The Hoppy Okapi

Occasional posts about hiking and other stuff

Admitting I don’t like my mountain bike, and other reflections December 13, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10,biking — Amanda @ 20:46
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Dec 10: Prompt: Wisdom. What was the wisest decision you made this year, and how did it play out?

Hmmmm, this is tough! I actually can’t think of any decisions that were particularly significant or life-changing, so my wisest decision must have been rather pedestrian. I guess I could pick an insignificant but well-made decision and wax poetic about its wisdom, but I’m not really feeling it.

Dec 11: Prompt: 11 Things. What are 11 things your life doesn’t need in 2011? How will you go about eliminating them? How will getting rid of these 11 things change your life?

This is another hard one! I feel like I’ve already started top eliminate a lot of unnecessary things in my life, so I’m not sure there are eleven I can list for 2011 right now – more likely circumstances will change during the year and I’ll find that some things can/should be let go as a result. Nonetheless, here are a couple of things I can think of:

1) My mountain bike: I’ve only ridden it three times this year, having switched to my road bike in July 2009, and I can honestly say that my road bike just suits me better. I think the mountain bike fits me poorly, and I never quite find it comfortable to ride. The pedals have very sharp spikes meant to help hold your feet in place, but in practice they just gouge my legs when I lose contact due to a clumsy shift (very clumsy shifting, another strike!). Also, as much as I want to like mountain biking, I never quite do – partially due to an ill-fitting bike, perhaps, but partially because I can never quite abandon my fear of falling on trails. Donating my mountain bike will free up room in my bike stable in case I find the perfect utility/beater/touring/whatever bike that will better complement my road bike to fulfill all my biking needs. More importantly, it will free me from the angst I feel about not loving mountain biking – oops, can’t do it, no bike!

2) A biking mileage goal: This year my goal was 2000 miles, which I easily exceeded once I started bike commuting three times a week during the summer. And then I cruised on by the 3000 mile marker, just as daylight savings was coming to an end and the light started fading. So I’ve decided to push on toward 4000 miles, but since I don’t like bike commuting in the dark very often, it’s much harder to rack up the miles, and so sometimes going for a bike ride feels like an obligation instead of like fun. I think I’ll probably hit 4000 miles before the end of the year, but definitely don’t feel like I need to set annother mileage goal to match or top it in 2011. Instead I’ll continue bike commuting when it’s light enough, and set event goals like the Laguna Challenge and biking up Mt Baldy before the Tour of California stage.

3) My compulsion to do fancy things with our CSA vegetables. I think I need to learn some more simple side dishes so that I can more seamlessly incorporate our CSA into our meals. It’s fun to do grand cooking projects, but very time-consuming to do so much cooking and the resultant cleaning! There are a few things, like Swiss chard, that I have easy go-to dishes for, so I know it can be done.

4) My habit of putting things off until I meet certain conditions – I meant to go to one of the folk-song group meetings this year, but kept putting it off until I practiced guitar more and got better at playing some chords, and then of course I never quite made it. If I can discard this habit in 2011, I think jkumping into the activities even when I don’t feel 100% ready will help me have more new, exciting experiences.

Dec 12: Prompt: Body integration. This year, when did you feel the most integrated with your body? Did you have a moment where there wasn’t mind and body, but simply a cohesive YOU, alive and present? I think I might be getting repetitive, but it really is all about the bike! I think body integration happens most when descending, because it blends speed and focus. Going fast downhill requires concentration and balance, and I feel a sense of wonder as I watch the scenery speed by.

Dec 13: Prompt: Action. When it comes to aspirations, its not about ideas. It’s about making ideas happen. What’s your next step? This one is easy – accordion lessons! I need to email an accordion teacher and set up lessons for early next year so I can officially call myself an accordionist.


Catching Up…Almost December 11, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10,cooking — Amanda @ 22:05

I’ve been getting the #reverb10 prompts every morning and thinking about them, so at least the “reflect” part of the project is working, but it’s time to catch up with the writing a bit!

