The summer of 2014 has officially begun for me. I just got home from my last class of the spring semester, I’m not taking any summer classes, and we’ve started packing for our first road trippin’ adventure.
This milestone gave me the opportunity to reflect on my last couple of summers. It was a nice trip down memory lane. I’ve had some pretty incredible summers. Monumental. They’ve included travel to exotic locals, outdoor pursuits, laughter, joy, pain, tragedy, love, family, friends and so much more. I’m so excited for this summer, and we’ve got some crazy cool plans for the coming months.
Taking a look back, 2012 gave me the opportunity to climb the highest peak in the continent of Africa, Mt. Kilimanjaro, in an effort to raise money for the Cancer Climber organization (founded by my buddy Sean Swarner.) I met the most amazing people and was humbled by the beauty and challenge of Africa.
At the summit: 19,304′ above sea level.
Approaching high camp, a.k.a. garbage camp.
Truly a life changing experience. That summer was liberating, challenging and mind-blowing. I also went skydiving, gallivanting with old friends and explored several 14ers in my backyard.
The summer of ’13 was similarly impressive. I rafted the Grand Canyon. Yes, one of the seven natural wonders of the world. I spent 16 beautiful days with 16 beautiful people in one of the most amazing places on earth. We hit the tongue and rode it straight (mostly! Oops, Lava!) for over two weeks of laughter. Thanks to LBK (Josh Kruger) for giving me the opportunity to take the trip. It was another one for the books.
Head first into the spray! Face shots for dayz.
Exploring the countless side canyons was a true highlight.
We live here right now?!? COOL!!!
So what does this summer hold for Joan and I? Sooooo many things!! Five trips back to Colorado, including a bachelor party (sorry Joan, I’ll be going solo for that!), the Dolores River Festival and 100 Miles of Nowhere, and a Rockies Reunion. We get to enjoy our family in Colorado a couple of times and play with our nephews, siblings, parents, cuzes, etc. We’re performing several times and teaching a three-week circus camp (Funtown Circus!) and exploring our new home in Flagstaff. We’re leaving for a week long camping trip in the vast deserts of Utah tomorrow. Life is good and summer is just beginning. Here we go!
This June, I’ll be observing my 10 year cancer-free anniversary. That’s a big deal. It’s crazy to think how much I’ve been through in that time, much less to think about what I was going through during and in between treatments. I endured six years of chemotherapy and in June, I’ll be 10 years out of the woods.
The amiable Fat Cyclist has a pretty cool tradition that he started in an effort to raise funds towards cancer research called 100 Miles of Nowhere. Every cycling destination seems to have a gimmick for endurance racing, with centuries, 24 hour, multi-day epics and a hundred variations on those themes. Fatty, in his typically absurd nature, decided he’d do a 100 mile race…
-in his basement.
And thus, 100 Miles of Nowhere was born.
It became a tradition that his faithful followers began doing in their basements, and then around their blocks and in other ridiculous locations for a race. The key was creating a crazy specific race category for your event, one in which ONLY YOU could possibly win (eg; 27-28 Male half way through grad school and 10 years off chemo).
I want to invite you to join me to celebrate, raise some money and ride some great trails. My 100 Miles of Nowhere will take on Sunday, June 8, in (an admittedly, non-ridiculous and actually really, really incredibly fun location) Phil’s World, an ideal location for group multi-lap rides. A few things to point out about the gathering and the riding:
- Don’t be intimidate by “100 miles”! The great thing about a loop system like Phil’s World is that you can make laps as long and as short as you like. Teams are encouraged for 100 Miles of Nowhere, so if you don’t think you have 100 miles in your legs, share the distance with a partner or two. The idea is that every gets to ride as much as they like and have a good time doing it.
- We want a festive atmosphere! Please come with fun things for the “pit zone”, aka the parking lot, the destination that all laps will pass through before heading out for me. This means bbq’ing, tasty treats, beer, music, (we might even bring our aerial dance rig!) etc.
- Phil’s world requests a $3 donation at the trail head for all non-annual members of Kokopeli bike club. Let’s throw them some additional cash for maintaining such awesome trails. You’ll understand why when you ride there…
- Unfortunately, there’s no camping allowed at the Phil’s World trail head. According to the BLM website, there’s camping “just back from the access point for Phil’s World” which is where we’ll probably end up.
- While this blog post, RSVP process and donation system are all very sophisticated, this is going to be a relatively bare bones event. The spirit is to get together, ride and have a good time. We’re not catering this thing. Bring food, gear, costumes, everything you’ll need for 100 miles in a somewhat remote location!
- The Dolores River Festival is happening Saturday, June 7 and if you’re coming for 100MoN, you might as well come early and watch Joan and I perform at DRF!
