SingleMindedNess

The past couple days found me worked over by a cold. I am not a pleasant sick person, I’m grumpy, cranky and sleep all damn day long. I just hate being ill. There are so many things to do and now I’m taking a few days to do essentially nothing. One thing is it does slow things down and make my thoughts grow quietly longer, softer.

The TD is always somewhere in my thoughts, something so encompassing just doesn’t fade away. Recently it has come back up to the surface, risen right on up there, bringing me to make plans, write down lists, face the reality of training soon. In some ways it like a task left undone or a test that could be aced instead of simply passed. There are some nagging elements to the desire to return. Today out walking the dogs, my head stuffed full of congestion I was struck with a feeling of joy. Pure joy rose out of my core making me feel a radiant flow of energy. I Want This!

every sunrise, every sunset and every moonrise....

every sunrise, every sunset and every moonrise….

No ifs, ands or butts about it. A SingleMindedNess has sunk into place. Something close to obsession is taking root inside my being. Maps, lists, gear, bike parts, lights will all bounce about endlessly in the pursuit of perfection. I am going forth with a focus that will be beyond any other preparation I’ve done before.

oh Tranny how I love thee...

oh Tranny how I love thee…

Even so, this year’s race has taught me much. The real lesson I’m taking from 2014 and moving forward with is to let it happen, to be in the moment, to relax and love every second of the experience. I was tight with fight and not able to chill out this year, I was so focused on winning, on records, on times, minutes, hours, days and they all became advesaries. I am seeking flow and to love it all. That is a SingleMindedNess I am excited to live.

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Back to Basics

Funny how things come around.

Not that long ago, yet seemingly in a galaxy far away I was a die hard singlespeeder. I did not own a bike with more than one gear, I wouldn’t buy a new bike unless it could and would be able to tension a slackened chain.

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I rode everywhere spinning like mad or grinding away with every muscle in my body straining to push those pedals. I raced those singing single gears any where from 45 minutes, to 24 hours and eventually a whole 16 days. I wasn’t trying to be more hard core, or garner more attention, I just loved the wonderful simplicity.

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It has been a few years since I did much riding on a “oney”. I came back to riding gears and ended up loving it. I have to admit there have been a few rides that I couldn’t imagine doing again on a single speed. There are races that I went back to with gears and I laughed at all the singlespeeders, please do forgive me! I was faster, I was riding more, I did well and even won a race or two. The modern mountain bike drive train had evolved, far more reliable, smooth and durable. My mind had switched and I wondered why ride a bike that is less capable, harder on the body and potentially slower?

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Well things do come around and I recently built my trusty Tranny up with no shifters or derailleurs. Just that brutally simple one gear. The switch has been thrown, the mind set has changed, the perspective altered and tainted. I can’t get enough. Despite the burning in my arms and back, I just want more. There really is a quiet that descends upon the mind in that special space that is mine every time I go for a ride. I can hardly wait to see what adventures are lurking around the next bend.

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long and winding road

Life is a funny thing. I am dumbfounded oh so often by the twists and turns that appear before me.

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The road to recovery has been an interesting thing to experience. For the immediate few weeks following the Divide, I was a wreck. So tired, sore and beat down that the only option was eat, sleep, eat sleep…and eat and sleep some more. Then I got back on the bike and felt pretty good, or so I thought. It is interesting how thought, feeling and left over adrenaline can cloud the reality of what really lies deep. That was exhaustion.

Thing is I got back on the bike too soon, or too much too soon. I should have ridden easy, on the road bike; flat and spinning. Thing is I wanted single track. I wanted high country. I wanted more adventure and fun, lots of fun. So I indulged. Also drank too much beer, ate too much food I shouldn’t eat. There was so much desire for what I did not have out there for those 16 days. Food, Beer, Singletrack…and to be honest…FUN!

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I was so pain cave right off the bat, for that was my vision. Head down,go fast, go hard, go long. Only thing is I discluded having fun, smiling, loving the moment. I dug so deep into that cave that I wanted so much of the opposite once it was done. Thus my recovery was kicked in the ass right from the get go. And I paid for that too.

