Monday, June 30, 2008

NMBS #4 Super D - Deer Valley, UT

The Super D today ended up with another Sherwin on the Deer Valley podium but it wasn't me. It was Chris coming in 5th in the Open Men's category!

The Super D race today was like no other that I have done in that the course design was not a cross country racers dream come true. All the Super D's that I have done have been 20% uphill and 80% downhill and today's SD was about 99% downhill which is ok, just different. The real downhillers definitely had an advantage today and good on em!!

People lined up for the time trial format start with full dh bikes and pads. As you can see, I lack that sort of biz as I ran my bike at full speed to the designated line that you are officially supposed to jump on it at before sailing down the mountain.

The downhill was fast, rocky, dusty, rutted in sections and even contained a 1-2 foot full on drop off that was too steep to roll over because it you tried any of that cross country action on that sucker you would definitely go a** over tea I chose to cyclocross that part. I know - dork - but I really wanted to save my still healing thumb and save my kankle from any crashes that may happen if I decided to jump it. You HAD to commit to that thing and I wasn't positive I could.

I signed up for the Super in the first place because I really didn't know where my fitness was going to be after not racing for 6 six weeks. But after getting on the podium earlier in the day in Short Track I decided that my fitness was actually in a real good spot and not wanting to ruin that, I made the decsion to do the Super D more as a practice for my downhill skills. So that became my plan along with not getting hurt (again!) which worked out well.

That said, Mr. Sherwin had to make up for me and he did just that placing 5th. It was pretty amazing to get on the podium today in any category as a cross country racer but Chris proved it could be done, squeezing himself right onto that thing! That's my boy!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

NMBS #4 STXC - Deer Valley, UT

All I can say is that I was going to make sure that today wasn't ending without me on the podium. Not a small feat that I set for myself starting from the 2nd row eh? But I am not known for small goals I guess so why end the trend now?

After yesterdays race ending in disaster for my bike on my home turf along with me having to DNF there was redemption needed in a big way. I almost needed the podium more for myself and my own sanity to prove I CAN still do this. I haven't raced in all but three (including yesterday's DNF) races since April 30th and one can lose hope during that stretch of time while (in my case) nursing a broken digit that was in a cast.

So while everyone else is racing, hitting it hard, getting intensity in I was dealing with an issue that I have never dealt with before. You play a guessing game during that time trying to let the body heal appropriately, solidly and in a timely fashion while still trying to stress the body SOME in training in order to be even CLOSE to what you had before fitness wise. Then throw in that I was soooooo sick for a week at the start of May which really set me back even more.

It was a rough go of it during that time but all signs started pointing in the right direction in June at my first race with the Teva Mountain Games (although I still didn't know where I was fitness wise since I flatted) and the High Uinta's Stage Classic Road Race where I won the Queen of the Mountain sprint and then yesterday when I was sitting in 6th and feeling awesome.

That is all I had to go on coming into today's race and my confidence was trying to come through but there were doubts too. I mean, I haven't done all but a few high intensity workouts either since the thumb incident so who knows what this purely high intensity race was going to do to me today. I had to have trust and faith that I had been training just right for 8 weeks on my own.....

So I focused. I focused on yesterday: what I accomplished, how good I felt, how great I was about ready to do before launching in to the trees, etc. And, I put all the doubts and any lack of confidence in a box and set it aside.

That was tough to do too because I was still dealing with an achey kankle from Thursdays incident and a very weak thumb which both served as a wicked reminder of what I had been through. But those two issues were going to be NOTHING compared to the pain I was going to have to endure to get on the podium today.

Plus, I had a goal that I was going to make today come hell or high water. This weekend was not going down without getting metal around my neck. Plus I needed to keep the streak alive of getting on the podium at every major race this year! And my 78 year old mom was here as well to watch and giving her a show is always nice even though she would support me just as much if I came in dead last.

So, yeah.....start in 14th position and move your way up to Top 5; that's my goal -no problem. Yeah right!!! Do you know how dang hard it is to that in a freakin' Short Track which is 20-25 minutes long with very few places to pass? Yet it was still my goal and I didn't care how difficult it was gonna be because the one thing about Short Track is that you are going to suffer no matter what so why no put the icing on the cake and just up that intensity a bit more to get what you want. I was certainly determined and dead set on what I wanted to achieve. No doubt about it!

