Breaking through

Crazy how frustrating progress can feel. All the work that goes in and sometimes tiny microscopic changes result. It is hard to stay focused and keep working, when the effort seems fruitless. Months of average, doesn’t do much to inspire.

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I’ve been feeling pretty stunted with the rate of my recovery. Even though my hand is healed nicely and on track for what a Four Corner Fusion should look like, I have been wondering if I’ll ever race again. My hand tends to get sore after working all week and sewing in between. The soreness lingers for days after pretty easy and short rides.

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It is hard for me to sit out even one season, I usually need a carrot of sorts to keep me motivated and willing to go to work. Otherwise the whole deal just seems like work, I need that big thing to keep me thinking forward, staying positive, doing good. Instead, I just get grumpy and sad. So with a dominant hand that can’t be trusted how does one plan for a big trip? There is no known. There are only questions. Nothing gets planned and it seems impossible.

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Today I broke through. I wasn’t sure what would happen, but I took a buddy out to ride a bit of the CT off North Pass. If you know the Cochetopa Hills, then you know what I’m talking about. If you don’t know them hills, let me tell you they are rough, rocky and loose, (some folks say it is haunted too.) It is not easy riding, it takes skill, strength, and effort to keep a bike moving forward and on that trail. Today I rode that shit. It still ached a bit and my legs are terrible, but I could ride!

I feel like so many doors opened back up today. I feel like making plans to do something big sometime relatively soon. I no longer feel trapped holding on to so many fears and unknowns. I can hardly wait to go ride again!

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Summertime

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And the living is easy…well maybe not so much, but it is often fun! This summer Rachel and I have done a pretty good job of getting out. Car Camping, Hiking, Trail Riding and our favorite, Bikepacking has kept us out exploring new spots and getting out under the sun and stars. I may not be racing, but I’m not growing any moss.

IMG_4566For this past weekend, we decided to invite a few people to go with us. Lots of folks were interested, demonstrating that we need to get the word out earlier and that there will definitely be another trip. Ended up that Alex and TomBom joined Rachel and I for a great little sub 24.

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We met up at Rock n Roll and rolled out through town, slowly inching our way North. A mix of pavement and bike path got us out to Ohio Creek Rd and that got us to Maggie Pass, one of many entrances to adventure. A whole world of dirt roads, game trails, hills, mountains, creek and animals galore opens up as you roll over the top of that pass. Trending North once again we climbed away towards Mill Creek. Once atop one last big climb we scrambled up into an aspen grove and set up camp.

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Dinners were eaten, a hike was taken, and campfire with whiskey and burning marshmallows was surrounded with talking and laughter. Some of us managed to sleep in, only time that happens, and we awoke to another amazing sunny day. We rode and hiked our bikes up a steep bit of trail with the intention of just cruising back down before making our way back home.

It was hot and the climbs were hard, the mosquitos were crazy hungry, but the views were worth every twitch of muscle agony and the quiet was worth all the sweat and swelling bites. Everyone was impressed at how easy it was to get out of town and into the hills, what little it took in gear and prep. The simple fact is this world is full of these simple wonders and this weekend the four of us all soaked it up and it made us happy to be alive. IMG_5942

 

 

What For?

I think about a lot of things. All the damn time my mind is bouncing about, sometimes pounding the same thought over and over like hammer clanking down on a chunk of steel. It seems pointless at times, the tiny increments of change, with so much hard effort.  Yet that is my brain, and I try my best to deal.

One thing that I think about, over and over again, is; What For? Like What the F#$k For? I mean, I like being alive, but why? I try and give to the world and do positive things, add good energy, but is that enough?

Then someone out doing something super freaking cool, so cool I wish I was out there suffering hard in the same conditions, so cool I get to see their name on website as they ride across the country under their own power. So Freaking Cool this thing they are taking on. Beyond what so many folks think is possible. Then that person gets hit by a car, truck, or bus and they die.

Keep in mind I do not know this person, never have met to my knowledge. But they were living a dream, a dream that I share and can feel inside my skull, my heart, my soul. It hurts to feel that absence. It hurts to admit that love carries danger, that following our dreams can be dangerous, that we can die while being on cloud nine.

So I try to think, maybe he died doing what he loved, or what he dreamed of doing, but is that enough? Does the family feel good knowing that he was following a dream? Or is it just a sad day with no explanations, nothing to make the pain feel ok. Do we all stay home and never take on these challenges because there are risks, serious risks, the most drastic risk of all, our own demise. It boggles my mind to take this on, to admit that we don’t know why, or why not or why the fuck some folks have to die.

