Tim Matsui and Lizzy Scully eating Phu in the "U District," Seattle. Mariah, Bonnie, Tim and Lizzy Seattle from afar. Bonnie and Lizzy at Index Mariah at Index I just spent the last week hanging out and climbing with my old friend Bonnie DeBruijn, who I met in Yosemite seven years ago, and her friend Mariah, from North Carolina. We had a marvelous time. We climbed in Index one day, hung out all day in Seattle the second day, and then climbed in Leavenworth for two days. We spent one day cragging, and another climbing an amazing route called Outer Space--a perfect, 5.9 splitter hand/finger crack. Bonnie and I split up the leads and Mariah, being less experienced, just came along for the ride. The week was enjoyable. We also spent some time with my friend Tim Matsui, who generously allowed us to crash at his house. Here are some photos from the trip.
Bonnie DeBruijn after finishing pitch 5 on "Outer Space." Bonnie, Mariah and Lizzy on top of "Outer Space." Lizzy somewhere on "Outer Space" Lizzy on some 5.9 at Castle Rock in Leavenworth
It's raining in Seattle again! I never made it to Canada, but am having a great time (despite the rain) in the NW. I've been climbing at Index Rocks, which is about 1.5 hours from Seattle. And tomorrow my friends Bonnie, Mariah and I head over to Leavenworth to climb something called Outerspace. My two girlfriends haven't done much crack climbing, so Index, with its perfect, steep and difficult cracks wasn't the best place for them to learn. Apparently Levinworth has much friendlier, more moderate and longer crack systems. So we're off. Today is a work day. I need to figure out what to do with the rest of my life. I've set some new goals:
1. Travel the world and write profiles about fascinating people. 2. Write feature profiles for the New Yorker 3. Climb 5.12 on the Diamond of Longs Peak 4. Free climb Moonlight Buttress (for nonclimbers--free climbing means climbing with ropes) 5. Mulch my backyard and plant trees 6. Have a happy family to grow old with
That's not asking too much, is it? I don't think so. For today, my goal is to write six articles for ehow and to finish up my profile on Madaleine Sorkin for Rock & Ice magazine.
By the way, I have a feature profile on Colin Haley in this month's issue of Rock & Ice (actually the magazine says October, though it comes out in September--go figure). Also, I have a piece in Rocky Mountain Sports, and I've posted a few things on their Web site as well.
I've just created a fund raising page for my nonprofit, Girls Education International. I'm shamelessly asking for money from all who read my blog. We at GEI need to raise $2,500 by December in order to pay for our girls program in Liberia. We are currently providing educational scholarships to nearly 50 girls in the mountainous regions of Liberia. We need money to pay for their winter/spring semester scholarships as well as to pay for the program director in Liberia (Emily Sherman-Davis) to travel to visit with the girls, get their photos, and ensure their progress. Please donate! We need $2,500 by December. Check out the widget on the right side of the page. Thanks!
It's raining, and I'm in Seattle at a large, student-filled coffee shop called Zoka. I'm drinking chai tea and attempting to get through some articles that I have due for various publications. I'm not having much luck. I'm preoccupied. I neglected to bring my birth certificate and so can't get into Canada, where I'm supposed to meet a good girlfriend for some climbing at Squamish. Of course, we couldn't climb anyway because the weather there is crappy. Yesterday I climbed at Index, and got on the first 5.11 I've led in five months. It went well. I'm confident I'll be back to full strength soon... hopefully my shoulder holds up. Perhaps I'll just climb all fall. Back to work.
Kim Kiunke of Skirt Sports discusses how women-only rides benefit women and why women-run businesses are good for the industry. And Spot Bicycle/Oskar Blues Brewery cycling team athlete Meg Gill talks about why she joined the Venus de Miles ride on August 17.
Yesterday Marc and I went to Sundance (The Diamond was too wet and snowy from the previous weekend's dump). The day started out beautiful as is characteristic of summer weather in Estes, but then deteriorated even more rapidly than usual. We managed to get up Turn Korner before it rained. We had a break of an hour or two, during which we did a single pitch route, and then we thought we could get up Sundance again before the next round of storms hit. With dark clouds looming on the horizon Marc set off up the first 70 meters. By the time I reached him, the nastiness--thunder, sheets or rain, and lighting--had rolled much closer. "Climb fast," was all Marc said as I racked up. I climbed about 50 feet when all thunder boomed so that a shot of adrenaline hit me. I never climbed so fast in my life. I fell into a sort of trance--automatic pilot--pulling through moves I typically would have taken much more care with. I'm trying to figure out how to explain the feeling I had ... reaching up and holding onto the first thing I touched, pulling through without even feeling for the best part of the hold, tweaking my fingers into the crux finger crack and jamming my hands into whatever crack they fit into ... but I can't explain it. It wasn't unpleasant though, except for the lightening. We reached the top as the storm hit, and by the time we got to the bottom of the descent it had cleared up again, storm passed, and we spent 15 minutes picking ripe raspberries.
