Feeling Good

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2016 has been an interesting “season” so far. It really hasn’t been a season at all in that I haven’t raced my bike since February and haven’t been training or even riding all that regularly. While the lack of focus has been kind of nice for a change, it has been a challenge to not get depressed as I sit at the computer and watch all those colored dots dance all over the map.

 

I have been hiking a bunch, camping, backpacking, sleeping in and drinking fair amount of beer. Not bad ways to roll through what has been a very nice summer so far up in the mountains. But there is a twitch inside me that is not completely satisfied.

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This past weekend I got out for one of my favorite rides, Fossil Ridge. It is a wonderfully brutal ride that extends from my door way out into the woods and all the way back to my door again. It is full of roots, rocks, ruts, but also flowers for miles, quiet solitude and amazing views of this valley I call home. While I wasn’t fast on the ride, I felt good! My knee felt strong, my head was in the game and it seemed to flash by almost painlessly.

This simple ride had me thinking….

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Then last night I went out and rode Aberdeen after work. Another great ride that takes off from my house and returns me home several hours later. So much single track through the high desert, full of smooth rolling rocks, swoopy turns and so much sage. It was such a gorgeous evening and again I felt good! 

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Two good long rides and I am now pondering a jump back into the “season”. There is something about taking on adventures that test us, that I can’t seem to walk away from. Why is it the minute I start to feel good, I am thinking of crushing myself? Regardless, I am feeling pretty excited about feeling pretty good, we shall see what comes of it!

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Door to Door

Got out for a two nighter with Rachel this weekend. No goals of milage or location in mind. Only to simply head out from the door of our house, explore the backyard and return back home.

The weather was perfect. Mostly sunny all day with a few non-threatening clouds dancing about the sky and the warmest temps we have had yet this spring.

The flowers ranged from good to amazing, in places the sage was jumping with colors.

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We rode a bit of pavement, some singletrack, bunches of dirt roads, some ghosty cow trails and of course some good old, out there bush wacking to make it a true bike packing adventure.

Without trying we managed to avoid seeing other humans till our ride out this morning. We did see(and hear) countless birds, prancing deer, one darting coyote. It was quiet, peaceful and wonderfully relaxing.

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The amazing thing is just how in the moment I was able to be out there. I wasn’t thinking about work, bills, demands or even the Divide. I was there; in the sunshine, watching the clouds swirl, feeling the wind graze my skin, soaking up the flowers, feeling the rose bushes scratch my sunburn and the ice cold snow melt burn my legs.

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After this ride, only race I found in my mind was how soon could I get back out there for some more of this magic.

Get out there, quit the excuses whatever they may be, get out there, ride, walk, run. Go find those hills just outside of town, take the unknown road, the ghosty animal track. Live, Breath, Explore!!!

 

 

 

Sunset Moon

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Magical evening out there tonight amount the sage and granite. A simple bike ride treated me to a glorious sunset and magnificent full moon rise. Amazing things, right there in the sky, in my backyard. Tangible, real, and yet extraordinary.

 

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So often I am amazed at the clarity that being outside, under that big open sky, can bring. All the hang ups inside the mind, seem to become simple and reasonable to overcome.

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Why is there such a disconnect?

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Which of these experiences is “reality”?

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For now I’m going to side with the sky, sun, moon and flowers….

Sub 24

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Yesterday Rachel headed out for a 3day, 2night bike packing trip on the White Rim. Helping her get the bike and gear dialed in the days prior, made me a bit envious. So I got my backpack loaded along with a couple for the dogs to share and set out for a quick overnight.

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We didn’t end up starting our hike in till almost 4:pm. So I picked a random area that gets little human action this time of year, yet was still close enough to the highway for easy access. Despite carrying little gear, we did have a good bit of water for a dry camp site. The load felt surprisingly light on my back, but both Jackson and Lexi were noticeably slower and less wild with their own swaying packs full of water and dog treats.

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Cresting the hill and then bushwhacking down and out of a wash found us our spot for the night. A nice little nook with some shade, soft sand to sleep on and great views. Love camping in these quiet, unknown little spots. Some how they are both unremarkable and spectacular at the same time.

 

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After a quick break in the shade, we ditched our packs and hiked down the the river. This turned out to be a popular choice as the dogs charged down the beach and leapt into the frigid spring melt off. After some quality time splashing about, barking incessantly and wrestling on the edge of out right warfare, we hiked back up the canyon to our campsite.

 

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The rest of the evening I sat in the dirt, on rocks and gazed upon the sky, the snowy mountains, sage covered hills. I made a small fire, cooked up my rice noodles and sardines, drank a couple beers and watched the sun dance upon the clouds and landscape. I listened to the wind blow calm and soothing through the scrubby trees. I threw sticks and scrubbed dog necks and butts.

