Change

Stagnation is one creepy fucker. You just don’t realize you are stuck in a place, then find that it is eating you alive and it feels like an impossible task to get out of the muck. I have been grubbing around in the mud a bit too much lately. So hard to separate the need to feed my family and feeling like I have to go to work even if I am so done with it. I was going under while kicking with both feet, only to realize I needed to get out of that current and eddy out into calmer waters.

Crazy how powerful a perspective switch can be, especially at the right moment when desperation seems to be more reasonable by the minute. It was as simple as getting another job offer out of the blue. Wasn’t like I didn’t know that there were other jobs out there, I just wasn’t seeking, or doing it with the right mindset. I only saw another job as another job, just a continuation of the same same. Somehow that text offering me a job hit me just right and I was able to share free of the suctioning mud, get to higher ground and see that I was not stuck in anything but my own shitty thoughts.

So change is coming. Taking a couple weeks off from working, going to head to AZ for a quick AZT 300, then home for some house stuff and extra family time. Next a new job starting soon after that. Another thing I am bringing with me along these next steps, is that perspective. That we do not have to fall into the roles we are assigned. We do not have to take out our frustrations on our selves or our loved ones, be aware of this energy and do something different. I am excited to see what this season brings, lets get outside!

Negativity and it’s cunning friends

One of the biggest traps in my life has been a tendency towards negativity. I get beat down and fall into these holes filled with self doubt, harsh critques, and low dead end energy. Once that happens the door to self destruction cracks open just a bit and all hell is there to experience.
What sounds so crazy dark and dreadful, is really what we all kind of deal with in life and how we deal sets us up for future success or mournful failure. I am trying, but it isn’t enough. I can see myself fairly clearly most if the time, getting deep into your brain under durress makes for some harsh self honesty, and I can see where I let my emotions take me down roads to places I do not need to return to. Why do we keep failing ourselves!?
Living gets in the way of a lot what we need to be really doing in our lives. All the everyday stuff tends to drag us down and weigh on us so much that there isn’t much left to put in an extra effort. I have been paralyzed by the big steps I want to see happen, but seem impossible. So I pulled myself together and started with small steps. I started a training diary. I am looking at my weaknesses and actually applying known techniques to make a change. I am gonna let go of the bullshit that does not deliver a damn thing, less social media and internet drooling. Just one pot of coffee instead of three, and drink some more water Jefe!
It is so easy to make bad choices, even easier to defend them, when you are down and desperate. It is so insane to me that the lower I go, the more I try to defeat myself by eating crap, drinking massive amounts of coffee, drinking no water, not stretching or even doing the bare minimum to be nice to myself. So gross how shitty I treat myself.

I am going to put myself up on the priority list a bit and take the little steps everyday to take me where I want to go. Feels good to say that, looking forward to living it. A succesful person starts today, right now, a junkie always starts tomorrow

Determination

Life has taught me much about determination. It is an amazing source of power and can push you beyond your pre-conceived notions of limits. Determination can’t always take it all the way in the real world. I have hit the limits in my own solo pusuits where the body just won’t go any further no matter how convinced that one tiny bit of the mind may be.

Being part of a new family has brought a whole new awareness to what it means to be full of determination. I am pretty good at dusting myself off after whatever spills life has thrown at me, it isn’t pretty to watch and tortorous to live through sometimes, but I am piss full of raw determination. I also have never excelled at team sports, why? It is fucking hard to work with other humans to achieve goals! Most of us do it all the time, everyday, some of us are amazng at it. My skills are sorely lacking and never has it been so evident to me as now. Trying to coordinate all of life with an almost 2 year old, a busy working wife, and myself working 40 hours a week and trying to train has been the most frustrating part of my life. At times it truly seems impossible and I almost throw in the towel, give up and start drinking again.
Determination won’t have it that way, there is some deep and powerful stuff inside this need for more than ordinary. So I am trying harder, digger deeper, getting up earlier, stayng up later to get more time on the bike, more time to stretch and repair. The other side of this is I am going to try to network more, communicate better, and try to make myself and my dreams more of a priority, that is going to be very very hard, but I am determined to chase these persistent dreams of mine.

struggling on

Life is full of struggle, holy hell some of us know that from from our everyday experience. Some of us just get hit with it hard from time to time…

I have been struggling for a while. I have a tendency to fall prey to the darkness that surrounds us. I am well aware of this and have learned to live with it, in that I seek out the things that make life sing, so that the crap doesn’t get out of hand much and is worth dealing with it when it hits. My ways of winning in this crazy world have turned out to be really challenging to access with a wife and child. When I lived alone with only a dog or two to care for, life was; working enough to keep a roof over our heads and some food around to eat, sleeping whenever it felt good, being outside as much as possible, and planning bigger adventures. This just does not work with my family.

