Yoga, Mountain Biking and Nutrition.


18010699_1313078538779572_5901946677605887716_nA couple of weeks ago, I was asked by my friend and fellow shredder, Lisa Gifford Mueller of ALM Photography to participate in the Trek Women’s Advocate/Cedar Bluff Cycle event, Women’s Night: Fitness, Injury Prevention and Nutrition. She asked me to sit on the panel as a resource for women mountain bikers for nutrition, injury and prevention.  The topics that were discussed were centered around the following questions:

1.What Can Riders do to Increase Strength For Riding (especially those newer to mountain biking)? As far as yoga is concerned, yoga is strength training, some of the most easily accessible yoga poses for strengthening your body are:

  • Plank, Side Plank, Boat Pose (core strength and arm strength)
  • Chair and Chair with Twists
  • Locust Pose
  • Bridge Pose, Wheel Pose

2. What Can I Do To Increase Endurance For Riding?

  • hydrate properly (it is recommended to drink 18-24oz of water per hour of activity, in addition to your normal daily amount {drink your weight, divided in half in oz. of water})
  • eat properly (I recommend whole, natural foods, limiting “treats”)
  • increase time on saddle slowly (this applies to other exercise venues as well)

3. Preparing for Longer Rides (and taking time for Recovery)

  • know your body, practice the longer distance and food/water intake before a race, event or long day

4. What Are The Benefits of A Structured Fitness Program?

  • this is where endurance and strength are built
  • conditions are not always keen to ride, but the yoga studio and gym are open
  • mentally preps you for race day-training is a commitment-as is race day

5. Why Is Stretching Important?

  • reduces injury risk and able to bounce back from injuries quicker
  • lengthens muscles
  • ease of movement
  • longevity of being able to work out as we age
  • connective tissue (fascia) is restored and aids in recovery/healing process


There were two other panelists, Susan Finney of KyBRa Athletics and Michelle Kenick of Health First Fitness who had a wealth of knowledge and information to share with all involved. I learned so much from these ladies!

Prior to this panel, I upped my research with several articles and podcasts.

…with any cycling event over 90 minutes, aim to drink 18 to 24 ounces of liquid per hour containing 250 to 300 milligrams of sodium (with an additional 100 milligrams coming from food), says Kelli Jennings, a registered dietitian with Apex Nutrition. If you weigh more than 180 pounds, aim for 24 to 32 ounces.

As for food:

an athlete can burn 1,000 calories per hour or more, the body can’t process that much nutrition while exercising. For efforts over five hours, Jennings suggests between 300 and 400 calories per hour that includes a mix of carbohydrate sources (glucose, fructose, and maltodextrin), but experiment to see how much food your body can handle.

This is the tricky part. My body is different from the next rider. I have learned on long trail rides (and road rides) that my I need more protein and fat and that my typical grab of a bar does not always do the trick, making me sluggish immediately, as my body works  harder to process the food (there can be a lot of hidden sugars in bars, goo and electrolyte supplements).

Today on a long ride, I took an orange and gluten free crackers. I have been playing around with nutrients in my own body, using my self as a test facility. This week has been fun watching my metabolism increase in large amounts and feeling my body rejuvenate at a cellular level.


Some of my personal perspectives:

Food is fuel.

FUEL = food uniting energy + longevity

In research for top athletes, a LOT of technology is used to calculate caloric export vs. input. Even to the cellular levels. It’s kind of like your FitBit on steroids. However, without having lots of money to pay for this type of technology that can even show your mineral bone density, we have to rely on our mental awareness and wisdom from science. This is where yoga is beautiful and perfect. Yoga is not just the poses that you do to stretch, tone and strengthen your body. The practice of yoga actually has 8 limbs-meaning 8 parts total, including the poses, they are: Poses, Breath Control, Concentration, Meditation, Keys to Living with Self and Others, Enlightenment, Removal of Senses/Distraction.

Training mentally has become one of the newest and increasingly fundamental aspects of athletic training. Perhaps your mind even has more control over your body than you think. For example, the Spartan diet/races have included mental training into their regime.

