Surgery and Bouncing Back

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Wednesday January 4th at around 1:pm I went under. I did not witness the surgery, thankfully I saw no knives, no blood, heard no crunching of bones or whirling of drills. I simply woke up groggy and fuzzy, my hand wrapped up in a splint, thick with padding and ace bandages. There was still no pain, the nerve block was totally effective. No evidence of that major reconstruction, just my big fat pink fingers poking out.

By 5:pm I was home. Eating food and drinking water felt so great. Sitting on the couch with the dogs was very comforting. Having Rach near was so wonderful. The biggest thing was IT was done, the anxious, nervous part was over, now it was time to be patient and heal.

Then around 8:pm the block wore off and the deep, deep aching began. Soon that ache became a throb, the throb began to scream, and I began to moan, groan, and twitch. I was eating pain killers, Advil, and icing my fat sausage fingers. Still the pain was sharp and incredibly intense. I was feeling totally exhausted, eyes burning, sore and dry, still I did not sleep. Nothing but groaning, shaking, and sobbing.

After that first night, my outlook was bleak and grim. I could not imagine dealing with this level of pain for long. Got clearance to up my painkiller intake, which is a double edged bonus, but it helped. Then about 30 hours after surgery the pain faded. It still hurt, but suddenly I didn’t want to scream anymore,and I could sleep!

Since I haven’t had any major breakthroughs but I’m moving forward. Getting better at using both, my non-dominate left hand and my fat swollen fingers to do everyday stuff. I’m zipping my own zippers, tying my own shoes, making meals, walking dogs, even shoveling snow! The road ahead is dauntingly long, I’m fighting my daily FOMO as best I can, keeping my head down, marching forward.

Thanks to everyone for the help, love, and support!!!

Moving Forward

Immediately after scheduling the surgery on my hand, I was filled with hesitation. The same hesitation that kept me grinding my teeth and promising my body it was the last race before getting it fixed. Still it was scary to see that date on the calendar. To know that if I did all my homework that would be the day.

Now that day is tomorrow. Holy Shit! I am scared. I am scared of not having control of my body. I am scared of the pain. I am scared of the FOMO I will feel. Mostly I am scared of going crazy.

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This morning I got up to go for a quick spin. My legs felt great, my lungs pumping wonderfully in the cold air. A wisp of speed here and there making my spine tingle with joy. Funny much I don’t want to give this up, even quick short rides across the street. I just don’t want to stop riding my bike. I really don’t.

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Riding my bike has truly changed my life, it has given me so much joy, it has exercised so many demons. It has been such an amazing outlet for all my wild energy, a place to put that crazy fuel to work. I love to do other things, but none makes me feel as alive, as purposeful, or as whole and solid as riding my bike.

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Still Moving Forward, Stay Tuned.

get up and get down

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Been sleeping in a lot recently. Pretty much since this year’s CTR I have felt some serious extra gravity pulling me back under the covers. Even I know that sleep is good, I love getting extra sleep, especially after big races. But the past few months were something else. I wasn’t just tired. I was blown.

 

The physical exhaustion is something I am used to and bounce back from pretty quick. What I’ve realized is this time my mental game wasn’t on point. I was unsure about the next thing, when the next thing is usually burning bright in my eyes, keeping me going, making me wake up.

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I like to ride my bike almost as much as some people like to breath. I love the freedom and pleasure that pedaling gives me. Simply pedaling was never quite enough for me. I have gotten fairly obsessed with big rides, nasty rides, rides hard enough to make you cry, that I managed to forget that all bike rides are great. The good thing is I can still ride, the tough thing is after the CTR, I realized I couldn’t ride like I wanted to. I can ride, but I am grimacing between smiles. I can barely wrap my right fingers around the handlebar, always shifting my hand around to find a spot that doesn’t hurt. I shift from bar to bar end, to one finger, all fingers, no fingers. I sometimes catch myself not holding on with my right hand at all. Anything to just keep riding….

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A few weeks ago I forced myself to get up early. It wasn’t even to ride, but to sew. Ironically this made for a 13 hour work day, but it also opened my eyes. I saw that we are more than work and sleep, but you have to get up out of bed to make any of it happen. Since I have been getting up early most mornings. Sometimes sewing, sometimes walking dogs, sometimes riding my blessed bicycles. The first few minutes hurt, but the experience is so much better than a bit more restless sleep. The result is life, living and experiencing.