We haven’t established a fundraising goal and I don’t plan to get an official donation site up and running. I do ask, however, that if you decide to participate (and please do!), please make a donation to the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Heck, if you’re reading this and can’t participate, please donate anyway! I was diagnosed with Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia at ages 8 and 13 and the research successes seen by this organization are partially responsible for me being here today.
More instructions will follow as RSVPs start to come in.
We hope to ride with you in June!
Fall is one of my favorite times of the year. As coy as I try to play sometimes, I’m not much for subtlety and fall offers a very stark and obvious change in the seasons, one that an observer can measure in the golds, reds and oranges sweeping across the hill side. The dipping mercury is a dead give-away, as is the inevitable frost that reappears each crisp autumn morning, growing more and more obvious as the weeks progress.
It’s a great time to ride a mountain bike.
Go for a hike.
Or enjoy some time with friends.
(Picture missing. Oh no, where are my friends?! I swear, they’re still on my camera, I just don’t have it with me…)
The cold winter months are fast approaching. They have no regard for how much you or I accomplished this summer, nor what we have planned. Ominous? Yes. Soon our valley will be awash in white, the days will be short and the temperature low. Not much hay left to be made, so get out there and appreciate the waning days of fall.
What have I been up to? Being busy…
…gave the 24 Hours of the Sage a run for its money in the Cruiser Category…
…jumped out of a perfectly functional airplane…
…and then off of a perfectly good bridge.
I’ve been camping a bit…
…hanging out with old friends…
…and watching a big ‘ole bike race come through our humble mountain hamlet.
(I might have even enrolled in a ballroom dance class. No photographs, please.)
Sometimes the least expected is the most excellent.
MattB is a guy you want to have around. A few phrases to describe him:
- Excellent Photographer
- Music connoisseur
- Computer nerd
Yup, when you’re stranded in the great outdoors MattB will stump you with music trivia, fix your broken digital camera and, after snapping a shot of your dumbfound expression, post it to every social networking site. Look, you’re on the front page of Reddit!
MattB was partially responsible for getting me on my first 14er (Wetterhorn Peak, 14,016′). Our families took a trip together after a great 4th of July celebration a few years back. It got me hooked.
He also introduced me to sardines as trail food. I was skeptical at first, but damn, a nice tin of fish, some mini bagels and a packet of mustard really hits the spot at 13,000′.
MattB’s not old, but he has seen me grow up in our small community. Here he is gettin’ rad back in the day:
What a punk kid.
He shreds on tele skis and a bike. Powder days are heaven, whether they’re white or brown.
Thanks for the help training, MattB. Let’s hit some more 14ers when I get back!
Really, though, MattB takes the most amazing pictures. Be sure to check out his site.
The Darkroom. Everyone knows it, even if they don’t know it by that name. It’s the pits. The low point during an activity. The point at which you want to give up, go home and cower. It’s playing the pain game.
And it’s required.
You can’t have a great time in the mountains or on the trail without getting into the Darkroom once or twice. Inevitably, at one point during your ride, you’ll ask yourself: “Why the hell am I doing this? I’m miserable. My lungs burn. I can taste blood. I’m sucking wind and everyone is going faster than me.”
You’ve just entered the Darkroom.
It’s a dangerous place, this Darkroom. It can make you quit. It HAS made you quit. It’s full of hoodoos and demons and all sorts of doubt. It engulfs you and shakes you up. You can’t focus on anything but stopping and turning around. It hurts.
There are those souls out there who intentionally put themselves in the Darkroom. Society calls them masochists, I typically call them some of my more hardcore friends. My buddy EFreson calls it “Type A Fun”. Putting yourself out there, knowing you’ll soon be in an extremely uncomfortable environment takes a certain type. Admittedly, I’ve opened the door to the Darkroom on purpose from time to time. I get inside and wonder what I was thinking when I turned the knob.
“Ouch!” I say, “Why did I want to do this?! My legs burn!” as I make my way up a silly steep boot pack.
“What were we thinking when we thought of this?” I’ll moan as we bushwhack down an increasingly narrow runoff canyon.
“You thought this was going to be fun?!?” I’ll lament in the midst of a 70mph gust on a snowy, exposed ridge.
Luckily, most Darkroom experiences are with other people. You may be in the Darkroom, but at least you’re with other people. They can bring you up, unlock the door and get you out of there. It’s lonely in the Darkroom, and it’s valuable to have partners who know how to rescue you from the depths.
But I’m glad there’s a Darkroom. Cliche, yes, but how can we appreciate the good without the bad? Being positive and happy in the mountains all day long is not realistic. It just doesn’t happen that way all day. The Darkroom has a way of teaching you appreciation and giving you perspective.
When you get into your Darkroom, how do you get out? What helps? When have you willing entered?