As a yogi, this is one of the 8 Limbs, or foundational cores, of yoga, as mentioned above. In dharana, we work on focusing our attention on a single point. This single-pointedness is what clears your mind, and keeps you in-tune with how your body is functioning and even noticing the lack of nutrients. What are you craving? (Besides beer, pizza and ice cream?) Once I was at work and noticed that I felt really odd, like I was vibrating. I realized my electrolytes were dangerously low. After a quick gatorade (not my favorite choice, but what was available) fix, I could feel my body sorting itself out.  How I knew that, it was intuitive to me. What I credit the intuition to: constant attention to my physical, mental and emotional body. Meditation has been increasingly prevalent in the news. This limb of yoga, dyana, is where we focus singularly on one point, then add being aware but not focused. It’s focusing on breath, something that is automatic. Or the sound of your tennis shoes hitting the trail on a run, or the rhythm of your pedaling on your bike. I truly believe the repetitive motion of cycling (or running, swimming, etc) can be a meditative practice. One where dharana and dyana (single pointed focus and awareness) combine to create a beautiful harmony for your training.

A breath practice is a huge key. It keeps your organs flowing. Keeps you grounded, cleans the mind, and body. In Ayurveda, clear breath assists in all organ functions. The lungs are the wise judge. Liver has to do with emotion of anger, but also the free flow of the body, liver is general. Spleen is mind. Finding ease in life, rest, recovery days, meditation can actually increase the longevity of your athleticism. Pause and check in, slow your breath.

Food is performance and recovery. It is meant to have function. Look at your urine: completely clear is not the best. You want your urine to look like lemonade. You can actually deplete your electrolyte supply. Look at your poop, too. Eat with the seasons, eat clean.

In Summary:

  • Learn to listen attention to your body.
  • Hydrate (one ounce per 1/2 your body weight: i.e. 150lbs = 75oz. H20 per day-without exercise. With exercise, add with any workout over 90 minutes, aim to drink 18 to 24 ounces of liquid per hour containing 250 to 300 milligrams of sodium (with an additional 100 milligrams coming from food).



  • Resource: Outside Online
  • Physical Preparation, Condition and Recovery for Elite MMA Athletes, Sigma Nutrition Podcast.
  • Sports Nutrition 237: How Much Fat Can We Absorb Per Meal?, Endurance Planet.
  • Sports Nutrition, The McCarthy Project.
  • The Mystical Powers of Your Inner Organs A Chinese Medicine Perspective, Brodie Welch. The YogaHealer Podcast.

Day 3|Table Mountain defeats our mountain biking + hiking, Camps Bay and Marco’s African Place

Today, we arose early, looking for a big mountain biking adventure. We met Mike at a shop north of downtown and rode to the top of Table Mountain with our rain jackets, hoping the 60% chance of rain would change its mind. We took off on Giant hardtail bikes down the road and then veered off into jeep trials. The rain met us and we were grateful for having brought our coats.


As the ride went on, it rained harder and harder and harder…and we were getting soaked and cold. The mountain bike trails were not our single track from back home and we were not accustomed to the jostling that went with a hardtail bike down a very bumpy  jeep trail. *oh tragic, we rode bikes on Table Mountain in South Africa and it was rain and we were on hardtail bikes….waaaa, poor you guys…*
We get it. What ensued was a change of plans and a ride through the Company Gardens, which housed the President’s house, multiple museums and and the legislative office of South Africa (we even peeked into a meeting!) No pictures sadly, as my camera was completely wet!

After leaving our guide, squishing rivers of water out of the vents in our shoes, literally, we warmed up and then took off for a drive. Our goal was to hike Lion’s Head and visit the local beaches. The trip to the beach was divine, as the more saltwater that I can breathe into my lungs, the increasingly better I feel.


Again, I could move here…the shore felt similarly to California and I felt pleasantly at home. Later, we attempted a hike up Lion’s Head, which is meant to be a quicker (1 hour) route to the top of Table Mountain. However, we literally could not see 100 yards in front of us, and night was falling quickly.


So, we opted to turn around. As we drove off, the signs to Table Mountain said the mountain was closed.
All in all, it was a very good ATTEMPT at being adventerous!! We rested well and cozy in our hotel room from the days adventures.
My heart is truly full in this beautiful, diverse land, and I am thrilled to be am part of this rich culture, currently. I am excited to report that the minute wildlife that we have observed will no doubt get lumped into our upcoming animal safaris…and that the food of South Africa will require another post entirely!
For now, I leave you with this thought, not but 20 years ago, this country was emancipated from apartheid. Yet, today, I saw cultures living and dwelling harmonious. Words are written that crime is horrid and danger is eminent, and yet we have been safe and happy. Tonight we sat as the only whites in an all black restaurant, and we were treated greatly.
Our racial problems in the United States are making news, daily, sadly, but we must, we must  continue onward and upward, forever promoting equality and justice.