The past few years I have been struggling to find peace, to find positivity, to find a way forward that feels good. Life got crazy busy and complicated really fast and I am still at a loss as how to find a way to still feel alive. Most days I feel like I’d be better served to have no feelings or thoughts, that my role is more robotic than human.

Working is an ends to means, I get very little satisfaction or energy from work, it is something I have to do and I do it well, but I hate it. So frustrating to give so much when others do not give anything more than what is required. Work leaves me emotionally depressed and physically drained.

I do love to spend time with my daughter, watching her learn, grow, mature is very inspiring and lovely, it is also tough after a 10 hour shift in the kitchen. I honestly beat myself up over the idea that I can’t be happy working and being a dad, that this isn’t enough for me. I sometimes wish it was, or that I could coax my brain, or sooth my soul into being ok with the situation and just be happy with this. Instead I find myself missing the pull of adventure, I catch myself staring out the window all the time, I am tortured by social media with so much fomo I could choke, I try to turn this around and get inspired. I do get inspired, I do rally and get up early and stay up late riding my bike in between all the other stuff. But it starts to grind me down and I end up so tired that I want to sleep all the time, and then I miss rides cause I can’t get up early enough and then I get grumpy.

Things are gonna get better, we are trying to get the child into some pre-school, both for her and for us. I am still some how thinking of ways to make it work. I really don’t want to give up on the dreams still burning to get out of my head, but god damn each time I get shut down, I feel like I just might throw in the towel. Pretty sure there is a limit to how much getting back up one can do.

Dirt and Rocks!

We left Gunny on Saturday to head to Grand Junction, after a long work week and some challenging family time, I wasn’t in the mood for doing anything. But despite my bad head and reservations for going, we packed up and headed to grandma’s house anyways.

I was concerned it would be too muddy, I almost didn’t bring my bike, but I got to ride some dirt, and some packed snow. It wasn’t spring in GJ, but the sun was just warm enough and there was a good bit of dry dirt and of course rocks. While I love riding here in the Gunnison Valley, the riding in GJ is different and awesome. Rock ledges, drops, pinches, hops, so much amazing natural and built rock, makes me feel like an 12 year old again. I love getting shut down on a hard move and trying it over and over, so gratifying, so challenging!

Rachel shredding on her Revel Rascal

Then we got out for another ride the next day with a couple friends. The conditions were almost exactly the same, except I have been riding by myself almost exclusively and it was such a blast to ride with some sweet, fun, good folks that love playing on trails. Damn I miss that sort of normalcy, and it is so simple, just meeting up and riding bikes with a couple friends is the good life!

loopy lucidity

This noisy world seemed to get even noisier this year. Despite that chunk of shutdown time where things were kind of eerily quiet, the humans and the World seem to be screaming loader. The World is screaming cause it is changing, change hurts. Humans are screaming cause they refuse to change, to adapt to the world they live in, even as it is changing. Crazy times and it is impossible to completely ignore, and it is more likely for one to get upset and/or invested…

Even more reason to remove oneself from any and as much of this noise, as possible. Every bike ride for me, and I believe for most, is a chance to do just that, let go of the BS and feel the feels inside yourself, your heart, and your mind. The longer the ride, the deeper the thoughts go. Going hard and pushing the limits, opens up more avenues and enters more energy into the thinking, settling of mind, the finding of peace. The 2020 Loopy Loop was just that for me, a deep look at life, the experiences and what I learned from them all, and also how it all felt, how it left me, how I left it.

I left Gunny on the Loopy looking for a challenge to push thru, but I wanted to try and go fast, see how many hours I could trim off my time from last year. I went in still something of a bike racer. Instead I found myself lost in the route, trying hard to always be moving, efficient, smart, yet less concerned with the overall hours consumed. It turned from a race, to a true personal challenge. I wasn’t racing the clock, I was seeing what I could do with my mind and body, it was a very cool feeling to experience. But also a realization that I may not be as hard a charger in these sorts of things as I was, this I am still digesting.