The most basic idea is we can’t all live forever, there would be too many damn many of us! So then, the What For!? There are limitless answers, we all find a little different scope of what is the best way to live. But we can share our feelings, our fears, our loves, our ideas and dreams. Maybe, that is it, we are building up more and more information, more and more ideas, dreams, solutions. What if we are just the inspiration we leave behind? Maybe, just maybe that is all there is to it.

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Get out and live, only by living can we inspire.

TD Love

Another Tour Divide starts tomorrow morning. Sometimes I act like I don’t know, like I haven’t been paying attention to my Facebook feed or the date for that matter. Fact is, for many of us the 2nd Friday in June will always carry some significance. A shining beacon in the night, good or bad, like it or not, it can not be ignored.

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People ask me all the time what big races am I going to do this year? Usually I have some sort of answer that makes me crack a smile. Right now, I cringe while trying to keep the smile on my lips from fading and tell them not this year. If they seem interested, I tell them about surgery on my hand/wrist and that I am not really riding much. In fact I can barely ride 15 miles without catching myself riding one handed. At least I can ride and for that I am grateful, not riding was not fun. I try to be positive yet I have to admit I fucking hate it. I miss riding and racing with almost the same demand of thirst.

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As many of us know quite well, once the TD gets in your blood, it never really leaves you alone. My 2011 ride was such a dream that I wanted to go back so bad. Every year I wanted to be out there, it just takes too much freaking time, energy and money. So yeah, life sure does get in the way and it took me till 2014 to get out there. That year was a mess, the weather sucked and I had fallen down a wormhole of believing that I had to win, set a record, and prove myself a contender. I counted every second and minute that year and I simply didn’t have as much fun.

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Ever since I have wanted to be out there. Again, life does not always say yes. Since 2014 I’ve gotten to ride a decent amount and race a bit with even a couple CTR’s thrown in there. Still no matter what, to some degree the TD haunts me. I feel so connected and powerfully drawn to it, yet it seems to drift farther and farther away. Sometimes I fear that life will complicate itself too much to ever get back out there again.

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Why all these words? The easy answer is why not, right? The better answer is that we are so damn lucky to get the opportunities that we get. I mean, here I am complaining about only getting to race the Divide twice. What an amazing privilege, what an opportunity for an experience like no other. To be ABLE to take time off work/quit job, to save up the money to pay billsx2 and while not working, to ride down the spine of the US+ on a bike! Trust me it is a life experience and not the same twice. I really do wish I could be out there right now shitting bricks about tomorrow morning and the many to follow!

My words are here to both temper and to encourage. Be Smart, Kind, Great, Humble. Have FUN! Leave No Trace! Be TRUE to the spirit of the event. Remember that there are countless others who can not, for many reasons, take on this amazing adventure. Ride on in their spirit, feel their dreams pushing you in the cold darkness. So many want to be there and can not, take that as a reminder to be smart, swift and simple and get to the “wells”.

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don’t stop believing

Get Out

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All My Own Bags!

Mid week we started planning a quick overnight close to town, door to door style, about 30 hours of “gone”. With the warmer temps things are really melting out and there is much more access in all directions of town. The flowers are really booming and the hillsides are ripening into a lovely early summer green. A great time to get out and get lost.

This morning as I began my multi-tasking of getting ready for the day, I checked out my Facebook. Lots of Trans Am action, last minute TD freaking out and of course the usual stuff. There was also an eery little reminder that today is Mike Hall’s Birthday. Right next to a picture of him and a message to wish him a happy birthday. Weird, it really struck me. Tears filled my eyes, all the energy that slowly dissipated weeks ago came rushing back in. Damn it still hurts pretty deep that he is gone.

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I Heart Mike Hall

In some ways I am shocked by my emotional response, I mean I never actually met Mike. We overlapped once on the trail, but never talked in person only via email thousands of miles away. Yet we seemed to travel down similar paths at times, we shared experiences that reach deep. Fragility has much to do with my reaction, so much of the time I can feel how delicate and tenuous everything is. Our reality is only seconds away from a possible shift that we might not have ever foreseen, or expected.

In an hour or so Rach and I are going to roll out of town under a warm spring sun and pedal up into the hills surrounding this place we call home.  The simplest of things make us so happy, sleeping under the stars, breathing in the fresh air, and finding special little places to call home for the night and spending hours getting to know them. It gives much perspective and a dose of humility as well. We are so small inside this massive universe, yet we are also capable of great things. As we can see with the incredibly wide ripple effect people like Mike have on so many.

Here’s to great things, both big and small.  Get Out! Get Out There and Ride A Bike, Run Up A Hill, Carve A Turn, Climb A Crag, Sleep Under The Stars! Don’t wait to live, don’t wait to chase your dreams.

