Be Good!

What a simple bike ride can do. It does things for my brain that nothing else does, (except maybe skiing, but that’s another story) It keeps me in shape and wanting to be in better shape. It makes me smile, makes me want to try, makes me want to share this experience with everyone. For how much better would things be if everyone could be made to feel small, in love with the world, happy, healthy all at the same time and in such an simple and easy way. No drugs, not chemicals, no gasoline, just a bike, some trails, sprinkle in a few friends, a huge storm looming to keep that perspective of being just a speck in this universe. Makes all the BS I get stuck on, obsess over fall to the side, slip off my back.   

I have been tired lately. Perhaps a bit too much bike racing, with the constant of working, dealing with my wild n’ crazy dogs, trying to write a bit. Not enough time or energy to ride outside of racing. Not much drive left over from a summer of pushing myself pretty hard. I let thoughts linger too long, not doing anything about them, just repeating the thoughts in circles. Slowly making myself crazy. I get too caught up and forget that I just need to go for a ride, get up even though I want to sleep all day and go for a ride, roll over some rocks, carve a few turns. Go straight home from work, Do Not Drink Beer, get on the bike and spin those pedals, see some open sky, breath some fresh air, soak up the change of seasons that is happening around me.

I forget about this release, even after years and years of riding. Sometimes I just can’t seem to get on my shorts, shoes and helmet and get out the door before I get distracted, realize how tired I am, lose focus, drop my initiative and start thinking. I tend to over complicate things instead of just doing them. Why, because I am human after all. Not too happy about it most days, but I am what I am. The thing I (and all of us) need to remember is to have faith and just throw a leg over that top tube and go. Your front tire will find the way, your legs will fall into that familiar place and get you there, anywhere. Don’t know exactly why but it works, riding bikes is good for you. GO now and be Good!Image

Pedaling is my Prozac

evening ITT 012evening ITT 017ImagePedaling Is My Prozac. Sounds like a tagline, but it is so true. Nothing can turn a day around for me more than going for a bike ride. The simple act of spinning those pedals, the forward motion, the act of going somewhere, not stuck in thought, or wondering what I should do. I am here and now doing it.

Yesterday I just woke up grumpy. I wanted more sleep, but the dogs were crazy and loud, my mind moving too fast to even pretend to try. Perhaps I was too tired, my blood sugar low, but for some reason the grumpies stuck to me. All day I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I wasn’t winning at this game of life, that I could do better. In tight circles my thoughts raced, over and over to the same conclusion, I need to grow up. Stop racing my bike all the time, stop spending all my meager income on bikes, race entrees, and time off. Maybe I need to get a “real” job and move on from this phase of my life.

Then I got home from work, got changed, got on my bike and rode away. Luckily I ended up at Hartman Rocks. I started to climb away from the parking lot, by the time I was on top of Jack’s Trail, with my heart pounding, my mind calmed down. Then it was Becks to my favorite, Tech Becks, two moves into the trail and negativity was gone. A smile was firmly in place, things were gonna be ok. The night was quiet, the air was cool, the sunset perfect. An hour and ten minutes after leaving I got home a much better person.

Tonight I just needed to put the day behind, to hammer out a few miles, push some blood through my veins. So lucky to live so close to a place like Hartman’s. After so many years it still challenges my lungs, my skills and makes me feel small and my so called problems smaller. Tonight I looped around on Jacks, Tailpipe, Ridgeline, Top Of the World, Mid Luge, the new Sea O Sage, to good Ole Rattlesnake, and of course Tech Becks, to Collarbone. Just a perfect little ride on a perfect summer evening. Another gorgeous sunset, another reminder of why I live here, why I live the life I do. Thank you Universe, thank you.Image

long rides

People wonder why I go for long rides? Well there are many reasons. For one there is only a bit of summer time here in the Rockies. I just love getting up into the high country which around here has so many trails, you can’t do it all in a summer no matter what. Thinking about all those trails makes me link them up in my head and gets me out the door. Plus I really like riding my bike, I like climbing, hike a biking, descending, flowers, rain storms, getting scared shitless by lightening, getting a bit lost, truly love the adventure of it. But the bottom line is when I am out riding for hours on end by, usually by myself, I can focus a bit more on just one thing. Bike riding. Sort of a recess from reality, not that I really escape from thought, stress, although some times I am lucky enough to do so. But when I am pedaling it seems a bit easier to take, easier to not get upset, so much more distracted by keeping myself and my bike in one piece. Yet it all waits for me when I get home. So Ride some more right?

