Friday, April 27, 2012

Teen Kayaker Galen Volckhausen

Galen Volckhausen

Cheribundi Ambassador

By Janine Frank

Your average 17-year-old spends most of his free time hanging out with friends, obsessing about his love life, and begging mom and dad for keys to the car.

Galen Volckhausen is not your average 17-year-old. Sure, he's into the usual teenager stuff, but he's also a world-class whitewater kayaker. Instead of exploring his newfound young adult freedoms behind the wheel of a car, Galen spends his days in the cockpit of a much smaller vehicle, navigating his way down the world's mightiest rivers.

Galen, nicknamed The Big Water Bandit, has always heard the call of the river. He grew up in Ithaca, New York, but will tell you that his hometown is wherever the good water is. He began kayaking at age 3 and kept at it purely because of his enjoyment of the sport and for the challenges it presents.

He now attends a kayaking high school called New River Academy that takes him to far-flung destinations for training. This year they've traveled to Canada, Chile and much of the southeastern U.S. Galen does his studies in the morning and spends his afternoons on the water.

Fitness is important to Galen to help him achieve his goal of becoming a world champion. In addition to kayaking, Galen keeps fit by running, “creeking” and practicing yoga. Creeking is a form of whitewater training that involves paddling down steep creeks and waterfalls. But it requires hiking up to the top first with a 50 lb. boat on your back. Some days, Galen will do five or more miles of this type of hiking. Afterward, he uses yoga to realign his body and stretch sore muscles.

Maintaining this level of activity is challenging and can only happen by feeding the body properly. Galen says he starts every day with a bottle of Cheribundi. He says the tart cherry juice gives him an energy boost that helps power him through his daily activities. Even though he admits that kayaking will leave his body battered and sore at the end of a long day, he says Cheribundi helps minimize his soreness and shortens his recovery time.

Galen's immediate plans are to spend the summer in the Northwestern U.S. competing in a couple of races and then heading up to the Ottawa River in Canada where he will work as a video boater, videotaping rafting trips. During that time, he will also be training for the World Cup that takes place this fall in the Southeastern U.S.

Galen keeps a positive attitude throughout all the challenges and stresses of his atypical teenage lifestyle by realizing that even when you're living the “dream life” there will still be bad days. He says that as long as he's grateful for everything that comes his way, he will stay happy.

Cheribundi wishes Galen well in all his adventures this summer and beyond. Keep sipping and keep paddling!

Janine Frank lives in Lafayette, Colorado with her husband, two sons and golden retriever. She writes about fitness, natural products and the great outdoors.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Guest Blog—Picture Rock: Scenes from Life in a Colorado Mountain Town

Picture Rock: Installment Three


By EZ Ryyder

It’s going to be a long, hot day in the saddle.  My water bottles are filled, my tires are pumped up to 120 psi and my chain is freshly lubed.  I’m drinking a mixture of whey protein and tart cherry juice waiting for the group to gather at the market. 

It’s only 9 o’clock but the sun feels warm on my face.  The breeze is light and blowing out of the southwest under a big, blue Colorado sky.  The snow is still heavy on the divide and it captures most of my attention.  I’m looking for cloud plumes coming off the ridge, an indication of wind up high, but don’t see any. The first green shoots are emerging from under winter’s dead grass and before long, the straw colored carpeting will all be green.

I’m pretty content sipping my juice and waiting.  

Jeff comes roaring in from the south pulling a freight train of a peloton. Two by two, the riders peel off the shoulder, into the parking lot and dismount.  A few push their bikes over to the rack and disappear into the market while a few more just stop and lean across their top tubes.  After topping off water bottles and snacking on protein bars, we point our bikes towards the canyon and start pedaling. 

We’re flying along on Main Street as we pass Redstone Coffee.  There are more bikes out front and riders drinking espresso under umbrellas from the sidewalk tables.  We nod as we zing by. 

