Conflicted

Sometimes I get a perspective shift that lines things up in a new light. That light shows how lucky I am. I have an awesome girlfriend, a great job, fantastic bikes to ride and miles and miles of trails, dirt roads and pavement extending right from my door. I’m also healthy, motivated and full of energy.

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Yet I am also the type that does not sit idle and content for long. I get wild ideas about sewing projects and even wilder ideas about bike rides and races. There is something that needs to be tested, pushed and exhausted in me that does not seem to be satisfied, not even close.

Over and over I find myself at a crossroads of sorts. Follow one fork and stay safe, get stuff done, pay some bills,  and maybe be something of an adult. I tell myself all the time that I really am going to take this safe and sound route, after one more race, one more Divide, one more, always one more something. Then there is the dark, mysterious and strange fork in the road, where adventure waits. It is cold and lonelier, full of unknowns and pitfalls, but it pulls me with a power I find so very hard to resist.

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So here I am conflicted. I see the need to be smart and not go broke in order to race my bike, again! Yet the idea of staying home while a grand and brand new adventure unfolds, is hard to swallow. Great problems to have, I concur, but that makes my quandary no easier.

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don’t worry…just gO Ride…..

Late Fall

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Something about every gorgeous late Fall day that makes me think of twilight or dawn. The feeling of being on the cusp of a dramatic shift. Change is in the air, despite being wonderfully warm and calm, Winter with a capitol W is a coming.

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Today it was sunny, comfortable and the riding still mostly on dirt. The layering system is still simple and un-encumbering. Able to ride all the way up into the aspens and dark timber and back through the sage back to town. There is some tracked in snow, a good does of mud here and there, but otherwise it was a summer like ride, with just a touch more clothes.

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I am so very thankful for days like today and each and every extra bit of gorgeousness. Yet that change is near, the day snow sticks, the ground freezes and Winter is Here! In many ways I look forward to that shift. I am excited to ride fat bikes on snow, do some skiing, snowshoeing, maybe even some grooming? Plus there is a certain quiet and feeling of place when being out there in the cold and brutal landscape of winter in the mountains.

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Change is here, life is happening now. Tomorrow Winter might be upon us, but everyday is a chance to make that shift, to step forward into the light of a new dawn. Everyday I learn a little bit more, little bit more….still got a long ways to go.

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magic

there is still magic to be found.

out in the cold dark night, hiding in the sage covered hills, just outside of town.

sinuous little threads of dirt, narrow and overgrown, disappear into the night.

the perfection of trail, wheel and effort.

oh it is magic, the wonderfulness of spinning wheels, cranking pedals, wind in the face.

balance, joy, perspective come alive.

purpose, drive, desire begin to alight.

so much more to do and so much gratitude.

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thank you universe, thank you

High Mountain Ripley

On a lighter note…..

This year’s CTR was my first bikepacking race on a full suspension bike, my Ibis Ripley. In fact one reason I wanted to head back out there into those familiar hills was that riding this bike has changed how I ride. It is smooth, fast and most of all FUN! Imagine that, having fun in a bikepacking race!?!

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In the past I let weight and efficiency rule my choices. Most hardtails will always be lighter and carry more gear, they are cheaper and require less maintainance, this is all true. But after 2013’s race I swore never to beat my hands, feet and butt like that ever again.

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Then last summer I got a Ripley. First high country ride I did was Fossil Ridge, a long rough, rutted, nasty ride that usually leaves one feeling like a scrambled egg, yet the bike shone like a star, it simply ate up the rock gardens and made me giggle and smile.

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Was it faster? Hard to say, the motor wasn’t as well tuned as in years past so my time was slower. I do truly believe that had I wanted to not sleep and push my legs harder, it would have been much much faster.

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In the end, it was about having fun and full squish is so damn fun, even loaded down with gear strapped and zip tied all over and food jiggling around the bike handled awesome. Allowing me to ride faster on both climbs and descents. I cleaned some moves that would have been marginal even on a normal ride and I can not tell you how any times it literally saved my life when I pointed it the wrong way and managed to ride through it anyways.

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I am not here to proclaim the hardtail dead, or even endangered. I am gonna say that in most singletrack races, the squishy bike is the better choice by far. With some creative gear and bag choices it is possible to carry all you need and have way more fun.

Cause remember, it is all about having Fun!!!

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life changing

sunrise on Coney’s

So Jefe…was it life changing?…was it a life changing experience?”

To answer the question in regards to my 2015 Colorado Trail Race, yes, yes it was life changing. It is very hard to describe in words the gammut of emotions and thoughts I experienced out there surrounded by spectacular vistas and billions of vibrant wildflowers. To be honest every ride, every race, every CTR leaves me a different person, yet this one was very special.

Cascade Creek

Cascade Creek

I went into this years race without my usual razor sharp focus, I more or less decided to line up a couple weeks before after two great rides that boosted my confidence and left me wanting more. I just haven’t been training, mostly working, riding casually and hiking with the pups. I also didn’t have huge expectations for what was to come, I simply wanted to race my Ripley, have some fun, take pictures and try not to embarrass myself. Thus I was already feeling a bit removed from the crazed madness that usually drives me to crush myself.

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Not to say I didn’t try to go fast, I did, but on day one I decided that I was not going to go all night, I was not going to attempt to chase down Jesse. Instead I was gonna sleep when I wanted, walk when I needed to and do my best to forget what else was going on in the race. Normally I would ride way way past exhaustion, pushing myself constantly, wondering where everyone else was, freaking out about every mistake and basically making myself insane.

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It wasn’t easy, I fell back into the old form at times, stressing out about my splits, looking over my shoulder to be sure I wasn’t gonna be passed. Yet when I resumed being calm and removed, I found myself smiling. I was happy. This was a profound moment for me, all these years I have been hell bent on proving myself, pushing myself hard and accepting no excuses. Sure that was fun at times, it was, I learned much about myself and what limits we humans have. Still I got obsessed with wining, I have gone into these races prepared to sacrifice everything, fearing almost nothing except not going 110% and crushing myself in order to be on top.

Georgia Pass

Georgia Pass

Those four and a half days I spent hiking and biking my way along the CT, I pondered all of this and more. For so long I have been convinced that all I have to offer the world is as described above, to push limits, to suffer, to punish myself. While I am proud of what I have tried to do, there is just too much else out there to stay on this page. The ticking of the stopwatch must go away. The incredible stress of whipping myself is over. If I chose to race in the future it will only be when I can forget about everyone else, when I no longer check my watch every 10 minutes, freaking out about minutes and hours. No more refusing to poop cause I do not have time, no more shivering inside a plastic bag to save a few ounces. Only when I am able to simply ride, happy, alive and wanting only to see what is around the next bend or atop the next climb, maybe then I will line up again with all them crazies.

Sky on fire

Sky on fire

For now there is so much to fill in the gaps. There are trails to build and maintain, there are a few crazy puppy dogs that need training and exercise. After years and years of passing up amazing places with that damn clock ticking in my head, it is time to slow down and do some exploring. So many adventures await, some not even on the map yet, endless ideas pop around my head for bikepacking, backpacking, camping. Best of all is I have a very wonderful, fun loving person to share them with and that is such an awesome feeling.

near Goose Creek, Taryall detour

near Goose Creek, Taryall detour

After my adventures and races a friend would ask me that question, “was it life changing?” I truly believe that everyday has the potential to change your life, your thinking, your outlook, or attitude. For most of us, deep down inside we simply do not want to change, preferring to stick to our old ways even when they hurt us and or hold us back from becoming a better person. While I am super stoked on the adventures of the past, I am more excited to see what lurks around the next corner, what world exists over the next pass, what sort of flowers will pop behind that storm cloud. So much beauty and wonder in this world and I now finally feel like I am ready to slow down and enjoy it. Happy Trails!!!

Sunrise on the last morning, Tarryall detour

Sunrise on the last morning, Tarryall detour

 

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Bikes can take you to amazing places…gO Ride!!!

Special

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There are many things coming to mind for me right now.

One thing is that I am so unbelievably thankful. I am so very grateful that I find myself living in the mountains, there is something wonderful and powerful about being here surrounded by such amazing beauty and the raw energy that comes out of these special places. I am so thankful that I discovered hiking, biking and camping and the wealth of experiences that have come out of this. I am grateful for having found a special person that I want to share these places, these experiences with. I am profoundly thankful for a relative sense of health and tenacity that has guided me and helped me carve out a reality for myself that is beyond some of my wildest dreams. All of this did not happen so much as it grew out of many choices, forks in the roads that lead me to here, so happy to be Here!

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I am amazed at the breadth and depth of my own thoughts, feelings and ramblings. I have been in such a deep and twisted funk for way too long. All because of a singlemindedness that clouded over my normal vision. I wanted something that was not gonna happen and instead of stepping back to see the options that did exist, I pondered and clung to the dead end and made myself quite miserable in the process. Then with a puff of smoke and some action, this is replaced with a new love of life and a realization that there are many twists, turns and speed bumps and That Really Is Part of the Ride!!!

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I love mountain bikes! I really truly love all that gets you out there, makes the blood pump and silences the noise. Yet there is something about riding bikes way on up and out there. Something about quiet, self powered motion that delivers you way up atop of mountains, with skinny ribbons of trail to pedal, pump and giggle back down. Such a simple joy that infuses every cell and makes me fall in love with the world all over again, and that is a powerful thing.

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That nothing is perfect. Perfection is a destination never arrived upon, it truly is the journey, the mishaps, the unexpected that are real and important. Soak in them, feel them between your toes, live and love that feeling of chaos, of being not in control. All else is an illusion of self importance.

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Moral of my ramblings; Live, Love and Forgive.

Don’t cling too tight, life is big, gO live it with all your heart.

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Some Rides

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There is a ride I am compelled to do every so often. It isn’t one that you will find on a “Ten Best Rides” list or even on most folk’s radar. There are very good reasons for this. This ride kicks your ass and then it kicks your ass some more.

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Sure it is pretty, lots of wildflowers, mountain vistas, creaks bubbling everywhere, aspens and dark timber, but that all can be found on a lot of trails. A lot easier and perhaps more fun trails?!

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It does have rock gardens and it has Rock Gardens! Challenges galore, many bits are rough, unridable, washed out, eroded, it makes you walk, it makes your tires spin and your pedals smack. It teaches patience, it shows perspective, it provides place.

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There are perfect sections that make you giggle, even laugh at the blood burning in your lungs, cause it is so perfect. You have to be looking for it. It is sometimes disguised as rock strewn switchbacks that have “B” lines that flow so well.

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Then again there are the “Jedi Trees”, a tiny line of flowing dark loamy soil, barely visible through greenery that is almost handlebar height, swooping here and there, through a massive aspen grove. So fast and relatively smooth, yet lurker rocks hide in the deep dark grass and surprise rock gardens pop into view just when you get to flying.

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It traverses places that touch my heart. That feed my soul. Everytime. Riding Fossil, makes me really come to terms with what ever Bull Shit that might plague me. For this ride slams down on me like a reality of rocks, millions of rocks that have become, in many places, all that remains of a trail, that I am compelled to follow. No. Matter. What. Thank goodness it is still fun!

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