Sunday, May 22, 2016

USA Campervan Rental Comparisons

Greetings fellow happy campers and adventurers!

Those of you who know me personally know my obsession with all things camper van. Those who don't - well, let's just say that my husband and I spend a fair amount of time perusing the internets looking at campervans for sale with big dreams of owning one of our very own.  And my instagram feed is filled with people making their van lives look awesome (and tastefully filtered, of course).

Until we can own one, what better way to check out the whole van-life thing than to rent?

We are planning a road trip camper van adventure out west this year (FINALLY!) and I've done a WHOLE lot of research on some of the various van rental companies out there. 

As I searched I realized that I was likely not the only person on the planet looking for this information, and it would be super helpful to have this collected in one place. There can be a lot of hidden fees, restrictions, etc. that might not be readily obvious at first glance.  So, I decided to create a spreadsheet and share my little research project here.  This is by no means an exhaustive list.  Right now most of these are California/Las Vegas companies as those were the two starting points were were debating.  The spreadsheet will update here as I add more companies, etc.  I will probably modify this to be organized by geographical area at some point as well. 

Enjoy, and happy camping!

Oh - and based on my initial research - we booked with Escape Campervans and will be starting in San Francisco.  I will, of course, review our experience with them.

**All of the information was pulled from the company websites.  I'm human, and certainly could have made a mistake or transcribed something wrong.  This is by no means an exhaustive list of all companies and I may have missed some offerings or info on the companies currently included.  Find any errors?  Have any suggestions?  Want to give me a campervan to travel the country in? (hey, it was worth a try).  Contact me at or leave a comment below!**

Monday, April 25, 2016

Rasputitsa 2016 Race Report

*Disclaimer - if you are looking for a very serious course report from a very serious cyclist who can actually ride at a reasonable speed - look away.  LOOK AWAY.  You ended up in the wrong damn place.  If you can handle a semi-witty recap from a solid middle back of the packer, read on friend.*

Last weekend I returned to a race that I SWORE I would never do again. Speedy cyclist husband and I loaded up the toaster and headed North to Vermont to once again take on the Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race.   

Last Fall threw me a few curveballs and I had missed the initial sign up (*tears up - hides raw onion causing tears*), and was not initially planning on heading up for this snowy, hilly shit show again.  BUT, there were so few women registered that they opened up some spots on facebook.  For FREE.  So, I jumped on it and was in.  This just proves that I truly will buy anything if you slap a clearance sticker on it.  The race benefited a couple of great causes, the JamFund (supporting the development of local 'cross racers) and Little Bellas (mentoring girls on mountain bikes - sort of the Girls on the Run of the mtb world).   I happily donated what I would have paid in entry to Little Bellas.  Pay it forward, people!
Donating my entry fee to Little Bellas

I promised myself that I would train and be SO ready for this.  Turns out?  I lie.  So yet again, I rolled on up to Vermont woefully unprepared.  Problem was this time I knew what I was in for.  

The highlights of the day....
Speedy Husband's bike.  You crazy?  I rode that shit on my mountain bike
  • The weather!  Dry, sunny, high of 60.  PERFECT weather to spend hours outside on your bike.  There was mud of course - but lots of sun as well.

  • Getting to meet some of  the cool chicks from Team Betty Designs  in real life!  I couldn't keep up with them on the bike but getting to meet face to face (we are all geographically spread out and communicate mainly through social media) was freakin' awesome.  Until next time!! #squadgoals
Betty Squad!!
  • The climbing.  It felt like it never ended.  Seriously.  If you want to challenge your climbing legs get up here.  It's a BEAST.   My granny gear and I hung out together all day.  And I'm pretty sure my running time would be very close to my biking time #noshame

  • Cyberia.  After climbing for what feels like approximately 11 days straight you will reach cyberia.  And then climb for another day until you reach the top.  This is hands down my favorite part of the course.  Mostly because I knew I would finally get to descend some.  And also because they handed out maple syrup shots in tiny little shot glasses made of ice. SHOT GLASSES MADE OF ICE!  FULL OF MAPLE SYRUP!    I mean really.  And there were some left when I got there.  Does it get any better?
    Photo borrowed from Rasputitsa Instagram
  • The volunteers.  Cheerful, supportive, out there spending their day helping a bunch of crazy bike riders have the best experience possible.  THANK YOU!   You made the day wonderful. 
First aid station manned by Little Bellas

  • Finishing.  Seriously - for a trail runner moonlighting as a cyclist getting across the finish line is a big deal.  Well, for me at least.  I was well within the time cutoff, so I totally won at life.  And no, I'm not posting my garmin file.  I'm slow.  Let's leave it at that.
    Gifted with a sip of beer at the finish line - YAY BIKES! AND BEER!
  • The food!  Thank you to the Burke Publick House for welcoming a bunch of dirty, smelly bikers with a fantastic post-race spread with tons of vegetarian options.  Carrot ginger soup.  Poutine with mushroom gravy.  YES! And great beers, with plenty of local Vermont options.  Beer snobs rejoice. I sure did. (14th Star Brewing Tribute DIPA from St. Albans VT if you're wondering what's in my glass plastic cup - it was fantastic)

And there ya have it.  Another year of Rasputitsa down for this household.  It couldn't have been more different from last year.  I suffered like hell - but I could feel my feet. And for that, I thank you mother nature. 

