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Caroline George Gains Perspective on Climbing by Cycling the Pacific Coastline
Posted on October 11, 2011

By Caroline George

I am a bit of a monomaniac. I climb mountains, climb rock, ski up and down peaks, climb ice and guide clients up climbs, to summits and down again. Either way you look at it, my life revolves around mountains. So when pregnancy came about, I felt very confused about what I was possibly going to be doing with myself this upcoming fall, when, I believed, my belly would look like a balloon, preventing my feet from even touching any wall! Because doing nothing is not an option in my mind and because I always need to have a goal, I decided I should use this time to give other sports a go. This would be my time for new perspectives. But which ones?

I got on my computer and started emailing friends about their plans: surfing? biking? kayaking? When my Salt Lake City friends Jeff and Angie said they were going on a road bike trip to California, I was delighted with this perspective: I would get to learn to like a new sport, it was noncommittal—with Angie’s mom, Mama Sue, as car support, I wouldn’t have to bike the whole way every day if I chose not to—and I would get to discover California’s Napa Valley, the beautiful Pacific Coast and be with great friends to top it all off.

I had been to California before, but only for climbing and skiing: twice to climb in the world famous Yosemite Valley, once to Joshua Tree—also rock climbing—and once to do a ski traverse of the Sierras with my friend, Anna Keeling, who was three months pregnant at the time. Mountains are all-consuming and leave little space for other venues. With my goal being to broaden my horizons while pregnant, I had just found the ideal opportunity to do so.

But as the time grew nearer to the departure date, I started wondering why I decided to go biking when I could still very well climb. Adam and I had just guided in Idaho’s Sawtooth and climbed the beautiful Elephant’s Perch, and all I wanted to do was climb some more. I was being a spoiled brat, no doubt! But when I met my friends in California, I embraced the new adventure wholeheartedly.

As we biked through the vineyards of Napa and Sonoma on the first day out, I reminisced about my days as a bike guide while in law school, when I was working for, leading people through Burgundy and the Loire Valley. I have been passionate about wine culture ever since. This was my first time biking in wine country since my guiding days, and I remembered how much I loved the culture, the history, and feeling people’s love for their vineyards. Only this time, I didn’t get to feel tipsy as early as 10 a.m. from our first wine tasting because, well, being pregnant doesn’t quite work with wine tasting. So, I resorted to working on developing my sense of smell instead.

After the wine country, we headed north up to Mendocino to bike along the rugged Pacific Coast. We biked on average 30 to 35 miles a day, which was plenty for me: With my belly growing, exercising at sea level often felt like I was actually on an 8,000-meter peak and I was grateful for Angie and Jeff’s patience with me as I struggled to keep up (well, I wasn’t really ever keeping up). After Mendocino, we drove south to Monterey and spent two days there biking along the coast. We saw sea lions, starfish, ate amazing seafood, and enjoyed some beautiful road biking along the coast.

As always, time flew by too quickly and it was soon time for us to head back to Utah. As we drove back through Nevada, I thought back on this amazing week with great friends, rediscovering a sport, seeing new places, and being ever so lucky to get to experience all these unique adventures. Although climbing will always be Number One, having new experiences makes me have a different perspective on my passion but also on the life I want for my child: By putting too much effort into one thing, you get too wrapped up in it. And because it becomes who you are—what you are—it’s hard to take a step back and look at it with the eyes of a beginner, and you end putting a lot of pressure on yourself.

This trip was a great opportunity to step back and see that what matters is having fun, enjoying the journey, and keeping an open mind to whatever comes your way.

Author: - Tuesday, October 11th, 2011

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