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Laurel lives and breathes and shivers and writes and publishes in the highest incorporated town in the U.S.! She's the author of several books, all available on Amazon.

Alligator Preserves Episode 33: Brent Goldstein, the Tour Divide, and the LT100

Brent Goldstein’s bucket (list) is empty after completing the 2018 Tour Divide, but he’s back in Leadville to compete in his 12th Leadville Trail 100 Mountain Bike Race!

Brent Goldstein’s magic paper “painting”! (You paint with water and your work of art disappears quickly! Order yours at Leadville’s Fire On The Moutain)

Brent races for the First Descents (FD) Organization–he’s the Chairman of the FD Board–and is working on a book about his experience riding the Tour Divide and working with the FD organization. *

* Brent would like to make a correction to his response about why Brad Ludden founded First Descents: it was not his sister who had cancer, but his aunt.

Listen here:

Show Notes with Links:

  • Brad Ludden’s vision for First Descents
  • Preparing to include candidates with Multiple Sclerosis
  • Brent talks about the variety of adventure camps young adult cancer survivors/patients may attend
  • His friend Alan Goldberg convinced him to ride the LT100
  • Shaw Cancer Center in Vail
  • Brent discusses the greatest physical challenge he completed before the Tour Divide and how he prepared (or didn’t prepare!)

    Brent Goldstein at Great Basin on the 2018 Tour Divide! Photo provided by Brent Goldstein
  • Ride the Divide movie
  • Salsa Timberjack Touring Bike
  • Join Facebook groups to learn from those who’ve experienced the races
  • Brent’s favorite gear pick: JBL Bluetooth Speakers for his eclectic play lists
  • His worst day on the Tour, feeling fear, and his best day
  • Did completing the Tour Divide change his life?
  • Shout-outs to supporters, so many! His wife Lisa, Jackie, Gary Johnson (yes, that one), Kevin Kane, Jeff Hoffman, Bonnie Gagnon, Mario & Vincent Hammel, Wayne, Chuck, and more!
  • RULES SCHMULES!
  • Ken Chlouber’s mantra (listen to my interview of Ken here)
  • LT100 Mountain Bike Race goal for 2018 and tips for riders
  • Grace Ragland’s interview here
  • What’s the purpose of the book he’s writing?
  • Contact me: laurel@strackpress.com if you’re interested in purchasing Not Your Mother’s Book…On Being a Stupid Kid with Brent’s stories in it and I’ll donate proceeds to First Descents!
  • Find out how you can support First Descents here, and remember that another way you can help the FD family is by referring young adult survivors/patients to FD to attend their life-affirming programs.

More Links:

If you enjoy my podcasts, you might enjoy my books!

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

Alligator Preserves Episode 32: Sitting

What would you do if the internet and your phone service were down and you had no idea when or if they’d be restored? This happened to me on August 1st. Find out what I did!

“In my own little corner, in my own little chair, I can be whatever I want to be . . . ” ~ Cinderella

Show Notes and photos: 

Sitting. Simply sitting in silence. I can’t remember when I’ve done this lately.

It’s because the internet is down and we have no service. No phone, no Facebook, nothing but me in this $20 thrift store chair and Ranger plunked down on the floor looking at me with wonder or boredom. I’ll say wonder.

I found the beautifully upholstered chair amidst a mass of should-have-been-discarded furniture and knew I’d found a treasure. Yellow, blue, green and white, my favorite colors, it sat like a blossom in a desert, complete with arm protectors and matching throw pillows. I looked it over quickly, sat in it, realized it was the kind of chair I’ve been searching for, and ran through the wasteland to the cashier.

“How much for the yellow chair?”

“Oh, twenty dollars, I guess.”

“I’ll take it.”

My Mum would have liked this chair; it fits a smallish person just right. And she would have liked that I wrote about it while sitting in it, quietly, while the pork in my crockpot falls apart. With no internet, no phone, no heavy machinery outside my window because they’ve finally finished paving the road, I made chicken salad for lunch and got dinner started. I walked with Ranger and watered the plants outside. It’s August first, and my daisy plant has just now decided to open nearly every bud. Life’s tough for a plant in Leadville.