Friday, April 15, 2016

The Art of Bonking

Today's post is a lesson in how to train bonk like a champion.  According to trusty Wikipedia, "Hitting the wall or the bonk describes a condition caused by the depletion of glycogen stores in the liver and muscles, which manifests itself by sudden fatigue and loss of energy" AKA - it's like getting smacked in the face with a baseball bat full of hunger and desperation.

In preparation for tomorrow's upcoming Rasputitsa Gravel Road Race in Vermont, I had the bright idea to actually go ride my bike the other day.  Imagine that??  I solicited some company from my super-cyclist husband and off we went.  I blindly followed him without asking any questions.  In retrospect, perhaps "how far are we going" may  have been a good one.  

Halfway (ok - maybe less than that) into it my stomach growled.  I thought back to my last meal.  Surely I had eaten something since breakfast?  Nope.  Fail.  Shit.  I took stock of my pockets.  One inedible iPhone.  Super-cyclist was snack free also.   Naturally I blamed him for my state, as any reasonable person would.  

We were over 10 hilly miles from home and I was deteriorating rapidly.  I was seriously scanning the sides of the road for something that looked edible.  ANYTHING would do.  I may have uttered "I'd punch a baby for some food".  (Disclaimer - this was for dramatic effect.  I am pretty sure I would not have actually punched a baby.)

I crept my way toward home in full-on hot mess mode.  Snickers commercial on wheels. Visions of a farmstand full of candy and donuts popping up along the side of the road danced through my head.  I was wobbly, dizzy, freezing, and crabby as hell.  Finally Super-cyclist sprinted the last 6 miles home, got in the car, and came to get me.  Ride of Shame status - epic.  

And so, in summary - never leave home without a snack.  And don't sign up for crazy events without training for them.  I can only hope that tomorrow goes a bit better than this.  And hopefully better than last year.  

Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Changing things up - Angel Rider for 2016

The Skinny:
When: May 28-29, 2016 (Memorial Day Weekend)
Where:  Norfolk - Mystic CT

For the past two years I have ridden in the Pan-Mass Challenge.   I learned that I LOVE charity events like this.  From the challenge of training and fundraising to the sense of community, family, and accomplishment from the event - I love every bit of it.

This year I decided to change my plans and ride in an event that I have had my eye on for several years.  I have many friends who have done this event and I decided it's time for me to join them!

In 2016 I will be riding in the Angel Ride.  The ride raises money for a program put on by the Hole in the Wall Gang Camp.  This camp was founded in 1988 by actor Paul Newman as a summer camp for children with physical and medical limitations and their families.

The AngelRide, which was established in 2004, raises money for the Camp's Hospital Outreach Program (HOP).  This amazing program brings the joy and spirit of the camp into hospital and clinic settings around the Northeast.  Every $50 raised by a rider funds one HOP visit.  

HOP Program Locations
I am very excited to ride this Memorial Day!  Please consider a donation to help support my ride.  No amount is too small!!  

Tuesday, December 1, 2015

2015, Where did you go?

I have left this blog a little sad and lonely.  It has been quite a while since I've logged on here and shared any of my races, adventures, or completely random disorganized thoughts.

I'm not gonna lie... this was fed by a pretty solid mix of laziness, writer's block, and simply enjoying myself without bothering to write it all down.  Every time I finished something fun I would think.... "that would make a great post".  And then I would go do something else.   And now here I am, with lots of blank pages.  I was feeling a little overwhelmed about where to start - so, I will start where I am (which, incidentally, is on the couch in my pj's with a fire going and Homeland on.  In case you were wondering).  

I fully intend to go back and write race reports and reviews of the big stuff I've done.   I find other people's to be immensely helpful, and I always hope someone out there has found my shared thoughts useful.  But until then, here is a little pictorial tour of the second half of 2015.  

Escarpment Trail Run

On July 26 I checked a box off of my Northeast trail running "bucket list" and ran the Escarpment trail run.  This will definitely get its own report, but until then here are a few shots from the weekend.  What a challenge!

Pan-Mass Challenge

Ah, the PMC!!!!  I rode for my second year in this incredibly inspiring event.  Happiness is hope for a cancer cure on two wheels.

Vermont 50

I have such love for this race.  This year was most definitely one of the tops.  Stellar weather and PR's for the entire household.  Woot woot!!

Flags on the 48

This year we hiked Mt. Osceola and East Osceola as part of this 9/11 memorial in the White Mountains of New Hampshire.  

Athens Marathon

I ran my first road marathon.  In Athens, GREECE!!!!   The country was absolutely amazing. The marathon?  surface of the sun hot, in the middle of the road, with no shade.  Not terribly scenic.  I felt (and likely looked) like a desiccated version of Frank the Tank.  But I finished in Olympic stadium.  And did I mention it was in GREECE?  Wasn't sure.

And so, in summary,  it has been a freaking amazing year.  Here's to getting out there and having some fun!  Every year just keeps getting better and better - Happy Holidays, do what you love, and make 2016 even more stellar.