IWSG-February 2019



In July 2018,  I  joined IWSG, the Insecure Writers Support Group.

Assisting writers with overcoming their writing fears, struggles, doubts, and concerns, Alex J. Cavanaugh started IWSG in September 2011. The Insecure Writers Support Group is all about writers helping other writers build confidence, through encouragement, and community support. 

The first Wednesday of each month IWSG posts an optional question to its members.  Each month’s question has several amazing co-hosts.  February 2019’s co-hosts are Raimey Gallant, Natalie Aguirre, CV Grehan, and Michelle Wallace. Feel free to drop by their blogs and see what they are up to. 

February’s Question of the Month: Besides writing what other creative outlets do you have? 

This is a difficult question to answer. The short answer is, I have no other creative outlets, at this time. Life in general keeps me very busy, I’m enjoying living it as creatively as possible. As an example, I spent the past couple of weeks thinking of creative ways to potty train my 3-year old grandson. We both did an excellent job.

Memoir Progress

A Quick Review- Sixteen years ago, at age 50, I decided I wanted to train for the 24 Hours of Adrenalin mountain biking race. After finding a trainer, and four other riders, ages 15 to 27, our all-female team of novice mountain bikers embarked on an amazing journey.  My memoir is the story of what it took to get us to the race, self-discovery, inspiration, lasting friendships, teamwork, and letting go.

Progress: The past month I’ve been working on character development. Besides the human factor (my teammates and our trainer), the trails we trained on, and the event course we raced, became major players in our endeavor. Each training session had very distinct qualities and characteristics. They were our “antagonistic force.” Weather concerns, mechanical issues, (flat tires, broken chains) and injuries also had a hand in our success or failure.

I learned it was easier to illustrate the terrain we rode on than to portray a teammate. I want to capture the essence of each person, but feel limited by the possibility of revealing too much of their personal history. While our past experiences mold us into who we’ve become at any stage in our lives, it’s difficult trying to figure out what parts of their personal history are important to the memoir and what should remain sacred. I’m still working on this.

The following is  an excerpt of a training ride Sarah and I took one afternoon.

Hurl Hill

It was early spring; the wildflowers had just begun to pop on the rolling hillsides along Hwy 68 between Salinas and Monterey. I’d only been riding the trails at what is now Fort Ord National Monument since fall of the previous year and was looking forward to riding through masses of golden California Poppies and blue Lupins.

The 24 Hours of Adrenalin group had provided a map of the 10-mile race course. I thought it would be a good idea to train on the trails we’d be racing on. A strong wind had been blowing all day, but Sarah and I decided to ride anyway. I had been training for the 2003 Tierra Bella Bicycle Tour, a 63-mile road ride through the countryside near South San Jose, and was supposed to be doing easy recovery type rides. Riding into a strong wind was not on my training plan. With our bikes anchored to the top of Sarah’s Honda station wagon, we drove to Laguna Seca Raceway and parked near the trailhead. Sarah lifted our bikes off the rack, while I grabbed my helmet, water, and a light jacket.

Pedaling out Trail 47 we dropped gently into Couch Canyon. The surrounding terrain lulled me into a false sense of security. The wind subsided, and a plush carpet of native grasses blanketed the hillsides.  ‘This is okay, not too hard,’ I thought.

Biking out of the gulley the steep hill that Bill, our trainer, had told us about came into view. Appropriately named, for those who had truly “lost their lunch” after the excruciating ride up, Hurl Hill loomed before us.  From a distance, it didn’t look too bad. ‘I can climb that hill. What’s all the fuss about?’ I thought.

Increasing our speed as we approached, Sarah and I attacked the hill.  Shifting into lower gears as the grade increased, I stood and pedaled faster.  Nearing the top, years of rainwater run-off had worn deep ruts down the center of the path. Dropping into my lowest gear, I veered to the right side of the trail; Sarah followed. Sweat dripping, quads burning, heart rate off the charts, and unable to get traction in the loose sand, I stepped off my bike. Sarah hot on my tail swung out beside me and stopped. We ended up pushing our bikes up the remainder of the incline.

Hurl Hill

Hurl Hill–from the top

Map Hurl Hill

Map of Trail 47/48. The Juan Bautista De Anza Trail insignia marks the top of Hurl Hill

14 thoughts on “IWSG-February 2019

  1. Wow Laura, an ambitious climb…Hurl Hill does seem appropriate! I’m in awe of just the attempt – nothing in my wheelhouse to compare.
    I also wanted to comment on the “what other creative outlets do you have.” I feel like creativity comes in many forms, including the creative potty training, LOL! But I have also been searching for an artistic, tangible craft other than writing to which I can turn to relax and enjoy. Long ago my mother taught me to knit; I think I want to rediscover that craft as a way to be creative and also honor that connection to her.


    • Hello Nancy

      You’re right, creativity comes in many forms. I do enjoy photography, but don’t really see it as an creative outlet. I take most of the photos you’ll see in my blogs. Hopefully, a photo class will be in my future. I’ve found my blog takes a lot of my creative time and energy.

      Knitting is a great craft. The word “knitting” conjures up pictures of sweaters, warm hats and mittens. Warm and fuzzy.



  2. You’re making good progress with your memoir, Laura. I find it hard what to leave in and what to cut, whether it has to do with events, scenery, or people. Maybe you can pick the group that is most important to the story – your story – and flesh those characters out a bit by talking to them and asking them relevant questions?

    Good point about photography being a creative outlet. I forgot all about that when answering this month’s IWSG question. Then again, I usually just point and shoot to capture memories of the things we see and do. Nothing creative about that. Although, my photos have been published in magazines to go with my articles. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • HI Liesbet

      Good to hear from you. I know you are so busy. I’m getting ready to contact the important players, but for some reason I’m a bit nervous about it. I like your idea about asking them relevant questions. I’ll take a lesson I learned from you and write a list.

      I with you on the point and shoot photography, generally with my cell phone because I find hugging my camera around is a pain

      Good luck with your proposal


    • Hello Elizabeth

      Yes, real people characters are a struggle. Even the physical aspects can be touch and go. Often, we see our friends and family in a different light than they see themselves.

      Thank you for your support.


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