Mum wasn’t happy with my decision to move to Leadville. “Why would you want to go backwards,” she asked after visiting for the first time. She loved our Colorado Springs McMansion and never did understand why I’d want to live in a house like the one her father lived in, an old Victorian with creaky floors and possibly ghosts.

I’ve written my most creative pieces atop these creaky floors. Sitting in my $20 chair now, I realize this is the first piece I’ll write in it. I placed it in an empty corner in our dining room figuring I’d eventually move it upstairs, but it wanted to stay there by the morning sun window and next to the sleigh seat table I used to bounce on as a child.

One of Mum’s earliest painting. More than “good enough.”

I realize Mum’s spirit is everywhere in this room. Her dining room table—the one on which she made my sisters’ wedding gowns and around which she hosted decades of celebrations—is showing its age, as am I. Her paintings—there’s one in nearly every room—are a constant reminder of her creativity and humility. She painted till the end, but never thought she was “good enough.”

Before she died, we teased about where her ashes would go. “I’m definitely bringing at least some of you to Leadville,” I told her. “You do that and I’ll haunt you!” she said, and we laughed.

Funny Mum. Don’t you know you’re all around me every day?

She frequently reminded me to take care of myself. Take time for myself. Meditate. It was advice she rarely, if ever, followed herself. But this is not a piece about my Mum. This is a piece about sitting in silence.

I wanted to call my youngest sister, Carol, today to tell her how suddenly sad I felt that our Mum and Dad wouldn’t be there for her youngest son’s upcoming wedding. Carol married one year after I did, but my wedding was the last one our Bupa attended. He was my Mum’s father, and he was several sheets to the wind by the time the garter ceremony began. He wouldn’t let anyone, including my brand new husband, remove the garter from my leg. Nope. He pushed Mike away and did it himself.

Grandparents add a certain feeling of validation to big events like weddings, or in my comical case, a reminder that age has its privileges. So I’m sad my parents won’t be there for her son’s wedding. And should my sons someday marry, they obviously won’t be at their weddings either. Wow. That just hit me.

My parents were Nick’s caretakers for the first two months of his life as Mike and I were in grad school when he was born. We’d come home to a clean house, dinner ready, and our baby asleep in my father’s arms. Although I was not working when Jake was born, Mum and Dad were there to provide the same care and love for his first six weeks of life. I never turned down their offers of assistance, and they made sure Nick had as much attention as the noisy little interloper.

Funny what goes through your mind when you’re surrounded by silence. And I can’t call Carol to tell her how sad I feel because there’s still no service. What if internet and phone lines couldn’t be restored? Now, there’s a funny thought. I’d have to write a letter. I could do that. Sometimes I wish the internet would disappear so we’d all have more silence in our lives.

Our lives are driven by the calendar and what we have planned for tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow. I just flipped my calendar to today, the first day of August, and back-to-school thoughts flood my senses.

I remember back-to-school butterflies and setting out my first day of school finery, one new dress and new shoes from The Bargain Center, the night before school. I couldn’t wait to walk to Eldridge Elementary School with Carol and my best friend Marilyn, crunching fallen acorns under our heels and sticking flighty little maple seedlings onto our noses along the way. Maybe there’d be new kids to meet. Maybe there’d be a cute boy.

My favorite of Mum’s paintings in my recording studio. There’s a story behind this painting. WAY more than “good enough.”

I don’t remember calendars in my early grade school days. I remember recess and lunch tokens and projects I’d research in our Britannica Encyclopedias, our 1960s internet. And I remember cute boys.

The Darcys moved into our neighborhood when I was in 3rd grade and I was in love with the new boy. Richard was tall, dark, and handsome, and had the most beautiful lips I’d ever seen. How I longed to kiss them. I remember falling into “his” chair—he wasn’t in it—during lunch one day. The 3rd grade classroom was also the lunch room, and in the hubbub of exchanging tokens for S.O.S. and a carton of milk, I’d lost my balance. I felt wonderfully naughty sitting there in his seat, though I’m quite certain no one else suspected my secret thrill. I never did kiss those lips.