I’ve got a few good days in recently, but the weather had a bad habit of thwarting my big plans for multiple 14ers. Rather than risk it, I decided to stay local for the week and tackled some of the backyard terrain.
I took a run up to the Snack Bar again, this time with dark clouds and threatening skys. I never got more than a drizzle but moved a bit faster due to the approaching lightning. My time up and back is getting faster and faster.
I ran up Mt. Crested Butte over the weekend as well. I hadn’t been up to the top since EFreson and I took Sunset Ridge to the summit (a story for another post). It’s an awesome mountain and I decided I’ll have to sink money into a pass this year. I love it up there. At the top, most of the tourists were pretty confused when I told them I started at the bottom rather than riding the chair. Yes, people around here do that kind of thing. Welcome.
And I spent Sunday dodging rain at Hartman Rocks. The trails were strange: really buff and nice in some sections, deep sand and washed out in others. Regardless, I had an awesome ride. A couple crashes kept my attention. The cloud cover made it nice and cool all day. I hardly saw anyone.
The Gunnison valley is pretty magical, really.
We did some, *ahem*, trail work at Hartman Rocks yesterday.
At least, I THINK we can get away with calling it that.
Greg Moss from Denver’s 9 News came through and Dave Wiens from Gunnison Trails thought we’d show him a good time during the weekly trail work session. Now, what would constitute a ‘good time’ in terms of trail work? How about fresh out of the oven wood fired pizza (brought to you by the Dussaults Inner Fire Mobile, try the Figgy Piggy!) and a cooler full of beer? …yup, that’ll do.
From what I understand, Greg was in town to get a sneak peak at Gunnison and Gunnison’s accouterments for this fall’s U.S. Pro Challenge. I think a trip to Gunnison would be wasted if one failed to bask in the glory that is Hartman Rocks, so Greg was extended an invitation to Wiens’ work day.
Now, a certain blogger (definitely not me, you guys) may or may not have shown up a tad late (seriously, couldn’t possibly be me) and missed out on the heavy lifting. By ‘heavy lifting’, I mean ‘all of the work’. But you guys, I had an appointment and couldn’t make it on time! Really.
After we waited for the lightning and light rain to pass, the pizza-mobile was fired up and merriment ensued. I would most accurately classify the rain storm as a drizzle (Which brings to mind a favorite joke: Why does Snoop Dogg carry an Umbrella? Fo’ drizzle). A bit more substantial of a storm and it could have done some serious trail work for us. Either way, we’ll take the moisture.
Kudos to all parties involved during a most grueling and intense day of trail work. I promise I’ll show up on time for the next one. Especially if there’s pizza involved.
Went for a ride yesterday.
Only saw one other rider, he yielded for me.
Had enough daylight, enough energy.
Drifting through corners, pumping rollers.
Easy spin home.
I’m not sure if I’m the only person who experiences this. Surely there are more of you out there and today I write to bring together those who can relate to the unique phenomenon of what I like to call: People Trees. You’re most likely to experience People Trees during a mountain bike ride, but it’s also possible during a trail run. People Trees only occur off-road, and (obviously) in an area in which trees are present.
I apologize in advance because I cannot provide authentic photographic evidence to support this post. Much like Bigfoot, Nessy and other Cryptozoological creatures, People Trees are impossible to photograph. You might try, and you’d probably get a nice, scenic picture. “It’s right there!” you’d exclaim to your friends, pointing at the photographed foliage. They might humor you, or depending on how many pints have been consumed, play along and stoke your paranoid ramblings. They’ll ask for tales of the encounter and listen to you embellish for upwards of five minutes.
So, what are People Trees? Picture yourself riding along solo, enjoying a peaceful afternoon on the trails. You’ve just climbed one of the classic hills at your local area and the trail begins to wind along a plateau. Out of the corner of your eye, you see it. Another rider, gaining on you. As the singletrack turns the other direction, you lose sight of the mystery rider. The trail doubles back and you catch the rogue rider in your other peripheral. The trail is demanding, and you can’t turn to look and find out if you know this rider, but you know he’s there. But he doesn’t seem to be gaining on you. Because he’s not a rider at all. He is a tree. You just got People Treed.
There are specific trees at Hartman Rocks that pull this trick on me all the time. King People Tree is that one (you know the one) on Top ‘O the World, just as you crest the climb. It sits just off the trail, and you pass pretty nearby. Once you put some distance on this tree, he becomes a People Tree. He’s perfectly sized to be a rider, and is even shaped like a guy riding a bike. Skinny (wheelish) at the bottom, more full and robust at the top (body). Don’t be caught unawares, this tree will People Tree the heck out of you.
A reward will be offered to any reader who can provide authentic photographic evidence of a People Tree. Even though I already said it is impossible, give it a shot. Beware, the People Trees.