See any suffering on my face here during the STXC race? Oh yes you certainly do!!

I started the race with my trusty Cannondale Scalpel which is my other full suspension bike.

Once the race started I was far back in the field by the time we hit the first corner or two. I had to take outside lines, make sure I didn't slip or slide out and had to pick my way through and around everyone carefully monitoring my effort. Did I say carefully monitoring my effort? Ha! Yeah right....I just went for it because time was of the essence and I couldn't be dinking around. I sat on wheels, would rest for 4 seconds and then split on the next uphill getting a gap behind me to move up the field. I was able to take advantage of some girls that went hard way to early and "blew up" which isn't a great way to gain a spot but sadly that is racing and if I recall.......yesterdays XC was a bit to everyones advantage after I DNF'd.

So that is how the whole race went down up until I got into a battle for 5th with another young buck from Utah who is killing it this year. Heather Holmes and I were both going for it but with 3 laps to go I charged. I was ready and I knew it was early (to go) but I wanted more. I knew I could secure 5th by doing that, I knew I could hold the effort and 4th was looking fine too.

In the end my efforts got me fifth and got me closer to fourth which was alright with me because I had met my goal! I was ecstatic that I had set my mind to what I wanted to achieve and then went and achieved it!

After that effort I just put in I am going to drink whatever I please and that champagne was looking pretty good!!!

Some fans were there to cheer me on and get autographs from us crazy Pros too.

A good day. A good life. Kathy is back in the biz.....thank heavens...

Read more stuff on the races this weekend here and here.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

NMBS #4 XC - Deer Valley, UT

"Sticks and stones may break my bike but
namely they didn't hurt me!" Thank heavens.

That was real scary stuff that happened to me today. Real scary.

How it went down:

Pro Women lined up for the start of the Cross Country race.

The Pro Women head up the hellacious Little Stick Hill Climb immediately following the start of the race.

Another shot of the Pro Women heading up the first climb from

By the time we got to the top of Little Stick I had gone from 5th to 10th. I wasn't worried but I was absolutely positively suffering suffering suffering. I was pushing SO hard beyond what I ever thought possible up to that point...and was still only in 10th if that gives you any indication of just how wicked strong and fast this entire women's field is. Holy Toledo. Once at the top of that climb I actually thought to myself, I can't do this and that it hurts so much I won't last two hours at this pace. Bad thing to think but my god, I was in PAIN and ready to vomit.

That first climb is everything and everyone knows it so its like a Short Track race to the top because it is there that the race course turns into very none passable singletrack. And, it didn't help that I couldn't have a higher cadence during the steepest part of the Little Stick climb in my 2 x 9 which I knew was going to be a problem on this lap. I am not so good when I can't spin, meaning that when I don't have a higher cadence, I am on the verge of blowing a lot easier. Luckily the plan was to send us up the switchbacks on the 2nd and 3rd laps instead of sending us straight up to the top of Little Stick like we had to do on the 1st lap. So my plan was to suffer a bit on the first lap and then enjoy the luxury of a sweet light 2 x 9 Carbon Taurine Hardtail on the 2nd and 3rd.

Photo courtesy of Lyna and Bob Saffel

After getting over the "I am going to barf right here right now feeling", I chomped my way through the field and got into 6th place very comfortably by the middle of the 2nd lap. I was feeling good, knew I was still gaining on the field in front of me, felt no pressure, was descending smooth and fast around some non technical GS turns right before Mitts house and then WHAM - I was suddenly careening into the sage brush, trees and whippers off trail.

I remember thinking as I was being launched through the woods like a torpedo "what happened, what is going on (and most importantly) when am I going to STOP." The launch lasted forever. Envision a broom being brushed back and forth across your face at a high rate of speed and that was me with my eyes open during the crash peering out my sunglasses. I just saw sticks and more sticks as I finally came to a halt. I still had no clue what hit me or what I hit but when I finally came to a stop I emerged from the brush like a creature from the night, picked up my bike and (oh no!) the stem was jacked 45 degrees, the right hand shifters were pointed straight up and the derailleur was off by many inches. Ok ok, no problem I think quickly to myself. This has all happened to me at one point or another in my career (not all at ONCE though) and I knew I could handle the situation. I put the stem back to the front of the bike, pushed the derailleur back to where it needed to be, and placed the shifters back in their respective spots. Ok, ready to ride! Or NOT. My chain was figure eighted or in some weird shape and I could not pedal more than half a turn. I get that straightened around and think ok fixed! Yeah right. I jumped on and I still couldn't get all but a half a turn in. Then sometimes it would actually let me turn it over for a brief moment or two just to mess with me and then it would suddenly come to a jolting stop. This wasn't looking good at all now as the last of the Pro Women's field made it around me as I kept dinking with my bike.