last trail on today's ride ended up doing 79 miles, 9500' of climbing and 9.5 hours in the saddle

last trail on today’s ride
ended up doing 79 miles, 9500′ of climbing and 9.5 hours in the saddle

Well it is still all here waiting for me. Now I am tired, hungry, sort of wasted from all the hours in the sun, in the saddle. It is even harder to contemplate the solutions to my stress, my worries. Not like I accomplished anything out there except tire myself out, take some pictures, make a mess of my poor bike. All that energy, why can’t I harness a bit of it into taking care of the crap that lingers in the stress stack. A bit of that energy to change the way I go about my everyday, to push me to be more educated, open more doors for my energy to flow into. But instead I lose focus and go right back to riding bikes, wrenching bikes, scraping by, always just making it.

I want more, that is the problem now. For I still have no education, I am 40, I have no money to speak of and not so sure what I can or want to do. Why is it that I refuse to believe in myself, in doing anything I try hard enough to do? I can come up with ideas and then shoot them down so fast they never get a chance to breath. Why not take it a bit further than full of holes and try something, invest my energy in it, make it happen? Because unlike going for a big bike ride in the woods for hours on end, it scares the shit out of me! Sometimes clarity can come to you the key is to hold on to it, make it real. Damn I know I can try harder, life is too big to hide from that which you fear, like a big bike ride, I just got to start pedaling.


the flowers do not doubt themselves

the flowers do not doubt themselves

Ever wonder what humanity’s potential could be. It is something that I ponder on quite a lot, I just don’t think we have even glimpsed the possibilities. My heroes are the ones that push the limits of what we think is possible. Always loved reading about folks doing amazing things, but that was in books. Maybe I was naive and unexposed but ever since living here in Gunnison Colorado I have been blown away at what people can do. Run 100 miles through the mountains, I once said “No Fucking Way!” But ordinary people around here, do it all the time. Ride a bike 150+ miles a day for 16 days straight, “impossible!” Then I did it myself, so now I believe there is much more. I have surpassed my own limits and can’t help but wonder how much harder, farther I could go IF I could really focus. What if I was trained, or started earlier in life or truly stayed on target and didn’t get blindsided by life and the turmoils it brings along. What if folks were given the training and support and education from the get go, what could they become?

Instead I see humans gravitating towards comfort, convenience and constant entertainment. Sure there are a percentage of us that are pushing it, trying to exceed our limitations. But what about the species as whole? What about evolution, I want to be a better person, don’t you? Living where I do I have constant reminders that I could be better, faster, train harder and sometimes it helps me get up and out of bed. Makes me do a few extra push ups or lunges or what ever. Or that I could be reading more, writing more, sleeping more! But I also fall into the trap of drinking beer after work instead of going for a run or ride. Or staying up way too late wasting time on the internet and being so damn tired the next day and then missing a chance to train. Makes me wonder and no I don’t want to be so single-minded that all I do is push myself. Yet I know that I could be so much more, I just get distracted or think too much and forget to believe in myself.

Sometimes you just got to get out there and put the money on the table. So today I went and time trialed one of my favorite rides. Basically I raced myself from my front door and back, trying to beat my past time. It was a good day, but I fussed around, had to mess with my bags, just had to stop and take a few pictures,(the flowers were awesome!) I didn’t feel all that fast, and for the most part didn’t feel like I was pushing it that hard, although at one point my legs wanted to quit. But I managed to beat my previous time and I wasn’t so sure that I could do that, and as I rolled into town I knew I could have gone even faster. Potential, so much potential and that is what keeps me going, trying, breathing, getting up in the morning. It is so hard to keep that focus, believe me I know, but we all can try and try harder. Help me out and do your part, dream, strive, love, encourage and live your life to it’s potential, we can all inspire each other to be our best.