Dec 6: Prompt: Make. What was the last thing you made? What materials did you use? Is there something you want to make, but you need to clear some time for it?

The last thing I made was Serrano Pepper Jelly last weekend (the day before the prompt, actually!). The ingredients were serrano and sweet peppers from Suzie’s Farm, the farm that we get our CSA from, plus sugar, vinegar, liquid pectin. The equipment I used included pint and half-pint canning jars, jar lifters, a canning funnel, and my tamale steamer/hot water canning pot that I bought at Northgate Gonzalez, a nearby Mexican grocery store. There are always more things I want to make and could use more time for, but I’ve actually done quite a few time-consuming cooking projects lately, and I think I should be more careful about over-scheduling so that I can take time on the projects without feeling rushed. In addition to trying more canning and pickling recipes, I’d like to try making croissants and pain au chocolate sometime this winter.

Dec 7: Prompt: Community. Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2010? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2011?

First, the guitar class I took at the beginning of the year – Guitar 2 through UCSD Extension. It was fun to spend time with a group of people who were learning new skills and techniques together and struggling with the same things as we advanced to playing trickier music.

Second, I’ve found community through biking in several ways – at organized rides, many people riding along the same route and sharing the experience at the same time; on solo rides, there’s community with other riders who I pass randomly – some I see regularly and some only once, but we’re united through the experience of biking. Biking more has also brought me community in the sense that I know the neighborhoods that I bike through better – I see different shops and roads, interact with the people, and understand the connective geography of neighborhoods better and realize how much more there is to explore.

In 2011, I’d like to expand both of those community experiences by going to music group meetings for guitar and maybe accordion players, and by taking advantage of some of the social bike rides that take place in San Diego.

Guitar Class

Dec 8: Prompt: Beautifully different. Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful.

This one, I’m afraid, is a bit too touchy-feely for me to contemplate publicly. Moving along…

Dec 9: Prompt: Party. What social gathering rocked your socks off in 2010? Describe the people, music, food, drink, clothes, shenanigans.

Probably the best party of the year was the Baby Shower for my sister, in Pennsylvania on Labor Day weekend. It was an epic event with more coordinated duckie-themed items than I ever though possible, including placemats and candy bar wrappers, and a very cute yellow cake with a sugar-paste duckie sitting on a nest made of butterscotch covered chow mein nest. I was happy to be there and share the occasion with my sister, and glad that it gave me a chance to visit with a lot of people from PA who I rarely see. There were not too many shenanigans, although we did have to chase away the neighborhood cat several time when he tried to invade the party :)

Those are all the prompts I’ve pre-reflected upon, it seems like I’ve got some more thinking to do before the next post. Au revoir!


Watching the Waves December 5, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10,biking,San Diego — Amanda @ 21:32

#reverb10, Dec 4:

Prompt: Wonder. How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year?

This year I cultivated a sense of wonder by watching the ocean. Despite San Diego’s perch on the cusp of the Pacific, I haven’t spent much time at the beach while I’ve lived here. In 2010 though, I chose many bike routes that would take me to the water’s edge. I rode the Ocean Beach bike path  to see big, tumultuous waves roll in, rode up Sunset Cliffs Boulevard to watch the surfers, and out to Cabrillo National Monument to watch ships come in and try to catch a glimpse of migrating whales. Seeing the ocean as both an untamed force of nature and a surface that connects San Diego to the entirety of the Pacific Rim never fails to instill a sense of wonder.


And, Dec 5: Prompt: Let Go. What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

This year, I’ve tried to let go of unnecessary/imaginary sources of obligation and embraced doing things on my own timeline. Examples: I’ve learned to embrace my increasing fitness and skills on my bike without worrying about how much faster other people are going, and signed up to do #reverb10 even though I’ll probably be behind schedule for more than a few days out of the month.  This allows me to embrace the journey and spend more time enjoying the activities I’m partaking of rather than worrying about what I’m not accomplishing.


Beautiful Descent December 4, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10,biking — Amanda @ 7:40
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The #reverb10 prompt for Dec 3:

December 3 – Moment.

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors).