I started thinking to myself that I may have to DNF!! Oh my goodness..... D-N-F. That is something that I haven't had to do all but 2 times in my career of 260 plus races. I really didn't want to face that especially on my home turf at Deer Valley. Seriously. Really? Was I really going to have to do that today? Yep. I think I was really going to have to do that today. But just in case I didn't have to and just to make sure, I got around and off of the mountain by running/walking the flats and riding the descents and went through the start/finish area up to the tech zone just to see if anything could be done. Anything. Nope, there was too much damage to the bike; I had to DNF.

So, I stopped, got my recovery drink and called it a day. Probably one of the hardest things I have had to do in a while especially considering how I was feeling and where I was in the pack. Bum - Er. But at least I have sweet brows.

I had Dr. Eric, our trusty team mechanic, take a look at the damage. Is it broken I ask? Uh, could say that, he said. I broke 2 out of 3 most expensive parts of my beautiful Taurine. The cranks/chainrings and the frame (the front shock was fine). Did I mention bummer?

Chainrings with a crack in the center. thinking what I am thinking???? That could have been MY LEG!!!!!!

Dead crankarm:

And the chainstay on the frame had plenty of layers of carbon missing meaning el bike-oh gets to go in the el trash - oh. Not kidding oh. It is now offically garbage.

What happened to me and my own body parts? Lets just say that I am one lucky ducky. I only have what I like to call "cat scratches" all over my left leg and face and even in my scalp. Maybe only 20 of them or so. Unbelievable really. They weren't even close to deep and really not too big either. And I am not really sore or bruised or anything. I feel fine. Just can't remember my name or where I live. Kidding.

What caused the crash? I really absolutely positively do not stinking know.

As for the frame and all, the best bike company ever, Cannondale, is over nighting a new one to me. Now that is what I call team support!!

Friday, June 27, 2008

DV Races

I just wanted to remind those of you that are in the Salt Lake City/ Deer Valley area that Chris and I will be racing this weekend at the NMBS races at Deer Valley Resort tomorrow and Sunday. If you are around this weekend we would love to have you out there cheering as support like that does wonders for a race!!! Call ups to the line are generally 15 minutes before the start time.

Here is the scoop:
Saturday, June 28th
Cross Country Pro Women
Snow Park Lodge start
about 2 hours long

Sunday, June 29th
Short Track Pro Women
Snow Park Lodge start
about 30 minutes long

Sunday, June 29th
Men's Expert Open Super D
Women's Pro Super D
All categories start at or around 3:45pm
Top of Bald Eagle race start
about 10 minutes of racing

Hope to see you all out there if you can make it. And for those also racing this weekend - GOOD LUCK AND GO GET EM'!!

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Not a Good Day on the Bike

The day actually had promise at first as Chris and I got ready to pre-ride the Deer Valley course.

But then on one of the fastest downhill sections on the race course, I came whipping around a BLIND corner and to my surprise there were two riders coming uphill at me! I slammed the brakes on and skidded for 20 or 30 feet at least on the loose dirt. Since they kept pedaling towards me and didn't move over as they yelled at me to slow down (.....can't you see I am TRYING to guys!!!!!!!!!) I didn't have that extra bit of room to slow down and had to (not so) willingly bail into the trees in order not to touch them.

I slammed my bike onto a tree launching my water bottle (figured this out later) and heard a snap in my ankle as my body landed. Immediate pain set in. But I got my act together enough (and the two riders had stopped by now) to tell them politely that they were going to encounter TONS of riders since we are all pre-riding the course right now and I knew there were more people behind me coming. I was genuinely concerned for these 2 riders despite the terrible circumstances and the throbbing in my ankle. And the (not so) lovely gentleman (with a foul mouth I might add) decided to tell me that he "Didn't give a #$%%#" and that he "lived here!!!!!" as though that gave him a right to do whatever he wanted to do I guess. I replied "yeah so do I" (live here).