Sunday Wonder

This may seem a shock but this morning I slept in. Milling about not trying to accomplish much, but simply hang out. Still walked the dogs a bit, ate breakfast, drank a coffee. But mostly chilled, it was nice.

Finally get my shit together and out for a ride shortly after 1:PM, it is already hot and windy. I don’t know for sure where I am going, what the target is for the ride. Just point my front tire up Gold Basin Road, turn it into the Hartman’s parking lot and up Jack’s Trail. By the top of Jack’s I have a plan, Aberdeen. Haven’t been out there yet due to my Growler obsession and I love that loop.

I took it real easy yesterday on the bike and that meant today could be a good, long hard ride. So I keep the pedals cranking, the handlebars pumping, the wheels rolling and hopping along. I can not pass up the opportunity to take some pictures as the flowers are going off.  So many kinds and colors popping up all over, visually vibrant and deliciously distracting, I just can’t help myself.

I don’t fully open it up, but keep the pace flowing. My legs feel great, with a little shout here and there of complaint, but mostly they are as happy to be cranking as I. My mistakes were leaving the house a bit dehydrated and only taking two bottles. Maybe I thought this would keep me from riding too far? It is hot, dry and windy and soon bottle one is gone. I try to only sip from bottle two, but soon it too is gone and I am out there! Luckily it starts to cloud up a touch, yet when a fork in the road comes up, I decide to ride more not less, it’s not that hot? Still the legs obey and keep up a good pace, just singing along answering every climbing call with their duet response. And the flowers stay strong and gorgeous keeping my smile company.

Sketchily surfing some cattle driven moon dust, I hit pavement and head home. I put my nose down and grind out the last ten or so miles with almost all the legs have left. I feel like I am flying and it feels so good. My mouth is dry and stuck shut, but everything else is humming along. I stop at the Gunnison White Water Park and dive under. I hop out and dive back in. The cold fresh water energizes me and it feels so good! Once again I am amazed and grateful to be able to ride my bicycle the way I do and where I am able to do it. Big Thanks to all, now get out and ride!ImageImageImageImageImageImageImage

Day Changer

It was just one of those days. The sort of day that you wake up with something stuck in your thoughts and it carries with you all day. It started to make me grumpy, kinda sad, and get mad at myself. Nothing productive comes out of holding on to the thought, it just eats at you and sours your mood. Maybe I am a bit tired, I feel pretty pooped after work today.

Still I get on the Team GO kit and get on my bike. Since the Growler is said and done, I need to venture away from good ole Hartman Rocks and head out up Lost Canyon Road. A pretty steep MF of a climb, lets you know how you are really feeling. I feel good, but the climb makes me feel small, makes all my worries seem even smaller, silly small. Up and up slowly climbing into the aspens and dark timber, the grass is thick and green, the tiny creek trickles its flow. An elk bounds off into the timber. Bright bunches of flowers popping up everywhere.

After the steady long climb I turn onto the ever ghosty Colorado Trail Spur. Very few had laid tread onto this bit of trail yet this year and it is over grown, vague and lumpy with a few patches of snow still lingering in the dark pines. Trying to surf my bike through one patch of snow I go over the bars of my bike and by some miracle I manage to get onto my feet, only to have my tumbling bicycle smack me in the elbow. Yeee-ouch! Would have been very funny to watch, I laugh aloud as I rub my arm, imagining how my face must have looked. On and on I ride, following vague old trails and almost forgotten dirt roads and farther and farther my troubles seem to be.

The view from atop Signal Mesa is quite outstanding. Setting sunlight and alternating shadows define the sage covered hills that stretch out for mile after rolling mile as the hills ascend up into the dark craggy rock and snow covered peaks. The sky fades into a pale pink in the north and east as the last golden rays of sun slide over the West Elks. Simply Stunning!

