About biopace

We are two people that spend most of our time pursuing educations, working, and exploring the forest on our mountain bikes.

Hey I, oh, I’m still alive

It is time to revive this blog! Hopefully.

I know it has been far too long and I would like to promise that we will regularly upkeep this blog form here on out. Let’s face it, I can’t promise that right now. I will only promise this post and I will try to get my blogging act together.

Updates? There are a lot but I will only give you a few for now. Jim is still crunching away at his degree (1.5 more years?). He is well on his way to being the best ecological engineer this world has ever known. I am now crunching away at a PhD. That means that I have had some time to teach, that I am taking some fun classes and that I am getting my hands dirty in the lab. I will talk about my project a bit later, but for now I will leave you with this cool video about a group of fungi closely related to the group that I work with.

Isn’t that cool?

What else? Well, these babies are still loving life.

IMG_0420

And we are still doing this:

IMG_0445

So, expect a little more science, a little more biking, and a lot of cute puppy pictures.IMG_0035

Advertisements

Fall!

We woke up this morning to a brisk, sunny day with all the typical falling leaves and colors and spiders of autumn. One week ago it was uncomfortably hot, but that was September, and this is October, so…it’s officially fall. You can also tell it’s fall because we’re reluctantly turning down weekend mountain biking trips to the Cascades and have a mostly-empty carton of our favorite football-season ice cream in the freezer.

School has been going for 2 weeks now, and it’s Rheannon’s first school-less term in several  years, and my first term at OSU. I thought I was prepared and built tougher than all the people that told me that taking physics, calculus, chemistry, and an engineering course was stupid, but it turns out that I am human afterall. So after the first week of falling increasingly behind, I dropped physics, felt bad about myself, and then tried to get over it. I might kind of be over it now. Transferring to OSU from a community college, I felt like a country bumpkin in the big city. Surrounded by hundreds of other students in an auditorium classroom, trying to get across campus in five minutes from one class to another while dodging countless unpredictable teenagers on long boards…I miss small town, main street community college with my first-name basis professors and classmates that aren’t 10 years younger than me. But like others before me, I’ll just adopt the role of the hardened non-traditional (old) university student and figure it out.


Rheannon is still in the grad school application process, and we still have no idea where we’ll be in 1-2 years. That being said, we’ve prematurely decided that she’s going to be awarded a prestigious grant that will allow her to study in a lichen lab in Finland for 9 months, while the dogs and I stay home and eat a lot of fast food and watch really terrible action movies. It will be ugly. You probably shouldn’t visit during those 9 months. But since the people that dole out these grants don’t even know they’re awarding her yet, it’s probably too soon to start thinking about how pathetic we’ll be if we have to live apart.


So, it might seem like things have taken a dark turn, transitioning from a summer of recreational bliss to academic stress and the prospect of a carl’s jr./jean-claude van damme future, but don’t worry, it’s not all bad. We’ve both decided to take on ridiculous goals and have drawn up annual training plans that will surely keep us happy and tired throughout the winter. Rheannon decided to train for a 100 mile mountain bike next summer, and after realizing at the 24 hour race that being on my bike at odd hours for long periods of time satisfies some dysfunctional part of me, I decided to do one too.

I picked a course that has a cruel 18,000 feet of climbing, and Rheannon picked one with a slightly more reasonable 12,000 feet of climbing. Either way, we’re looking at up to 15 hours on our bikes, which is probably going to be miserable. You can tell that I still have an unrealistic idea of what that actually means because I use the word probably. Who am I kidding? It’s going to suck. But we’re excited about it, because we’re sick, sick people.

6 Weeks Crammed into a Slideshow

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

We spent the last couple months cramming a lot of riding and vacation into the final hours of summer. We spent an amazing 3-day weekend as guides at a local mountain bike festival, time in Bend visiting the grandparents, and Labor Day weekend riding our favorite trail on the coast with a group of friends and hanging out on the beach with our best-friend-turned-medical-student. We also spent a dusty weekend camping in the dirt and riding at odd hours during a 24 hour mountain bike race. That got us hooked on endurance racing, which you’ll probably hear more about later. Finally, we celebrated our 1st wedding anniversary (but more importantly our 6th regular anniversary) at a fire lookout in the Cascades. It’s been an incredible summer, and now it’s time to pack up the camping gear and dust off the pocket protector, because school starts in exactly one week.

Summer Adventures

Since we got home from our road trip, we’ve been busy working and playing. My ankle is still sore from my birthday karaoke sprain, so we’ve shifted our focus from mountain biking to road biking. We also managed to get in the first backpacking trip of the season, which it turns out was a bit premature. Every summer we get antsy for some alpine backpacking and end up jumping the gun, finding ourselves hiking through miles of snowfields where there should be wildflower meadows. Someday we may learn that the season really doesn’t start until August, but until then we enjoy our early season adventures and tolerate the wicked sunburns that we get from being on the snow for hours.

