Tag Archives: Bike touring

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Love What You Do

In the past few weeks I can’t count how many times I have been asked, “Does ZEAL have any job openings?!”  Once people find out that there is a company that helps push their employees to do what they love to do, they want in.

We are a small team at ZEAL, but a strong family who is tied to our roots even as we grow.  ZEAL just launched internationally and the brand is expanding, but ZEAL will remain grounded and committed to what is important.  We strive to live passionately and with purpose:  to give back to the community, while following our own ZEAL and quest for adventure.

When I approached ZEAL’s director of marketing, Joe Prebich with Ben and my idea to bike the entire Pacific West coastline, I expected the typical boss reply, “That sounds nice, but I need you here.  Can you do it in a few days?”  What I got instead was, “That’s awesome!  Yes.  Blog and spread the ZEAL word on your way.  As long as you can keep the work and words flowing, you’ve got our full support.  This is what it is all about!”

I was shocked, but I shouldn’t have been.  This is what ZEAL is ALL about.  We are more than just a sunglass and goggle company.  ZEAL helps people to see what they are capable of and just wants to go along for the ride.  We provide a vision for a lifestyle that adds to your life.

You don’t have to go on a two-month bike tour to find your passion.  You can do that within your own workweek or weekend.  Get out of your own comfort zone.  Do something that inspires others to live their lives to the fullest, whether it’s planting a local garden, helping build a brand, or planning a trip to the jungle.

What I am saying is that if you aren’t doing what you love, you’re missing out.  Get up, find that fuel that gets you going and live everyday to the fullest.  My advice to all of you who want to love what you do:

1)   Find something you are passionate about

What sparks your interest?  Can you work in a field that surrounds and supports that interest?

2)   Make sure you work with people who build you up and help you learn

This is a key component to loving what you do.  Surrounding yourself with positive influencers is something that will strongly impact your life.

3)   Take chances

Be bold!  No one ever got anywhere by sitting around waiting for something to happen!  Make it        happen!

Follow your passion, Follow ZEAL.

Central Washington Doldrums

The charm and beauty of Port Townsend quickly eroded the further we rode from it.  Cute towns were replaced with cold, industrial settlements with blowing trash, mean dogs and rude cars.  Beer cans littered the highway, often being the ‘High Gravity’ or ‘Steel Reserve’ variety – these boys aren’t drinking for flavor out here.

Folks up here seem to really enjoy drinking cheap beer, cutting down trees and rooting around for sasquatch (or ‘squatches’ as they’re fondly called up here).  All these things are fine to partake in once in a while but making these the focal point of life might get old pretty quick.

Town after town seemed almost identical and unappealing, leaving us with the feeling that central Washington will not be on our list of places to come back and see.

One good thing about the area is that it allowed us to see a ton of wildlife. Otters, possums, raccoons, deer, beaver, salamanders, frogs, and even snakes are frequent sightings… in the road. Granted, they have tire tracks on them, but it sill offers a close glimpse at some pretty creatures. Occasionally, we don’t know what species it is due to it being in ‘less than ideal condition’ which gives us a chance to play our game, ‘Guess That Critter!’

It rains every day, but the rain is quite different from the rain back in Colorado. It’s more of a light mist with little bursts of heavier rain that last for a few minutes before giving up and returning to the mist or quitting altogether.   At times the sun will come out briefly which we always celebrate by pulling our bikes off the road and stand facing the sun, soaking it in.

We’ve been having our sun celebrations much more now that we crossed into Oregon.  Everything seemed to improve the minute we got on the ferry leaving Washington to cross the Columbia River for the Oregon border.  The rain had been the hardest we’d experienced though it quickly abated and the sun came out.  The quality of the roads improved vastly with virtually no bad bumps or potholes and minimal road debris. More importantly, there is a huge bike lane much of the time, which is a blessing when logging trucks don’t give us extra room.

Though the last few days in Washington were difficult at times, they taught us a lot about our abilities as well. We completed our longest ride, hitting 62 miles and also have learned how to conquer difficult hills both mentally and physically.

Initially we were intimidated by some of the large hills though after several successful summits we realized that the hills aren’t necessarily difficult, they simply require more time to execute.  We’ve applied the same thinking to the rest of the ride- there aren’t hard parts, simply parts that will take more time to complete than others.  

On very steep pitches we’ll switchback in our lane when traffic permits which makes the climb much easier.  Also, we’ve learned to take frequent breaks on the climbing portions to give our backsides a break as they seem to be the limiting factor on the ride.  Standing up on the bikes while climbing in order to rest the butt is difficult due to the added weight, which makes things unwieldy.

We are also keenly aware that every uphill stretch we do will enable us to have a downhill run on the other side. Our favorite combination is a steep ascent followed by a long, gradual descent, which gives us a nice break while still making progress.