Lizzy Scully rides her first 35-miler Sunday morning.
This article appeared in the Lyons Recorder.
Venus de Miles Attracts 650 Cyclists By Lizzy Scully
Though skies were cloudy Sunday morning, 650 motivated ladies from Lyons to Denver lined up at the starting “gate” at 7 a.m. for the Venus de Miles bicycle ride in Longmont. Organizers were surprised at the huge numbers of ladies that showed up for Colorado’s first women’s only ride.
“Honestly, I had no idea that we'd get this many riders,” organizer Teresa Robbins stated.
“They didn’t know what to expect,” said volunteer and Longmont resident, Joyce Dickinson. “The number of people that showed up was amazing.” Participants and volunteers agreed that the ride’s success likely resulted from the less stressful environment fostered at female-only events.
“A lot of women don’t get out there and ride because they don’t have a friend with them or they are intimidated by the other people in the sport, which are a lot of intense men in the area,” explained competitive triathlete Meg Gill, who participated in the ride as part of the Oskar Blues Brewery’s cycling team (Oskars sponsored the event with beer and lunch). Though a long-time swimmer and athlete, when Gill began cycling three years ago, the technical equipment and rules of the road even seemed daunting to her.
“I can see why women are definitely hesitant to jump right into the sport,” she said. “When I went on my first ride, I didn’t even know how to get my shoes in the pedals.” Beginner races such as Venus de Miles help teach people all these things in a safe, supportive environment. Meg Gill
Berthoud resident Lisa Roberts Keck said that was exactly the reason why she signed up. “Since I'm new to road cycling this would be a low stress way to tour with friends of all abilities,” she stated. Though she has done a few women-only running events, this was Keck’s first organized bike race/ride on a bike that she’s only had for six weeks.
Many women, including Berthoud resident Tiffany Raffert, signed up because of the charity component of the event. All funds raised, including part of the $75 entry fee, go to the nonprofit Greenhouse Scholars, which provides college and aspiring college students with scholarships and mentors (www.greenhousescholars.org).
“I have been there, and know how hard it is to live/pay bills and to pay college tuition at the same time,” Raffert explained. “So, I signed up and then posted signs at work and told others about it and encouraged them to sign up.” Raffert signed ten people up, even people who had no experience riding.
And this is what Robbins and the other organizers hoped for. The event supports a charity and it supports getting both experienced and inexperienced women out there riding together to do “their personal best,” Robbins explained. “We want to really connect people to the cause and connect women to other women.”
And it seems to have worked, added Gill.
“Having the first ever all woman’s ride here is a pretty huge breakthrough in Colorado,” she explained. “It could lead to an outpouring of women cyclists, like it has in the rest of the country.”
Participants raised more than $50,000 at the event, which will pay for seven full scholarships for students. Sponsors included Oskar Blues, SkirtSports, the Boulder Massage School, and various others. For more information, please visit: www.venusdemiles.com
Though only 23 years old, Australian Molly Higgins’ mature and gorgeous voice boomed across Planet Bluegrass’ ranch during Sunday’s much drier day of folk music. Stephen Kellog and the Sixers took the stage with a storm (after days of storms) Sunday afternoon, dancing wildly and belting out some fantastic tunes that had the audience cheering and dancing. A longtime favorite of festivarians at both RockyGrass and Folks, Tim O’Brien’s performance on stage Sunday late afternoon was so dynamic and powerful that it almost seemed as if an entire band was on stage. Todd Snider offered a damp crowd of a few thousand Folks Festers with a mixture of comedy and mellow folk music during his Saturday performance on the main stage at Planet Bluegrass.
Muddy grounds and constant rain didn’t put a damper on the spirits of the few thousand music lovers who swamped the grounds of Planet Bluegrass for this past weekend’s Folks Festival. Highlights of Friday included (in the author’s opinion) Josh Ritter, Patty Griffin and Amos Lee, the last three performers for the evening.