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Just recently I have begun to feel something like myself. I can feel the desire in my bones to race, race big, far and fast. I am riding with some amount of gusto. I can actually imagine getting back to intervals, easy road spins, and riding long after the sun goes down. The past few weeks, or has it been months….I have been in a weird funk of the unknown where I just didn’t identify with any drive that once occupied my bones. I wasn’t riding much at all. Every effort felt like riding through molasses, the thought of hard efforts, racing, recovering was a nightmare come to life.

The thing is that it all comes around. Just this past week I feel some spring in my legs, some jump in the climbs and some serious drive in my thoughts. It has been almost three months since I completed the Divide. It seems like a small price of time to pay, but living through it was another thing entirely. Every moment in that time my mind/brain/thoughts constantly pecked away at the gnawing weirdness of of not knowing what was next? Doubt can take you apart and I am not immune to it’s effects.

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Time flies and life is fun. So now looking back, it seems like a small price to pay. Riding yesterday and today in the golden magic of fall colors the world seems wonderfully small, simple, perfect. The choice of the future seems simple, obvious, real. It really all boils down to perspective, yet so hard to keep it all in line. Smile. Live. Breathe. Love. If that is possible, then what the hell isn’t?

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GrandPa and Grandfather

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There are those people in your life that never leave your thoughts, your heart. Always present, always there in the back of your mind trying to steer you in the right direction. A stalwart of wisdom, love and resilience. So powerful an influence that even years later, with very little contact at all, they are still there in your thoughts, in your decisions.

For me, Grandpa Branham was that person. He was always so calm, deliberant and present even when seemingly aloof. There isn’t a certain moment or experience that makes his long life of experiences stick with me. Yet the time I spent with him, years and years worth of fishing, cooking, playing cards, fixing things, working in the wood shop and hanging out with the family, it all sunk in so deep. Almost like a tiny slice of his wisdom was deposited in the back of my skull.

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Ever since I moved to Colorado I have seen less and less of this great man. I have become so obsessed with the things I love to do that I have found it hard to leave the wonderful enchantment of my home in the mountains. There is no excuse for not visiting more often. It is that simple, there is no reason big enough in the world to skip out on seeing such wonderful people. Still I have found a special place that moves me, calms me, inspires me and I swear whispers wisdom into my ears.

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This quiet, serene and majestic mountain stands tall and distant above Gunnison. It simply stands tall as the world turns, explodes, fights, bickers and carries on. Looking south to the huge rolling flanks casting long shadows in the setting sun, reminds me that life is both big and small. That being pure in my thoughts and actions is the way to be big. That being humble, forgiving and kind is the way to be lovingly small. Sawtooth Mountain has become Grandfather to me. It is in no way a replacement or surrogate for the real thing, thus there is Grandfather and Grandpa. One is the human that taught me so much about life and living, and one is a mountain that reminds me to keep loving, believing and trying.

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This past week my Grandpa passed away. He was an amazing 97 years old. Today many people gathered to remember him, his life and the impact he had on so many of us. I did not make it back to join my family and friends in the celebration of his life. It leaves me filled with sadness that I didn’t get to see him one last time and did not see him off on another journey. I did hike up to Grandfather and while there on top of the world, I said goodbye to a great and wonderful person. Everytime I look up at that mountain, or tread my feet on its soil, I will think of you Grandpa, with love and the desire to be a better person. I will always carry some bit of your voice and wisdom inside me and for that I am eternally grateful.

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Struggle

I tend to get overwhelmed by thought. It takes me out of the now and puts me into the place of wanting things to be settled out, decided, done. Only life just doesn’t work like that, thus I struggle. It is kind of funny when I can take a step back and realize how silly it is to get so upset with not knowing the answer, when the answer comes forth in time. I have a tough time with patience, that is for sure….

Somewhere in Montana, I believe, I got bulldozed by a string of thoughts. Suddenly there was a blank slate, an empty canvas before me. It hit me that my life doesn’t have to continue as an obsessive series of races, objectives, limits to be pushed, records to be sought after and chased. At that elevated place, far from everyday reality, amongst the mountains, getting my ass kicked by the rain, it was so clear, so obvious that there was another path for me to follow.  I saw a trail of creativity, of love, of exploring myself and the world not just racing through it.