Silverdale and Farmer Blows

Ben and I started off to a brisk, but blue-sky morning.  Our breath steamed in front of us as we peddled our way out of Port Townsend.  Knowing today was to be the hardest thus far, with more climbs and distance than ever before we set out determined to conquer it.  Clad in our warm gear and our ZEAL’s we were smiling and well-rested after our time in Port Townsend.

The sailboats rocked and the town was quiet as we slipped on out.  Immediately we hit some rather large hills, but the grade wasn’t too bad and we managed them easily.

My advice to anyone trying to do a similar trip with as little experience as we have is to just go slow, always be able to hold a conversation with your riding partner, don’t push yourself because there is a long way to go.  I pushed myself too hard on the first few days and paid for it.  Now I’m feeling great and ready for it!

Side note: Ben also recently taught me a very important skill while biking in the cold- the farmer blow.  Ladies…. yes, I know its gross.  I never would have thought I would be shooting snot rockets roadside, ever.  But it is a critical skill on the bike!  I am not talented enough to pull out Kleenex every few miles without stopping to wipe my nose, although I would love to!  I did misfire once.  A huge splat landed straight onto my forearm…fail.

All along the way, the sides of the roads were covered in dense forest and a tall canopy of cedar trees.  With all the rain, the air fills with the scent of cedar and smoke from nearby fireplaces, it’s heavenly. 

As Ben and I went through 10 miles rather quickly, we were feeling really pumped.  Then about 20 miles in the rain started, heavier than any rain we’d experienced thus far.  I could feel the water pouring off my nose and chin.  It started to get miserable.  Hill after hill all I was thinking about was our next stop in Poulsbo, the town both my dad and Ben’s mom had suggested.    The cute Scandinavian town was a few miles off route and as we hit more climbs heading into it, both Ben and I started to grumble.

We finally made it and stopped at a pub in the middle of quaint Poulsbo, which I’d imagine would be breathtaking in the summer.  After five cups of tea each and a hearty meal, we were back on the road and made it easily to Silverdale after one very long ascent and descent.

Port Townsend

The next day we hopped back on the ferry to Anacortes and headed on our way to Coupeville to catch yet another ferry to Port Townsend, which we assumed was just another dot on the map.

We crossed through Deception Pass, which included the tallest bridge I’ve ever stood on.  The view was breathtaking.  The bridge rose 200ft above the deep turquoise, swirling water, which was also 200ft deep.  It was something to see!  Islands sat off in the distance and you could see the snow camped mountain ranges beyond.

Later that day we came upon a bunch of apple trees overhanging into the road.  We decided to raid one for snacks we could take on the road.  Ben got off his bike and jumped up to shake a branch and drop some apples.  The problem was he was standing right beneath the branch…Thud, thud!!  A few came screaming down onto Ben’s helmet.  I stifled a laugh, as Ben (thank goodness) still had his helmet on and was fine.

After rounding the last hill, along more quaint farmlands we reached the ferry to Port Townsend.  We met some fellow Coloradoans on the ride and were happily surprised to find out that Port Townsend is one of the most beautiful and entertaining small towns in Washington.  It was originally meant to be the West Coast’s New York, but instead they chose SF.  All the buildings are from the late 1800s, brick and preserved wonderfully.  It was a great place to take a day off.

We spent the next day stuffing ourselves with clams and mussels, walking by the seas and relaxing.

Our New Favorite City: Vancouver

I’ve never heard a single bad thing said about the city of Vancouver, and today I learned why – this place is simply incredible.

The streets are unusually clean, there’s very little honking, people are polite almost to a fault at times. The scenery is like nothing I’ve ever seen before blending mountains and ski runs with a bustling modern city surrounded by pristine waterfront with low-flying float planes overhead.  The ocean, mountains and city are all worth seeing exclusively, but the three of them work together to make for a truly unforgettable experience. This is my new favorite city.Not long after settling into our little hostel we left to meet up with my old friend, Gareth who is the most well-traveled person I know. He grew up in New Zealand and has since lived in the UK, Australia, Mexico and now Canada.  He’s a civil engineer as well and has generally worked 7 or 8 months per year while taking the rest off to travel which has enabled him to visit over 70 countries.  He and I met while working at a silver mine in the Sierra Madre mountains of Chihuahua, Mexico several years back.

Not long after we met up with Gareth, his girlfriend, Kiran, showed up as well.  They are likely the most international, interracial, and interesting couple I know.  She now lives in Vancouver but was raised in the UK though her parents originated in India.  She had a great wit and taught us the a very amusing colloquialism of differentiating between Indians from India and Indians as in Native Americans when speaking about them.  She’d use the term, “Indian dot” while poking her thumb to her forehead to denote those from India, while using the term, “India feather” while putting three fingers behind her head to denote Native Americans.