I have always said that doing things that are hard, makes for so much personal exploration and growth. You can strip away so many protective layers that kept some of your thoughts, feelings, and desires untouchable. It doesn’t have to be the Loopy Loop, the TD, the CTR, etc, hard is different for each of us, but we all have the capacity to overcome. Get out there everyone, I can not say it enough. Get out there and leave as much stuff behind as you can and see what you can see over the horizon, it I always worth it.

Crazy

Last I wrote I was excited to get to Wyoming and race the Drift 100, but that was also buried under a lot of stress and worry. I was concerned about our van with 230,000 miles making the trip, I was scared about the expense of travel, dog boarding, and missing work. I was worried about my lack of fitness and the twinge of weirdness in my left knee. It was very hard to let go of all that and just be psyched about the opportunity to race bikes.

Luckily my family is amazing and the drive was smooth and gorgeous, our 12 month old daughter is so flexible and rolls with whatever seems to come. We made it with no issues,  our cabin was right next to the gear check and race meeting, the sun was out and warm on our faces. Still I was a knot of worry and stress, and there was still over 100 miles of unknown waiting for me the next day….but things were lining up quite nicely.

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We got to the start with plenty of time, I got the last things tucked into my bags and pockets and then we were off! I hung back for a minute or two to see what others were going to do and to get my legs spinning smoothly. There was a big winter storm forecasted for the next day that I didn’t want to tangle with if at all possible, so when the pace didn’t increase I pulled to the front and tried to find a good balance between getting it done and not blowing up my legs. I made the first aid station in good time on a firm fast bit of trail, I filled my water and headed right back out trying to keep the pace and stay ahead of the storm. A few miles later the course dropped off of the nice groomed tracks and headed off into the wind blown wilds!

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I tried to keep pedaling and kept lowering my tire pressure, but alas I was forced to walk.  That’s when Pete caught me. Pete was skate skiing and blew me away with his fluid form and smooth use of energy. We went back and forth many times over the next 30 or so miles. Every time I thought I would drop him and pull ahead, he would instead pull along side me and pass me! We hit and left the second aid station, Sheridan, about the same time. The trail got significantly faster and easier after and I managed to slowly pull away. By the third aid station I was a few miles ahead. I stopped, chatted with he super nice folks there, ate, drank coffee, filled my water, and pushed on. The climb up Union Pass was firm and ridable, but my tight back and empty legs forced me to get off and walk, over and over. I got super frustrated every time I had to get off and walk, but still I crested the pass and did my best to gun it down the other side.

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I managed to stay hard on the pedals till the slightly downhill rolling flats near the end. On dirt this would be an easy place to drop gears and hammer, on snow, with my depleted legs and screaming back, I was forced to back off over and over. I yelled at the sky, I screamed at my legs and back, I tried to push through it and hammer, but I had to keep backing down and just pedal. None the less the miles slowly fell behind me and I arrived at the Kendal Valley Lodge to the excited cheers of Rachel and the race directors. I won, hot damn, I won! Right up to the end I thought for sure I would see Pete’s headlamp, or hear that crunch swoosh of his skate skis.

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The craziest part of this ride was how underwhelmed and lack luster I feel afterwards. Not that the race wasn’t good, it was great. Good course, good conditions, well run aid stations, great people, all in all an event I recommend for next year! I just don’t feel free to celebrate with all the madness, confusion, and suffering that is going on in the world right now. I just can’t get my head out of the crappy situation the world is in. I was going to use the Drift 100 as my jump back into racing, with the AZTr 800 in a few weeks and the ITI next year. Things have changed and my plans have too. I’m out of work like so many others, traveling is no longer a good idea and in some respects not possible. So who knows what is next, other than a lot of catching up with use chores and laying low. I am grateful that I got to travel and race just before things got super crazy. I am also so thankful for my amazing wife and daughter, they are my rock in these times and they mean everything to me.

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Huge thanks to Why Cycles for making such an amazing bike, my Big Iron is only 3 weeks old, yet was dialed and perfect. Also big thanks to SRAM for their great components that keep me shifting and braking smoothly. I have been blessed by the support of so many  people in my life, regular folks that have gone out of their way to inspire and support me in my relentless pursuit of my dreams, you know who you are and I can not thank you enough.