Best Birthday Ever

There hasn’t been much going on around here lately. This winter kicked my ass, I was unable to ride and despite filling my days and nights with other activities, I got grumpy not doing what I love to do. The recovery from surgery has been slow, not an unknown going in, but still seems like forever since I was pedaling. As the days have gotten more and more gorgeous and with dry dirt escaping from the masses of snow we had, the need has gotten stronger and harder to ignore. I needed to ride!

Despite the aches and pains from PT, gardening, and some very short rides, I planned a Birthday trip. Just Rach and I, no dogs, just bikes, bags and a short trip to get away and sleep under the stars. I really wasn’t sure I could pull this off, but you don’t live by staying home.

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Riding away from the van, on dirt with the bike loaded and my best friend next to me, I couldn’t put that smile away. Even if all we could ride was a couple miles, I knew this was going to be awesome. Instead we managed to cruise up dirt roads with the wind at our backs, the sun shining and songs on our lips. We climbed up easy grades on a good road for about 7 miles, turing off the main road onto some steeper, rougher secondary roads.

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Just then out of the wind came the voice of none other than DaveMOE! Who was following our tracks, found some gloves we dropped and chased us down. We chatted a bit and rode on for a mile or so, till Moe went off searching for old routes and we began looking for a campsite. We forked onto even more vague two tracks, some cow trails, more lost old roads and eventually found our nook for the night. Nestled up in an amazing set of granite formations, hidden from view, sheltered from the wind, all while supplying views of snow covered mountains, wild rocks, and so many rolling hills.

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We ate, napped, hiked, drank whiskey, ate more, made a fire and soaked up the wonder and quiet of this tiny little place in the this big world. There is something to this, to being out here, detached just enough, surrounded by raw natural beauty and the powerful forces that go along with it. It is humbling, it is refreshing, it puts things in perspective so quickly and evenly. Being out here makes me appreciate these wild places even more, makes me realize how there are special places like this all over the world. How important and empowering it is to have this peace and quiet.

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The night was quiet and cool, and we slept well. We woke up with a campfire, a sweet sunrise, coffee, and bacon. After breakfast we went for a long hike around the rocks, down into the main drainage and out across two smaller valleys. Despite having to pick hungry ticks off of ourselves, it was such a lovely walk. Warm sunshine, old forgotten roads and twisty leg scraping game trails, no agenda, no time constraints, just “let’s see what’s over there?” kind of roaming.

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After exhausting ourselves hiking drainage after drainage back to camp, we napped for a bit before breaking down camp and packing up the bikes. We said our thanks to this little spot for hosting us and reversed our route back to the van. The wind was in our faces, but the hills were in our favor and the miles slipped behind us as we giggled and smiled. Soon we were loading the bikes into the van and the trip was done. We were gone just 30 hours or so, but I feel like a new man. I feel refreshed, connected, inspired, and in love with this amazing earth and what we are able to do without causing any harm.

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Get out there and soak up the wonder, it is always worth it!

Dream On

Feel like I write so often about the importance and joy of following your dreams. There have been no better times in my life, than when I was chasing my own. There are many reasons why I can’t stop promoting the fine art of living your life while still going after what makes you tick. Life is about living, not just working.

I almost didn’t hike the Colorado Trail way back in 1993. I was a total rookie and fear attempted to keep me home, working all summer. Instead I walked from Denver to Monarch Pass. I walked the rest to Durango a few years later. Then in 2001, I walked the whole thing. I learned so much on these adventures. I learned about myself, I learned about Trails, Mountains, Storms, Water, mostly I learned that it is always worth it.

I almost didn’t make it to the 2011 Tour Divide. First off, I almost never signed up to do it. Fear was keeping me from getting out there and riding down the spine of this continent. I lost a job and a dog leading up to the 2nd Friday of June 2011. So many things went wrong leading up to it. Still I did make it to Banff. I did race the Divide and it was brutally hard, but it was perhaps the most amazing experience of my life. The reason, I was chasing a dream that I almost let go, a dream I had to fight and work so hard for. All that work and stress and pain, made the release of that ride so powerful, it still makes me shake.

That is why I write this blog. Cause if there is even a chance that someone reads it and gets the energy and inspiration to get out there, I have achieved greatness. There is no greater gift to give, than giving someone the legs to get up and run. There are so many others out there that in turn, inspire me and countless others to get up, squash the fear, and chase our dreams.  I am indebted to these amazing humans for every tiny glint of inspiration, it has saved my life many times over.

Yesterday we lost a great man. Someone who lived, who chased his dreams and never gave up making them a reality.  There is no way to repay the debt of all the energy that has been given to us, the only way is live out our dreams, to chase them down no matter how hard it is. To never give up or become bitter in our pursuit and to share the stoke with as many as we can. I am forever grateful.

Dream on Brother, Dream On,

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