Six miles into the ride we enter the mouth of the canyon.  The river cascades down from the divide between sandstone cliffs the entire length of the canyon.  But we’re still at the bottom and as we begin the climb, we’re all in our big rings and chatting easily.  Passing Nelson Ranch on the right, we see a small herd of mule deer grazing on the hillside.  I always expect to see a mountain lion crouching in the bushes, stalking the deer but never do. 

As we sweep around a long, arcing, left hand turn the gradient increases and we rise out of our saddles as we power over the top only to drop back onto our saddles as the hill drops away below our skinny tires.  The pavement is buttery smooth and we pick up speed and coast down to where the canyon narrows.  That’s the last downhill.  The next 12 miles are all uphill to 9,200 feet.

Pretty soon Jeff drops the hammer and it’s on.  A gap opens up and we all pick up the cadence so we don’t get dropped.  It’s getting harder to talk and ride so the conversation tails off and is replaced with the whir of the chain and the chunky clunk of shifts from one gear to another.  No squeaky chains in this group. The smell of pine and new growth fills the air and the sound of rushing water fills our ears.

Damn that gap! I’m falling off the wheel so I pedal harder and faster.  My breathing and heart rate quicken and sweat starts to form on my forehead.  I wipe the perspiration with the soft part of my glove and try to will my bike back onto the wheel that is now about 10 feet in front of me.  Alberto Contador seems to dance lightly in his clips when climbing.  I can’t say that’s what I’m doing but I am out of the saddle and stomping on the pedals.  Within a couple of seconds I’m back on the wheel but Pete and Joey fly by me on the left. 

The walls of the canyon are closing in as the incline steepens.  On the left, raging whitewater careens over boulders in foamy chaos.  Ponderosa pine scent mixes with wildflowers growing by the side of the road.  We haven’t been passed by a car going either direction in the past 30 minutes so we are startled to hear the high rev whine of a pack of street bikes coming up quickly behind us.  As they rocket by, the piercing sound of their exhaust bounces off the rock face in the Big Narrows. And then they are gone around the next bend and I hear my own rhythmic breath going in and out.

I’m drifting to the back as we near the top and turn south on the Peak to Peak.  It’s flat for several tenths of a mile but then we hit our first downhill.  I shift into my big ring, tap-tap-tap-tap through my gears and ramp up the cadence anticipating the steep decline.  Ten more pedal strokes and I tighten into a tuck.  My hands are in the drops and I lower my back so it’s so flat that you could set a tray of wine glasses up there.  Except they would blow right off. 

The wind is howling in my ears and tears are forming in my eyes.  I blink them away and steer around Joey to the left and slide into Pete’s draft.  He is pedaling at a good clip and I’m coasting but I’m catching him.  Rather than brake, I sit up a little and that slows me enough that I can follow effortlessly. 

I zoom along like this until I feel guilty and then rise to my feet and blast by Pete as if I were shot out of a cannon.  I’m going just over 50 MPH and I see Jeff up ahead of me but I won’t catch him before the next hill.  And what a hill it is. 

At the base of the last climb, I settle into a steady rhythm and pace myself so I don’t blow up.  If I tried to catch Jeff, I would bonk for sure.  We are now 40 miles into the ride and The Wall is right in front of us.  The Wall is a section of the road that is almost a mile long with a 12% grade.  The fact that you hit it at 9,600 feet above sea level only makes it worse. 

Pete and Joey pass me for the second time and our whole group is getting stretched out and shattered by the climb. Four more riders slip by before we reach the summit.  There are six riders still in pursuit but they won't catch us.

We are just above tree line and 12,000-14,000 foot peaks stand sentry to the west. There is a bit of a Chinook crosswind pushing us from the side but it won’t be there long. 

Our reward is a 16-mile descent back into Picture Rock.  It is literally downhill all the way to the brewery.  The road is smooth, curvy and we are flying, swooping and charging our way back to town. 