Ritter, who taught the prior week at RockyGrass’ annual song school, offered the audience a mellow voice and powerful performance, two things he cultivated over years of “wearing out his tires” on the road. Ritter was so persistent with his career that, until he finally found a booking agent, he would relentlessly call and email venues. “You have to give people the opportunity to have them hear you,” he said with a laugh. Ritter has become a star in Ireland and was named one of the 100 best living songwriters by Paste Magazine.
Griffin stated on the RockyGrass website, “some of the most beautiful music I’ve ever heard is when you catch somebody singing to themselves. I wanted to make music that had that feeling.” She certainly succeeded at her goal. Her voice sounded like wind chimes on a breezy day, and her songs were pure poetry.
I had never heard of Amos Lee prior to this event, but was stunned by his original, rhythmic, soulful singing. He said he draws inspiration from Neil Young and James Taylor, among others, and I glimpsed their style in his tunes, but really, Lee brings his own brand of sexiness and funk to the stage in both his movement and his dance. And true to folks music traditions, in his intros he teased the audience, telling people to “stop doing the Dr. Seuss dance” because they might hit someone with their wild, hippie moves.
Other highlights of the event included Todd Snider, Missy Higgins and Tim O’Brien. No stranger to Planet Bluegrass, O’Brien as easily transitions from bluegrass to folks music as he does from the violin to the guitar to the banjo. A master of all stringed instruments (as far as I could tell) and a fantastic singer to boot, he brings as much style and energy to the stage as an entire band.
Australian Higgins, though just a babe in the music world at 23, has a powerful and gorgeous voice that boomed across the ranch like the thunder that rumbled all weekend. And Snider, whom I’d never heard of before the festival, brought an old folks tradition to the stage: long, comical introductions complete with political statements and self deprecation, in addition to a full voice and fantastic guitar playing.
My two favorite bands – Stephen Kellogg & the Sixers and The Waifs – rounded out my Folks Fest experience. The three Sixers bounced across the stage like monkeys on speed, and sang a few harmonies that shook the rafters. They had audience members out of their seats cheering and dancing. The two female lead singers of The Waifs, from Australia, had totally different voices, but complemented each other beautifully, and played guitar and a ripping set of harmonica.
As always, and making this event more enjoyable for tree huggers (such as the author), Planet Bluegrass strived to make this event an almost no-waste event, encouraging people to recycle and compost almost everything they used over the weekend. Despite having to wear a full Gortex suit on Friday, I enjoyed this annual event immensely and will certainly return for a third year in 2009.
When I walked barefoot on the cool flagstone of my patio this morning, I knew fall was near. I sat on a stool in the sun, and ate my breakfast with a hummingbird that snacked just a few feet away on my rose-colored anise hissop. My sunflowers still bloom, but dead brown buds droop and flocks of little yellow birds bend over them daily, picking at the seeds, eating some and dropping others on the ground below. I'll leave the stalks standing all winter. I don't need to buy birdseed.
Today I participated in the Venus de Miles, the first organized women-only bike ride in Colorado. I rode all day with this gal named Meg Gill, who rides for the Oskar Blues team. Actually, she's a triathlete, was a swimmer, is rad. She was super kind and rode slowly with me all morning. It made the ride easier for me and more fun because we chatted the entire time. I feel great after such a long ride, except for the ole shoulder, which hurts a bit, and I'm tired, of course. But that didn't stop me from going to Folks Fest this afternoon, where I listened to the fantastic Missy Higgins sing with boisterous abandon. What a wonderful singer. I also watched Tim O'Brien. I've seen him before, but never like this, all alone, on stage, singing a mix of folk and bluegrass tunes. His presence is so big it's like there's a band on stage, but it's only him, his voice reverberating across the stage, hitting me, and the audience, in waves like the tide that has just come in. His voice is just lovely, and it's so perfectly accompanied by the river rushing by, full of the rain that fell all weekend.
I'm supposed to get into the high peaks this Wednesday, to climb the Diamond. If I'm lucky all the snow on Longs will melt off, leaving a beautiful, clean granite wall for me to ascend via "Pervertical Sanctuary," a route I've never done, but have always wanted to do. We shall see. Wish me luck!
I'll post photographs and video of Venus de Miles in a few days. Can't do it now. I have seven articles to write by tomorrow and an interview of Madaleine Sorkin to do for a Rock & Ice article, due by the end of the week (hahah! not sure how that's going to get done. Not sure how I'm managing to get anything done. I feel like I have more to do than I have every before, so much to do that I can't actually keep track of myself. But all is good. Life is sweet. I am climbing, writing, listening to amazing musicians on a regular basis, and all in all enjoying the mountains, my garden, my kitty and my sweet house. Good night.
