Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Where did 2009 go?!

Happy Holidays!

We've done a very poor job of the holidays this year. We haven't sent a single card! Let alone any pictures, or news of what we've been up to this year.

So instead, I thought I'd offer up our year in cliff-notes, and an e-card that I hope you'll enjoy. (Warning: the e-card is a video. I'm not sure how you'll fare with dial up speeds, but you've been forewarned.)

This year's holiday letter is going to be pretty short, because for the first five months of the year I studied and worked, and worked and studied. Bo-ring. But in the end I passed my last Enrolled Actuary exam. So, Yay!

However, even though studying for that exam did take up nearly half the year, we still managed to fit in some pretty nice adventures.

  • In January we spent a long weekend at the coast with family. Sort of a late holiday celebration, but also nicely timed to celebrate my mom's birthday!

  • Gregg spent a lot of those 5 months trying to stay busy and out of my hair. In February he raced in the Echo Red to Red with Team Dirt, our mountain bike team. Talk about early season racing!

  • And he is still as passionate about bicycle polo as he was last year. So he's played as much as possible this year, including taking a trip to Portland for the Championships. He claims to be a pretty non-competitive guy, but I'm betting that the people who play polo with him would disagree. He's good. And he's competitive.

  • I did squeeze in an adventure of my own prior to the exam: in April I traveled to New York (via Atlanta and Philadelphia) for an exam seminar.

    I had a fantastic time visiting friends and co-workers in all three cities, but I have to admit that New York was the highlight. Most of my time in New York was dedicated to seminar and study, but I did get out to see a little of the city. I'd love to go back, and next time I want to have Gregg with me. What a fantastic city to explore!

  • One glorious weekend in August was spent in Oakridge, Oregon, participating in Mountain Bike Oregon. What an amazing time! We have such fantastic MTB friends, and it was great to see so many of them in the same place, at the same time. Good friends; good trails; good beer. If there had been shower facilities on-site it would have been absolutely perfect. We've got large goals for the coming year and may not be able to swing this in 2010, but if we can, I'd love to do this every year! Be sure to tell Gregg that next year he should volunteer to guide MTBO. He's a natural! He sweeps and offers mechanical assistance anyway, so he might as well do it "officially".

  • We managed to get out of the state in September! It was a pretty short trip really, but it was great getting away for a while, and we finally had a chance to catch up with several old friends.

    We flew into Albuquerque first, and stayed there for a few days to visit friends and ride bikes. Yes, we brought our own bikes out with us. It is a bit more of a hassle to find a vehicle big enough to haul them around. But since we were traveling in New Mexico and Colorado, it was a natural choice to bring them.

    Albuquerque was great. Very, very relaxing. Good coffee, finally some time with good friends, and the mountain biking wasn't bad either. Not super exciting, but surprisingly accessible. I could have totally done without getting stuck by the cactus! But I can see why a cyclist would want to live there. Especially during the winter.

    After a few days in Albuquerque we rented an SUV, stuffed our bikes in the back, and drove up to Santa Fe for a couple of days. What a beautiful town. We stayed with a couch surfer outside of town, who tipped us off to a fine and quirky establishment. I'm pretty sure the best meal we had on this trip was at the Pojoaque Supermarket. A quirky little restaurant with a nice patio and fantastic food, at reasonable prices. I didn't get any riding in near Santa Fe, but Gregg did. And I got in some quality chillin' at the coffee shop and reading time while he was riding. What a luxury.

    From Santa Fe we drove up to Durango, Colorado to meet up with Sesh. What a great town! After staying for a few days, it's high on my list of places I'd love to live. It's a little isolated, but the town has so much to offer I think I could live with that.

    By a crazy lucky accident of timing we were in Durango during the Single Speed World Championships. There were events going on all weekend surrounding the SSWC. People came from all over the place for the event, so we saw quite a few familiar faces out there. It was fantastic.

    The day before the race we went for a ride on the Colorado Trail. It was absolutely gorgeous, and the most fun I had on vacation. I could have ridden that trail all day. I think I was finally getting my second wind at elevation. The trails are just technical enough to be fun without killin' me. And the aspen were just gorgeous. I could have ridden all day, and I'd go back to Durango just to ride this trail again. What a blast.

    The SSWC race was fun to watch, but it also looked like a lot of fun to race! People were riding every fashion of one-geared bike. Most of the riders were in costume. Many of them were eating and drinking all manner of hand-ups, from the more traditional beer to jell-o shots and, as I hear it, fried Twinkies! These people were riding single speed bikes on challenging technical single track at 10,000 feet in elevation, and acting like it's a big party. Tough as nails, but if they're at all focused on training you wouldn't know it. I want to *be* these people. It was seriously motivating.

    And then there was the after party. The icing on the cake. Without going into too much detail about the weekend and the SSWC, the final competition to decide the next location of the race was a pick-up basketball game. And the two finalists were Italy and New Zealand. I've been wanting to go to New Zealand for *years*. Every time New Zealand scored a point I got more excited. And when New Zealand won, I was ecstatic! So guess what we're doing next year?!?! Yeah, that's right! Rotorua New Zealand, October 2010.

  • After getting back to Oregon we managed to squeeze in one more amazing weekend of mountain biking. Bend's Big Fat Tour (in Bend, Oregon) was the Team Dirt team event this year. The team had a pretty good showing, and those of us who were able to make it had a lot of fun. Painful, dirty fun. This is another event I'd love to participate in every year...there's really no chance we'll be able to make it in 2010, but we'll make it whenever we can. And maybe next time I'll do some training before the weekend. Some year soon I want to earn that No Whiners patch!

  • And finally, no surprise, we raced cyclocross again this year! Neither one of us did any training. And we didn't make it a point to race every weekend. But I was able to make it to Southern Oregon for one race down there. Southern Oregon has a seriously sweet mountain bike-y course, and my nieces, so I was excited to get down there to race for the first time this year.

And that's our year in review! Wow. Writing all this out makes me realize that we had more adventure than I remembered. There's never enough time or money for all the fun, adventures, and accomplishments that we'd like to have. But all things considered, we had a pretty good year.

Thanks for all the Christmas love. We hope you're enjoying the holidays, and we hope to see you soon.

Stephanie & Gregg

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