We parted ways and they continued to go the wrong way on the race course after my fair warning and I continued to ride downhill with my new injury. It is a very weird situation and I think the lesson is to not expect any race course anywhere at anytime to ever ever ever ever be closed off completely even during a race.

For the sake of putting my head into race mode I need to think of this as a mere "tweak" right now and nothing more. It may be more I don't know but I can't let it stop me and it hasn't yet. It actually feels better to ride than walk so that is good.

This picture can only explain my thoughts on my new injury. I am just getting over my thumb and now this. I spent most of the day crying. My ankle is hurt, swollen, occasionally gives me a good zing and clunks and aches like a mother.

Speaking of mother, my spirits were brightened by her visit from WA today. She is here to watch me race this weekend as well as get away from the WA scene a bit. We went to Costco immediately after picking her up from the airport and she road in this thing around there.

Actually, no, it was more like she zipped around in that thing so fast that I couldn't keep track of her!!! No...not kidding. It had me laughing which was good because I really really needed that. I seriously thought she was gonna take someone out though. Man, next time I am giving her some race plates! I think I know where I get it from now.

And a big thanks to the boys at Bingham's Cyclery. Chris, you rule. Today I brought him in a new pair of shoes to set up with about 2 minutes notice and he got it all done up. I could have cried at the drop of a hat while there but instead you all made me laugh. I needed that. Thanks for the smiles guys. It meant more than you know on this very weird day.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Where Have the Sherwins Been?

Chris always making use of his time (while waiting for me of course).....

Monday, June 23, 2008


PCTV studios live broadcasting area:

This week kicks off a lot off stuff for all of us here in Park City with the NMBS race coming up this weekend at Deer Valley Resort. Eric Saletel (Cannondale's trusty team mechanic) and I got to do a LIVE TV spot for Cannondale early this morning.

Here is Eric in room at the studio looking calm, cool and collected.

Check out what we have to say here on live TV:

First go to this link

Once loaded, on the right hand side click on:

Mountain Morning Show
7:00am for Monday, June 23, 2008

Scroll to 1:14:56 using the black key at the bottom of the screen.

It is just over a 7 minute clip.

Saturday, June 21, 2008

High Uinta's Road Race - Kamas, UT

Chris and I left this morning for an 80 mile road race that was starting in Kamas, UT - only 20 minutes from our house! On the way up and over the hill to the race start we drove past a bunch of runners that were participating in this. Little did I know that I was going to be feeling the same way this guy did at mile 50 of my own race.

Heat, dehydration, suffering, 5000 feet of climbing, 3 hours and 50 minutes of racing 8o miles - here I come. And, yes, I am PAYING to do this. This is what I call "Fun!" on a Saturday morning.

The race started at 9:25am which is (finally) no longer "crisp" feeling here in Utah. Shorts and short sleeve jerseys were the clothing of choice today. In years past hypothermia has riddled this race as it hits elevations of about 10,700 which can bring cold, wicked and unexpected weather at any given moment.

Check out the snow still at 10,700:

The race started and during the first 24 miles or so the group of 15-20 Pro Women "warmed up" as the road gradually climbed upward toward Bald Mountain. Once the road pitched up into the sky things got interesting as the field whittled down to very few. I won the "Queen of the Mountain" sprint at the top of Bald Mountain (first one to the top) which was great; and really after doing some of the training climbs in CA, Bald Mountain felt downright easy (a good sign for me I hope!!).

After a quick glance of the beautiful scenery at the top, the descent to the flats began.

As we started descending Tiffany Pezzulo (a road, MTB and Cyclocross racer) and I pulled out all the stops going over 53 miles per hour down the mountain together trying to separate ourselves from the rest of the Pro Women. By the time we hit the flats we had done just that having gotten a 2 minute gap - who needs no stinking brakes! That left us together to "Time Trial" it for 40 miles into the wind as we made our way to Evanston, WY. We wanted to get as much of a gap as possible on the field chasing us and went as hard as we could for the next 1 - 1.5 hours to accomplish that.