More mountain biking, please!

‘In spring, at the end of the day, one should smell like dirt,’ -M. Atwood

It is time to ride. More.

Last night I hit a personal fastest record on my mountain bike that I am super proud of. I am NOT notoriously fast at all when I ride, or run. But I finish and I ride it again and again. I’ve always had a competitive spirit with myself and, with the crew of boys I was hanging around with at any given moment. Ask my brother,  dad, fiancé. I still wanna be faster than them.

I’m not usually. 🙂

It’s still my challenge.

When I ride with other women, it’s more that I want us to both be at the same pace and encouraging each other. This is why I am crap at races. I want us all to help each other! I find this funny and it’s probably why our volleyball team always kicked a**.

Having a goal is fun. However, getting home from a speedy mountain bike ride and realizing you’ve shaved 4 minutes off your time–when you weren’t trying that hard.

That’s rewarding.

(I will note here that there were some newbies on bikes – two men – that I outrode. That was fun and perhaps was a bit of motivation.)

I still don’t know if a race will be in my future at all for mountain biking…but what I do know is that I will ride.



Females and Athletics

I can say at this point that I have moved a step beyond simply being an active person and started heading toward being a very, minimalistically speaking, tiny bit of an athlete. I train regularly at home (usually 5+ days a week) and am having to regulate my diet to get the proper nutrition it needs for 4+ mile runs, 4-5 mile mountain bike rides and as much time on a snowboard as my body can physically handle…and then way more.

Adding this new adjective to my collection, I have been noticing the difference between men athletes and female athletes. I play hard with my fiancé all the time, but have developed several female athletic friends who challenge me, at times with out even realizing they are and who challenge me oftentimes more than a male athlete.


Having a crew to play with outdoors that are female is empowering my game more than I imagined.

I grew up forever trudging through forests with my brother, his friends and my make friends. Mountain biking and hiking was just what we did. Every guy I dated I taught how to mountain bike, which usually ended in disaster ( as I had ridden longer…you get my drift). I forever was training, in essence, with the boys because there just were not girls doing what I was doing.

A few years ago, I started working with a friend who has remained the ever outdoor sports enthusiast and still challenges me in her toughness. Together we have snowboarded, mountain biked, kayaked, hiked, ran, paddleboarded and the list continues.


On my current trip in Salt Lake City snowboarding, I read a Backcountry magazine devoted to women skiiers. It solidified what my outdoor athletic girls and I were already thinking. Beauty is defined by strength of character and sense of humor – which extreme sports teach you through its reminders of humility through testing every fiber of your being. Also, there is a camaraderie that is solidly formed on a slope or trail that cannot be gained from anywhere else.


The articles in Backcountry worked to help others see that women are ever a minority in outdoors sports, but that those who truly love and embrace these sports are just as passionate and athletic as their male counterparts. The magazine worked to figure out the whys of the incredible lack of hardcore athletic attire necessary for many terrains and worked to understand how to change these things…not simply by making it softer and pink with swirls (shrink it and pink it was the phrase they used of how a lot of good sports clothiers had ‘solved’ the women athlete). My friends and I have discovered this for quite some time and in some way want to be a voice of awareness.

I have seen also is that the women I meet in the out of doors are by far the most beautiful. These women and girls are fearless-often riding by themselves-as I did many times, they fight the elements easily, they are megahappy and have amazing stories to share, they are super knowledgeable a n out the backcountry and they are f***ing tough. This is true beauty. Not skinny jeans fitted and lipstick clad…as the article mentioned…but windburnt, sweaty, helmet haired gals with gigantic smiles and a sense of more adventures oozing through their pores. (And I do wear lipstick and skinny jeans at times….but always feel exposed in these items…) The authors are saying what my soul has been dying to hear: women who play hard outdoors are the essence of beauty. I love it. For me, I agree.

It is interesting that as I write this article, I am vacillating between feeling a need to apologize for being so vocal about this (never want to offend, you know) and the desire to plead with you that this is not some hard core feminism streak I have just hit. How funny that this again echoes the article in saying that women always feel the need to apologize and be the sweetest version of themselves at all times.

On that note,  I raise my coffee mug (as it is 6 a.m. here) to all the women out there playing, adventuring, and living life hard and fast- filled with joy and oftentimes dirt. May we continue to grow our respective passions for our sports, strengthen our friendships and go out and kick ass.


