Bike Retreat in the San Juan Islands

Every year, I have the fortunate opportunity to take people from all over the country to play in my home state.  I spend a week biking, hiking, and kayaking all around the San Juan Islands with the most amazing, interesting, and strong women.  It is an annual tradition that reminds me that we are stronger when we lift each other up than when we tear each other down.

This year, I had the added pleasure of having 4 people from my studio join me.  To have people on the trip that our close friends and clients, gave the trip an extra special feeling.  It warmed my heart to see these women out of the gym and in nature, challenging themselves, and allowing themselves to have new experiences.  I believe it takes a lot of guts to head to a destination you have never been, with a group of almost all strangers, and attempt things that are unfamiliar and out of your comfort zone.  I also believe that it is in these spaces and experiences that we grow and surprise ourselves.

To say that this trip is just a biking trip, would not be complete.  Yes, we bike.  We bike everyday, but that is just a catalyst to the magic that actually happens.  If you are a cyclist, you have already experienced the intimacy you feel when you discover a place on two wheels.  On a bicycle, you experience everything.  The change in temperature, the smells, the mist on your face, the sounds of the birds, the sunshine and the shadows.  You see the landscape at a slower pace so that you notice painted mailboxes, a small metal statue, old-growth forests, and in the case of Orcas Island, faces on trees. Riding a bike gives you the feeling of being a kid and the independence to move at your own pace.  This feeling creates the foundation for the retreat, a space that is about your feelings in the present, the amazing qualities of the people that surround you, and the joy that can be found when we remove the daily stressors from our lives.

This year, our group was one of the most humble and strong groups we have ever had.  They were understated and kind.  Helpful and supportive.  Grateful and generous.  It seemed that each woman’s personality and natural character lifted and supported the group as a whole.  One woman mentioned that she was starting to get tired on the hike, so decided to start a conversation with the woman next to her to take her mind off of the work.  That sparked an incredible story about travel and adventure that energized both ladies to make it to the top.  On another day, at the end of a long day, one woman’s energy burst and laughter made the ride home from the ferry feel like a breeze.  There are dozens of these stories from the week.  When we allow ourselves to be true and allow others to be themselves, we lift each other up without even trying.

6 days with these ladies felt like 6 years, and I mean that in the best way. It felt as if we were old friends, like we had accomplished and done so much together (it may be that we do A LOT on these trips), that we knew each other so well that we could make each other laugh with just a look.  Biking around these stunning islands, having conversations about our thoughts not our to-do lists, and playing with the whales, the seals, and all of nature brings you back to a place of joy and opportunity.  Every day feels like a new occasion to celebrate rather than time to just get things done.  For me, this acts as a reset button.

So THANK YOU to all the women who joined me this year and to Colleen Cannon, Jacqueline Stanford, Tracy Byrnes, and Women’s Quest for helping make this dream trip come true.

Women’s Retreat – San Juan Islands Bike Trip

I just spent the last few days in the upper, west corner of Washington State biking through old-growth forests, past rugged shorelines, through open fields of flowers, and across different islands to get prepared for this year’s San Juan Island Bike Retreat.  This year will be my 3rd trip out to the San Juan Islands for the women’s retreat I do with Women’s Quest every July.  I am so excited to share the place where I spent a lot of my childhood vacations with a rad group of women.

This trip started when I met Colleen Cannon a few years back and suggested that the San Juan Islands might make a great addition to the Women’s Quest calendar of retreats.  The islands provide a perfect blend of scenery, serenity, and shopping that most women are looking for on a vacation.  I can’t describe how fun a day is when you get to pedal with a bunch of friends, stare at gorgeous views, and eat all the ice cream you want.  It’s a little slice of heaven.

Just to give you an idea of what the week looks like, here are a few of my favorite memories from the past two trips:

  • Wine Tasting at Sunset – My cousins allows us to spread out all over his backyard to take in the sunset while we drink wine and eat their food.  It’s fabulous.  They have one of the best views and it is great to sit around and chat after a day in the saddle.
  • Whale Whiplash – We see so many whales on our boat trip we get “Whale Whiplash”.  They will be on the right side, then the left, then under the boat, and you are trying to catch every glimpse of these amazing creatures.
  • Mountains – When you are at sea-level, a 14,000 foot mountain takes up a good amount of the skyline.  THEY ARE GORGEOUS!  Blue and white and beautiful.  I love seeing Mt. Baker everyday as we pedal back to the hotel from the ferry.
  • Laid-Back Lopez Island – This island has very few cars and super friendly people.  The terrain is mellow and very rural.  Open meadows run right into the shoreline.  This day is always a favorite with the group.
  • Bon Voyage Breakfast – We get to eat our last meal on Guemes Island on a grass lawn that overlooks the water.  Then we get to do a short little pedal on this very unpopulated island.  In the last two years, the locals have handed me fresh peaches and flowers as I have ridden by on my bike.
  • Art – the Pacific Northwest has some of the coolest artists.  From art festivals to the stands on the side of the road, you find the most unique art pieces and jewelry.
  • Ferrys and Fairies – Our ferry rides always end up being the time we all gather to talk about the day.  These conversations are filled with laughter, tears, support, and fun.  Women’s Quest retreats have a magical atmosphere that makes you believe in fairies and allows you to make friends for a lifetime.
  • Play – After few days of riding bikes and taking in the fresh air, the ladies of the retreat start getting a little silly.  It is my favorite!  It’s like watching them as they were when they were children.  Adventurous, curious, and just playing.

If you want to join us in 2018, registration is open.  Click here for more info and to register.