Despite heavy rains, I went to Folks Fest last night. Decked out in full Montbell Gortex, I managed to stay mostly dry until I started dancing to Patti Griffin, at which point getting wet no longer mattered because you can't help buy groove to her folky beats. I only managed to see three performers--Griffin, Josh Ritter and Amos Lee--but those three offered me more than enough fantastic music. I'd never even heard of the two men, and they knocked my socks off. Though all of the musicians are well known, I still felt like I was in a little coffee shop listening to some fantastic new musicians that hadn't quite made it, but who were going to be famous some day. Amos Lee's funky moves and sexy voice really had me moving, and Ritter was just so happy and smiley that it was hard not to feel great watching him. Griffin, of course, has a voice that sounds like the windchimes on my front porch. What a night. It's raining again today, but I'll head over to Planet Bluegrass to listen to some more tunes anyway.
I've climbed more this past week than I have all summer! I exaggerate, but it has been a wonderful week. My shoulder seems to be healing up (I cross my fingers as I write that). It would be absolutely lovely to be able to get another five-month stint of climbing in this year. Last year was fabulous--the best year I've had in years for climbing, road tripping and generally having fun. Yesterday my friend Beth and I climbed "The Nose" on Sundance. It was loads of fun. I don't feel 100% psychologically, but my body is working pretty well. My buddy Marc and I are planning on getting on "Pervertical Sanctuary" on the Diamond on Wednesday, the day before I leave for Squamish. Unfortunately, the weather has been incredibly sketchy lately, so that may not happen. It's been raining for weeks, and yesterday it cooled off. It feels like fall already! I sure hope we don't have an early winter. If so, I'm just going to have to go south of the border.
Tonight I saw Shakespeare's play, "Henry the Eighth" at the Colorado Shakespeare Festival in Boulder. The lead characters, including Henry, Queen Catherine of Spain and Cardinal Wolsey, performed extravagantly and elegantly. I especially was fond of "Kate" because she spoke her mind, never backed down and maintained her innocence in the face of incredible adversity. Cool lady. Tonight, for the first time, I realized why I keep going back to see Shakespeare's plays (even though half the time I don't understand what is going on!). Shakespeare has a knack for telling it like it is. He has "good" and "bad" characters, but none are ever black and white. The characters, sometimes larger than life, are still indelibly human, full of insecurities, emotional traumas, pride, love, etc. They are well-rounded human beings. It's a miracle that some of his plays are able to portray so many sides of so many characters.
This past weekend, after being weathered off Pagoda in Rocky Mountain National Park on Saturday (after a 3a.m. wake up and a 10-mile stroll), my partner Marc Hemmes and I decided to hit the sport crags Sunday morning before the thunder boomers hit. We met at 8:30 at the Bunce School. The skies were clouded and gray, but we were in good spirits because we didn't have to hike.
Upon arriving at the crags, we met up with some young, fun-loving lads, one of whom promptly fell wildly, with arms flailing 35 feet from the top of the 40-foot route he had just topped out on. "Yeah, that was fun!" he screamed, hanging upside down.
About an hour after this occurrence, a group of 10 or so folks arrived, parking their jeep and four-wheel drive Suby within pissing distance of the same rock on which we climbed. While a few women set up lawn chairs below the crag, the high-energy fellows in the group accosted the rock with all the grace and quietude of the ATVers who regularly circled us (BREEEEEEEEEEERRRRRR). Ramstein (industrial heavy metal hardcore porn German music) blasted from their jeep. Marc and I agreed that it was rather enjoyable because it drowned out the sound of the ATVs. Thank gawd the group of 10 smoked copious amounts of cigarettes; otherwise we might have noticed the smell of exhaust from the motocrossers and four-wheel drive trucks that passed by us every 15 minutes or so.
Our wilderness experience was further enhanced when, as I reached the second (of three) bolts on a crimpy 5.10, gunshots began to ring out in the not-to-far distance. "I think they're on the other side of the rock," Marc suggested. "I'd better not stick my head too far over the summit."
When the deluge of rain finally hit around 1:30, Marc and I were disappointed to have to leave as we were truly enjoying the debacle around us. Sadly, my camera died as I attempted to take photos of the lovely landscape, so I have nothing to illustrate my story. But trust me, aside from the cigarette butts and broken glass, this pristine, cherished national forest land offers visitors the ultimate wilderness experience.