It is strange how far away that seems. Life has resumed much as it was before. I go to work, I walk the dogs, I ride my bike. The difference is that I am without that drive for the next thing, I catch glimpses of it, thinking I have a grasp of what to do. Yet it slips away and I am left lost again. I am trying to be more creative, a bit of drawing, now getting back to writing a bit. Funny though how the time flies by plugging away at the everyday, life can just plain kick your ass sometimes. Now with a touch less energy it is difficult to rise up and make something, write something, often I am lucky if I get around to making dinner. 

I wonder too if I am still driven to push myself as I have for so long? It is so hard to think that it could be a phase of my life that is about to close. The past 10+ years have been such a powerful, reality changing part of my life. Racing bikes, pushing myself out there in the wilderness, learning who I am and what lurks deep in the dark shadows inside. Hard to put into words how much I have learned, grown, matured and come out a better more balanced person. It is not going to be easy to walk away and leave this behind. Perhaps in the end I won’t. 

That is the struggle that drains me, beats me, and occupies my mind. The empty canvas is a scary, almost threatening thing without the vision of what will come to life upon it.

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Patience young grasshopper, patience….

 

 

Silly World

Been a while. Sure has. There are things on my mind, thoughts that have inched around in my head. Many should have become blog posts, but didn’t. I miss writing, sharing, getting my random thoughts and experiences out there. In this silly world of technology it is difficult to keep up with everything. My third hand lap top started to lose full keyboard function. My shared internet connection is wildly inconsistent and has dropped lots of writing, pictures and my patience. Frustrating isn’t strong enough a word to describe how it irks me. 

Then there is my taxed out energy levels. Somedays I just don’t have any thing left in the tank after a day of work, or a bike ride. It has been a challenge to say the least. Dealing with the lack of spark and spunk that I can usually con jour up to get out the door, or burn bright to stay up late and write it all down. Instead I am whupped, tired, drained and wondering if that high level of energy will ever come back. Not only am I feeling exhausted a good bit of the time, but my dreams of the next thing are just not there and with it the drive to keep getting after it. Without my wild dreams of the next big adventure and the energy to pursue it, I feel lost.

Life is still good. I have a few lingering issues from the TD, but overall I am quite healthy. Work is good. My friends are amazing. I’m on the best team in the world. I get to ride super incredible bikes. I still live in one of the best places on earth. I get out for short rides and dog walks several times a week. I am grateful for these things, they really do make me proud and happy. Still I am unsettled. I am confused. I linger in bed on perfect sunny mornings. I go to sleep while full moons rise. I am not training, stretching, working out and I am sore, stiff and beat up. It feels weird, unnatural, so not me.

All leaves me wondering where I will settle in. Will the drive for ultra racing return? Will I simply close this chapter of my life and move on? I am trying to let the balance find itself and yet I want to tip it one way or the other and rekindle my passion. For now I console myself with being normal and lucky….but that just isn’t quite enough. Silly World Indeed.   

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Nuts

Step back and take it in, see it in a different scale or light. Perspective is everything and perceptions can shift…

Nuts. I sometimes step back and see myself, my actions, my lifestyle and it occurs to me that I am nuts. Stupid mad crazy nuts! The feet, knees and butt are just starting to accept normal everyday use and I am suddenly set to train on the bike 19 hours this week. I can finally handle a whole day at work without taking off my shoes and elevating my feet and what do I do, I go out and get another job. OMG, What Am I Doing?

Really not so sure I know what I’m doing, I’m just doing it. That is the thing, there is so much to do. I just can not say NO to any of it. It is a problem that I admit fully. There is just not enough time, not even close. The days are only getting shorter, my heart rate is sky rocketing and I may never sleep again. Still it is exciting and I am not gonna say no, to more living, breathing, working and trying to do something good.

I’ll sleep when it snows, or when I’m dead, at least then I’ll be all used up…..Just wish I would say yes once in a while to cleaning my house…..