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Just a reminder, lets keep our heads level in these tough times and keep loving and supporting one another, there has never been a more important time for community.

 

 

So Busy, So Excited, So Scared

My life is so busy it makes my head spin and often keeps me from sleeping. So much to do and time is like precious quick silver slipping between my fingers. I have to say I have gotten much better at getting things done in tiny rushed increments of time, sometimes just a few minutes here and few there, but it does not leave one with a rested soul. I often feel on the verge of exhaustion and frustrated with all the ideas in my head unrealized. I keep trying to keep things in perspective, taking in those deep breaths, letting go of the stress, but it keeps building.

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This Girl makes all the work worthwhile

Yet life is also full, rich, and often enough, amazing. My body and mind may be tired, but my heart sings with a whole new found level of love and commitment that I truly didn’t know existed before Lillian was born. I spend a great deal of time with my daughter, watching her grow into a little girl full of wonder, curiosity, laughter, of course tears and fits too. Despite life being harder and my own goals more difficult to pursue, this new life is rewarding beyond words.

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I adore you!

Even with all that, I am still questing after some long time bucket list experiences that burn inside me. The biggest of the two being the AZTr 800 and the Iditarod Trail Invitational/ITI. The ITI has captured my imagination for over decade. Something about the vastness, harshness and difficulty makes it imposible to let go and forget about. I get excited every year watching the race unfold, only to get intimidated by the magnitude of the ride, and the rather incredible expense of the gear, travel, and 1400$ entry fee. So year after year I try to put it out of my head and carry on. The good news is I have some incredible friends that are helping me with some of the costs and that has made it possible to give it a try. Around the first of the year I saw that a there was a new ITI qualifier that would speed up my timeline for getting to AK. So now I am signed up to race the Drift 100 in Wyoming this coming March 13th. 100 miles of wild Wyoming on a fat bike, oh yeah! So next week the whole family is headed up north for the event.

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Testing the full load for the Drift100 on the Why Big Iron!

The AZTr800 has been on my radar since I learned about it and raced the 300 in 2009 and 2010 gave me a taste of some of the trail.  The April timing was never great with my old bike shop job as that was very busy time when trails dried out and everybody and their brother brought in neglected bikes needing love. Plus I have to admit, I have been intimidated by that ride, especially the Canyon hike. Yet fear must be faced head on, and  I don’t work in a bike shop, the Firebrand is closed for a week, and my amazing wife said I should do it, so no more excuses! So here we go again, the whole family is headed to Arizona in early April so I can do an Individual Time Trail/ITT, of the whole dang trail.

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I use the whole day to get things done, often riding in the morning before the family wakes or at night after dinner

While it is very exciting to get the gears turning on these dreams, it is also a heavy load for myself to carry. I don’t do things lightly, I tend to go all out, sparing no quarter in pursuit of pushing myself. Training has been very difficult to keep on track, in fact my training is a train wreck. Our busy life makes getting out not so easy, and I often miss my ride window for a whole lot of reasons. Over the past year I haven’t slept enough, between work, taking care of our baby, keeping up with chores and being filled with anxiety, means I often get only 5-6 hours of sleep. I am overtired and undertrained, not the best combination for a 100 miler on snow and three weeks later, an 800 mile self supported ride thru the desert, prairies, and forests of Arizona.

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I am lucky to have such an amazing backyard as well as an amazing family

Right now I feel excited and so very blessed, also terrified that I didn’t train enough, prepare enough, sleep enough, or save enough money. I may not get more chances to do these things so I want to make the most of what I am able to do. My wife and child are making sacrifices in order to help me realize these dreams and I want to shine like a crazy diamond out there and make them proud. But the reality is a bit daunting, so many hard miles in the near future and I just haven’t put in anywhere near the saddle time I would have liked to.  It really will be an interesting month, hope I can rise above my fears and doubts and follow these dreams with joy and reverence.

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More gear testing for the Drift and catching the sunrise

 

 

 

 

So Expensive…

I’ll admit that I live in a bubble, but when did everything get so damn expensive!? I know cause I got it all; health insurance, life insurance, auto insurance, home owners insurance. We pay the gas, internet, and electric, We pay the mortgage and the grocery bills and all the taxes that go with it all. So much money goes out of our wallets and bank accounts and into the world every month, month after month. Sometimes its seems impossible, but we pay our way and on time, every month.

