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.
I Love you Jefe! We made it through some dark times and there has always been some light that landed our way. I was trying to use some weed for a while but I don’t have time for it. Too much other stuff to be done each day. Don’t look at the trees or your going to run into them, look at the gaps between the trees.
From Mike Ritchey:
I had no idea, Jefe. Now that i do, I want you to know that I am in your corner all the way. Anything anytime anywhere, from me to you.
A brave, honest and poignant post. I hope it touches others the way it touched me.
Brave of you to open up Jefe; sometimes we have to go through the very hard, dark and immense times of struggle to feel a moment of bright sunshine on our faces. Keep persevering; your recovery will come and you will once again experience the magic you seek…
What’s your shoe size? I know, I know, it’s not getting into the saddle, but there’s still plenty to do that never requires you to rest your hand on a handlebar.
I’ve been there, in your spot, oh sooooo many times now. I try to reinvent myself, but that’s usually just me grunting at the 45-year-old body I’ve got wishing it could do the things my 25-year-old body used to. Dude, your body is still in excellent shape. You could probably prance up any 14er 15 minutes from your house.
I’ve stopped trying to recreate my life twenty years ago. I’m working daily on my health, spending as much time as I can on the trail, and, for the first time in a long, long while, feeling pretty even-keeled. I hope you can find a bit of this peace too, maybe we’ll see some trail running pictures from around Hartman’s before too long.
wish I could run, but my left knee is a mess, I do love the simple joy of just the legs, heart and lungs…but I can barely hike without developing a limp, cycling was ok if I was careful
Hey Jefe – I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye but I want you to know that I have always had a tremendous amount of respect for you! You have achieved a lot and overcome more! What I found that keeps the darkness a bay when I can no longer do what I once could is to past it along to another. Somewhere out there is next group of kids living in a trailer wondering about the meaning of life. We need to be their mentors, sounding boards when no one else wants to listen and provide guidance on how to over come the obstacles that they place in front of themselves. Let this be your next continental divide, your next boarder to boarder ride.
Because if it is the challenge that fills your lungs with air there is no more challenging things then to explain the feeling to one who has never experienced it!
Ride on my friend! Your are strong then you know and wiser then you feel.
Jefe, you are stronger than you might realize to even share this with your friends. Thank you. Please reach out more and don’t leave us prematurely. We all have demons you know, you are not alone. Cheers my friend to finding a new passion and a life of peace that works for you! Much love and support! Reach out!
Hi there Jefe. I guess alot of folks started reading your blog cos of what you achieved on the bike. We’re still reading your blog cos of what you’re achieving off it. Keep telling your stories, I’ll be here to read them.