Pedaling forward towards Cottonwood Canyon I notice cars full of people whizzing by with skis attached to the top of their Subaru’s. This is the first weekend you can ski in Utah, and while most folks are getting their outdoor recreation fix on double planks, I am getting mine on a brand new Cannondale on loan from the Backroads bike shop. The ride is smooth and I like it very much. I spend a majority of the ride working between two (very different) thought patterns. The first one is how I can afford to purchase this sick, sleek Carbon bike, slick with its sexy components and bright red color. I play with the numbers in my head. If I bought one less bottle of wine, sold one more sweater, taught one more fitness class... and then my monkey mind swings across to the branch of, 'Holy Dina! What a busy, crazy week it has been'.

Swing on the branch. DAMN. This thing handles like a Mercedes (not that I drive one but I imagine).

Swing. Wow, I cannot believe I am going home soon. That seems strange to think I will be in Calgary this time in a few days.

Swing. My fingers are cold and I hope I don't get frostbite (picture me riding with one hand at a time, shoving my other half-gloved finger set under my opposite armpit). If I bought this bike, I will name her Andy. Do I sell Alex? (Current bike). Will Alex's feelings be hurt? This must be what it feels like to be a parent of one child and pregnant with the second.

Swing. I can't believe I left Death Valley. I can't believe I had such a good trip. I had the best time with Dan. I had the best time on the trip. I really love that Hendersen 24 Hour Fitness. I wish it had a pool.

This train of consciousness carries on back and forth for the majority of my ride. These thoughts I entertain while I navigate around sheets of ice and until I arrive back at the leader house in Salt Lake City. It is the quietest -and cleanest- of times around here. I am in the company of a few other leaders and as I slowly pack my possessions on this Monday night I am able to consider what lay ahead, and what I just came from.

One final trip in Death Valley with Dan and a batch of solo travelers couldn't have gone better. Safe out of the freakish heat and wind issues of October, and in good working company, Dan and I laughed and bonded over the course of the week. We have a shared affinity for 24 Hr Fitness, not talking for the first 15 minutes of each morning, and eating. Dan put up with my ridiculous jokes, endless questions, "well, seeing you're a guy, what do you think about this?" and need to talk about the bitty parts of the trip I want to change. Yea for Dan, and all the boys of the fall in Death Valley (including James and Devin). Just Holly and the boys. Death Valley, a dude heavy region... perche? I'm not complaining.

Fast forward through a unit drive to Salt Lake City, a weekend snow storm, a cycle and some packing finds me here. Procrastinating from packing by writing, and playing with numbers. Still trying to figure out how I can afford Andy. Red, shiny, fast and sleek Andy. My reflection of the season, absorption of what exactly happened in these last six months and key learning experiences will have to wait a few more days. Packing calls, and so does my dreaming of a new bike.

I leave you, however, with a valuable piece of information.

Death Valley lies in between California and Nevada, two very different states with VERY different rules. Can you imagine my surprise while driving a van full of guests back to Las Vegas Dan and I are pulled over by the California Highway Patrol. Apparently the speed limit with a trailer is 55mph. Fortunately our guests thought the entire ordeal was quite comical and took pictures of it. Dan ended up with a ticket, me with a reminder to always wear my seat belt (and ensure everyone in my van is doing the same) and another story to add to the Backroads trip craziness collection.

Snow under my wheels in Salt Lake City.

Before Cottonwood Canyon.

Hey, it is me at work! I can't take credit for most of these photos, generously shared by a guest.

I love it out there, Death Valley- en route to Badwater.


I really would like to be in the Backroads catalog, why can't something like this work?

My co-leader Dan in a bit of trouble with the California Highway Patrol. Shoot!