Our first big trip was a road ride over beautiful McKenzie Pass to visit the grandparents in Bend. McKenzie Pass is basically a giant lava field surrounded by peaks: Three Fingered Jack, Mt. Washington, and the Three Sisters. The trip was 70 miles each way and several thousand feet of climbing. We didn’t quite know what to expect, but it turns out that all the time we spend climbing steep trails and forest roads on mountain bikes makes road climbing (even a mountain pass) seem not so bad. We got to stop at two of our favorite ice cream shops on the way: BJ’s in Sisters and Goody’s in Bend. But the best part was hanging out with Rheannon’s grandparents, which is always a treat.

Lava tube break

Summiting the Pass

Riding through the high desert on our way to Bend

Grandma and Grandpa!

Mt. Washington looking sassy.

Rheannon posing with North and Middle Sister

We were so impressed with McKenzie Pass that we went back to the area the following weekend to go backpacking. We left from the appropriately named Obsidian Trailhead, and besides finding a lot of snow, we also found a lot of obsidian. So much so that at times it felt and sounded like we were walking through a field of coins. We were lucky to have Sea Oh and the dogs join us for this trip. We won’t have Sea Oh much longer since she’s starting medical school soon, and it’s an increasingly rare treat to be able to adventure with the dogs since they’ve been getting older and they can’t keep up with us the way they used to.

Hiking through the lava fields

Obsidian!

Snow dogs

If you look close you can see my sunburn forming.

This picture was taken just seconds before Branson fell and got stuck in the well between the snow and that giant boulder. Such is the life of an aging, adventuring pit bull.

Our temporary home.

Sunbathing in the meadow.

Can’t leave home without the hammock.

-Jim

Epic Cross Country Road Trip

We needed some time to process our epic cross country road trip before we could talk about it.  However, we seem to have taken too much time and now it is preventing us from posting about other epic adventures that we have taken.  So, I will try my best to do it justice so that we can more on.  The trip consisted of more family and friends than we ever thought possible. Here is a summary:

The First Very Long Drive:
We waved good bye to our dogs and started driving.  Moving slow at first, we made it to Missoula, MT for our first of many home cooked meals.  Our dear friends we kind enough to make us dinner so that we could stop for a short visit.  It was WAY too short, but it was wonderful to catch up and spend some time in one of the most wonderful backyards in the world.  After calculating the distance to our next stop, we realized that we could only make it there in time for dinner if we drove all night.  This isn’t something that I was interested in doing, but I knew the dinner was going to be good.  That night was full of load music and cans of TJ’s coffee drinks.  By the way, Montana is a very, very big state.
Chicago:
As promised, there was endless good food to be had both at headquarters (Jim’s Aunt Janie’s house) and in the city.  Here I finally got to meet Jim’s Grandmother and Cousin JB, we officially kicked off our Ice Cream Across America Tour, I saw my first firefly (AMAZING!), and Jim, Soso and I took a wonderful tour of downtown Chicago.  Here are some highlights:

Ice Cream Across America Official Kick Off

 

Amazing Storms!

The Bean!

Best Canoe Art Ever

Chicago Ferris Wheel

Davenport:

More wonderful family visits!  This time our headquarters was Jim’s Aunt Gail’s house.  We rocked a blues festival on the great Mississippi with his Uncle Frank, ate more (yes more!) amazing food, sampled more ice cream (this was the famous Whitey’s aka my favorite), had breakfast on a river boat casino and watched fireflies light up the ravine behind Gail’s house.  I really wish that I could have taken some of the fireflies back with me.

More Ice Cream

Winning Big

Oklahoma:

Final destination!  We stopped to visit so many places and family members in Oklahoma that I can’t even list them all.  I got the official family sight seeing tour from Jim and Momo and we even got to visit some of my family!  Although we moved around a lot, our official headquarters was Mema’s Palace.

Center of the Universe with Momo

Turkey Mountain – Jim’s First Mountain Biking Trails

Ice Cream Across America with my family: Uncle Steve, Cousin Megan and Terrence

The Tulsa Driller

The Long Drive Home:

Determined to save ourselves (mainly me) the pain of being in the car that long, we tried to take the drive home much slower.  However, the comfort and dogs of home were calling and even I wanted to drive into as much of the night as possible.  We did make a lot more stops and got to spend some quality time in Denver and Salt Lake.  And don’t worry – we ate more ice cream.

Momo’s Teenage Hangout

Kansas Oasis

Last Ice Cream Stop: Sisters, OR

-Rheannon

Graduation!

Let’s pretend it’s one month ago and I posted this update when I should’ve. In that case, we haven’t been on our cross-country road trip yet, but Rheannon did just graduate! Graduation ceremony was long (I spent a total of 5 hours at the stadium!) but Michelle Obama spoke and did her best to make up for every other speaker being pretty uninspiring, and it was all worth it to catch glimpses of Rheannon among the sea of graduates, and to see her happy face when we met her outside the stadium. Afterwards we had a celebratory dessert potluck in the backyard, where we got to debut our new hammocks, which have become our summertime hobby.

