About

Grit and Glimmer is a labor of love produced by Heidi Swift, a freelance writer and photographer (and sometimes bike racer) with a penchant for adventure. In July of 2012, as part of a project sponsored by peloton Magazine and Cannondale Women’s Group, she rode the entire Tour de France route with a team of 5 other tenacious (and somewhat crazy) women. She is still alive, but just barely.

Swift is an Editor at Large for Peloton Magazine and author of “Joy Ride”, a monthly column in the print edition of Bicycling Magazine.

Whenever possible she writes about whatever non-cycling, out-of-left-field shenanigans she can get away with including, but not limited to, tiny surfing towns in the mysterious and lovely Basque Country, the finer points of homemade donut-making, her mother-in-law’s secret Sicilian family recipes and getting lost in Lisbon. From 2008 to 2011 Swift penned a bi-monthly cycling-themed column for The Oregonian newspaper. Her work has also appeared in Cyclocross Magazine, Bicycling Magazine, CyclingTips, Wend Magazine, VeloNews (print and online), Travel Oregon Magazine, 1859, ROAD, Switchback Magazine and CyclingNews.com.

The content here is sometimes informational, sometimes inspirational, but always, always straight from the gut.

What’s in a name?

Broken fingers, frost-bitten toes, bourbon adventures, cyclocross mayhem, road racing agony, thunderstorm training runs, dawn patrol hiking and a healthy dose of sailor speak. The grit is the thing in your gut that gets you through 16,000 feet worth of European mountain passes in a single day. It’s the raw edge, the hard side, the fighting spirit.

Glimmer is a word borrowed from Pam Houston. It’s what she calls the notes she takes when she captures a little life vignette to use later in her work. It’s about moments and details and a way of communicating them. It’s about honoring small things, poignant things, language and life.

Background

I was raised by wolves in Seattle, Washington before I moved to San Francisco to work with bigger, richer wolves in the advertising industry. That was fun – ad people are out of their minds. I moved to Portland, Oregon after about 7 years of that carnival.

I have a boyfriend of 14 years whom I sometimes call “my partner”. His name is Sal. I am daily reminded by the English language’s excruciatingly glaring lack of word for life-partner-but-relationship-not-sanctioned-by-law-or-god (how lame is “life partner”).  In May of 2012 I Facebook married him one day while we were gardening together, which definitely caught him off-guard. It involved pushing a button on my phone, but apparently people take that stuff really seriously because our friends kind of freaked out.

I’m a recovering perfectionist and a relentless detail-person. It can be really annoying (especially for Sal) but I like to consider it one of my super-powers. I’m also a culinary daredevil with an especially fond place in my heart for seafood of all kinds. I wear boots with dresses and big scarves with almost everything. I like hats.

I also like bicycles, old film cameras, hoppy beer, good design, sad music, well-made cocktails, and rain. But not necessarily in that order.

A reluctant cyclist at first,  I was lured into the painful sport by the siren song of cyclocross. I am known for my inability to descend at speed, triathlete-grade bike handling skills, and willingness to suffer. Ten years ago I never thought for a second that I would ever ride a century (100 miles on a bike! What a stupid idea!) let alone the entire 2012 Tour de France course. This just proves that I am not getting any smarter as I age.

If all this stuff makes you yawn and you’re looking for the real dirt then you might want to check out this post.

Storm clouds and cherry red fingernails. Nevermind the mud. Photo by Victor Duong

Taking questions from the audience during a live interview with Tyler Farrar. 2011.

Sometimes I ride fat tire bikes.

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