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…..

Summertime….

Summertime in the mountains is a precious thing. So perfect, yet so busycrazyhectic that it just flies by and slips between the fingers. Before you know it, evening storms leave traces of snow upon the high peaks, the chill of morning lingers longer and longer and the days suddenly seem too short.

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Most of us living up here try to cram as much fun into these warm, sunny, flower filled months as we can, in between working our tails off! Thing is it catches up with you and sooner or later you hit the wall and find there is no energy to pull off the big or little adventure for the day. Tough to admit you need the down time when the to do list is still pages long.

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I am so very guilty of burning my candle at both ends. I just can’t get enough, no matter how much pedaling, hiking and camping I do, I always thirst for more. It is so hard to except the reality of being human (I know I talk about this a lot) I tend to run face first into this wall a bit too often. My body is still very much recovering, the right foot still stings and resists the confines of closed toe shoes. My knees are still a bit swollen and stiff, it doesn’t take many miles to force me to admit I am still tired.

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I want more, I want to ride singletrack through the high country wild flower wonderland. I think hiking the dogs and then going for a ride is perfectly acceptable. I want to race and race and race. Ah what a world, what a life, what a brain to have stuck inside my head! Sometimes I do get frustrated with how difficult it is to follow the driving force behind my dreams, the reality of time, money and energy can just crush me sometimes. It gets to me, it pops my bubble of positive progression, even makes me wish for some sort of regular life.

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All it takes is a hike with the dogs, a ride on singletrack, a lovely big sky sunset and perspective comes back around. Life is good. I am so happy that I have these dreams, this endless desire for more and the drive to attempt getting it all done. There have been times when none of this was present in my life. I am so very grateful to have found inspiration, love and the driving thirst for more. Dream big, live large, be thankful.

Thank You Universe, Thank You

Thank You Universe, Thank You

 

 

Sometimes….

Sometimes, sometimes I would trade it all to be superhuman. Able to follow my plan every time. Not getting carried away and drinking too much, not hitting snooze and missing the chance to get out there, not staring at the computer screen half asleep instead of riding my bike. I hate being tired. I hate being lazy. I can hear my bike whispering about the hero like dirt waiting out there….I can also hear the softness of my bed lulling me to sleep some more. Ahh Fudge I did it again…

For the rest of the day thoughts of being soft and lazy beat against the inside of my brow. Why didn’t I just go for a ride, even an hour, it would have been so good. The other side of thinking insists that I needed the morning off, for fuck sake you’ve got enough freaking miles in! I know, I really do know that rest is important, soooo important. Thing is I don’t want rest, I want action, I want fresh air, I want to pop both wheels off the ground and giggle about how good it feels. I want to see the sunrise, the sunset, I want to see it all. Damn it, I don’t want to even need rest!

reach for the sky

reach for the sky

Just can’t let go of this dream of finding some path to superhuman powers. All too often I catch myself thinking, “What did I miss in my training? What if I stopped drinking beer? What if I ate good All of the time? Stopped drinking coffee? Didn’t work so damn much?” Then would I find the secret, the magic ticket? Or would I just keep finding more What If’s?

I don’t want to say no to more adventure. I’m sitting out the CTR for the only the second time since it began and is kinda killing me. I want to go ride Fossil Ridge, Doctor’s Park, Teo Ridge, Cataract on the CT, I want to race the CTR damn it! I don’t want to recover, I don’t want to be smart! I want to ride, I want to race, I want to shed this human skin and do it all.

high country magic

high country magic

Have to admit that I am so very human. I am tired, my legs are swollen and stiff, one of my feet still hurts. I am so far from perfect, so far from superhuman, I am always hungry, I didn’t eat enough veggies today, I just love drinking beer, I want love and company and honestly I’m a little tired of training. Still in my mind I want to rise up and be as strong as I wish to be. To follow my ideals, my dreams, my visions with 100% of my heart.

Why can’t the amazing visions found in sometime, be present all the time?

 

 

Like Falling in Love…..

I throw a leg over the top tube and click into my pedals and something magical happens. Not sure what it is, how it happens or why exactly, but the rush of blood, joy and giggle filled wonder hits me like an avalanche. Kinda like falling in love…..
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Thing is it happens so often, not quite every time, but damn close to every time I ride my bike. Have to say that there are those interval days, the long road rides that wear me down, make me see colors, make me wonder why I do it. The rides that leave me wondering why at 41 I still have dreams of being fast, of chasing records, of even bothering to train anymore. Even those thoughts only last so long, the movement of legs, the travel across distances, the change of sight sound smell, the merging of a myriad of ideas, dreams and visions brings the loop full circle, leaving me tired happy satisfied.

Much like feeling that wonderfully weird special contact with another person. Your heart beats harder, your defenses soften up and an undeniable smile strike across your face. Pure optimistic joy, there is no tomorrow, no what if, only now. For the now is that good.

tiger in the grass

tiger in the grass

Rail the corners, hit that hip, climb the rock, smile that smile. Tomorrow will be what it will be, worry will change not a thing. Throw the leg over and go for a ride, there is nothing wrong with feeling the love…..

