Bike and Brew

Outside Santa Fe's Beer and Bike 2015

Outside Santa Fe’s Beer and Bike 2015

I’ve been asked what makes mountain biking in New Mexico special to me. For a brief question, I have a long and winding answer. My “love affair” (yes, my wife knows) with cycling began when I was given a sparkling blue Schwinn Stingray that I thought was the greatest gift of my young life. After a few weeks of toodling around with training wheels, I gradually became more confident. Then one day, with a patient father in an empty parking lot, I learned to pedal, steer and brake on two wheels. That blue bike radically expanded my childhood universe. I wasn’t limited by ploddingly slow foot travel or the whims of a parent with a car. I had my first taste of speed and freedom, so I explored.

I never lost my taste for the freedom a bicycle brings. I can’t deny that I’ve fallen prey to the temptations of the automobile. I’ve had many dalliances with the quiet speed of road cycling, and my town bike sees quite a few miles every year. But, oh the places you’ll go on a mountain bike! Not limited by pavement, a mountain bike can turn a thin dashed line on a map into a daylong or longer adventure. Continue reading

Bad Ass Babes

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

Liv Launch in Sedona, Arizona, November 2016

“Do it,” I sputter. “Come on.” My eyes sting of sweat, my heart pounds in my ears and my lungs scream at me. I want to give up. I want to stop pedaling, stop climbing this steep rocky trail. I want to throw my bike aside and walk up, or better yet, forget this whole endeavor and go home. “Just 10 more seconds,” I think, bargaining with myself. The crest of the hill is in sight. I’m nearly there. Through gasps and gulps, I grit my teeth and practically growl, “DO it.”

Just when I think I can take no more, I reach the top. I’m doing it. I’ve done it. At last, sweet relief: I’m over the hill. I can let gravity do the work from here. Now, I just have to keep my balance and savor the adrenaline rush as the wind cools my face and the landscape rushes past me.

Like many women, I delight in challenging myself physically and mentally with mountain biking. It’s a thrilling way to explore nature, build confidence and be more active. But undertaking it can be intimidating at first, especially since it’s still a fairly male-dominated sport. It’s intimidating, but not impossible. Luckily, there are multitudes of women who want to help. Continue reading

Letting Go of the Wall

GMarks-IceSkating-04It’s Saturday morning, and the cheerful echo of laughter fills the air. Below the bleachers, there’s a symphony of movement; enthusiastic young children and tentative adults glide over ice, chasing bubbles, gathering stuffed animals, and chasing hula hoops as supportive coaches guide and instruct. Despite the chilly environment, the atmosphere is warm. People giggle and grin, stumble and recover, and cheer each other on.

It’s just an ordinary day at the Genoveva Chavez Community Center’s indoor ice skating rink, a year-round winter playground that puts ice sports within reach for some 50,000 visitors per year. Since its opening in 2000, the regulation NHL-sized rink has made serving the community a priority. From the graceful twirl of a figure skater to the dynamic power of a hockey player to the quiet focus of curling, there are many ways to experience ice skating. GCCC offers an impressive cross sampling of these activities. Even though it lacks competition—it’s the only indoor ice rink in the state north of Albuquerque—it’s a model of an affordable, well-maintained and friendly experience.

The thrill of ice skating may seem like a distant dream to many people—especially kids—but through programs like Skating in School, the Chavez Center rink is inclusive of our entire community. The program allows access to Santa Fe students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to go ice skating. It’s funded by the city and private donors, and provides everything: four coaches, transportation to and from the Chavez Center, plus rink time once a week for four weeks. After a month of lessons, the students show off their new skills by performing in a show. The Chavez Center has included five schools so far, and is committed to doing even more in the coming years. Continue reading

Ninja Park Warriors

NinjaParkJE_JG_22In 2014, Travis Iverson was diagnosed with a five-centimeter aneurysm near his heart. To save his life, doctors conducted open-heart surgery. Seven months later, Travis was back in the gym, but not lifting weights as he had been. To avoid undo strain on his heart, he joined the Ninja Park in Albuquerque, a functional fitness gym where members navigate obstacles like the ones seen on NBC’s American Ninja Warrior. Just four months later, Travis was selected from tens of thousands of applicants to compete in a regional final and appear on the show. Although he didn’t advance from the Houston regional to the nationals, getting that far was a feat few would have expected a year earlier.

The now 31-year-old former corrections officer is focused on his new career with the Bernalillo County Sheriff’s Department, so he isn’t actively competing. Still, he continues to train—including on his nemesis: the salmon ladder. The obstacle, on which competitors grasp a bar and swing it (and themselves) up pegs, eliminated him from the Houston trials. “You can train that as many times as you want and still never be ready for it. I’ve done that obstacle literally thousands of times at the gym,” he says.

Although the Albuquerque gym has roots in the American Ninja Warrior, it isn’t formally affiliated with the show and is one of only a few dozen similar gyms across the U.S. Inspired by the show, owner Garrett Takach started creating backyard obstacles but set down roots when he founded Ninja Park in February 2015. This year, on March 11, it will host an area qualifier for the United Ninja Athlete Association, a national competition series hosted by other similar gyms across the country. Continue reading

Saving Your Skin

 

dreamstime_m_46901463I grew up in a time, not that long ago, when sunscreen was for babies. Literally. No one over nine worried about getting too much sun—certainly not if you were a teenager or in your early 20s. Instead, we lathered on oils that touted their bronzing efficacy. We wrapped cardboard in aluminum foil to hold beneath our chins to reflect the sun onto our necks, because to have a golden glow––male or female––was considered beautiful. We didn’t even wear sunglasses, because we might get that unsightly raccoon-eye ring. Being pale was for chumps.

Now that I’m of an age to see the sunspots darkening my hands and face (this is your skin’s response to overstimulation by the sun, and an attempt to protect itself from further abuse) and crow’s feet crinkling my eyes, I think differently. There’s a world of research about how skin cancer doesn’t just happen overnight, too. No, skin lesions of all sorts are often the result of cumulative hours of sun exposure. Sun-kissed is a lie–– sun-beaten and wind-blown is a more accurate description of what happens to our epidermis.

I’m certainly not seeking the “I just spent a week at the beach” appearance anymore. Living in New Mexico, we don’t need to hit the road to find the sun. We’ve got over 300 days of it. Plus, we live at altitude, which enhances the effects of Old Sol’s rays. And did you forget the wind? That and our dry desert air contribute to dehydration, which is murder on the epidermis. Continue reading

New Year, New You

 

Six spa experiences with a local twist—each designed to elevate your attitude and snap you out of winter’s chill.

Spa menus often read like romance fiction sprinkled with glimpses of celestial desires. Who doesn’t want to touch heaven or paradise for an hour or so while splayed naked on a comfy-toasty treatment table? We poked around Santa Fe and Albuquerque spa destinations looking for the most unique offerings available—especially those with a distinct burst of New Mexico elements, designed to arouse your inner and outer senses. These six cures for sore muscles, dry skin, toxic buildup, getting old, zapped energy and stress overload will go a long way in helping to usher in a year of wellness. Continue reading