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So the time has come. Today I’m gonna call and schedule surgery to fix my right hand. I have been dealing with intense pain while doing my favorite things for too long. I have been putting this off because I could deal with it and still live as I wanted to. Now I am losing that ability and I need to get up and get it back. I am scared, so damn scared. I look at my hand and it appears fine, no blood, no bruises, no visible damage. I can move it, flex it, work and ride with it. But not the way I want to. img_2958

Time to get up and make things happen, they are not gonna fix themselves.

Take care everyone, be safe, be smart. Go forth with love in your heart and make good in this world.

34 and raining

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Sometimes the world we wake up to seems broken. Everything seems a little wrong, skewed sideways, a little backyards. The light switches are all upside down, the coffee tastes like tea, the tires keep going flat. Or it is 34* and raining. In Gunnison, in November.

Since we all come from different places, I imagine this experience isn’t the same for everyone, but I would guess that we all get it once in a while. Like the weird ass dream we were having, clung on for dear life and is now mixing dream and reality. Nothing seems quite right.

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There have been more than a few of these 34* and raining days for me lately. Days that turn to ugly depressing messes that would have been better left un-made. Yet we don’t retreat, we move on, grow, toughen up between the tears and keep trying. Man it sucks, but I forget all too often, that life can be easy, but not mine. Tough choices are key to moving forward, there is just too much to do to go back to bed.

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We are not islands. This is so true, we all inspire and infect those around us. I forget that one has to let go of the crap and embrace the glow. I am often surrounded with wonder, grace, and love, and still I wallow in my muck. It is hard to keep your head up, it takes work to move forward and let go of the crap. It is easy to forget, to sink inside, and not evolve.

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my pups, sometimes they make me crazy, sometimes they remind me to live in the moment.

I went into this past weekend grumpy. My head was a muddled mess of politics, self doubt, and some serious FOMO. I wouldn’t let go of the things that were making me sore. I dwelled on them until my brain was swimming in that junk.

Somehow I awoke from my lingering and grumpy dream. I opened my eyes, and once again, there before me was the patient and constant love of Rachel, and the glowing wonder of the place I call home. Things that are here surrounding me, but that I am sometimes unable to see, to recognize, and appreciate. While we can not run away from the sometimes harsh realities that face us, we must never forget to smile. We can never stop loving the world we live in and the people that surround us.

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It might be 34* and raining, in November, in Gunnison. I swear it is a sign that things are not right, not at all with this world. There is much hard work and many tears ahead of us, but we can’t let go of empathy, love, and forgiveness, without them we lose too many things that make us humans worth having around.

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Peace and Love to All!

living and learning

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I am so used to burning the candle that comes with too many ideas, too many rides left to do, too many races still in my head. I have to admit I thrived on all that work, planning and dreaming that makes it all happen. My usual condition of one more thing to do, has been muddled and confused.

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This present state of less than 100% has kicked my ass. Mentally it has crushed me. The past few months I feel like I have been pulling back on everything that has made me tick in the past. The passion for riding, racing and pushing boundaries has been so instrumental in keeping me moving forward, staying positive, and focused, has been subdued.

Still I keep trying…and finding light!

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Despite the aching pain that shoots through my hand and up into my arm, I keep getting out there and riding. In fact I have been riding a day or two more every week. It is simply amazing how good it feels to be out there. Swishing through the single track, jumping over rocks, pumping the rollers. Bike riding is so damn good for me!

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The magic of all this is when I stop thinking about what I can’t do(right now), I am so happy to be riding at all. So stoked to be out there in this amazing world, with my wonderful friends, riding awesome bikes on fantastic trails. It is beyond words how great it is.

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Bottom line is I am still living and learning. Every time we get up out of bed and take on the day, we win. It is something I forget easily and need to experience to remember. That and not everyday do we get to climb a mountain, or go on an epic ride, or set a record. Life sometimes kicks us in the teeth and we have to recover and regroup, but we should never give up!

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Get out there any way you can. Live, Love, and Be Good!!!

 

 

Off the Map

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Funny how a blog is a reflection. Of course it is a reflection of what we put out there for the internets to see, feel, read. For me and this blog, at least recently, it has been very quiet. Not that I have dropped off the face of the earth, or even stopped doing what I do. Just that what has gone on and down, hasn’t been what I was feeling as sharing type stuff.

Thing is this blog is all about Stoke. All about replaying the events and experiences that give me fuel, energy, inspiration, and sharing that desire with the few willing to read what I have bothered to write down. I want to share in order to inspire others to find their outlet, their passion and give it everything they have. That is the point. Lately I have been squandering in a mess of depression, lost vision, and low energy, thus no posts.