When Gareth first moved to Canada he did so by way of the Pacific Coast. He bought an RV in Southern California with an Aussie mate of his and drove it up to Canada. They had tourist visas for 90 days and completed the trip in 89.  – Ben

Our first full day in Vancouver we took the advice of Ben’s Kiwi friend, Gareth, and hopped on our bikes to bike around infamous Stanley Park.  Once we got down to the water, a pedestrian/bike path wrapped around the peninsula, providing breathtaking views of the sea and the mountains rising up from it.  We were immediately scolded for being on the pedestrian path, rather than on the bike path, which was one lane over.  We shifted our direction on the one-way path and took in the sights.  Sailboats sat at their docks slowly rocking, while seaplanes buzzed overhead.  A low fog hugged the base of the mountains and sat just above the ocean.  The ride was perfect and gave us a panoramic view of the city, which is now one of my favorite cities in the world.  If you haven’t been, it’s a must.  Tall trees and greenery flood the city and every thing is pristine.On the ride I kept exclaiming, “Look at that tree!  Ohh!  Look at that”, which I have since learned from Gareth is typical American fashion.  He noted that Americans commonly state, “wow, look at that tree!” while he laughs and asks if that is the first tree they’ve ever seen.

As we came to the end of our ride, we slowed to look at a map.  I clipped out my left foot and then leaned right to look at the map.  “Whoa, whoa…”  Crash.  My pride was hurt more than anything.  I came up laughing.  Well, got that out of the way.  I have been told that you will fall at least once when you learn to clip in.  Done. – Chelsea

Thorn girl

The thorn the doc pulled out of my arm

It’s usually not a good sign when the ER doctor wants photos of your injury to send to his friends. A few hours after our first training ride, I was sitting on the hospital bed, holding Ben’s hand and trying not to look at the exposed bone in my forearm.

Ok, let’s go back a few hours. Ben and I had decided to start getting our bums ready for the big tour by heading out around Boulder’s bike paths for a few hours on our first day of official training. After about an hour and some fun in the bike park, we pointed it home. On the way back, I took up the rear, about two feet from Ben’s back tire. A tree was hanging halfway over the bike path and as Ben passed it, he lightly brushed up against one of the branches. A branch snapped back and hit my forearm as I passed it. Immediately I felt searing pain. Screaming, I staggered off the bike and in a very unladylike fashion began cursing up a storm. Nerve pain shot through my arm, and all could think was, “what just happened?” Looking down at my arm I could see that something was making my skin bulge away from my arm almost an inch with a little puncture wound nearby. It looked like a bone was trying to stick out.

Ben looked back at me with a confused look, thinking I had just fallen off my bike while trying to avoid the tree. He asked what was wrong while looking at me holding my arm. After seeing the odd protruding skin, he reached down and said he thought it was just a protruding vein and pushed on it with his thumb. The second he touched it I yelped and yanked my arm away protectively. I walked back to the tree and my eyes widened as I saw 3-inch thorns covering the branches. They looked more like ice picks than your average thorn. I looked down seeing more puncture wounds from my hand to my shoulder. Ben was concerned about a 6 inch cut I had across my throat. I knew we needed to head to the hospital. After confirming that I couldn’t ride there, Ben gallantly got on the horn and called his brother to pick us up. I paced as the searing pain continued, thinking, “It doesn’t look that bad, but how can it hurt this much?”

Once at the hospital, we were taken right away to a bed. The doctor saw the thorn I had brought with me to explain what I thought was hidden under my skin, and then brought over more nurses and technicians who gasped at the size of the thorn. (Not exactly reassuring) He stated calmly that he was going to have to cut it out of my arm. My eyes grew big as he quickly pulled out a needle of Novocain and a large scalpel. Ben gripped by hand as I looked away and tried to make me laugh with some funny faces. He also asked if he could take pictures of it. The shot hurt, but then the numbing agent starting to work. Then I could hear him cutting into me. The funniest part was Ben’s eyes. They suddenly got huge and then he mumbled, “um… I can see your bone.” The doctor said the thorn was stuck deep into the bone and wouldn’t come out easily. After a fair amount of yanking he finally got it out and suddenly I wasn’t feeling so wimpy.

“Where’s the thorn girl?” we heard from the hallway, moments before the door opened. A nurse came in, looked at the thorn and exclaimed, “Wow!” before heading out without saying another word.

The doctor wanted x –rays to make sure that the other 7 puncture wounds were free of thorns. So blood dripping on the floor, I trotted off to the x-ray room, leaving a trail of red drops. The x-rays checked out fine and I was released with a prescription for an antibiotic to take 4 times a day due to the possibility of infection.

Luckily I didn’t get an infection, but the injury turned out to involve significant nerve damage. After a couple weeks off the bike, the doctor gave me permission to start riding again. I still get shooting pains up my arm at times, but am happy to be back in the saddle. Lesson learned: avoid the plant life near the path, and no more tailgating.