And it was this TT part of the race that completely unravelled me. Once we hit mile 50 I was in so much pain and agony and had visions of not finishing as I started feeling sick in my stomach. A combo of heat, elevation, dehydration (despite already downing 3 big bottles of sports drink) and hammering into wind will have that effect on one I guess.

So from mile 50 - 80 it was nothing but a suffer fest which is par for the course but this was an extra special suffering today for me. At mile 50 we had a good 1 or 2 minute gap on the field but that wasn't good enough for us know.....why not just sink yourself completely even though you are probably already going to go 1-2 across the finish line? I mean that makes the most sense right? What is wrong with us racers?!!! Ok anyway, so we wanted to increase the gap even more so we kept at it taking pulls and working together just like teammates (which we were back in the good ole days). And to our delight with every 10 miles or so we would increase the gap to the chase group by about a minute.

What made this whole false flat section so horrendous was not ever knowing the mileage we were at. Neither one of us had computers on our bikes and Wyoming....yes we road to freaking Wyoming today...didn't have ANY mile markers up. So every turn that we made within the barren brown landscape was a false summit....or false "turn" shall we say. It sucked!!!!!!!!!!!!! Every time you thought the pain was going to end... nope, more road. That is what an 80 miler with no indication of when and where it ends will do to your soul. Every mile becomes so long and drawn out that you think you probably just did 5 miles when in fact it was just 1.

So here is where road racing is so dang funny to me....Tiffany and I worked together for 40 plus miles to get away but now we have the finish line sprint coming up. So suddenly you are rivals and want to beat the heck out of each other to cross the line first. Gotta love it! So she beat the heck out of me at the line and won the sprint. Good on her!

Tiffany deserves every bit of that win too. She rocks and has SO much power. She has shown me the way as a roadie over the years taking the time to teach me tactics, telling me where to draft, when to draft, what line to ride, what line to stay off of, who to watch, what to follow, when to go - all that stuff that gives you the edge on any given day in road racing.

This is seriously all stuff I don't even think about because I am just simply not used to thinking about it! I mean, to really simplify things....I follow flags on Cross Country course for a living. Oh yeah, then add in the fact that in an XC race there is one pace - go like hell - which also makes things very straight forward. So, no, I am not used to thinking about this stuff and she has gotten me through it all throughout the years with her vast knowledge and experience. I am so happy for her and we will all be expecting huge things from her as she is putting the pieces together. Watch out because here she comes!

Tiffany and Chris on the way back to Kamas.

So yeah, it was a great day but I was having big issues when it was all said and done. After I crossed the line in second, the Port o Jon was the first stop as my system had completely rebelled. Being in there for 10 minutes ready to barf was horrible too. Like sitting in a greenhouse or sauna when you already feel like hell. That wasn't cool (in more ways that one) and I thought I wasn't gonna make it at that point. Food didn't sound good, water didn't sound good, I felt sick and I was sick!! Why do we racers do this to ourselves and know its happening and then keep pushing through? Duh no but then again maybe it has more to do with the "Duh" part. But in a way I think its my body's way of clearing the pipes that haven't seen true race pace effort all but 2 times since I broke my thumb.

Aside from winning the Queen of the Mountain sprint, my own victory today came in the form of conquering my fear. My fear was road racing because - I have to be honest here - that mishap in April really threw me (in more ways than one AGAIN!) and I was scared of it after that. Down right scared of the road and racing in a group. It was meant to be that I got back on the road bike so soon too because I had to race this weekend and this was the ONLY race close by. If I had had it my way I would have done an mtb race this weekend and put the road bike aside to collect dust for a long time. But since this race was so close to my house I thought I just had to do it because if I didn't now, I never would.

I could have run from the fear and gone to ID or CO to race MTB this weekend (which I thought seriously about doing) but I thought that wouldn't be good for me in the long run. I need to nip these feelings in the bud!!! And despite all the voices gnawing at me these last few weeks (saying "what in the heck are you thinking!"), I signed up for the race, went, raced and conquered my fear - which I have no more of now!

Deer Valley NMBS race is next up this coming weekend!!!!

Friday, June 20, 2008

Heber Traffic

From taken at the Harlem Classic:

Yep, when I saw this picture, the guy in blue completely reminded me of my experience on April 30th when that girl kissed pavement right in front of me. That was pretty much how it went down that day with no way out. Dang. And here I am now with (only) a healing broken thumb. I was lucky.

