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

Looping

One dream I haven’t made time for in recent years is putting on my own ride. Based right here in the Gunnison Valley, using some of the routes that I have learned and trained upon for the past couple of decades. Places that crushed me to get to, but have since opened my eyes.

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There is such raw beauty out there in this world. It comes in many forms, sometimes it is just a quiet stand of aspens high on a ridge top in the middle of nowhere after a long, hard climb. It is a wonder that I forget, and quite regularly that life is much the same way, greatness does not just pop into your hands, it must be pursued and earned.

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Un-rideable mud, tangles of down trees, endless climbs to rough, arm wrenching descents and more, and more. Tough, brutal even, but all of it with a backdrop of breathtaking beauty and a core of love. A playground with lessons in self knowledge and soul testing grit around every corner.

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I rode a bit of this on Saturday. My whole body is still sore, I’m not the trail crusher I once was, but I’m still keen to get back out there again. To keep listening to the wind whispering wisdom through the trees. To keep digging deep into myself, finding both strength and weakness. For these lessons don’t stop teaching, so long as we keep listening.

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Be wise, respectful, and humble, but do not be afraid.

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Strong Coffee

Dark, Hot, and Delicious, thank the universe for the little things. This morning the coffee is doing more than making me wake up, its giving me something to hold on to.

I woke up this morning sobbing into my pillow and I just can’t seem to stop.

To be honest I cry pretty easy, I may not show it, but I’m a sucker for the heart string pulling stuff, dog rescue videos, beautiful babies, weddings, sappy moments in movies, etc. I don’t cry much over my own shit, that I tend to turn into anger and bitterness. So why am I crying? I keep asking myself the same. I don’t think its because I feel sorry for myself, although maybe I do. I just can’t stop thinking about how much of my life is based on the physical. Work, Play, Creation, it is all done with my hands.

For the record I can still do everything with my hand that I ever could, it just comes with a price. I can ride, even still pull off some good hard techy stuff, or ride 145 miles in a day. I can still wrench, cranking out bike after bike, turning turds into functioning machines. But, I hurt. I awake in the middle of the night with my wrist throbbing. I can barely operate a computer mouse with out cringing. I find myself riding with one hand, way too often. I can not do trail work anymore. I can barely write with a pen.

I can’t stop thinking about all the folks with greater disfunction than me and how they can deal and move on. Makes me feel like a wuss for not being tougher, more resilient, more adaptable. Guess I am still getting there. But this transition, or whatever it is, makes me cry.  I am scared, I am afraid to let go of what I know. It flashes me back to when I was younger and stronger, but still could sense that it wouldn’t last forever, I thought, “well when I can’t do it anymore, I’ll just move on”. Now that I am there I find that I am terrified, more than riding into the darkest unknown, surrounded by reflecting eyes hiding in the bush. Guess that this is just mental, spiritual version of that.

I want to believe that there is more, more to me than the physical and I am trying to open up to it. Yet it is also hard to imagine doing any of it with out my hand and therefor without pain. Guess that is one of the hands dealt by the harsh side of life and we never, ever seem to be done paying our dues.

Again, I am looking through the drying tears and seeing the coming sunrise through the open curtains, feeling the hot coffee flow through my bones, the fuzzy nuzzle of dog noses on the backs of my knees. Little things, can be the steps to more powerful things, I keep telling myself, even if I don’t feel it yet. I’m not giving up, that is for sure. I really do want, no need to give more to this world, but god damn it sucks to wake up crying. I’ll just make another press of coffee and keep on trucking.

 

Counting Time, Wasting Time

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.

 

 

Damn it, I got sick. Nothing crazy just the usual crud. Luckily I’m fairly healthy much of the time. But it comes around and gets most of us from time to time. Thing is I suck at it. I get twitchy and impatient. I get aggravated not ticking things off of my stupid long to do list. For someone who excels at suffering discomfort, it is amazing how crabby and grumpy I get when I’m ill.

Yet I must say, I always learn something when I’m sick. Like any change in perspective, it makes you see everything a bit different. Especially appreciating the wonder of feeling good! It takes the dumb stressful things and makes them seem silly, why worry about that everyday, if you feel good, why bring it down with worry? With so much suffering out there already, why bring it on yourself?

I’m great at over thinking, worrying, stressing myself out. So talented I am! Yet after a couple days of being forced to take it easy, when I simply can not do anything on that list, I read, I sleep,(I blow my nose and cough too) but I slow the F down. I swear there’s less teeth grinding, more relaxing thoughts, more possibilities popping up in my head.

Here and now, I feel more at peace with my life. The judgements of others that I tend to endlessly scrutinize myself with, seem less important, more remote. I feel more in love and in touch with the good things that surround me, my cool job, my supportive friends, the wonderful woman in my life. I am much less agonized inside about missing out on riding and racing. Patience is tangible, not completely elusive.

Like any separation from normalcy, reality, whatever you want to call this recess from the regular operation procedures, I wonder if the perspective will last. And if so, how long? No matter, the reminder here, I believe, is to keep moving, shaking, dancing about, so that stagnation does not take root. Keep living, keep dreaming, never stop shifting places, so that the perspective is alive, not pigeon holed in one dormant place. I need to keep this going and keep negativity at bay, it has never really helped me no matter how I cling to it.

Live, Love, Breath. Keep growing no matter what the obstacles. Our own futures and the future of this world depend upon it.

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ups and downs

 

FullSizeRender“Out there, on dirt, in the hills, maybe even up in the mountains, a simple ribbon of trail leading me forth. There, in that moment, I am content. Sometimes I am even truly happy.”IMG_5699

On a fluke, I get out of work early! Have to deal a bunch of crap before finally getting out for a ride. Ends up being only being 1:20 or something, door to door. Ends up feeling like a million bucks. Seriously, a million dollars. The whole ride my legs ache, almost cramping, still I push a gear harder. I stand up and mash the pedals as hard as I can. So Now…Why not throw in that trail too?! Got to be home, showered and out the door by 6…so I hammer, hammer. Trail after trail. Then the road home.

So simple, and after decades, it is still So amazing what it does for my head, my sense of purpose and place. So freaking powerful, A Simple Bike Ride. FullSizeRender[1]

I forget as quickly as anyone how great some things are. Try to hang on to the good stuff, don’t push it away or forget them. I get caught up in wondering why I am here, it is okay to wonder, but in the meantime, keep getting out there and doing something good.

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nothing wrong with doing good

 

 

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