About jwookieone

Gunnison Valley resident with a almost rabid need to be outside. Love to walk, bike, ski, backpack, camp. Addicted to easy and short or long hard adventures out in the woods, sage and snow. Feel compelled to push myself to see what I am capable of

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.

 

 

Lots

So Much stuff is happening, (and yet there’s not much(glamour) to report….

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I will say it out loud, on the internet, and proclaim it hi and low, having a baby and raising a child are way freaking harder than I had ever imagined. I’ve been around kids, parents, etc, and I have a pretty good imagination, but there is nothing like the reality shift of a brand new human arriving and coming to live with you. Its amazing, love beyond words aches from my heart. I have never loved someone like I love my daughter. It is truly special and amazing. Yet it is also so hard. I cook food all day from 3:AM to 1:AM some days, then I come home and be a dad all afternoon and cook dinner for 8:pm sit down. Its a lot. I get up at all hours of the night, almost everynight, it never stops, that is why it is so hard, any endurance event you can stop, turn it off, come back to neutral. With a child, its non stop. It is often a long, long day, and without any recreation. Go to bed, Work, Be A Dad, Go To Bed and do it again, and again….and thats the thing thats so crazy about this adventure, it never stops, it never ends. Kinda like a perpetual 24 hour race….

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Yet I am not satisfied with that! No, working non stop, raising a little girl, being a husband, taking care of two dogs, and taking care of a 140 year old house was not enough! I Want More!!!

So for a start, I’m gonna take on the whole AZT. Yes, finally I’m gonna ride the complete bike-able Arizona Trail in April of 2020. The race has moved to October, but April works much better for me. The elusive AZT 800 is in my sights, oh I am so excited, so scared, so invigorated, and overwhelmed. There is no time, I can barely get out for 5 hours a week of riding. I can barely escape to the garage to maintain the family’s bikes, much less make new gear, yet here we go.

I have to admit that everyday life is so much load that I almost crumble once a week and fold under the pressure. I’m not kidding. It really is hard to manage all the things and still see straight. There are times when I get frustrated and feel like maybe it is all too much and I should just focus on being a dad and providing for my family, you know making money. I hit this very wall all the time. It hurts inside, as you see your own dreams getting chewed up and eaten, there is only so much time and energy. Yet I just dig a bit deeper and find more juice to keep doing the mandatory thing and still push for tomorrow’s dreams.

I have no idea how I will train sufficiently, or buy the parts and gear I need, or find time to sew new bags, but I’m in!!! It will happen as it will, at this point if The Family says Yes! Then I’m gonna do it even if I’m not ready, trained or prepared. Cause life’s clock is still ticking, it never stops and theres still so much I want to do. For one: my spirit commands that I live life thru these experiences, and two; I want to show my daughter that life isn’t easy, but you can always find a way to live your dreams.

There’s more to come on the fuck-it-why-not-add-this-too list, but thats it for now.

Keep getting out there, keep loving, living and finding your own way!!!

Loopy, Life, and All the Rest

That Loopy Loop! Yep, just two weekends ago?!?! I have to say it was amazing. Maybe that proves I’m crazy and love suffering…or the Biggie Loop was as close to exactly what I wanted to create, that it felt like magic to be out there. The first day and a half I was stoked beyond words and totally focused on being efficient, smart and relatively fast. I stayed stoked, but it spread into my thoughts as I thought more and more about life and all that has come to be, all the changes, the amazing life that is now mine! Its a powerful to feel love of the life you are living.

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I got so stoked on my life. I thought so much about Rachel and Lillian and how lucky I am, that I got super homesick around the end of day two. Nothing like pushing your mind and body almost to the limit, all the while the brain churns and chews, digests, regurgitates. All strung out from pushing 110 miles a day, dehydrated, sunburnt, depleted, it leaves your heart and mind open to stimulus, thought and it all comes back to those girls. I think about the adventure I am on, possible races and adventures to come, work, the future, the world, etc…and everything comes back to those girls. I crave being out there, I love pushing my brain and body to go and go, it feels amazing to be outside for almost 3 days, yet I motivate to keep moving, so I can get home to my loves.