October 3, 2010 – about twenty miles into the Tour de Poway bicycle ride, the descent from Ramona to Escondido along Route 78. The big climb of the morning has been conquered. Encapsulated in fog, I could only see a few riders in front of me as I ascended. Thus spared the mental anguish of seeing the long road climbing ahead, I focused on the pedaling of the moment and ground my way to the top without despair. After watching the sun break through the fog over the more gentle climb of Route 67, I have rolled through Ramona, nostrils singed in proximity to the freshly fertilized fields. Before the ride, I am most anxious about the the unknown descent; on tough hills, the worst case scenario is a slow-speed side flop – if the road gets too steep for me to unclip from my pedals, I will fall to the right while moving less than 2.5 miles an hour – comical if not for the scrapes to knee, elbow, and bike. Unknown descents though, I actively fear – the possibility of flying off the road at 30+ miles an hour after missing a switchback lives vividly in my imagination, though I’ve never really come close. As I descend from Ramona though, the road opens up in front of me, the fog has risen high enough to reveal the classic Southern California boulder-strewn desert landscape, but still filters the sun and tempers the morning light. Early on a Sunday morning, the road is nearly car-free. Most turns are visible well in advance, and my confidence climbs as I let my bike freewheel down into the valley, absorbing the scenery as I roll by – even at the speed of descent, the connection to the landscape is much more visceral compared to simply driving through, encased in steel and glass. A few riders are more cautious, and I zip past them. Even while reveling in the joy of speed, the effort of the descent takes its toll – my eyes tear up from the wind, my hands ache from the effort of tensing on the brake hoods – and I soon catch up with other riders as the road flattens out, and the perfect moment comes to an end with a mini-traffic jam, as a stream of cars catches up and passes. Impatient drivers enraged by the tentative ones, the Sunday ride is momentarily transformed into a weekday commute, the beautiful descent resigned to memory.



Blogging about blogging December 2, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10 — Amanda @ 20:12

Today’s #reverb10 prompt:

December 2 – Writing.
What do you do each day that doesn’t contribute to your writing — and can you eliminate it?
(Author: Leo Babauta)

My initial thought was that I have too many hobbies – in addition to writing this blog, I spend a lot of time cooking, biking, and reading, and not quite enough time indulging my desire to learn to play every musical instrument in existence (although this week I have leanred to play three Christmas carols on piano, thanks to the free sheet music at

I think the true problem is distraction! It’s all too easy to intend to write a new blog entry, or organize pictures for one, and then get distracted for a few minutes or an hour or whatever! by random news or blog articles online. Even this entry I meant to sat down to write about 10 minutes before I actually started the post…and posted a Facebook status update in the middle of writing it! Maybe I need to set a blogging goal, or just disable the wireless access on my laptop when I sit down to write a post!

(Also, now I have to go do dishes and put away laundry…maybe getting housekeeping service is a good way to blog more too…)



One Word to Rule Them All December 1, 2010

Filed under: #reverb10,biking — Amanda @ 21:01
Tags: , ,

Today’s challenge from #reverb10:

December 1 One Word.
Encapsulate the year 2010 in one word. Explain why you’re choosing that word. Now, imagine it’s one year from today, what would you like the word to be that captures 2011 for you?

For 2010, that seems pretty easy: bike. So far this year, I’ve ridden my bike over 3500 miles, including about 75 bike-to-work days, the very rainy Little Italy Gran Fondo, the Tour de Poway, and the Tour de Julian. Riding my bike has been a great way to enjoy San Diego’s beautiful weather, learn more about the geography of the city and its neighborhoods and businesses, and avoid the sitting in traffic during my commute! With my bike, I’ve spent more time near the ocean in the past year than in my previous 7 years of living in San Diego; I’ve biked to restaurants and public art murals, and climbed to Cabrillo National Monument as well as Soledad Mountain and Mount Laguna.

My bike resting after a long climb

For 2011, I’m hoping my defining word is Peru! I’m looking forward to my next great traveling adventure, and I currently have my sights set on hiking the Inca trail to Machu Picchu.



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