Maiden Voyage


When we first moved into our beautiful home at the hill, we knew we wanted the extra land that was formerly attached, making our land ownership at 18 acres. Little did we know it would actually happen.

It’s happening.

When things start out like a crazy dream and then develop into reality it can be quite a magical, trippy situation. We are in the middle of that trippy situation: dreams are materializing right before our eyes.

We have the start to our trail system. Mountain biking trails, hiking trails, dirt bike trails. Trails that will allow people to come, shred down our hills and come out smiling.


This past weekend, with the amazing help and support of my parents, my brother, his wife (also avid mountain bikers) and amazing two nephews, we built the first trail which has been named “Maiden Voyage.” (I have had this silly love of all things pirate for quite some time now and the name fits.)

Granted, it currently clocks in at a grand total distance of 0.15 miles, but it’s a trail. And Sunday, we are took our bikes out and rode it. It’s too steep in some parts, which is going to require some sweet berm building to follow.

Saturday morning, my brother, his boys and his beautiful wife came over at 10, and in 20 degree weather, we all got to work. JJ and I relearned the skill of mapmaking, breaking out a clinometer, compass and our latitude and longitude knowledge to mark the final two points on our land that meander down a hill. My nephews dutifully followed us, armed with safety goggles, rosebush trimmers, and an array of magnifying glasses, flashlights and chapsticks. We mapped the points and then dropped the boys off to play by the fire pit, and barn that houses a chicken coop and a loft with a firepole to slide down…they remained playing there for the remainder of the day.


JJ and I then worked on trailblazing “Maiden Voyage” which Chad wanted to start from the top of the driveway, follow in parallel, and then slalom into the woods below.



Ben and Chad utilized this sucker to recreate a road that had been present on our property 40 years ago. The previous, previous owner of our home had bulldozed a trail down into a pasture for horses, bikes, trucks, etc. Ben and Chad recreated that trail in a day. The remnants of the trail were there, but it was so overgrown, that a bobcat was just the trick.

Ben and Chad worked so hard and so long and did so much, that we all walked the trail that evening, playing in the open pasture below.


All of this continued the next day, where we continued “Maiden Voyage,” with the help from my parents, who arrived midmorning. My dad, armed with a chainsaw, hacked out most of the large trees, while mom and I lopped the smaller ones over and talked the magic 10 degree angle of slope needed for a perfect mountain biking trail.

All the while, this dream is coming to a reality before my eyes and I am finding it quite surreal.

The life I am living is more than I could ever have imagined. The partner I have is more than I could ever imagined. The house we own is more than I could ever have imagined.


I want to open our land and our home for others. I have grand visions of people riding bikes in our woods, working in gardens, eating in our kitchen, playing with alpacas, learning nature survival, and even occasionally hunting to keep the wildlife numbers at bay. I would love to put a school of sorts on our property that teaches students through being outdoors; I do feel nature is one of the best teachers…this is another adventure for another day perhaps…or perhaps it is simply an asking of a question: Is it possible in South Knoxville to do this?

If you build it…will they will come?

4 a.m. Banana Bread baking musings…and other great thoughts

I awoke this a.m. at 3:30, unable to sleep due to the excitement that was 2013 and replaying events in my head. Being that we are in a social media age, I dutifully recounted my year via Instagram and Facebook (who kindly did the work for me).


It started with me doing “falling leaves” down slopes in North Carolina and ended with several black diamond runs on the slopes in West Virginia.


And, sandwiched between all of that are more adventures than I can contain. Mountain bikes dominate with paddleboarding, wake skating, hang gliding, Appalachian Trail hiking, autocross racing and climbing all following close behind.

All of this wonderfulness I blame entirely on my fiancé, and I must insert here that we also were engaged this year in Peru at the tip top of Machu Picchu!!


Well, almost all of it. The good news is, as I was stumbling, awestruck through my amazing year, I found photos of me B.C.(before Chad) mountain biking, climbing and snowboarding. (SO grateful I’m no girlfriend chameleon.)

I decided to bake some semi-gluten free semi-vegan banana bread with the remaining banana s from my families first skip-presents-&-go-play Christmas and muse about a bit…

If 2013 brought forth all of this goodness, what in the ☆☆☆☆ will 2014 bring?!

For starts, two weddings. Chad’s beautiful cousin and dear friend of ours was engaged over Thanksgiving and we are going to celebrate their marriage as much as ours this year. With upcoming mountain biking today, snowboarding Utah in February and then Tahoe again possibly in March….already I’m jittery with excitement!