I pass the four riders and only Jeff, Joey and Pete remain in front. Tradition dictates that the first one to the brewery eats and drinks for free.  The next two riders get free beer.  The rest pick up the tab. 

Jeff won’t be paying for food and if I can catch either Pete or Joey, that cold one at the end will be that much more satisfying.

© EZ Ryyder 2012

EZ Ryyder spends his time a little bit farther down the road.  Past the city limits.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Guest Blog—The Gift of Knowing Yourself

Being Present—It’s All GOOD

By Lori Flynn

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” ~Anais Nin
I teach yoga. As a yoga teacher, it is my passion to guide people into the present moment, help them watch their thoughts and start to feel and sense rather than spend so much time “thinking.”

The meditation and movement work we do in a 75-minute class, over time, begins to find its way into the lives of students in the world outside of the yoga studio. It is through this work that we begin to notice the “ruts” our thoughts create in our lives and the automatic responses that follow certain triggers.

At first, this can be frightening for people. Many people approach yoga as a strictly physical practice. When I lead a meditation at the beginning of class I can almost hear the mind chatter of students. Once it begins to die down, there is a calmness that takes over the room—followed quickly by a panic of sorts: eyes suddenly opening, nervous glancing around the room, hair fixing and outfit manipulations.

After a few classes, though, a new student begins to settle quickly into the meditation and remains calm for the 8-10 minute period of stillness. Week after week, students return, their small talk at the beginning of class evolving from “Hi. How are you? I am fine,” to “I’ve had some major shifts in my life in the way that I’ve been dealing with stress at my job.”

When we start any practice centered around the concept of watching the mind, a new world opens to us. We first are met with the concept of what is commonly referred to as the “witness consciousness.”

As soon as we notice we are “watching our thoughts,” we are faced with the question of WHO is watching. Am I not my thoughts? If not, what ARE these things?

It is our minds’ duties to create stories and assist us in making sense of the world. Once we start to tune in to that process, the new territory can be both thrilling and scary. We are creatures of habit and can be extremely attached to our coping mechanisms, crutches, addictions and behaviors. Without taking the time to sit with ourselves for even a few minutes a day, these deep ruts can actually nurture behaviors that are no longer serving us. This is what drives us crazy.

When we learn to be present with our thoughts, we can start to look at the way we integrate experience into our lives. If we are not seeing the results that make us feel safe, secure and valued, we can pinpoint a reaction to our thought stream that is no longer serving us.

Then, we can start to experiment with new ways of “being” in our own lives. The good news is that because what we’ve been doing up until now isn’t working for us anymore, we get to try any number of approaches that just might. The ‘not so good at first’ news is that it is scary. Changing life-long habits requires stepping out of a comfort zone.  But think about it—is it really that comfy if we’re seeking a way out? Probably not.

We live in a busy world of reactive decision-making. Remember to take time for yourself throughout the day to simply take a deep breath and stop for a minute. You really don’t need any formal guidance to simply sit, tune in to your own thoughts and bring yourself into the present moment.

If you want to explore and go deeper, then certainly shop around for a teacher and practice that resonates with you. Either way, giving yourself the gift of knowing yourself and integrating daily experience into your personal evolutionary path is one of the best things you can do for your physical, emotional and spiritual health.

Have fun!

Lori is a musician, yoga teacher and gypsy currently residing in Lyons, CO. Visit her on Facebook or at

Monday, April 16, 2012

Guest Blog—My current recipe for exercise success:

Variation and Rewards

By Bobby McCullough

It was a little over a year ago that I decided to get proactive about my health and integrate exercise into my daily life. As someone who was aiming to be mentally healthier, I recognized that improving my physical health would be a crucial part of the solution.
With all the traveling that I do, I initially had concerns about whether I would be able to maintain any kind of exercise schedule.  As it turns out, I found that the inconsistencies in my whereabouts and schedule could actually help keep things interesting!  