Bouncing Back….and seeking balance

Have to admit it is a bit weird to come back down to regular life. The sugar infused ice cream binge is over, the hazy after glow of the accomplishment has faded and it is back to work, walking the dogs, paying bills and trying to sneak out and ride bikes. A strange transition indeed, from the concentrated world of eating, sleeping and riding as many miles a day as I could. To sitting around all day tired, sore, barely able to walk, not working, not riding, basically elevating my feet and trying to write it all down before the freshness of the experience escaped. And now back to the real world of making a living, keeping the fridge stocked, running the dogs till they are somewhat sane and wondering were all the time goes…..
It is hard to keep perspective. There were some powerful realizations out there during my ride. I try and remind myself of them, to keep them in my head, in my heart. Still it seems blurry, distant and idealistic now. Instead the daily set of mundane tasks has taken over my life and I fear that those cathartic moments may become lost and forgotten. Funny how simple things can seem from the other side of the fence. Out there in the wilds, with too much time to think the thought of coming back and rearranging my life was such an easy task. Now not so much.
Still it is so fantastic to be home in this wonderful and supportive community. It feels so great to have my legs get better everyday, I Can go to work, I am getting some good sleep here and there. I have some energy returning, no longer do I feel or look like a zombie! I have been doing some easy recovery rides on my Tranny, I signed up for another bike race. There are even some thoughts as to what race will be after that, what will next season look like, what will be my focus?

Tranny time=mediation

Tranny time=mediation


Funny how often it all comes back to finding balance. I am so apt to become obsessed with things leaving too much else abandoned along the way, this is really what most of my revelations out there on the trail spoke to me. Balance, Jefe, Balance.

Aftermath

I don’t mean to dwell upon the TD. Really I wanted to write it all down, get it flushed from my system and move on. It has been almost a week since I rolled into Antelope Wells, since I have done not much other than eat, sleep, moan about my feet and drink beer. Not surprising since for the last week or so of the race that is all I wanted to do, eat sleep and drink beer, that and not ride my bike. For the past 6 days I have eaten enough ice cream and drunk enough beer that I swear I’m already getting fat. I have gingerly ridden my bike around town maybe getting in a mile and half a day. This morning I got the dogs out on a hike for the first time as my feet would finally except wearing shoes. Life is slowly returning to normal.
Only I am really unsure what normal is for me these days. For years the next challenge was always on the tip of my tongue or right there next in line in my brain. During this years TD I was confronted head on with the reality that I am feeling quite done with this ultra endurance, no sleep for days type of bike racing. The very thing that has defined my life in so many ways for the past 7 to 8 years is going to the back burner and maybe right off the stove for good. I am not thinking of the CTR, I am most definitely not thinking of another TD, or AZT or any of it.
So where does this leave me? It is a strange state to be in, one that I am feeling a bit queasy about, yet at the same time excited for the possibilities of what might fill in the blanks? Even so right now I am sitting around, elevating my still sore feet, drinking beer, feeling fat, wanting to feel like I am moving towards something meaningful, important. I try and remind myself, and others remind me as well, that I should be cooked, tired and taking easy, chilling, recovering. It could and should take a while, months even to put the physical, emotional and mental strain behind me. Damn I have never been all that patient of a person, and it is hard to sit still even as tired as I am.
Meanwhile thoughts of doing this race or that race sneak past my well guarded senses. Maybe I can’t help but think about racing bikes? Damn it isn’t easy all this sitting around, too much time to think when I am not sure what to think about? I’ll just have to finish this beer, eat some more food and take a nap, guess this really ain’t so bad after all….