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Thing is I’m not a robot and I enjoy doing things besides working, and recovering so I can go back to working. I love riding and racing bicycles, oh my I really do get so much joy from pedaling! Bikes are not cheap, and after all the money goes out every month, there really isn’t much left. I can scratch together a bit here and there to keep the bike rolling, but have you seen the price of entry into bike races these days? Holy smokes, there’s barely any races and rides that are under 100$. I used to have a $1 to mile ratio that I tried to keep, basically I wanted more than a mile for every dollar I spent. Not possible anymore, 50 milers cost 100+$!!! And an ultra entry is 325$ and doesn’t include tracking!

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Hate to say it, but cycling and racing has gone from elitist to untouchable. No wonder so many race events and formats are going away, no one can afford it! I’ve never expected to race every weekend, or even once a month, but I’m gonna have to pass on all of it. Truly a bummer as I love to travel to these events, see the endurance tribe, push myself and get inspired. Its hard to see all the things happening and realizing that I simply don’t have the resources to participate. Damn shame as there are many of us, true working class folks that would love to race bikes, but guess you got to have a great job with lots of flexibility, a trust fund, or be sponsored to even sign up. In the grand scheme of things, really not a big deal, but my heart and soul are missing it greatly!

 

 

No Sleep Till…

I used to think life was crazy, trying to balance all the things seemed almost impossible. No matter what I tried, if I was hell bent on a goal, some other things got left out, cast aside, or neglected. I tried so hard to check all the boxes, sometimes getting only tiny slivers of sleep in order to try and get it all done.

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Then I fell in love, big time and next thing ya know, Rachel was moving in. Things changed, I was priority #1 no longer. Household happiness was no longer achieved by seeking out a singular experience of my choosing. It was a tough transition. It really is difficult to let go of ones personal goals when that was everything for so long. I built my life around that, I found things that challenged me, then I set out to try and do it. I had no social life, I worked jobs that gave me flexibility, I had no savings, no health insurance, I lived a fairly bare bones life that put almost everything in the goal box. The other side is Rachel helped me get my shit together which is a really good thing considering what happened next…

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Then we had a baby, got married, and bought a house all in less than 5 months! This is a level of responsibility was never on my radar, and its deeply life changing. Its not like life ended, but a whole new life is birthed along with a baby. I don’t regret my decisions at all, everyday I am so grateful for this choice along life’s path, no matter how difficult. I love my wife and baby daughter so much it hurts sometimes. I want everything for them both, and I try so hard to make their dreams come true. But I still feel that pull of adventure and challenge, and now I sleep even less than ever trying to make it all happen.

 

 

Everything is all well and good, life is full, bills are getting paid, my girls are flourishing, and then I get excited. It might seem like I’m a fairly un-exciting, stoic kind of guy, but I get ideas in my head and they burn like hell in there till I bring them out. While I never stopped racing bikes, I’m burning to do it more. The past few weeks have seen a little break in my work hours, combined with an incredibly warm late Fall, have allowed more miles to go rolling under my wheels and it has felt quite amazing. Sunday I was out on a rebuilt 29er that is now a gravel bike. The bike felt so fast, the wheels flashing under me, the rush of air, feeling that bit of burning in my lungs and legs. The feeling goes deep into my soul and awakes my inner adventurer. I begin to dream of bigger things, lots of bigger things, then I look at the time and turn my wheels around and I head home. I am always so happy to get home to my lovely girls, but part of me always wants to be still spinning those pedals, feeling that air, seeing the world around me change.

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Its hard to know that there is something inside of you that is thirsting for more and is always wanting to be set free, while at the same time knowing the most important people in my life are depending upon me for so much. Its a wild ride to feel these powerful things inside me, often pulling me in different directions, both seeking fulfillment. Finding balance these days seems more impossible than ever before, in fact I reflect upon what I thought was so hard and almost laugh at myself, there was so much less to take care of. Now it is far more complicated, the reasons far more precious and important, but the rewards are also Huge! That is where I am at, trying to find more time to ride and pursue those dreams, while also taking care of my family and working enough to keep the roof over our heads and moving life forward. I am trying so hard to make it work and make everyone happy that it takes my head spin!

Luckily…

“I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live”

George Bernard Shaw

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blue square or black diamond?

I’m not taking the easy path, I’m taking this shit head on and seeing what I can make out of the rest of this life.