First and foremost, I have had some of the most amazingly scenic runs while on the road: on the trails of Redwood National Forest, in the mountains of Colorado and through the urban landscapes of cities like San Francisco and Seattle.  

When I toured last summer, I also used running as a way to explore the small towns that we tour through.  I would wake up early on Saturdays to shop at the local farmers markets or I would find some interesting local stores I wanted to visit and base my run around them.  I also get to visit so many different gyms and yoga studios, the change of atmosphere is something I now look forward to.  

On this past tour with Benyaro, I went to about 15-20 different yoga studios, took a variety of types of classes and practiced with all kinds of people.  With all these variables, exercising on the road becomes more fun and interesting.  Also, between meeting people after the band’s performances and meeting people the next day at markets, stores and yoga classes, I feel like I haven’t just seen a town but have been able to get small sense of the community there.

The other focus that has kept me going for the last year is creating rewards for myself.  The first thing I focused on was how great it felt after exercising in the morning and feeling like I had earned my breakfast.  

When I first started, my goal was just to “do something” before breakfast—simple.  Whether it was a short jog, some weightlifting or a yoga class, I would find something to do before I ate breakfast.  

I love feeling like I have earned my food that day and also enjoy the feeling of actually being hungry, not just eating out of habit. Also, if I exercise at some point during the day, I feel like I can go out and not have to be as cautious about how much I eat or if I have too much dessert, because I have earned it.  I’ve found that it’s amazing how much you can eat when you exercise regularly!  

Focusing on rewarding myself enjoying the rewards that naturally come from exercising are what fuel my motivation to keep moving.

Bobby McCullough is a touring musician living in NYC, who has recently refocused much of his energy on healthy and happy living.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Guest Blog—Picture Rock: Scenes from Life in a Colorado Mountain Town

Picture Rock, Installment Two


By EZ Ryyder

Climbing up the worn wooden stairs, we’re surrounded by promo photos of musicians from the days when bands had press kits.  I smile at Katy, and the Prophet just nods as we stroll through the front reception area.  I slip the mandolin case off my shoulder and stash it behind the Elvis statue. The Prophet hangs on to his banjo case.

The restaurant is packed with mountain bikers, kayakers, local families, tourists, climbers and an assortment of people that just can't be classified.  The wait staff is bustling around, explaining the beer selections, taking orders and carrying trays with a mixture of plates and glasses.  There doesn't seem to be an open seat and there is no hint of what's to come. 

We wander into the other room, sort of an upstairs bar with “seat yourself” tables in the center of the room, high tops along the walls and windows that look out on the hills and redstone cliffs.  There is a wrap around porch outside with more tables through the heavy glass door.  There are a couple of seats at the bar and we slide in and stake our claim.  Annie’s blue-green eyes sparkle our way from under her curly brown hair while she fills two pints and talks to an older gentleman with a fishing cap and a scraggly beard, and before you know it, she asks us what we’ll have.  I order a Devious Ale and the Prophet gets a whiskey and a glass of water.

We wait for the other musicians to show, sip our drinks and talk about how quickly the trails are drying out. 

Kasey and Erik host the weekly bluegrass jam at the brewery.  Most of the time, at least one of them is off touring with a band. Tonight, they are both in town and there is a buzz of anticipation as a few more folks carrying instruments walk into the bar and tuck their instrument cases out of the way.  Or try to.  The cases are always in the way. 

Around eight o’clock, the last guests finish their dinner and as soon as they get up, people start clearing the tables and carrying them out to the porch and stack them on the outside tables.  Next, the chairs are dragged across the wooden floor and arranged in a circle.  The instruments come out and banjos, fiddles, mandolins and guitars somehow get spaced out so there aren’t too many in a row. 

Erik kicks off the jam with a John Hartford tune, “Here I Am In Love Again.”  After the first verse, the solos start snaking their way around the circle.  When it gets to me, I do my best to play crisp notes that project across the room and don’t get lost in the volume of the jam. Then it’s back to the next verse and the solos pick up at the spot in the circle where they left off.