And then there was Rick Tessari, the new boy in 5th grade. He was Johnny-Depp-handsome and had the most beautiful cursive handwriting I’d ever seen. I like to think my taste in men was maturing, though I did kiss his lips after a rousing episode of spin-the-bottle one afternoon. What was a girl to do back then with no internet? There were only so many things one could learn from Britannica.

Ranger’s nose pokes me from my thoughts. Time for another walk. If the internet’s still out when I return, I’ll resume my reverie.

We’re back, and it was the perfect walk for a thoughtful day. Ranger wanted to sniff every fifth clump of grass and I let him. His age is starting to show too, and although I could have strolled longer in the cool evening breeze, his sniffer was satisfied and he led me back home to plunk by my $20 chair where I sit, again, in silence.

Mike returns, the sun sets, and the aroma from my crockpot makes me salivate. I’ll serve the pork over noodles. Mum would approve.

More Links:

If you enjoy my podcasts, you might enjoy my books!

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

 

 

Alligator Preserves Episode 31: Divide by One*–Grace Ragland Challenges The Tour Divide

Grace works on her pre-interview “magic paper” drawing!

Some might say that the Tour Divide would challenge the fittest among us. After all, this annual bicycling epic spans 2,745 miles between Banff, Canada and Antelope Wells, NM, right on the Mexican border. Some might even say that a person with Multiple Sclerosis would be a fool to attempt such a feat.

But not Grace Ragland. Having lived with M.S. since age ten (and she admits to being “50ish” now), she has yet to meet a challenge with an “I can’t.” When a friend mentioned trying this ultra-endurance event, Grace knew she had to challenge it. Spoiler alert: Grace is the first person with M.S. to complete The Tour Divide.

The mountains, the trail, the bike, the rider, and home! Get your own “magic paper” (your water painting disappears soon after you paint!) along with my books at Fire On The Mountain in Leadville!

*I offered the book title suggestion “Divide by One” to Grace and to Brent Goldstein, another TD finisher (I’ll interview him soon!).

Listen here, and see daily photos of Grace’s epic journey on her website:

 

Show Notes with Links:

  • Grace discusses the years before her diagnosis with “relapsing-remitting Multiple Sclerosis” and how she dealt with the news.
  • Her mother’s encouragement and advice
  • Personal physical challenges in the years before The Tour Divide
  • Link to David and Jana Zangerle’s episode (tandem bike racers)
  • Denver Post article from Grace’s 4th LT100 Mountain Bike finish (buckled!)
  • When she’s not training, Grace has another secret talent
  • Links to Elden Nelson’s episode and his blog
  • Meeting Brent Goldstein, and the First Descents Organization
  • National Interscholastic Cycling Organization (NICA), its inclusive mission, and Grace’s involvement
  • Grace’s friend, riding for Shami Butter, suggests the Tour Divide at “Inn the Clouds, The Leadville Hostel and Inn”
  • Link to Ken Chlouber’s episode (Founder of the Leadville Race Series)
  • Grace talks about how she got her Salsa Cutthroat Touring Bike
  • More about The Challenged Athletes Foundation
  • Special gear (aside from her touring bike) that helped
  • Guinness Book of World Records? We’ll see!
  • Finding “Da Brim” to protect her from the heat
  • Grace discusses her worst, scariest day (bacon lovers out there will love this part!), her best day, and trail angels
  • CLIF BAR! How about a sponsorship?!
  • What’s next for Grace? Steve Justice . . . get ready to be a ghostwriter for her book!
  • Grace’s blog: https://graciedamnit.wordpress.com/
  • Grace’s email: graciedamnit@yahoo.com
  • Grace’s local news link to her story: Local Mountain Biker says . . . 