Another road race for me tomorrow. Gotta jump back in now or I never will.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Riding Deer Valley

Chris and I got a ride in at Deer Valley today.

The trails are nice and dry and are even trying to get dusty too (it's about time!).

That was all fun and games until I lost a brake bolt. I heard a clink then all of the sudden my rear brake was making weird noises. I finally figured out why when I actually took the time to look back 10 minutes later.

I really need to start listening and most importantly reacting to those noises that I know aren't right but I am just too stubborn to stop because heaven forbid I STOP while riding.

Well, I did have to finally stop this time and when I did I looked quickly on the bike for another bolt that I could borrow to fix that rear brake but the only one I could find were the ones from the front break.....hmmm that puts me in the same dilemma .....better not do that.....

So that put me at the top of the mountain, with one dang brake, the front one, and a weak left hand to handle that. Lovely. Natural selection at its finest but I managed to get down the mountain to hit up Todd Daines in the Deer Valley Rental Shop for some pieces.

He was happy to take on the challenge and got my bike dialed right away with ease. I worked with Todd for 10 years as a manager (in different depts) at DV and rarely see him anymore since I quit my fulltime position there. But we picked up right where we left off in good Deer Valley friendly fashion. Plus we got the bike bug in common and can talk forever about that!

All's well that ends well!

Monday, June 16, 2008

Groundhog Day

So this really weird thing keeps happening to me every time I ride one of my routes through Heber. No matter what day it is (even Sunday!), what time it is, what the weather is or whatever....when I ride past this particular home that is on my route the lady that lives there is either getting the mail, walking to the mailbox or walking away from it after having gotten the mail. So weird and no I am not messing around. She has got to be wondering what the deal is because she sees me ride by every time she has mail in her hand too. How bizarre!

Ran into Naked Man today and he wasn't naked. In fact, he was driving and stopped so we chatted - he was headed home from his job. He is a Midway, UT resident now. We'll take more cyclist friendly drivers in our little peaceful valley of Heber any day!

Oh and a first happened to me today too. I was riding along and my seat bag (still attached to the seat post) dropped right down onto my rear tire and tried to suck itself through meanwhile causing me, the rider, to wonder why it was so hard to pedal all the sudden. Gheesh. What a dumb way to have an accident - luckily I didn't.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

This and That

I got in another nice and windy ride today. It was really nice out though so I didn't mind the wind. Plus, just to be home and settled for a little bit is such a nice thing right now!

Had a picture sent to me rolling back through the field after my flat at the Teva Games:

Oh, and my beloved pillow that I left in Vail came back to me in the mail today if you can believe it. Geez. I finally left something behind after all these years of traveling and never losing anything. Well, I take that back, I still have some Michelin AT's that are MIA. Think they are in Boston or Quebec somewhere. But not a bad history for me losing things really considering how much I am on the road.

And, I just learned from my mom who serves as my news source now and again that the tomato salmonella outbreak started happening in the New Mexico area while I was there at the Tour of the Gila Race. Maybe that explains the mysterious illness (that matches up with the symptoms of Salmonella perfectly) that I had for a week right after I got back from there. I was calling it "food poisoning" at the time but now??? Hmmm?? Eyebrow raiser for sure since I eat tomatoes daily.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Fruita, CO

Today we left Vail, CO and headed towards home. But first we had to stop off in Fruita of course for some incredible riding!

I got some pix of Vail before we left. This is the river that runs right through the center of it and all its shops.

I have to say that Vail is a whack a dilly place in that you have this no more than 1/2 mile space between the highway and the mountain and it is built on in such a way that you cannot for the life of you figure out where the heck you are or where the heck you are trying to go. Getting lost in there is easy for even those that are good with directions!

Vail under construction....where are they adding things in this already very Euro feeling town? On top of everything else of course!

Then it was off to Fruita, CO to ride. The drive there was awesome. So green!

No matter how much I am exposed to beautiful areas for races, the wonderful world of beauty never ceases to amaze me.

Once riding this is a view of the river. See the singletrack in the distance? Heck ya!

And some cool rocks:

I am a die hard fan of rocks. They are sooo neat.

And what is this? A nice BLUE sky. FINALLY!

A lovely self portrait:

Someone pinch me!!