Matt Samet, Climbing magazine's superb editor, just authorized the change in the Women of the Karakoram article. Here is the new and improved text! www.climbing.com/exclusive/features/women_in_the_karakoram
" In 1983 Polish climbers Krystyna Palmowska and Anna Czerwinska, recipients of the Vera Watson/Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz grant from the AAC, attempted 26,400-foot Broad Peak. Though Broad Peak is now considered one of the easiest 8000-meter peaks, that relative ease is achieved with guides and porter support, neither of which Palmowska and Czerwinska used." -"In the Footsteps of Fanny: Women in the Karakoram," by Lizzy Scully
Once and for all, I have to clarify that I absolutely did not insert the ridiculous line, ""Though Broad Peak is now considered one of the easiest 8000-meter peaks..." into the empowering article about the history of women climbing in the Karakoram that I wrote for Climbing magazine a few years back. At the time I worked for Climbing magazine as a contributing editor. I cherished this article until just a few days before the issue went to press when it was pretty much ruined for me by Matt Stanley, the editor I worked with at the time, when he inserted that blatantly sexist line. After many years of reflection I find that I'm still immenseily irrirated by his idiocy, especially considering the man had absolutely no big mountain experience himself and had never been to the Karakoram. He basically had no idea what he was talking about! What a fool. Aside from his foolish sexism, the article is interesting. To read the full text, please visit: http://www.climbing.com/exclusive/features/wmnkarakrm/
Excerpt from "In the Footsteps of Fanny: Women in the Karakoram Resistance and Breakthrough
Another 40 years passed before female mountaineers returned to the Karakoram, and then only in small numbers. This absence was due in part to the world-wide disruption caused by World War II and to the closure of the Baltoro region to all international climbers between 1961 and 1974, but also because of resistance from a male-dominated mountaineering community.
While not a Karakoram climb, the 1978 women's Annapurna expedition experienced a dramatic example of such chauvinism. When the women applied to the American Alpine Club (AAC) for approval to seek a climbing permit for Nepal (a necessary step at the time), the AAC board reluctantly gave it to them. In her book Annapurna: A Woman's Place, Arlene Blum, one of the expedition's organizers, recalls the board saying, "We've got to be more careful approving a women's expedition. There would be a lot of bad publicity if things didn't go well."
Despite such bureaucratic hurdles, the 1970s heralded the first wave of Karakoram expeditions to be led and organized by women, with significant numbers of female team members. After being summarily rejected by male organizers of Lhotse expedition, Wanda Rutkiewicz of Poland, undoubtedly the best high-altitude female mountaineer of all time (by dint of having summitted eight 8000-meter peaks), led an international group of 10 women and seven men on an expedition to Gasherbrum II and III in 1975.
On that groundbreaking trip, Rutkiewicz, Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz of Great Britain (who, along with American Vera Watson, died on Annapurna in 1978) and her Polish husband Janusz Onyszkiewicz, and Krystof Zdzitowiecki summitted Gasherbrum III (26,090 feet), at the time the highest unclimbed peak in the world. Two other members of the team, Anna Okopinka and Halina Kruger-Syrokomska, climbed the Austrian route on Gasherbrum II (26,360 feet), making the first all-female ascent of an 8000-meter peak. "Wanda was a huge influence to me," says American Christine Boskoff, owner of the Seattle-based Mountain Madness guide service and the only currently living woman to have climbed six 8000-meter peaks. "She played a huge part in establishing a place for women in the high-altitude mountaineering world. Unfortunately there really hasn't been anyone after her."
Despite the successes of Rutkiewicz's expedition, naysayers continued to downplay women's accomplishments, questioning whether the expedition could have managed without assistance from the team's male members, who fixed ropes for both of the women's summit teams. This attitude changed radically in the 1980s, when women broke further ground From 1900 to 1985, fewer than 100 women participated in any capacity on Karakoram expeditions, but between 1985 and 1990 over 100 women climbed in the region, with approximately half of those summitting their objectives.