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! I’d love it if you “liked” the episodes you listen to, and I’d love it even more if you’d post a quick comment!

Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

 

Alligator Preserves Episode 30: Wesley Sandoval, Leadman Record-Breaker

Wesley Sandoval

Wesley Sandoval broke the record for the Leadman Race in 2016. Find out why he signed up for this epic ultra-endurance high-altitude race series and how he convinced himself to go for the record.

Also find out what it’s like to compete with a brother! Wesley’s race experience has truly been a family affair.

Listen here:

Wesley Sandoval crossing the finish line
Wesley (center) and brother Marvin (right)
It’s a Sandoval family affair!

Show Notes with Links:

  • Why does Wesley race?
  • Leadville Race Series
  • Pros and Cons of living in Leadville and training
  • First attempt at LT100 Run was 2012 after pacing brother Marvin in 2011
  • Past athletic experience (not much running!)
  • Is there sibling rivalry with brother?
  • 2013 first Leadman, DNF because of shin splints mile 60
  • How a racing coach helps and shout-out to Cameron Chambers
  • 2014 “double BIG buckled,” PRed in 2015, 2016 made personal commitment to keep going, and broke the Leadman record!
  • Goals for this year
  • Pacers: shout-outs to Jamie and Amy Peters and Pat Kade (sp?)
  • Most memorable race was the run in 2016 in which he beat two-time Olympic athlete Michael Aish
  • Shout-out to son Tyrell and whole family
  • Aid Station procedures
  • Running through the night and hallucinations
  • What he does when he’s not racing (four children!)
  • Vertical runners Shout-out for shoe sponsor
  • Wesley’s tips to new racers for running and biking
  • Shout-out to sponsor Cycles of Life Bicycles
  • GU energy
  • Be prepared for extreme weather conditions and flat tires (Have enough CO2 canisters)
  • How racing has changed his life

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

 

Alligator Preserves Episode 29: It Takes Two to Tandem!

Would you ever ride with your partner on a bicycle built for two? Listen to this special episode with tandem racers Jana and David Zangerle and learn what it takes to cross the finish line with someone very close to you–physically and emotionally!

David and Jana Zangerle really get into their races!

Jana and David are racing in the Leadville Race Series Stage Race this weekend. Find out what that means (hint: it has nothing to do with the Tabor Opera House, but you should definitely check that out too!)

Listen here:

OH NOOOOO! Faster, Jana! Don’t look back!

Show Notes with Links: 

  • What is a “stage race“?
  • What’s required in a relationship to ride a tandem, how do you decide who rides where, and how does it work mechanically?
  • How do you communicate? Any disagreements? Trust issues?
  • The power of positive thoughts
  • Lutsen, MN race and “crash”
  • Eating on a tandem, like a relay race hand-off
  • Athletic backgrounds
  • Shout-out to Cycles of Life and Leadville Shell Station (Toby?) and the welder in Silverthorne!
  • Goals for this year’s races
  • Nutrition during races: Heed, Perpetuem, Candy orange slices, and real food, gel, snickers, potato chips
  • Shout-out to Michael Hester, crew, and crew tips
  • What they do when they’re not racing
  • How has racing changed their lives
  • Tips for tandems and shout-out to Wheat Ridge Cyclery
  • Loving “the spirit of Leadville”!
  • David’s Leadman and LT100 Run experience, tips, shout-outs to Pajama Johnny and Reid (sp?)
David and Jana Zangerle visit the Lead Ass Inn (all cleaned up!)

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

Alligator Preserves Episode 28: Meet Leadman Rodrigo Jimenez

Rodrigo paints on the “magic paper” before our interview!

Rodrigo Jimenez, 41-year-old resident of Leadville, Colorado, is competing in his 5th Leadman competition in the Leadville Race Series. Listen to the incredible story of how he started racing, and stay till the end to hear how running for 100 miles above 10,000′ elevation makes him feel!

He claims he used to be a much better artist!

