Riding Home

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Lenny’s Rest, Colorado Trail

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.

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flowers and butterflies!

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.

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Tarryall Detour

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.

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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.

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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.

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Gorgeous cloud riding outside of 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!

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my trusty Ibis Tranny

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!

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looking west of Marshall Pass

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!!!

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Get up and Go

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Most of us have a stack of crazy ideas somewhere. Things you thought of once or twice but never made them happen. I’m guilty of it in droves, My Brain pulls things out of thin air all the time. Most of the time I critique it down to stupid/dumb/waste of time, real quick and toss it to the back of the pile. Then sometimes that idea just sits there on the back burner and simmers till it is ready.

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I’ve wanted to put together a single day epic, or a mulitday adventure, here in the Gunnison Valley for years. We have so much access and so many trails it is a wonder we don’t have more races/events based on this amazing infrastructure. For me, there have been a few things that slowed that process down, #1 I’m usually busy trying to ride every trail in the valley or train for some race and never have time, #2 There are already too many events to chose from, and #3 Everything that catches my eye on the map ends up looking way too damn hard.

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Dr’s at night? Well, hell Yes!!!

For years I have signed up for events that turned out to be solid type 2 fun, maybe it was in the description, maybe it was assumed. I have also seen, both first hand and through the experiences of others, that the rewards of pushing through tough sections and hard situations can be worth it, often the end result is incredibly powerful. With all this floating about in my brain we went on a hike that explored a route I have always wanted to use, but feared its would crush people. On this hike I was blown away at the beauty, uniqueness and sense of space that this spot contained. It dawned on me, right there, that suffering makes us better, it opens our eyes and demands what we normally never deliver. In this case it could take folks to places they never knew or could imagine.

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So I did it. I drew up two loops on the computer. A Big Loop and a Mega Loop. I did lots of homework with maps, GPS, even flagging. I realized pretty quick that the smaller loop, yes called the big loop was possible, the Mega would have to wait. I made a GPS track, I made cues, I flagged some obscure trails, just in case anyone wanted to show up.

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never a straight line

Yesterday, Friday the 25th, at 4:AM, I showed up at Rock N Roll Sports ready to ride/race/or hold hands. Instead I ended up heading out alone with the goal of completing the course, getting on the ground GPS data and vetting the course I strung together. It turned out to be a grand ole day. I rode 147 miles, gained and lost 24,000′ of vert and spent 26.6 hours out there with only a quick 10 minute nap to keep the eyes open.

The Big Loop is big. Lots of remote routes, tons of hike a bike, so many damn rocks! It is so hard, that I may look into a couple easier route choices to keep it fun and not too serious. That being said, it goes to some cool spots that can not be visited without doing the extra work. You simply can not feel or experience these places and things without making the effort to get there. With plenty of easy things out there, I am heartened that there are the things that make us curse, scream, and shudder to ourselves. The latter makes us grow and evolve, the former leave us to become slobs. Bottom line, some things are worth every bit of effort it takes.

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Live, Love, Give, and Inspire

 

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.