Tonight I am riding well, the bike feels weightless as I rock the handlebars, hammering up and down the hills. It feels so good to push my pace, to feel the blood powering my mind forward. Each heartbeat leaving me feeling cleansed of my day’s negative thoughts. With the sunset setting the peaks a glow, with such timeless magnificence surrounding me on all sides, it is hard to believe I was making myself crazy over something like the lack of money in my life, Thank You Universe, Thank You.ImageImageImageImageImage

Fear and Loathing in Your Own Head

easy sounds kinda boring

easy sounds kinda boring

How many of us have ourselves as our worst enemy. Way too often I find myself seeing better paths ahead and still manage to not take them. Completely aware that I am doing just that, not making the change for the better, not taking the initiative, not making myself a winner. Then I berate myself with belittlements over and over, “what a wuss, why can’t you just say no, why can’t you just go to bed earlier, why can’t I get up earlier and train more” on and on.

Then there is the inability to dispel doubt from my mind, instead failing to believe in what I can do, taking it all apart, chopping down thy own tree. What if, I wonder, what if I did make those little changes and began to push myself forth with confidence and courage? What could I then achieve? I wonder if I will ever know the answers as I am damnably human and keep locating the traps below my feet. Keep making the same mistakes that have been noted to be just that. mistakes.

Not to be monotonous but my challenges almost always come back to pushing myself, mentally, physically, spiritually to be a better athlete. Sure I do want to be a better person, and better employee, a genuine positive member of society. Simply I want to kick some more ass, really. Year after year I compete in events and see my potential to be so much more, if only I could….There is the hitch. If only I could what, wish upon a star? I do try, I take the knowledge and attempt to focus and train harder, smarter, longer, shorter. I lose my grip, I fall off the wagon, the focus gets fuzzy. I do this year’s event and realize I fell short on my desires again.

Yet over time you just can’t help but learn a few things. I have learned about eating, hydration, pacing all that stuff. But most of what I have learned and been able to put into regular practice, is simply, getting it done. Being able to suffer, suck it up realize that this is nothing and I Can Do IT. Sure I am always so acutely aware of how very human I am when it hurts so much, but that doesn’t mean jack shit if you try hard enough. We weak piddly little things can do some down right amazing things, not just with our bodies and minds, but with our souls.

So today I went out to ride the 2nd Lap of the Gunnison Growler, it has a bit harder start with more techy singletrack than the first lap of the 64 miler. I started tired, sore from yesterday’s lap 1. My back locked up right away, my legs screamed with complaints. It was hard, I didn’t quite go as fast as I wanted, but I also caught a glimpse of what I could do out there. It has nothing to do with listening to my pesky nagging doubts, to instead embrace the pain as my payment for having such the wonderful luxury of racing my bike. Not to back down when it hurts, to not pay mind to when aches rise up, but look forward to the experience. Never give up, don’t stop believing in yourself, never stop trying. And of course smile and smile through all those wonderful turns and rock hopping goodness.

Growler Lap

 It was raining, huge dark clouds were everywhere around us. Full on walls of purple thunder were dragging along the hills. But we still headed out. We had to curl on back to get Sam more clothes and stop to get more air in his front tire. Even wide open and sitting on the side of the pavement somehow the rain didn’t open up,  just peppered and threw graupel at us. Determination was strong as we were heading out to throw down a quick Growler Lap. The race is a week away and it is hard nor to get caught up with the nervous energy and fear of that many miles of pretty tough riding, with 300+ other folks.

Having just suffered through the 12 Hours Of Mesa Verde with a sore tight back that lead to some post race dead legs, I just am not sure what to expect in the Growler. Plus all excited and wanting to do another lap race, I signed up for the 24 Hour Nationals, at the 24 Hours of Enchanted Forrest, only 4 weeks away. Sometimes when I calm down I wonder what sort of fool bites off way more than he can chew. But I am me and I have to keep up my end of the bargain by living and trying. Yet what is wrong with me? I can deal with a good bit of discomfort and pain, but I am more than a little scared about all this.

