Mexico I have been unable to buy low fat dairy of any kind or any frozen berries, so I had to adapt to what was at hand. Here are my two favourite breakfast options, one I eat in Canada with low fat Greek yogurt and one tasty option for when I'm in Mexico! Try them both and see which one you like best!
1/2 cup low fat, plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp. Splenda or other sweetener
1/2 cup frozen raspberries, black berries, sour cherries or strawberries - whatever berry you love
1 tsp. hemp seeds
Optional 1/4 cup quick oats
Mix it all together - enjoy!
1 cup dry oats (whole)
1 1/2 tbsp cocoa powder
1 tsp Splenda or other sweetener
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup milk (preferably low fat) or almond, soy milk etc.
1/2 cup water
1/2 tbsp. cocoa nibs
Mix all dry ingredients in a jar or other container with a lid. Add water and milk, shake and put in the fridge over night. In the morning, give it a stir with the cocoa nibs - voila!!! My new fav.
As I sit in the Arizona desert staying away from other people (I hate catch phrases like ‘self isolation) and see people on social media posting they hope they have a family member who knows how to cook because all their favourite restaurants are currently closed, I use my inside voice to ask myself: “when did North Americans lose their ability to cook and why did we lose that ability?”. I don't think the majority of us are lazy, we work hard at our jobs, those with kids are busy with them, we have to clean our houses. So why does the thought of cooking make people roll their eyes? We have to eat, there's no choice. So why don't most of us do it for ourselves anymore?
Convenience? I get it, we are all tired at the end of the day, we are rushed in the morning before school and work. In this day and age (ignoring the current pandemic) it is so easy to get on whatever app du jour and have anything you desire delivered to your door. Technology has made it easy, but has technology actually made your life better in this regard? Do you remember a time when eating out was a treat and a special occasion?
Deliciousness? Does fast food, frozen pizza, restaurant food in general taste more amazing than a home cooked meal. Not always.
Cost? Is it more expensive to cook at home? Nope!
Time? Is delivery faster than cooking something at home? Yes and no.
Healthy? Is delivery/take out healthier? As an ex-chef I have to say nope. Restaurant food is all about flavour, yes even the vegan/vegetarian restaurants use processed plant products which aren't necessarily healthier than whole fruits and veggies with minimal processing.
Family time? Most families eat in front of the almighty television. Is this really family time, why not cook with your spouse and/or kids? Teach the next generation a skill or two.
Before you do the eye roll when I ask you if you like to cook, why not try 2 meals a week? Roast a chicken with all the veg and potatoes in one pan, learn to grill veggies when you grill up a steak. Make some quick oats for tomorrow's breakfast. Get a crockpot, those things are amazing.
Or, if you do cook at home but are bored, try something new! Learn how to make bread (it's quite easy, yes, it's time consuming, but can be made in the time span of a 2-hour movie), learn how to make hollandaise sauce from scratch, it's not magic! Make pancakes or waffles from scratch with blueberry sauce. You don't have to spend your entire day cooking, but you can cut the cord and I promise you will save a ton of money and your waistline may even shrink a little.
For most of us, if we are not essential workers, we have been home for a long time. Many of us can feel overwhelmed, particularly if we are spending a lot of time on social media. Either we feel anxiety about getting this disease, or we believe we are being lazy if we haven’t taken the time to declutter the house or learn a new language. The reality is, many of us are stressed out just trying to keep ourselves and our families healthy. Add in the challenge of trying to work from home while homeschooling youngsters, and you may find yourself saying “what free time!”
There is hope and opportunity that can come out of this situation. There are many things we can do now during this time to help our wellness that don’t involve a lot of extra time.
Homeschooling in traditional subjects aren’t the only things our children will learn during this pandemic. COVID-19 and germs have come to the forefront; now is a great time to teach children some habits around cleanliness. Most of them understand why they are at home and can’t socialize with their friends. This may be the only time they will listen to you when you tell them to wash their hands before dinner. Try it, it just might work.
Food and Nutrition
North American self isolation seems to revolve around a lack of toilet paper, flour and canned goods. If you are lucky enough to live somewhere with an abundance of food, and are able to shop or order groceries in, now is a good time to take advantage of the fresh meat, fish, fruits and vegetables available. If some of your favourites are not available, the opportunity exists for the adventurous eater to try something new. If you can’t find beef, try lamb. If you can’t find apples, try mangoes. I just bought a case of mangoes at the grocery store for $8! While it seems crazy, you just may end up eating healthier than you did before.
The abundance of food in North America can also lend the opportunity to explore new types of cuisine. Spices also seem to be plentiful, so try a new ethnic cuisine that you always wanted to try but were afraid to make. Now’s the time to break out either the Instapot or slow cooker, or both. Even though the Instapot and slow cooker cook food differently, using one of these appliances means that you don’t have to spend time in front of the stove. The machine does most of the work, and there is only one pot to clean afterwards.
This is a great time to take care of your bike. Many trails are still closed in some areas due to either weather conditions or self isolation measures. Now is the time to do that maintenance you have been putting off. Some things can be easily done at home, some things may require some skill or the watching of YouTube videos. If you find yourself mechanically inclined, go for it! If not, some bike shops are still open for service (always call ahead first) and would probably be thankful for the business.
With the quarantine, fitness at home programs are booming. Gyms are closed, and community recreation programs have ended. If you are missing your regular gym, fitness class or sport, why not give FitRiders a try. Our program takes only 20 minutes a day and uses no equipment. So, there is no need to rush out an buy any expensive equipment. The program is designed to get you into adventure riding shape when the riding season begins. Right now it feels like it will never come, but it will.
Even with children and spouses trying to get your attention, you can still carve out 20 minutes for yourself. You owe it to yourself. If you’re a morning person, and the family isn’t, try morning workouts. If you’re a night owl, try it after you put the kids to bed. Better yet, get the whole family to join in! They’re missing their recreation programs too! It’s free for 60 days. You have nothing to lose, except maybe a few inches around the waist.
Karl Tettmann, Co-Founder. Avid health and fitness coach who just loves to ride.