I’m looking and thinking forward, or at least trying to. Another big back drop to all this lacking, is an old, old ignored injury. I broke both my wrists way back when I was 15. One of them, my right and favored hand, never healed quite right. Not to mention I was a reckless snowboarder for a time and then I got into endurance mountain biking….needless to say I have beaten my whole body down over and over. For years I have milked the declining mobility of my hand/wrist. I saw a Dr way back in 2011 before my first Divide ride, and he suggested surgery, and soon! But the damn thing still worked and surgery scares the shit out of me….so I milked it and milked it….

For years, literally years I told myself, while deep into a multi day race, “just this last race, then I swear I’ll get it fixed, just this last race…” Well I never did get it fixed and now it hurts. It doesn’t just hurt when I race, or when I hit something wrong or funny. It doesn’t just hurt after a long hard ride, or a tough day of work. It Just Hurts. All The Time. I don’t ride much these days, just 2-3 days a week. I am not signing up for races, I can’t lie and keep doing that anymore. And that hurts almost as much.

So there are some facts, some reality I hoped to avoid myself. I am going to have to get surgery. Hoping to get insurance figured out and get the damn thing fixed up around the first of the year. It is a long road from there too, 6-12 months to recover and lots of PT. I am not stoked, I am scared and depressed beyond words. I miss racing. I miss training. Shit, I miss riding so much that I am crying. I knew this was coming and still I feel so exposed and unprepared for the reality of not riding and racing for what might be another year?!

There you have it. Reality can sometimes bite, and chomp down hard. But as someone wise said to me recently, “we all do our time” being injured, being sick, being forced to take time off. We all do, I have done some time in the past and I knew this was gonna get me someday….just that looking that day in the eye is unnerving and terrifying. I am trying to bring some stoke back into my awareness, into my energy, and back into my life. But it is hard. It is so hard to let go of what I love to do, even if for just a while.

Keep getting out there, keep finding the next adventure, the next unknown and please keep that Stoke alive!!!

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High Country Jewel

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Funny how plans change over time. I was hoping this summer would be a season of bike racing, mainly I was hoping to race the Divide one more time. Then life happened all over those plans and I spent most of the summer working, riding, and drinking beer! While I was bummed about not following the plan and that there wasn’t much racing, it turns out the adverse wasn’t so bad after all.

Living up here in the mountains leaves lots of amazing options for plan B’s. Plus my adventure partner has been game for almost anything. Therefor this summer has been chock full of bike packing, backpacking, car camping, hiking and of course a good bit of mountain bike riding. So much good stuff packed into the past few months.

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After spending every chance out in the high country for the past couple months, I wanted there to be a crowning jewel to this season. A sweet, tough, beautiful cap to all of the efforts and experiences of being up high in the raw and exposed world of above treeline. Knowing Rachel had barely even touched foot in the mighty San Jauns, I knew what that crowning jewel needed to be, Segment 23 of the Colorado Trail. No more talk of this section and what it means to me, time to tread it, live and breath it!

This past weekend we did it. We got up early and rode up the brutally steep and rough Wager Gulch to join the CT at Carson Saddle and the start of segment 23. Once high atop the pass the wind raged as the dark clouds swirled and spit. It was not the warm sunny September sky I was hoping for…but sometimes you got to have faith…

We pushed on. Though there were moments where my eyes scanned the sky with much trepidation, the heavy grey clouds never again opened up on us and the sun made more and more of an appearance as the day wore on. It wasn’t easy, the high country never is and this crowning jewel is especially tough and unforgiving. The seemingly endless trail that keeps climbing out of sight and the tough riding might beat you down, but the vistas are beyond words.

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So many mountains, just so many mountains. All bathed in gold, red and green in the basking sunlight, with the turbulent clouds casting fast moving shadows across the hillsides. So many peaks, ridges, bowls, cirques, and valleys all pulling the mind forth in wonder, all filling the heart with joy.

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I have known Segment 23 for years, ridden it, raced it, in the light, the dark, the twilight, in the glow of sunsets and sunrises. So many times I have been graced by it’s passage. Still makes my soul stop and take notice. Still it beats me down and makes me feel brilliantly small. Still sparks awake my love of this world and all it’s creatures. It is a powerful place to experience, to soak in and feel. It is to me the Crown Jewel of the High Country.

 

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