The best way to deal, is go for a bike ride. Sometimes a sort of fast bike ride, and that was what happened today. After the awful grind up Kill Hill, I opened it up a bit on Main Street, and Josho’s. It felt good. Pushing the pace, cranking the pedals. Sam was wondering what the hell was I up to…he wanted to go sub race pace, yet he hung on my wheel so I just kept cranking.

Soon I backed off and let the pace ebb and flow a bit more, still cranking it hard at times to keep myself feeling honest. I even stopped to let us eat and talk with normal breathing. Today I felt smooth and quick, what we like to call being a Trail Ninja! It is such a temporary condition and needs to be enjoyed while it lasts. Oh it was fun. Being the excitable boy that I am I was unable to control myself towards the end of the ride and pushed Sam a touch too far. He was cooked by the climb up Ridgeline Trail and ate it a couple times on the tough tricky techy ascent. Sorry Sam, but when you got it you got to use it!

I am still plenty scared of the upcoming events, one after another, all hard. But the truth is I love riding bikes, I love riding bikes as fast as I can on all kinds of trails. I enjoy the competition and comradery of bike racing. Fear tempers my approach, but does not dim my enthusiasm. Today while my legs screamed up the climbs, my back sent angry messages to my brain, I grinned ear to ear as my tires carved the turns and hopped the rocks. Even freezing in the wind and rain I was aware of how lucky I am to have the predicament that I have. Thank you universe for letting me get through all the BS I once held so dear and to be at this point in my life.

12 Hours of Mesa Verde

If you haven’t ridden Phil’s World outside of Cortez Colorado, you need to get your butt down there and ride! I had the pleasure of being down there this past weekend for the 12 hours of Mesa Verde, my first race of the year and my first solo lap race in 7 years. The place is amazing. Folks with pure trail genius oozing out of their pores built the smoothest, fastest corners I think I have ever ridden, utilizing the terrain to its blissful trail riding potential. The event is also smooth and tight.

Having not yet raced this year, or put in too many long rides, or that many rides at all, I went into the race a bit nervous about my fitness, but mostly worried about my bum and my back. Was I ready for 12 hours of riding, of riding all singletrack, would I curl up and want to cry, would I blow up and look the fool? Would my Sram XX1 keep delivering the goods or make me walk. Well one can wonder their life away or go out and live it, right? This was also my first time racing for my team, Griggs Orthopedics, Team GO,and I wanted even more to do my best.

Before I know it I am standing in a crowd of hundreds of bikers, the gun goes off and we begin the long day with a jog to our bikes. I go slow on the run and end up bottle-necked and in the back of the pack. I bide my time and take it easy on the first lap, forgetting that the key to lap racing is pass pass pass. By the second lap I feel warmed up and begin to crank the throttle, even as my back begins to throb and fill with knots. Grin and bear it, I tell myself, grin and bear it. From here I simply want to keep the rubber side down and aim for 1:30 laps. Chase the rabbits and run from the wolves to keep the pace from falling off. Oh My does it hurt.

Somehow I simply let the pain be and keep the pedals spinning, and if you keep the pedals spinning you will get there. I keep eating, drinking and pedaling through intense sun, a bit of refreshing rain. I do terrible math all day trying to figure out where I need to be to get my desired 8 laps. I do the math over and over, not that I could go any faster if I wanted, but it gives the old noggin something to do besides focus on the discomfort taking over my body. I manage to get through the lap tent before 6:pm and have the chance to hit my goal, 8 laps! Through out the day my team does a great job of keeping me hydrated, plenty of Squirt on my chain and lifting my spirits, thus I am ready for one more.