Most of the pickers are quite competent.  Some are spectacular. 

After the song finishes, the next person in the circle selects the next song and around it goes.  By now, there are 15 people in the main circle and there is barely room to stand in the bar.  Soon, additional circles begin to split off in other parts of the building and as the evening rolls along, the real pros start to show up. 

There is a jam circle in the front lobby, two in the main dining room and one on the back porch.  That’s not counting the main jam that got things going.  The place is mobbed.  The Tuesday night ride from the Cyclery has occupied the large, Viking-length table in the back—which seems fitting as this group has been pillaging the most technical terrain above town for the past few hours wearing headlamps. 

Clusters of people fill the open space between the jams.  It’s hard to tell the musicians from the fans or the random folk that stumbled into something real and alive, ebbing and flowing with notes flying through the air and bouncing off the walls.

I wander into the other room to check out another circle and see the Prophet tearing it up with Kasey, Joseph, Topher and some fiddle player that I’ve never met.  Kasey is singing “I’ve Endured” and it strikes me that this is probably one of the most enduring jams anywhere. 

As on most Tuesdays, I feel lucky to be here.

Next: Installment Three, Spin

© EZ Ryyder 2012

EZ Ryyder spends his time a little bit farther down the road.  Past the city limits.

Monday, April 2, 2012

Guest Blog—Goodbye West, Hello Bagels

By Bobby McCullough

It feels great to be back home in New York City after being on tour since mid-January.  I had been touring with the band Benyaro, traveling through 10 states, performing 47 times in about 60 days.  

Although I did not miss the loud horns and sirens, the crowded subways or the lack of interaction between people in public, I do enjoy not having to unpack my things every night only to pack them up again in the morning.  Now in the same place for a while, I’ve been able to spend the last week recharging, seeing friends and stuffing my face with bagels.

The tour started mid-January in Utah, where we performed at the Sundance Film Festival and saw people like Andy Samberg (SNL) and Aziz Ansari (Parks and Recreation).  The second day at the festival was our first encounter with heavy snowfall, which we would end up dealing with again the second half of the trip.  

Next we went through California, starting with San Francisco and working our way north through the beautiful wine country, playing some good concerts accompanied by good weather.  From there we moved north through the coasts of Oregon and Washington where I saw some breathtaking shorelines and one amazing sunset.

In eastern Washington, we had the pleasure of staying with a local high school football coach in Colfax, and I managed to pull my back out while working out alongside his football team.  We then headed east through Idaho and Montana, playing college towns such as Moscow (University of Idaho) and Bozeman (Montana State University).  This is where our second bout with snowstorms began.  

We left Montana for even more snow in Wyoming where we spent a few days off around the Grand Teton Mountains.  From here we played some more shows in Idaho and Wyoming, at one point dealing with some serious road closures in which roads were closed for days, causing us to have improv some dangerous alternative routes in order to get to our concerts.        

We headed south to do a long string of shows in Colorado, one of my favorite states to both perform in and see.  This year, along with performing in our usual towns such as Denver, Boulder and Fort Collins, we also saw a few new places, such as Lyons and Eagle.  

After Colorado we played a couple of shows in New Mexico and got to stay two nights in a small town called Cerrillos, which used to be a mining town and now is home to only a few hundred people. I went on one of my favorite runs here in the local state park, and explored the gorgeous, mountainous desert landscape. 

We finished the tour in Austin at the SXSW Festival.  I have never been so overwhelmed with great music before.  It was almost stressful trying to decide which acts to see because there were hundreds to chose from.  It was also crazy to be in 80-degree weather when only two weeks earlier I had gone running one morning in Jackson, WY, and it was only 5 degrees.

Keep an eye out for my next blog, as I share more stories from my journey in music and wellness.  

Bobby McCullough is a touring musician living in NYC, who has recently refocused much of his energy on healthy and happy living.