Most significant during this five-year period was the fact that all-female expeditions proved women were capable of climbing big peaks with little or no male support. In 1983 Polish climbers Krystyna Palmowska and Anna Czerwinska, recipients of the Vera Watson/Alison Chadwick-Onyszkiewicz grant from the AAC, attempted 26,400-foot Broad Peak. Though Broad Peak is now considered one of the easiest 8000-meter peaks, that relative ease is achieved with guides and porter support, neither of which Palmowska and Czerwinska used. The duo made two storm-thwarted attempts on the mountain and had their two highest camps destroyed by wind, requiring re-establishment before they could continue. On the day before their third summit attempt, the two women zipped from Basecamp to Camp III, a gain of 7000 vertical feet at extreme altitude, establishing a track through deep snow that was subsequently used by Swiss and British male-only expeditions. On summit day, Czerwinska was forced to turn back, but Palmowska summitted, completing the first all-female unsupported ascent of an 8000-meter peak.
Rutkiewicz also began to make further inroads into Karakoram mountaineering in the 1980s, leading an unsuccessful all-women's expedition to 28,253-foot K2 in 1982 and attempting Broad Peak with two other women in 1985. The following year, she joined the small French team of Michael Parmentier, and Maurice and Liliane Barrard in an attempt on K2's Abruzzi Ridge. All four members - none of whom used supplementary oxygen - reached the summit on June 23, with Rutkiewicz arriving ahead of the others to become the first woman to climb K2. After a short time on the summit, the team descended to their bivouac tent at 27,230 feet and spent the night there, rather than returning to Camp III at 25,900 feet. The following morning Parmentier started the descent to Camp III, with Rutkiewicz following shortly thereafter, and the Barrards the last to leave camp. As Rutkiewicz descended, she looked back to see the Barrards disappear into the swirling snow, never to be seen alive again. Liliane was found dead on July 19 at the base of the mountain, the victim of a several-thousand-foot fall; her husband's body was never recovered.
On August 4, a month and a half after Rutkiewicz and Barrard summitted, Julie Tullis of Great Britain became the third woman to summit K2, sans oxygen. She died three days later of exhaustion and exposure, trapped at 25,900 feet during a multi-day storm. In a well-documented season of success and setback on K2, the loss of two of climbing's top female high-altitude mountaineers was particularly acute.
Also on K2 that year was Catherine Freer - America's best female alpinist at the time - as part of an elite team of North American climbers that included Alex Lowe, George Lowe, Dave Cheesemond, and Steve Swenson. The group tackled the seldom-climbed North Ridge, but were ultimately unsuccessful. Freer pulled equal weight and reached the team's high point of 26,400 feet. In a blow to the U.S. climbing world, Freer died the following year with Cheesemond in a cornice collapse on the Hummingbird Ridge of Mount Logan.
It wasn't until 1992 that another woman climbed K2: Chantal Mauduit of France. After the Swiss team that she had joined abandoned their attempt, Mauduit hooked up with an international expedition that included Scott Fischer, Ed Viesturs, and Dan Mazur. On her summit day, she reached the top at 5 p.m. However, the following day she became snowblind and had to be escorted down the mountain. Despite the epic descent, Mauduit had started her high- altitude career with a flourish and went on to climb five more 8000-meter peaks without oxygen, including solos of Lhotse and Manaslu.
I just wrote this article for both the Lyons and Berthoud recorders in hopes of getting more women to sign up. One of my girlfriends, Madeleine, just notified me that she's excited to join me on this ride (thank gawd; I'll need the moral support!) I'll start training for the race as soon as I get home on Thursday. I'll have 10 days from then to train (hahah!) I'm at my mother's house right now, enjoying the warm weather and the lovely lake she lives on. I wish we had large, warm lakes in Colorado to swim for hours in.
By Lizzy Scully
On August 17, hundreds of Colorado’s female cyclists will partake in the state’s first organized women-only bicycle ride. The Venus de Miles is one of only a dozen rides of its kind in the United States, though said organizer Teresa Robbins, the Colorado event has the added component of raising money for a good cause. All proceeds will go to Greenhouse Scholars (GHS), a nonprofit organization that provides high-performing, under-resourced college-bound students with personal, academic and professional and financial support.
The three most important aspects of this event, Robbins said, are that it is: an event where women can connect with other women and empower each other through the sport of cycling; a community-building event; and an event that is “centered around charity.”
“As women, we really want to give back, and we do that over and over again,” she explained. “I think that this sort of thing brings the best of all worlds together.”
Two different courses are offered: a 65-mile route through Lyons and Jamestown and a 35-mile route through Longmont, Hygiene and Niwot. Beginners are welcome, and the ride is not a race, so participants shouldn’t expect a grueling torture session.
“Venus De Miles is a non-competitive event,” said Robbins. “It’s the perfect venue for women, new and old to the world of cycling, to come together and enjoy a summer day of spinning in scenic Colorado.” Plenty of stops are available along the way, including coffee shops and repair and aid stations.