Show Notes with Links:

  • I ask Rodrigo the “Why?” question
  • His very first race was the Leadville Race Series 50-mile run!
  • Early injuries prevented his first LT100 Run finish (at mile 85!)
  • Three goals: 1) Have a crazy, over-the-top goal first, 2) Try to beat his PR, and 3) FINISH the race
  • Going for his 5th Leadman series
  • Family support, and training on his own
  • Can anyone compete in these races?
  • What he wears and how he eats during the races
  • His fastest LT100 Run time
  • Aid station awareness
  • Pacers, and how the weather can turn really bad
  • Tips for racers about training and shoes (extra!)
  • How running 100 miles makes him feel
  • This year’s goals and final tips
  • email Rodrigo at: stonekingmasonry@gmail.com

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

 

Alligator Preserves Episode 27: Zen Diagrams

Come with me to Twin Lakes in Lake County, CO where I experienced a day that inspired new scenes and characters (a fire-breathing dragonfly and a tortured octopus) for the second novel in my Waterwight series: Waterwight Flux.

The lake was unusually serene, the weather was “seasonably” warm, and the experience was wonderfully surreal.

No need for show notes or a photo of me on my paddleboard, but here’s a link to the book in which new characters emerged from my Zen Diagrams experience! (click on book cover image):

Celeste isn’t home yet . . .

Alligator Preserves Episode 26: My Visit with Elden Nelson

Elden Nelson (a.k.a. “Fatty”) has two decades of Leadville 100 Mountain Bike Race finishes under all of his belt buckles! Find out what makes him continue to come back to compete in one of the toughest races known to mountain bikers.

Elden Nelson with Ken Chlouber (and holding his starting rifle)! I stole this photo from Elden’s blog!

And watch our visit on YouTube: https://youtu.be/j_uB2oVVtBk

Show Notes with Links:

  • First, a link to “Fatty’s” blog: Fat Cyclist (with lots of great photos of him and his family) and his podcast: Leadville: The 100 Mile Mountain Bike Podcast! If you’re into ultraracing, and specifically racing in Leadville, spend some time with Elden Nelson!
  • WHY he races, and has been racing since his first race in 1997
  • Elden talks about his love for Leadville
  • Elden’s “Feeding Frenzy” podcast and what he eats
  • Training at altitude
  • Ken Chlouber’s “race family” (and listen to my interview with Ken HERE)
  • Find race stats and data in Fatty’s podcast episodes about the races
  • The idea of making a commitment to yourself
  • Doing the Breck Epic 6-day race right before this year’s LT100
  • Riding with his wife
  • A shout-out to supporters and crew advice
  • Mechanical failures
  • Best race, and how many more will he do?
  • Keeping a sense of humor during the face
  • email Fatty: fatty@fatcyclist.com

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

Alligator Preserves Episode 25: The Turn-Around Tree

In this episode, I share my morning routine, a walk to “The Turn-Around Tree” with my friend John Orville Stewart, and how it has inspired characters, scenes, and plot twists in my novels!

It’s a real place, I’ll have you know.

The Bridge, with Mount Massive beyond!

Show Notes and Links:

  • Click HERE for original post with a photo of John at The Turn-Around Tree and icicles hanging under the bridge of doom!
  • Next episode: Something completely different

More Links:

If you enjoyed this episode and others, please subscribe to Alligator Preserves on iTunes, Stitcher, or wherever you get your podcasts, and tell your friends about it! Please support Alligator Preserves on Patreon.  You will be rewarded!

 

Denver Comic Con, Here I Come!

On my way to Denver in 90 minutes and hoping my stress dreams about it will now end! Absolutely crazy one this morning. This is why I find fantasy writing easy, I suppose!

Doing a giveaway of an awesome Viking mug (painted by moi at Fire On The Mountain and in honor of NaNoWriMo), hers and his Orville T-shirts (thanks to Becky Jewell for the artwork and Judith Mulder for the Ts), an octopus dress (long story), and of course, some books! Scan the QR to be added to my mailing list and enter for a chance to win it all!

(and wish me luck!)