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.

Potential

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.