“It’s all about doing your personal best,” she stated. “And if that means stopping every mile and walking your bike up the big hills, you’ll still be a winner.”
At the conclusion of the event, Oskar Blues Brewery is throwing a party with beer and food; participants will be able to get massages, do yoga, and hang out with some of the beneficiaries from Greenhouse Scholars; and kids will have their own cool stuff to do.
“We’re trying to make it a fun place to be,” Robbins said. Robbins came up with the idea for the ride after participating in a similar event in California.
“I was just really blown over by the sea of women, some on hybrid bikes, some on mountain bikes,” she said. “You had women in their boas and some in their race kits. It was a really diverse groups.” When she moved to Colorado just a few years later, she thought the Front Range would be the ideal place for a similar event. “We want to really connect people to the cause,” she said. “And we want to connect women to other women.”
Two women from Berthoud have already signed up for the competition, as have dozens from Longmont, Loveland and Lyons. For more information or to sign up, visit: www.venusdemiles.com. The Berthoud Recorder will be covering the event, so watch for articles and photos in the August 21 paper.
Article published in Lyons Recorder, by Lizzy Scully
This past weekend, 26-year old Jordan Ramsey of Lyons took first place in the RockyGrass instrumental music competition in the mandolin category, winning a $9,000 Sam Bush Signature Master Model Gibson Mandolin. Ramsey, who played on the main stage during the final round, received hearty applause from his hometown audience when the results were announced.
“That was a life changing experience for me,” Ramsey said. “I’m just elated. The instrument that I owned and played for the past four or five years is a really low quality, factory made, foreign instrument. It’s really a piece of junk. I don’t have a bit of money saved up. I’m poor as dirt. That was my only shot to win a really, really good mandolin.” Competitors are only allowed one chance to compete at RockyGrass’ prestigious, yearly competition.
“I played it all night last night,” he added, the day after the competition. “It’s loud and clear. I’m just thrilled.”
According to one of the three judges for the instrumental competition, the results were difficult to determine because all three finalists were technically excellent. Competitors were judged on their rhythm, tone, and their overall ability, which included the difficulty of the piece, their expression, material selection, taste and execution.
Ramsey won performing the two songs, “The Twin River Rag,” by Jack Tottle and “The Tennessee Blues,” by Bill Monroe, played in the intricate and hard-to-duplicate cross-picking style developed by Grand Ole Opry star Jesse McReynolds in mid 20th century.
Though the other competitors were “strong and quick,” Ramsey believes he won the overall competition because he has “a strong right hand.”
“To do the McReynolds style, it takes a lot of work,” he explained. “I’ve invested thousands of hours in cross picking in my life.”
Ramsey, who prepared for this competition for three months, was surprised to even make it to the final round after he played poorly during the first round, he said. “I was nervous as hell. I didn’t feel like I really executed what I practiced because of nerves.”
Though he had an accompanist, he said, at competitions “it’s all about you, about getting up and showing people your stuff. I played with Spring Creek at Telluride, and I wasn’t half as nervous as I was playing on this stage in front of 100 people.”
Still, Ramsey’s highly-arranged, difficult renditions of “Grandfather’s Clock, arranged by Jack Tottle, and “Jethro’s Tune,” written by Jethro Burns and arranged Ramsey (i.e. Ramsey took the basic melody and created different variations on that melody), won him a spot in the final round.
Ramsey, who “loves the sound of the mandolin,” began playing the instrument seven years ago after listening to the David Grisman/Jerry Garcia album, “Shady Grove.” Musically inclined, he played the trumpet in high school and had considered attending school to become a band director. However, after falling in love with the mandolin and spending two years learning on his own after buying the book, “Bluegrass Mandolin,” by Jack Tottle, he moved to Johnson City to attend East Tennessee State University (ETSU), one of the country’s premier music schools. ETSU boasted top-notch teachers such as Tottle and Raymond McLain and the renowned full-time performing and touring ETSU Bluegrass Band, for which Ramsey played for two years.
Ramsey proceeded to refine his cross picking technique with the two virtuosos. He said the McReynolds style inspired him for a variety of reasons. “It’s banjoesque. People are really attracted to the roll. You have three notes on three different strings that are ringing simultaneously. There are only a handful of people who play it, though nowadays it’s making a resurgence.” Ramsey considers himself the third generation of cross pickers.