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For those 18 hours or so, life was reduced to something simple. I didn’t figure anything out, have any realizations or visions. It just felt good to be surrounded by a reality that was not full of broken bikes, needy customers, hungry computers, and to do lists.

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There were no ticking of clocks, no stress of missing out on a work out, no worries about PR’s, and setting records. Instead the time was filled with the howl of coyotes, sweet bird songs, whispers of the wind, the crackle of the fire and a sunset and a sunrise. (and of course the wild cries, whimpers and barking of three crazy dogs!)

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post overnighter…got to love tired puppies….

 

inspiration

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Spent a good bit of the day getting Rachel’s dirt road bike, my old El Chi, ready for some bike pack fun. Took some time to figure out which bags would fit and carry 9+ liters of water for an upcoming two night White Rim trip.

After lots of stuffing and un-stuffing and getting the bike all loaded we headed out for a little shake down spin.  Which was a good thing from the gear/bag side of things as there are some adjustments to be made for sure. Live and learn and learn…

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The weather window turned out to be quite glorious. The sun was shining, the wind was at our backs and the dark swirling clouds seemed to be everywhere but overhead. We headed out on pavement, shortly thereafter we turned onto dirt and then up a steep hike a bike filled almost forgotten old single track.

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Despite the trolling for ticks, the scratching of legs and the potential annoyance of pushing bikes, I was stoked to be exactly where we were. To my wonder and surprise, Rach seemed to be enjoying the adventure as well. There was something about the random and primitive aspect of this outing that just made me want more. I didn’t want to come home. I want to still be out there huddling under a tarp in the trees watching the sunset.

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Something dawned on me out there today. I have an open slate this summer. I can go bikepacking with no agenda. There is time to enjoy all those many amazing camp spots, rather than wistfully pass them by. So many roads, trails, streams, and mountains to explore…and someone that wants to go there with me. Today inspiration hit me in a whole new way and I am smiling something grand in appreciation.

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livin, lovin

lemons and lemonade

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I hatched up a big plan for this summer. I wanted to race my bike up and down the spine, through the heart of the Colorado mountains, and from the Utah border to the US/Mexican border. Known to some as the bike packing triple crown. Been burning in my head for years. Was gonna finally make it happen this year.

Thing is that the universe doesn’t always follow the wild hair ideas that get beat around inside our heads. Sometimes reality bites and spits you and your adventures out into little pieces.

This was gonna be be my last big hurrah as far as bike racing goes. Been torn the past few years with all my energy going into racing bikes and not much left for anything else. I was looking around and seeing more and more opportunities that would not be possible with all the time, money and energy going towards racing, bikes and training.

I’m torn up inside about this decision. I really do want to race big, real Big this summer. The reality is that my body is feeling beat down and some long neglected injuries are getting worse and kicking my ass. Does make me feel lucky in that for years I have gotten away with beating myself to a pulp and kept on going, showing up for race after race and made due with what I had. I really was lucky for so many years.

The adverse isn’t so bad. I have lots of projects on the back burner. I have an amazing backyard that I still am aching to explore more and more. I have a wonderful partner that wants to get out there and adventure with me. It is a tough pill to swallow right now and I have been in denial for weeks that maybe, just maybe I can still make it to Banff in June. Not gonna happen this year.

Sometimes life takes away your perfect ice cold soda pop, but then you find some lemons and make kick ass lemonade. Carry on my brothers and sisters, keep on rocking.

your momma don’t work here

Funny how we humans can sometimes act.

Today I saw a few dozen folks come out on a bitter cold and windy May morning. Complete with snow flakes swirling and darting across the pale grey sky, to give back to a place they love, Hartman’s Rocks.

There were some new trail projects, some trail maintenance, a bunch of post digging and sign posting, some fence repair and a couple tons of trash picked up. There were mountain bikers of many disciplines, moto riders, hikers and dog walkers out there doing some good to keep our amazing backyard as great as it can be.

Rachel and I spent most of the morning picking up trash. Widely scattered skeet was first. Must have been a hundred of those bright orange clay pigeons shattered all over the ground, some rocks, and a piñon tree. Shot all to hell along with a quart of automotive paint that glopped into the soil making large gooey patties. There was also a good bit of blown up styrofoam and of course a good smattering of broke glass involved in this party. Must have taken an hour and a half of crouching and picking, sweeping on our knees to gather up 97% or so of the trash, in this one spot.

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Next we drove around hitting random camping spots I wasn’t sure anyone else would remember. More glass, so much god damn broken glass. Used condoms, old faded bottle rockets, beer cans, arizona tea cans, half burnt sheet music, a floor mat that stunk of poop, and more. Much more.

There is just something weird about picking up after others. It really makes you want to drag those folks out and make them clean up after themselves.

Bottom line is, your momma don’t work here!