Let’s take a moment for a quick recap Rheannon’s awesome undergraduate career…

When I met her she was a bike messenger, taking one or two classes part time at the community college. Our second summer together she got an internship at the coast studying oyster populations, and the next summer she worked for the Forest Service in Randle, Washington, doing survey work. At the end of that summer we came to Corvallis and she started at OSU, where she got involved at the Lichen Lab. The next summer she got a job with the BLM in Salem which involved a lot of bushwhacking around in the mountains looking for sensitive plants. In the meantime during the school year she took lots of science classes…chemistry, organic chemistry, biochemistry, physics, statistics, and on and on. Last summer she started working at the EPA looking at nitrogen cycling in wetlands. During her final year she supplemented her science classes with courses like Wilderness First Responder, Rock Climbing, and Winter Backcountry Travel. And she also managed to get published in a couple of scientific journals and work 20 hours a week. At the end of it all she came out with a cumulative GPA of 3.8, a lot of job experience, and a healthy understanding of how things work. That understanding of how things work is what got me so interested in science and going back to school, and that high GPA (combined with a somewhat competitive nature) is what inspires me to get A’s! She sets the bar high, and we’re awfully proud of her.

Rheannon and friends after the graduation ceremony.

This needs no explanation.

Beaver cookies!

A younger, bike messenger version of Rheannon.

Catch up

It’s been a busy around here and we’ve neglected to post any updates, but don’t worry, I’m determined to keep this blog from disappearing into the flaky sea of abandoned internet stuffs. A lot has happened, but I will attempt to give you a brief recap of this month’s highlights.

Of course there are great mountain bike rides to talk about, but there’s been some rumors that this is turning into a mountain biking blog, so I’ll try to keep it to a minimum. The most memorable ride was the McKenzie River trail, which we rode on my birthday. We went out the night before and camped, got up early and rode most of the trail (cut out the last 7 or so boring miles). We’ve been at the McKenzie River in late May for the past two years as well, and the upper section is usually still under a lot of snow, but this spring is unusually warm and dry. We got back home in the late afternoon and had people over for pizza and birthday festivities, and wrapped up the night at the karaoke bar, where I sprained my ankle during a particularly moving performance of Black Sabbath’s War Pigs. Normally I would beat myself up for such a seemingly careless injury, but in this case I can say with confidence that it was definitely worth it.

The infamous “Blue Pool” on the McKenzie River. The water usually comes from underground, but it’s so high here that it’s coming out of the rocks above the pool.

Friends jumping over friends.

Over Memorial Day weekend we stayed at the Crater Lake Lodge, courtesy of our wonderful friends Skyler, Mary, and Sea Oh. I have to admit, my expectations were greatly exceeded. First of all, even though it now seems absurdly obvious, I never fully comprehended that Crater Lake is actually a crater. This is dumb not just because of the name, but also because it’s one of the most famous natural wonders in the country and I’ve probably seen hundreds of pictures of it. But in my head, I was picturing a normal, forested lake with shoreline, but just extra beautiful and really really deep. There is no shoreline, just sheer cliffs rising hundreds of feet around the entire lake. There’s one steep trail that drops down to the lake, where they helicopter in boats every summer for tours around the lake. It’s a national park, and besides the Grand Canyon I think it’s the only national park I’ve ever been in. What we usually do at national parks is drive up, get to the booth where we realize it costs $10 to get in, and promptly turn around. But this time, we had fancy reservations in a fancy lodge, so we coughed up the $10 and it was well worth it. I’m pretty sure we had the nicest room in the lodge, with two windows overlooking the lake. The only camping in the area is a few miles from the rim, so the lodge is the only option for staying the night in view of the lake, and besides being prohibitively expensive (that’s what good friends are for), it’s amazing and worth it. You get a historic northwest mountain lodge setting, killer views, lots of snow. Pretty great.

An ants on a log’s eye view from our room.


Rheannon looking tiny on top of some rocks.


Tromping through the snow on a sprained ankle.

.

More importantly, Rheannon published her first ever scientific paper in a fancy scientific journal. It will be the first of many to come, and in fact she is working on at least one other research project that will be submitted for publication this summer. I can’t give you much more detail because I am a lowly community college student/bike mechanic and not all that science savvy, and I haven’t been able to get her to post about it herself (doesn’t like to toot her own horn), but I do know that she owes at least some of her success to Branson, who apparently did most of the work:

Even more importantly, our best friend/dog-godparent/wedding planner/everything got accepted to medical school this month! I’m not the least bit surprised, because I’ve never known anyone who can willfully succeed at anything they put their mind to like Sea Oh can, but I am dang proud of her. This seems like an appropriate time to post an embarrassing picture: