There’s a Lil Bean growing
never been more excited in my life
Much more to come…
Not much happening here lately. Not on purpose, as there is a lot going on and I have had words spinning in my brain to let it out. Unfortunately my 3rd hand laptop died and I’m still figuring what is next. So things are paused for a bit, but there is much to write about and the words are bouncing around, waiting….
Please stay tuned for more soon!
Start: Rock N Roll Sports, if doing GD, sign in at start and finish.
For me it started with spending lots of time on my feet. Once I got over the fear of the unknown, I became entranced by it. Getting around the next corner or over the next hill became more important than feelings of hunger, fear, or exhaustion. Fulfilling one goal after another, an almost endlessly satisfying march over the next horizon. Seeing new and old places, all filled with surprises.
Big days became something I craved, I needed these ass kickers every so often to remind me how small, we and all of our problems can be. When I started riding bikes again, it immediately spilled over and took on a life of its own. For on the bike I felt a bit more rewarded for the hard work of navigating through these rocky mountains. I still clawed up the trail, but now able to cruise easily for miles at a time, grinning wildly. I simply can not get enough of this combination of focus, adventure, mountains, and the end result of complete depletion.
Living here in Gunnison, there is an amazing amount of crazy rides one can string together. Its ridiculous and addictive! I’ve been dreaming up trail connections here for 24 years, and still, the unfolding of a map makes me giggle. So much to ride, just have to make the time!
Yesterday I got the chance to ride with friends in Taylor Park and then rode home via trails, gravel, and pavement. The day was spectacular, barely a cloud to be seen, hot in the sun, cool in the shade. Being the month of June, the day was long, the sunset endless. Being a dry and low snow year we are able to ride way up high, on some amazing trails. Pretty special to be out in these mountains on such a day, grateful to able to spend so much time on my bike.
Already dreaming of next weekend….
One dream I haven’t made time for in recent years is putting on my own ride. Based right here in the Gunnison Valley, using some of the routes that I have learned and trained upon for the past couple of decades. Places that crushed me to get to, but have since opened my eyes.
There is such raw beauty out there in this world. It comes in many forms, sometimes it is just a quiet stand of aspens high on a ridge top in the middle of nowhere after a long, hard climb. It is a wonder that I forget, and quite regularly that life is much the same way, greatness does not just pop into your hands, it must be pursued and earned.
Un-rideable mud, tangles of down trees, endless climbs to rough, arm wrenching descents and more, and more. Tough, brutal even, but all of it with a backdrop of breathtaking beauty and a core of love. A playground with lessons in self knowledge and soul testing grit around every corner.
I rode a bit of this on Saturday. My whole body is still sore, I’m not the trail crusher I once was, but I’m still keen to get back out there again. To keep listening to the wind whispering wisdom through the trees. To keep digging deep into myself, finding both strength and weakness. For these lessons don’t stop teaching, so long as we keep listening.
Be wise, respectful, and humble, but do not be afraid.
Dark, Hot, and Delicious, thank the universe for the little things. This morning the coffee is doing more than making me wake up, its giving me something to hold on to.
I woke up this morning sobbing into my pillow and I just can’t seem to stop.
To be honest I cry pretty easy, I may not show it, but I’m a sucker for the heart string pulling stuff, dog rescue videos, beautiful babies, weddings, sappy moments in movies, etc. I don’t cry much over my own shit, that I tend to turn into anger and bitterness. So why am I crying? I keep asking myself the same. I don’t think its because I feel sorry for myself, although maybe I do. I just can’t stop thinking about how much of my life is based on the physical. Work, Play, Creation, it is all done with my hands.
For the record I can still do everything with my hand that I ever could, it just comes with a price. I can ride, even still pull off some good hard techy stuff, or ride 145 miles in a day. I can still wrench, cranking out bike after bike, turning turds into functioning machines. But, I hurt. I awake in the middle of the night with my wrist throbbing. I can barely operate a computer mouse with out cringing. I find myself riding with one hand, way too often. I can not do trail work anymore. I can barely write with a pen.
I can’t stop thinking about all the folks with greater disfunction than me and how they can deal and move on. Makes me feel like a wuss for not being tougher, more resilient, more adaptable. Guess I am still getting there. But this transition, or whatever it is, makes me cry. I am scared, I am afraid to let go of what I know. It flashes me back to when I was younger and stronger, but still could sense that it wouldn’t last forever, I thought, “well when I can’t do it anymore, I’ll just move on”. Now that I am there I find that I am terrified, more than riding into the darkest unknown, surrounded by reflecting eyes hiding in the bush. Guess that this is just mental, spiritual version of that.
I want to believe that there is more, more to me than the physical and I am trying to open up to it. Yet it is also hard to imagine doing any of it with out my hand and therefor without pain. Guess that is one of the hands dealt by the harsh side of life and we never, ever seem to be done paying our dues.
Again, I am looking through the drying tears and seeing the coming sunrise through the open curtains, feeling the hot coffee flow through my bones, the fuzzy nuzzle of dog noses on the backs of my knees. Little things, can be the steps to more powerful things, I keep telling myself, even if I don’t feel it yet. I’m not giving up, that is for sure. I really do want, no need to give more to this world, but god damn it sucks to wake up crying. I’ll just make another press of coffee and keep on trucking.
Been awhile since I sat down to write. A long long while.
There are times when I want to open up my heart and share whatever it is that is happening in there, good, bad, or ugly. For the past few months it has been such a mess and too much to think about, much less form into words.
I’m still living, but sometimes it feels like I am more zombie than my old self. The reason is that the next big thing has been missing. Due to injury, then surgery and the prolonged recovery, I have been disconnected from my dreams. Fact is I battle with depression, have most of my life. There were times when I thought I had it beat, done, gone forever. But thats not how it works, it lingers till you are weak and then it grabs you my the throat once again.
I found ways to deal with the everyday battle, I dreamed big, I went at it hard and that focus kept my head above the grasp of that dirty fighter in the back of my mind. Having that huge, daunting mission ahead of me, did wonders for my brain. I still got beat up and dragged down, but I’d bounce back in a few days or weeks and get back at it.
Then around 2015 my hand started to really hurt. It really hurt to ride, it was really hard to race. I still stubbornly managed to do a couple more biggies, but it was obvious that time was ticking. I really hoped that surgery would put me back at it, that I could return to the life I knew of planning for the next big ride. But 16 months post op and I’m still aching, unable to ride without pain and definitely unable to ride hard day after day.
I’d been ignoring the winds of change as much as I could, meanwhile drinking and smoking way, way too much to try and compensate. It has not been a fun experience, I felt like I was rotting from the inside out.
There have been some very strong slaps to the face recently. A few friends and friends of friends have left this world by their own hands. I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t had the same thought. Its something that many of us fighting depression have to deal with. Yet, I can remember one of the most powerful moments of my life, riding along the Continental Divide way back in the 2011, TD, outside of South Park City, WY. It was sunset, the sage hills were glowing into seeming infinity one one side, the remaining snow covered mountains alight with an amazing colors on the other. In that moment I felt so wonderfully strong, alive, and in love with what I was, and what I was doing. I think about that moment and I refuse to give up on myself.
Yet I want to return to that same feeling with the same experience, but I have to wake up and realize that it might just be time to move on. Ultra racing might be a thing in my past, and that has haunted me for the past 2 years and it has made me angry and bitter. That is a waste of time and I am attempting to grow and seek another avenue to explore. I have been waiting for something new to find me, bite me in the ass, and change me. That hasn’t happened, I got to do it myself.
I am trying to quit drinking and smoking, I am going to read more, write more, create more and spend less time torturing myself with social media. Life is big and it doesn’t just mean big huge miles on a bike, I keep reminding myself that I am capable of so much more. It just requires starting anew and working to get to another place where I feel strong, free, and in love with what I am and what I am doing. I hope we can all find that thing in our lives, it makes living a lot more fun.
Damn it, I got sick. Nothing crazy just the usual crud. Luckily I’m fairly healthy much of the time. But it comes around and gets most of us from time to time. Thing is I suck at it. I get twitchy and impatient. I get aggravated not ticking things off of my stupid long to do list. For someone who excels at suffering discomfort, it is amazing how crabby and grumpy I get when I’m ill.
Yet I must say, I always learn something when I’m sick. Like any change in perspective, it makes you see everything a bit different. Especially appreciating the wonder of feeling good! It takes the dumb stressful things and makes them seem silly, why worry about that everyday, if you feel good, why bring it down with worry? With so much suffering out there already, why bring it on yourself?
I’m great at over thinking, worrying, stressing myself out. So talented I am! Yet after a couple days of being forced to take it easy, when I simply can not do anything on that list, I read, I sleep,(I blow my nose and cough too) but I slow the F down. I swear there’s less teeth grinding, more relaxing thoughts, more possibilities popping up in my head.
Here and now, I feel more at peace with my life. The judgements of others that I tend to endlessly scrutinize myself with, seem less important, more remote. I feel more in love and in touch with the good things that surround me, my cool job, my supportive friends, the wonderful woman in my life. I am much less agonized inside about missing out on riding and racing. Patience is tangible, not completely elusive.
Like any separation from normalcy, reality, whatever you want to call this recess from the regular operation procedures, I wonder if the perspective will last. And if so, how long? No matter, the reminder here, I believe, is to keep moving, shaking, dancing about, so that stagnation does not take root. Keep living, keep dreaming, never stop shifting places, so that the perspective is alive, not pigeon holed in one dormant place. I need to keep this going and keep negativity at bay, it has never really helped me no matter how I cling to it.
Live, Love, Breath. Keep growing no matter what the obstacles. Our own futures and the future of this world depend upon it.
“Out there, on dirt, in the hills, maybe even up in the mountains, a simple ribbon of trail leading me forth. There, in that moment, I am content. Sometimes I am even truly happy.”
On a fluke, I get out of work early! Have to deal a bunch of crap before finally getting out for a ride. Ends up being only being 1:20 or something, door to door. Ends up feeling like a million bucks. Seriously, a million dollars. The whole ride my legs ache, almost cramping, still I push a gear harder. I stand up and mash the pedals as hard as I can. So Now…Why not throw in that trail too?! Got to be home, showered and out the door by 6…so I hammer, hammer. Trail after trail. Then the road home.
So simple, and after decades, it is still So amazing what it does for my head, my sense of purpose and place. So freaking powerful, A Simple Bike Ride.
I forget as quickly as anyone how great some things are. Try to hang on to the good stuff, don’t push it away or forget them. I get caught up in wondering why I am here, it is okay to wonder, but in the meantime, keep getting out there and doing something good.
I participated in the Bikepacker first annual Bikepacking Summit in Golden, Colorado this past weekend. It was great stuff. Lots of super cool presentations that showcased the many, many ways one can explore via the bicycle. Met and chatted with so many cool people, learned so much and in turn, I am inspired by them all. Such a wonderful event.
From there I spent a couple nights, and a day, with my Mom, in Brighton, Co. We sat with the dogs and cat, drank beer, watched the clouds roll by and the rain drops fall. All the while I prepped my bike and gear for the ride home. I watched the weather constantly, but no matter it didn’t improve, it looked like a wet ride home. My Mom tried to convince me to stay and let Rach come pick me up. As comfy and warm as that sounds, I needed to ride, to travel under my own power.
So early Tuesday morning I got dropped off at Waterton Canyon, the start of the Colorado Trail and started my ride home. I did the first segment of the CT to the South Platte, where I turned south and followed the canyon towards Deckers. I planned most of the route without knowing exactly what was on the ground, I was hoping to do mostly gravel and dirt roads as my hand hasn’t been up to rugged singletrack. Unfortunetly, this dirt road soon turned to pavement a bit too soon, but was still a lovely bit of country.
I then climbed back up on dirt towards the Tarryall detour of the CT, then turned south to 24 and eventually Lake George and the Eleven Mile Canyon. This was all new and gorgeous terrain. Huge granite rocks jutting out of the tight twisty river, all while gathering clouds made the sky a swirl of sunshine and darkness. I then took couple of shortcuts that turned out to be dead ends, county roads that didn’t go like they looked to on the map. Despite the waste of energy and time, I didn’t get frustrated and instead laughed and carried on…all the way north to Hartsel.
There I racked my brain and my eyes to find the Tour Divide route south towards Salida. I had drawn a GPS track, but didn’t get the right one loaded, so by now I was going off of memory and general direction/instinct. I managed to stay on route all the way to Ute Trail where around midnight, I finally found some trees to hide from the rain and get some sleep. Despite a minimal sleep system I got in some quality rest, at least 7 hours of sleep! I stayed in my bag till almost 9 and then packed up in the rainy mist and made my way to Salida.
After hot coffee, salami and refilling my feed bags I headed out and eventually up Marshall Pass. The riding was kicking my butt, despite mostly good dirt and more pavement than I was planning, my hands were hurting, as well as my left knee. Still I climbed away, knowing that home was getting closer and closer. The clouds stayed low and dark, but the light was amazing. Bright yellows, golds, pinkish peach, red and orange leaves glowed against the dark ominous sky. I stopped so many times to attempt to capture how gorgeous it was out there, my pictures do not come close to reflecting how amazing it truly was!
After Marshall Pass I took HWY 50 home. I really wanted to be out a bit longer and spend another night under the stars, between the weather and my aching hands, I needed to get home. It hurt a bit inside to take the short easy way, but things have changed and I have to make smart decisions…damn that sucks! Ended up with about 237 miles, in about 36.5 hours. I wasn’t “racing” and took tons of breaks, lots of pictures and slept 7 hours!
I really miss these big rides (and races) and I want so bad to get back to doing them. Fact is my hand hurt the entire ride, even on easy stuff. Sometimes I want to plan for a return to all kinds of endurance shenanigans, but rides like this remind me not yet. I’m still hoping it will get better and better, yet right now I fear that big stuff might be only in the past, cause it hurts that much. Staying positive and looking forward!!!
There was a part of me that was pretty sure I wasn’t going to race something as hard as the CTR again. Not by choice, but forced to sit out due to my hand’s inability to ride such rough and tumble trail for so long. Still deep inside me I was craving a return to competition, to some serious self guided suffering, and experiencing a ton of amazing places. Realizing that I can’t wait for perfection to present itself, it was time, I was just gonna have to try! So a couple weeks before this years CTR, I threw my hat in the ring and said, “fuck it” lets do this!
There I was July 29th at Waterton Canyon, lined up with a large and rowdy crew of fellow adventure seekers, all of us pointing our front wheels towards Durango. The air was filled with excitement and fear, so many unknowns facing us all as we embarked on the journey. I settled into a nice mellow, yet still painful pace and let race fever take whom it would. I had not trained enough,(more accurately I hadn’t trained at all) to go hard, especially not at the beginning! So I let the excitement pass over me I and I just pedaled along, just below the cramping threshold in my legs.
The day was hot and I continued to pace myself, yet I slowly began to catch up to some folks. As a result I got to ride with some really cool people the first day, bikepackers are pretty great peeps! After The Stagecoach Stop I saw fewer and fewer folks and really got into my rhythm of pushing the steep hills and riding long into the night. Turns out my tried and trued methods still work, as I pushed and rode consistently day after day slowly crawling south.
There was nothing easy about this ride. I was hurting, legs almost cramping with harder efforts, knees swelling, feet sore from so much walking, my butt raw from lack of training miles. Yet I was happy, so stoked to be out there once more, doing the thing I love so much and thought I might not ever do again. It was liberating and enlightening. I felt like I was in the race, but somehow removed from it by being so relaxed. Still I struggled mentally with the idea that I was counting every minute, hour, and day. I was timing my experience, instead of living in it. Regardless of my thinking process, I just kept moving.
The Colorado Trail is tough and sometimes cruel and brutal, yet it is always captivating and gorgeous. I was reminded over and over again how beautiful these mountains are and how lucky we all are, that such a trail exists. I felt especially lucky to know this trail so well and to have it right here, running thru my back yard. I can close my eyes and see any section, the roots, rocks, the flowers and ridges, sunrises, sunsets. It is all in my blood, pumping through my heart and soul.
Long story short, I kept up my slow and steady pace all the way through. I rode more trail in places than ever before, I also walked and walked and walked. My mind was always on, always thinking, questioning. I had so many powerful moments out there that I am still trying to process and catalogue. It is impossible to walk or ride the CT and not be changed. I for one, am done timing myself on the CT. I am not looking for another record, or another time stamp, or to even think of this trail as a “course” anymore. I have come to the conclusion that I need to adventure, but not race. After thinking I was never going to race again, it felt so good to persevere and traverse that wild bit of trail. With 8 CTR finishes, I am ready to chill out and take it slower and it feels so damn good to be here!
Ok Here you go!
While I am not doing much racing, I’m still dreaming…and scheming. My brain just simply does better with crazy things to think about. I sort of hatched the Gunny Loopy Loop a few weeks before last Labor Day. I didn’t get organized enough for anyone else to join me, but I rode a good bit of it and decided to give this year a go.
I’ve been fine tuning the route, working on little bits. Thing I keep realizing is how hard it is going to be. There is a reason I ended up being the crazed cycling masochist I am, I cut my teeth, here in the Gunnison Valley. So many trails, so much climbing, endless route possibilities. I’ve hiked, biked, and skied much of this wonderful ass whooping country, it has changed me, made me stronger, tougher. Now want to share some of that.
So Welcome, welcome to the Loopy Loop. Actually, Two Loops! I’ve got the Shorty Loop just about set. I rode it this past weekend. I have now written the cues and I should have a GPX in a few days. It is hard, kinda heart breaking hard in spots, lots of hike a bike, endless climbing. Gorgeous, oh it is beyond words, so many mountains, creeks, flowers, green grass, rivers, rocks, bears, elk, hawks, and porcupines. A rough and rowdy world just a bit farther out there, ready to reduce one to humility and reward you with peace!
The Biggie Loop is set in my head, but sill needs to be ridden. I hope to get to ride it entirely the end of July, and then have cues, GPX and final warnings. The Biggie is gonna crush each and everyone of us that attempts it. I’m not being macho, I’m just being honest. I chose some of the hardest riding around and linked it together with some easy and some questionable bits. The sum is going to be easily as hard mile for mile as the CTR and AZT.
So which Loop? Having just done the Shorty, I can say it can be done in under 24 hours if someone raced it, perhaps much faster? It could also be done over 2 or 3 nights by someone strong and in for good long days. The Biggie could take 2-3 days at full race pace, perhaps 5+ days if someone isn’t pedaling much into the night. So bite off only what you can chew! Read the Shorty Cues, in a few days look at the GPX track. Do some research on some of the known riding thats on course. Both Rides will Start; Saturday September 1rst, 2018 at 4:AM. Gathering at Rock N Roll Sports at 608 West Tomich, in Gunnison, Colorado. (Both rides, upon completion, will bring you back to Gunny.) Neutral Roll Out To Hartman’s Base Area, then Game On! DIY style rules, meaning Do It Yourself. Commercial Services/Available to Everyone Only! Stay on Course, If you mess up, fess up! Trackleaders and Spots should be available. If you aren’t sure, ask me?! I’ll keep rolling out more and more info as I get it finalized. Enjoy!!!
Start: Rock N Roll Sports, if doing GD, sign in at start and finish.