“People applaud that people like me copy our predecessors,” he explained. “Of course, we’ll change it, too. All fusion is based on tradition.”
Ramsey moved to Lyons last year. He currently teaches mandolin lessons full time. To contact Ramsey for lessons, please email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call (806) 632-2082.
Article printed in Lyons Recorder, by Lizzy Scully Photos by Jonathan Dowdell
Spring Creek Bluegrass Band opened this year’s RockyGrass Festival and received a standing ovation from an excited hometown crowd. The band opened for both of Planet Bluegrass’ festivals this year because they won the Telluride Bluegrass Festival and RockyGrass Festival band contests in 2007. According to bass fiddle player Jessica Smith, playing at RockyGrass was not as “nerve wracking” as playing at Telluride. “We were excited to be playing at such a great festival that also happens to be in our hometown,” she stated. “I feel like we performed well. We were a little more laid back than we normally would be with a crowd this size. We had the home field advantage.”
Banjo player Chris Elliott added, “Friday was just a great day. The crowd was really awesome. I felt like I was playing in my back yard. Plus, the sound was great on stage.” Smith added that “the feel” of the event was significantly different for the band compared to last year. “When you’re performing, people want you there,” she explained. “But with the competition scenario you’re up against other people, and you don’t know what the audience wants to hear. You’re trying to win over an audience. All you can do is what you do.” She added that the band was trying to win both competitions last year. “We thought it would be a good launching point for us, and obviously it was.”
Spring Creek has a busy schedule this year playing gigs throughout the United States, and this fall they will cut their first record with Rebel Records. For more information, visit their Web site: www.springcreekbluegrassband.com.
I'm excited once again for a new adventure! I'm going to do this woman-only ride on the Front Range. What fun! A race with a whole bunch of women. I'm sure I'll end up at the very end of the line considering I've never biked more than 19 miles at one time, but what they hey, it sounds like fun, and it's for a great cause--putting kids through college. I was incredibly lucky to have a very generous family that paid for my undergraduate degree. There's so much I wouldn't be able to do without that degree. I'm happy to help other kids get through school without heinous college loans. I'll be writing about the race for a variety of publications and will, of course, post photos and text on my blog. Thanks to Oskar Blues for paying for my entry fee and for SkirtSports for supplying me with the necessary clothing. Thanks also to Community Cycles for teaching me how to build and maintain a bike! Now, I've got just a couple weeks to get in cycling shape...
July 2008, BOULDER, COLORADO-Venus de Miles, Colorado’s 1st Women’s-Only bike ride is set for Sunday, August 17th, 2008.
Across the United States there are only 12 supported, all women’s, non-competitive rides. With Colorado’s abundant pool of passionate recreational female cyclists, founder Teresa Robbins identified the need and opportunity for an all-women’s ride. Venus de Miles was designed to bring female cyclists of all abilities together each year to celebrate women and community. Today, women are not only running for president, they are coming together to enjoy sports that may have at one time felt intimidating. Venus De Miles, a non-competitive event, is the perfect venue for women, new and old to the world of cycling, to come together and enjoy a summer day of “spinning” in scenic Colorado.
Proceeds from the ride benefit the non-profit organization, Greenhouse Scholars (GHS). GHS provides high-performing, under-resourced college-bound students with personal, academic, and professional support, as well as, a significant financial scholarship.
Event Details: Venus de Miles, the first ride of its kind in Colorado, is offering two different riding routes throughout Boulder County. Both courses will start and end at Prospect Park/Prospect New Town in Longmont, which will also be the site of the community picnic post-ride. The 35-mile route will wind through the rural towns of Longmont, Hygiene and Niwot. For those riders that are looking for a longer, more challenging route, the group will continue on for a total of 65 miles, through the scenic towns of Lyons and Jamestown. Both routes will be stacked with aid stations and mechanical support for those ladies who may want a snack or need help changing a flat tire.
Sponsors: The 2008 Venus de Miles is sponsored by BAD, Born Fit, El Dorado Natural Spring Water, LUNA Sport, Mix 1, Niwot Cycles, Odwalla, Pridemark, Skirt Sports, StormLab, Sullivan Photography, Oskar Blues, TONIC PR, Wheat Ridge Cyclery, and Zeal Optics.
For course map, additional information and registration go to: www.venusdemiles.com
"Bicycling has done more to emancipate women than any one thing in the world. It gives her a feeling of self-reliance and independence the moment she takes her seat; and away she goes, the picture of untrammeled womanhood." -- Susan B. Anthony END # # #