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No here I am back to reality. Back to work, although I am retiring from Rock N Roll at the end of September. Its a big change, but I’ve needed to take a break from being that involved in someone else’s business. I stepped back big time this summer, and now I’m almost done. Its a relief and a a bit of a let down. Still, between two jobs I’m working 6 days a week thru the end of September, its not always easy to motivate for that many alarms, but its worth it. My life is worth it. Its a whole lot of new and takes it lots of deep breaths, its draining to the marrow sometimes, and yet, its amazing.

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Loopy Loop Report

The 2019 Gunny Loopy Loop is complete!

Huge Congrats To All Riders, thanks so much for coming to ride!

Shortie Loop Finishers:  Tom Runcie, 2d:04h:57m (not tracked)
Todd Schweitzer, 2d:06h:37m
Kristen/Joe Tonsager, 2d:13h:24m

Biggie Loop Finishers:    Jefe Branham, 2d:20h:30m
Justin Dubois, 3d:12h:0m

Artec Durham, 5d:5h:51m (ITT)***

What A Freaking Route! Riders have chimed in and there is no doubt that these two Loops are special beyond words. These are not Tour Divide cruising, in fact mile for mile The Loopy’s are harder than the CTR and AZT.  But that difficulty comes with some serious bennies. These rides are jammed pack with wild n crazy single track that keeps your mind focused, your hands pummeled, and your smile beaming. Every turn delivers more endless mountain views, fields of flowers, and more single track! Think less touring, more ultra enduro trail riding. So many Rocks and More Rocks!

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Top of Hike a Bike to Timberline Trail

There might be a couple small tweaks to the routes for 2020, but nothing big. These beautiful babies are almost exactly what I wanted to create, the Ultimate Trail Rider Loops. If you are looking for an amazing and hard weekend adventure, Don’t wait to commit!!! Plan on making it to the 2020 Gunny Loopy Loop!

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Paradise Divide

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Flower Friends

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401, yep that too

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So many Mountains….

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Raw Trails Galore

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Magical Places

***Artec did an ITT on the route about 3 weeks after the Grand Depart. While not that much later, the temps dropped a good bit and the daylight hours were significantly shorter. Much respect for his skills at staying warm and motivated out there all by himself!!!

 

So Close

The 2019 Gunny Loopy Loop is almost upon us.

The weather looks amazing, hot days, cool nights, chilly mornings, very little rain in the forecast. In fact be careful with fire out there, no fire restrictions that I’m aware of, but its dry.

A couple notes I want to bring up:

I didn’t mention in the cues that we will be taking “Death Pass/Trl409.1a” a tiny bypass along Brush Creek Rd. Same as Last Year! I updated the cues to reflect this. The road is acceptable! But the trail is a bit shorter and less climbing. Again either is fine. I also updated the Shortie Map/GPX to reflect this as well. I apologize if this is confusing or a pain. The Biggie Map is correct for this section, but the Biggie cues have also been corrected. This is only a mile or so and not significant of a change. I will also go over this Friday night is anyone has any questions. This bypass happens at ~mile 83 for the Shortie and ~mile 112 for the Biggie.

I also want to reiterate that this is a self supported, DIY style ride. No Outside Support! If you know the person, just say no.

Again, super casual get together at the Dive in Gunny, Friday the 30, from 5-7. The Dive is right on HWY 50, next to Safeway. I’ll have a map and a laptop with the latest GPX files. I will also be there to answer any questions or concerns.

Start is downtown Gunny, IOOF Park on the second block of North Main St, 4:AM. This is also the finish, please take a selfie in front of the water fountain and send me this with a text the time and day that you finished. I’ll be sure you all have my number before we start.

Any last questions please feel free to hit me up, or ask Friday/Tomorrow Night!

 

Go Time

Less than a week till go time.

The sky is so blue, the sun is still scorching hot, the mornings are quite a bit cooler, there’s a tiny turn in the aspen leaves, Labor Day is almost upon us.

Maps are finalized, Trackleaders is up and looking so good.

http://trackleaders.com/loopyloop19

Shit is getting real.

Get together Friday night, thinking 5-7PM, still not sure where…but I can show it on a real map, answer any questions, etc.