Although it hurts, I almost don’t want it to end, the course is just that fun to ride. Even after hundreds of wheels and being exhausted I can still rail the corners with lots of speed, corner after corner just begs you to lean into it and trust it. After 12:30+ hours of riding I am cooked, sunburnt, tight and beat up, but so damn happy. It was not a perfect race, not even close. There is something magical about pushing yourself, with a goal in mind and the willingness to do it, to suffer for it and to pull it off is irreplaceable. It was so hard, it hurt a whole lot, but there is nothing I would have rather been doing this weekend. All day I had no idea where I was in the standings, come to find out I pulled off 5th place and got to stand up on the podium, I just can’t stop smiling!!

Huge thanks to the event organizers, the volunteers out there all day, my awesome fellow racers on Team GO, Dr. Rhett Griggs for making this team happen, Jari for the ride down, Miff for watching JBoy, DaveMoe for letting us leave for the weekend and all the wonderful folks out there racing their bikes with me. It was a great weekend!

Motivation. Sunshine and Rain

Living in Gunnison, Colorado, we get spoiled by the pretty regular sunshine, almost everyday the sun pokes its head out and it is nice for a bit. I am very much accustomed to being able to get in an abundance of rides, lots of sunny days, plenty of pleasant pedaling windows. Normally when a nasty wet day does occur you take the day off, read that book that you’ve been ignoring, clean the house, take a nap. Sometimes when we get a few wet days in a row I tend to freak out, get grumpy wondering if it will ever end. I tend to drink even more coffee, perhaps even more beer. I don’t ride so much, I fall into chill mode and wait for the sun.

Problem is I still like bike racing and have two races in the early season and neither is a cake walk. Slacking is not training, training is not waiting. I need to motivate and ride in this crap, I did this in 2011 getting ready for the TD. By that spring’s end it used up a lot of my will to ride without the sun. I still have fun, I still enjoy the ride even if it snows, rains, my feet and fingers freeze, I really do. I can only think of a few bike rides in my whole life that were not good, or actually bad. That was only when someone got hurt, and those were fun up till that point.

It is that act of getting out the door, dressed for success, ready to face the wind, the cold the wet. Sort of like getting out of bed when all you want is more sleep, but once you get moving it ain’t so bad. Still it is a struggle when the warm golden sun doesn’t beckon me forth. I ply myself with tough love “Just get out there, damn it”  “Suck it Up, Butter Cup” Berating doesn’t always work. Sometimes it just takes a while for it to happen. Going out for a good ride at 4:30PM is just fine, but if I have the day off I feel so guilty for not being out there all day long. Today I didn’t get out for a ride till 1:pm. I was just fussing with this and that, working on my bike, stretching, putting up pictures from that mornings dog walk, doing laundry. But inside this murmur of ” you need to be riding, you should be riding….” On and on.

Finally I get layered up and plan on a road ride as the rain and snow from last night seems too much for the dirt to absorb. The sun is out and feels warm, till you step out from behind the house and the wind hits full force. In my mind this wind rolls east from the Himalayas across the world, unchecked till it ramps up for crossing the Divide. Still I head west, cause if I don’t know where, I go west. Straight into the wind, blowing me all over, making it hard to keep a good cadence. At the first dirt road I turn going south. The wind just sucks. I can laugh at it, but it also makes me curse. Maybe it makes you tougher, but it still sucks. The dirt is good, dry, driven and packed in, so what dirt roads should I ride? Gravity pulls me along blindly and there is Josie’s Trail. I know it will be dry if the road is dry and we climb up it in the upcoming Growler. Turns out to be super tacky, no mud, one puddle, perfect. Hard not to follow one trail with another, so turning onto Gateway, should know better, wet clay! Instead I head back and flow on down Josie’s again. Why not? I turn and ride back up and smile my way down again. The wind is still punishing and making riding perilous, but I am riding dry singletrack!

Sometimes, you just gotta have faith. Make the leap and get out there, it’s like Mother Nature is testing your true desire and will. I feel like she’s asking me, “do you really want to ride? how bad? It could be cold and nasty, sure you want to go out in that?”  Every damn time it is worth it. Yet today my body felt awful, legs dead, back tight and sore. Proof that I need those miles, those nasty, soul building miles in the wind and the rain.