As I ponder, I know there are other amazong things to happen down the road that I am traveling. Most of all, I am fortunate enough to have my newly forming family along side of me

And many beautiful friends that have joined in my adventures, both you, my fellow readers, and of course those nearby


On that cheerful note, I wish you and yours a truly adventurous year filled with EPICness, laughter and good health!


The semi-gluten free and semi- vegan banana bread is done! Yum

(Here’s the link to that recipe…I only add the terms semi, because we’ve been out of the house for almost 2 weeks and currently only have semi-gluten and semi-vegan products at the house.)

Continental Divide Race. Fixed Speed. South Knoxvillian.

The title alone says to you, ‘huh?!’ in so many ways.

Tuesday, I met South Knoxvillian, Drew McIntosh, who rode the Continental Tour Divide, all 2,750 miles of it on a FIXED SPEED bike.

With no gears. And no suspension.


We met up with him in our own backyard. He was easy to talk to and wished US a great night.

That evening, the Mayor, moved by his accomplishment, declared October 8, 2013, officially “Drew McIntosh Day.”. And we celebrated by riding bikes, eating hotdogs and listening to the UT Jazz band. Drew cut cake and visited with several people from the AMBC (Appalachian Mountain Bike Club), met with us to chat about riding and of course, hung out with his lovely girlfriend.


We asked Drew what his next plans were, optimistically asking if he was ready to ride more. He replied, “I’m kinda done riding for now.”

I get that. I wouldn’t know what he meant, because right now riding 2,700 miles on my mountain bike sounds incredible. I would love to disappear and just ride.

and ride

and ride.

I will be riding tomorrow, at Concord Park in Knoxville, and again next weekend as we tackle Dupont Park in Asheville/Hendersonville, NC, area.

I guess that will work.

For now…

Dirty South.


There is a place in Knoxville that has come to rival almost any trail system I have ever known. The outer loop of this system is currently 12.5 miles long and connects together just over 30 miles of cross country mountain biking. And, the best part is, it is that this area is expanding almost every month. The goal is that

the 1,000-acre Knoxville Urban Wilderness, championed by Legacy Parks Foundation, is a partnership with Ijams, AMBC, TWRA and the City and County of Knoxville. We are developing the 1,000-acre Urban Wilderness, that when completed, will connect ten parks, feature over forty miles of recreational trails, four civil war sites, and diverse ecological features and recreational amenities.

The mountain biking trails are called the “Dirty South.” Friends who have lived in this area have referred to it as such for years. The South Loop, coined by the Urban Wilderness collective, is it’s referred name in the books. I realize also that many people have sweated a lot to create such an amazing space and I am a newbie to parts of this track of land, some parts I’ve been biking for a few years now. However, I HAD NO IDEA the massive amount of cross-country mountain biking that could be had literally over the street from where we live.


Check it (the map system): SouthLoop(2)

Two weeks ago we went out exploring this loop, realizing we can bike from home to get to one of the entrances. WHAT A FIND.

I have ridden the section at Ijams Nature Center around the Mead’s Quarry but little did I know the fun that lay hidden at the Hastie, Marie Myers and Helix side. of things.

I admit I am VERY partial to this track of land, as it is, as I mentioned, in our backyard.

Recently, a tragic event almost happened that threatened this area. TDOT wanted to expand James White Parkway onto John Sevier Highway, making an area expand literally through a track of this land. (See the proposal here from TDOT.) Had this happened, a gigantic section of the trail system would have been taken over by a highway…and would have run through our backyard. It would have traversed three to four of the already built sections of the South Loop trails.


In an effort to save the system, a family rose up and donated 100 acres to the Urban Wilderness/Legacy Park system.

(I love it when the people rise up for good causes and succeed.)

Now, officially, TDOT has decided that they will not continue the JWP expansion, but instead, they are “somewhat concerned” that the efforts to help South Knoxville are in jeopardy.

But in the words of a local, long time resident, “South Knoxville folks do stick together.”

In thinking about all of this it is amazing to watch where we have come in the past few weeks regarding this decision. It is amazing that we have the privilege of living in an area so strongly in favor of wilderness development. It will also be amazing to see where this takes South Knoxville in the next few years. Imagine the possibilities if we continue as an area to develop the parks, get the word out nationally and then see an entire section of the trails expand into the likes of Tsali in North Carolina, where a whole community receives economic growth due to playing outdoors.

For now, I think I will plot our next ride WITH our gopro….wanna come?

(video owned by alc1013)