2014 Tour Divide, The Land of Entrapment

The morning wind whispers through the aspen leaves, a peaceful sound that reminds me of home. The vista is also comfortingly familiar, patches of fir, pine and aspen trees, wide golden parks, elk darting to and fro. Close my eyes and breath it all in, open my eyes to absorb the gorgeous glory of this place. This place, like so many along the route pull at my heart, wanting me to slow down, set up camp, explore, enjoy. Only the whole time I attempt to soak it all in I am rolling along at 10 miles an hour, hurrying off to the next resupply. My body filled with discomfort, my mind a mess of conflicting desires.
This is the dichotomy of a TD racer. You see amazing sights, experience small slices of landscapes, places, people of varied color, shade and description, but you never really slow down enough to truly get to know any of it, to really enjoy it. Always packing up, rushing along, your sights on the next place, the next challenge, dreaming mouth watering dreams of the next meal.
With more miles behind than in front of my madly spinning wheels and a feeling of lazy nostalgia seeping through my once raw determination, it is becoming harder to stay on target and race for the border. Despite being closer to the end, it is more painful to push hard on the pedals with my swollen feet and my heavy lead filled legs. My tired eyes are even less willing to go far into the night or awake and crank out the early early morning.
New Mexico, in some ways, forces you to keep rolling. It is the second longest state on the GDMBR, right after the monster of Montana, with 707 some miles before it is all said and done. There are some pretty great distances to cover between food and more importantly water. The final state also hides some truly brutal terrain, the Brazos, the Jemez/Polverdera Mesa and my personal nemesis, the Gila. With my limited capacity for carrying food and water I am forced to rally along and make time in order to stay fed and hydrated. The increasing heat as I get further south, begins to kick my ass and makes it even harder to go faster.
If you just keep pedaling, you will get there. That is exactly what I do, I just keep pedaling, despite the agony of my bruised right foot, my empty dead legs, my sore and swollen hands and my bruised and battered ego. I just keep pedaling and the state slowly slips behind me. Even the long tough sections eventually do end, both a blessing and a curse. For the toughies are also quite remote and lovely, but in my deranged racing mind they are only obstacles in the way of success, the finish.
With a good bit of luck and plenty of blood sweat and tears I leave Pie Town and head out into the hot lonely Gila, the last backcountry section of the route. Here last time in 2011, I was reduced to a shell of myself when I ran out of food and water many miles and hours from Pinos Altos, where my life was saved by two cherry cokes and a banana split. This time I was determined to be better prepared and not fall apart in those endless desperate hills.
The Gila lives up to the monster image I have created in my mind. It breaks me down making me feel so damn small. It cooks me to a crisp, leaving me hot, sunburnt, and dehydrated. I am lucky enough to have bumped into a group of mountain bike folks touring for fun. (I bounce this thought about in my head for a while, who the hell would volunteer to come out here, and for fun? Hmmm, guess I deep down I chose that as well! So lighten up Jefe!) It is great to have someone to ride and suffer with, they take my mind off the heat a bit and keep me from talking to myself. It really is a fantastic relief to share the trail for a while.

part of the Gila Fun Crew

part of the Gila Fun Crew

Still pretty early in the afternoon they stop for camp and I push on determined to get to Silver City and eat ice cream till I can not move. Another teaser moment leaves me wanting to hang out and camp with these great peeps instead of pushing on in the hope of making it to the finish sometime in the morning. I ride on cursing the wondrous hell of the wash-boarded road so bumpy that my GPS flies off for the first and only time in the 2700 miles.
My increased knowledge of water sources makes staying hydrated much easier and I make it without running out of water. I still manage to run out of food right before the Sapillo hike a bike. What is it about the Gila that ends up crushing me so solidly, how did I underestimate this beast once again? No matter I crank out the bit of singletrack and the steep hilly pavement to get to Silver City right about sunset. I meet Glen whose been watching my spot dot and we ride straight to the grocery store where I throw a whole rotisserie chicken, a pint of B&J, half a bag of Fritos, two Cokes and a handful of cookies down the hatch. Now I am feeling OK enough to venture back out into the void of the Divide world and get this sucker done, once and for all.
I climb out of Silver City stuffed full of food, both my stomach and the bags on my bike. I am not gonna run out again, not in the next 120 miles and not even if my ride does not show up at the border. Food security, Check! Due to the weight and bloating I crawl out of town on the highway, slow and steady, just keep pedaling. I turn onto the Separ road and can feel the familiar ghost of exhaustion lean over my shoulder. Trying to ignore this persistent pest I crank along, trying so hard to rise up on these last 100 or so miles, wanting badly to be done, to maybe break 16 days..no really just to get this done. Only I have to stop and take a cat nap, 10 minutes down and then right back on the bike. I make it a few more hours and another cat nap, then another. My eyes are in full revolt, unwilling to stay open, despite the pleading from my mind and body to just get this done.

the lonely highway...

the lonely highway…

This 2700 mile roller coaster of emotions, physical breakdowns, mental victories and defeats has all boiled down to, “keep pedaling Jefe, just keep pedaling”. I try so hard to turn off my brain and just pedal, yet the mind stays there, wondering, wishing, dreaming, commenting and in the end making it hard for my body to just pedal, the only thing that will get me there. It is a battle, the whole ride, start to finish, no matter if it is stellar pavement, or a forgotten rock strewn jeep road, it takes all I have to keep going, to stay on target, to not let the broken dream of untouchable goals haunt me any longer. My ride home passes me on that last stretch of pavement, it is a glimmer of hope that this will end, it can not go on forever even though hours of riding still remain before me.
The route Does come to a close, the border Does rise up on the horizon and I ride up to a chainlink fence with Mexico on the other side, it is the end, the END. I get off the bike, take a few pictures, take off my awful shoes, sit in the shade and drink a beer. I am done and I am so happy to be done. Thoughts of records, of mileage, of glory and victory are lost to the wonder of simply being done and having someone who cares there to scrape me off the ground and take me home, of having done what I truly set out to do, and that is Ride the Divide with all my heart.

done done and done

done done and done