One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Category: Adventures

A Quick 300 Miles

You never know what’s inside of you until you test the rest of yourself. You can read all of the books, study all of the guides, read every blog, but until you have an experience first hand, you only have an idea. My training partner Indy and I have been training for months for our upcoming bikepacking race. We’ve spent lots of hours in the gym, on the bike, and meditating. We’ve worked on our mobility, reviewed tons of gear, and competed in a number of single day races. The real bread and butter however, is multi-day bikepacking races. So recently we set out to do just that; 3 days, 2 night, and 300 miles of self-supported bikepacking.

Friday night classes were winding down and my ride prep was done. I had my bike all packed excluding the Jimmy John’s I planned on buying across the street on our way out of town. I bought my sandwiches and Indy and I hit the bikepath as a light drizzle fell on our rain gear. We had about 15 miles of path and road until we left town and hit the start of our adventure.

As we turned onto the trail leading out of town, we stopped and took a break to eat. The wind was picking up and the rain was turning into sleet and snow. It was getting colder too. Nevertheless, we pushed on. Heading east with a wind out of the north, we were making good time but not as great as I had hoped; I planned on us making it 65 miles before midnight.

The further we went the more the wind picked up and the colder it got. The sleet started to burn the side of my face and neck. I stopped and put the hood up on my new Patagonia jacket, which was super comfy. We crossed county roads, small bridges, and pedaled through the sand, grass, and moss as we made our way. Indy asked me if the moss felt soft for it being that cold out.

“I don’t know, I guess so, maybe.” I replied.

A few minutes later and his tire was almost entirely flat. I sat with my back to the wind as Indy changed his tire. It only took a few minutes. We can still make it, if we ride a little longer than we originally planned.

Indy got his wheel remounted and we took off again. After a few minutes of pedaling we finally shook off the cold. I was getting used to the sleet. I almost forgot about it pelting me, honestly. I was really losing interest in riding though and I started to dream of my bivy and relaxing for the night. We had a big day coming up tomorrow. Then I heard the womp womp womp of Indy’s tire bouncing as it lost air again.

When we stopped I could heard Indy getting frustrated. It was only a little after 23:00, almost an hour before we planned on stopping for the night, but I was ready for sleep. Indy said he would fix his tube and set up his camp gear if I could find a decent site for us. I pedaled down the path about 100 yards and found a nice spot behind some brush that blocked the wind. I struggled a bit with frozen straps as I wrested my sleep gear out.

I was snuggled in my bag for 20 minutes and hadn’t heard anything from Indy. I wondered if he missed me tucked in the bushes and pushed on down the path looking for me. I sat up and looked back he was still in the same spot. When I climbed out of my bivy and walked down the path, the wind cut right through my clothes. It was getting brutally cold. When I got to Indy he had his mittens on trying to get his tire back on the rim. To me it looked like he was getting too much exposure to the cold and needed to get in his bivy and warm up. He agreed to call it a night and fix the tire in the morning.

I lay in my bag tossing and turning. I was trying out a new bivy sack but it wasn’t quite big enough. With me and my bag inside, I couldn’t close it completely; I could pull it pretty tight, but there was still a pretty large opening right over my face. Sleet hit me right in the face as I lie there. I tried pulling the hood of my jacket over my eyes and my buff up to cover the rest, but it quickly got soaked and uncomfortable. I rolled to my side. The wind was shaking the trees and howling just a few feet above the brush that was blocking our camp area. Whichever side I chose to put up, the wind quickly sucked the warmth right out of me. Tossing and turning, I couldn’t sleep. I decided to wake Indy up and move to a new spot.

I called to Indy to tell him we were moving. He had thought I was comfortably asleep and he welcomed the idea of moving. It was wicked cold getting out of the bag. The straps that held my sleeping pad on my bike had frozen solid. I shivered as I put my rain gear back on to block the wind. I reached out for my shoes and noticed that they had been a nice layer of sleet in the bottoms of them; I took a couple of deep breaths and slid my feet in. So cold! My hands were hurting and the wind was beating the shit out of them. As I slowly packed my gear I took a break every 30 seconds to warm my hands in my coat. Ice formed on my gear in just the few minutes that I had been out of it. Indy packed up and started to fix his tire.

Shivering, we climbed on our bikes and headed back to an overpass we had seen just a few hours ago. As we pedaled, I shook the shakes, and everything started feeling good again, other than my hands and feet. 20 minutes later we hit heaven; a dirty overpass blocking most of the wind. We leaned our bikes and sat back in between the pillars. Just having the wind off us was like taking a portal to a tropical paradise. I unzipped my jacket, took my gloves off, and had a good laugh with Indy. As we were sitting back we could see the waves on the canal pushing upstream, and hear the trees still shaking, but we were covered and comfortable. We ate a quick snack and decided to sleep until the sun came up to get some extra warmth. I laid out my sleeping gear and climbed in. Out of the wind, I didn’t even have to zip my bivy up all the way to be comfortable. My eyes were heavy and sleep came easy this time.

I woke up to Indy’s alarm going off. What the fuck? The sun isn’t even close to being up? I yell at him to turn it off. He yells back that it wasn’t his. I got my phone out and that wasn’t it. What is it? I yelled at Indy again, and he replied that it must be crickets. I was fairly certain that there aren’t crickets in winter in a 0 degree windchill. It was pretty rhythmic too. Half asleep I tried to sort out what it could be. A few more cycles of the sound and I remember that I set the alarm on my Garmin Etrex to see if it would wake me up. It did. I crawled out of my bag, walked over in my socks and shut it off. I climbed back in my bag and immediately fell back asleep.

The next time I woke up, I saw the reflection of the sun coming up. I sat up and looked over my shoulder at the crisp landscape and soul warming sunrise. There is safety in the light. Something mental changes when the sun comes up. You just feel more at ease. The wind had shifted a bit but it was still amazing to be a troll under the bridge. Indy and I packed up again and decided to back track to the gas station we had passed late last night. According to the GPS it was only 5 miles away. We took off riding into the wind.

As we pedaled we discussed where things had gone wrong and what we could do to improve for the future and the upcoming race. The wind blowing in our face sucked but it was only a short way to be indoors. My left shoe wouldn’t lock in straight and I figured the cleat had come loose.  As we pulled up in front people stared at us like we had something wrong with us which is debatable. I had been dreaming of foot warmers the whole way there. I leaned my bike, grabbed my wallet and headed in as Indy made a video to post. I cut a line for the foot and hand warmers. I grabbed them and made a circle by the counter to drop them off. The attendant looked at me like I was an alien. I made another lap of the store and grabbed a whole pile of food and a coffee.

Indy came in as I was sipping coffee and taking my shoes off to put the foot warmers on. As we ate we discussed the plan for the day. We checked the forecast for where we were headed up north. It was supposed to be the same conditions we had last night and 20 degrees colder. We went back and forth and ended up deciding it would be better to pull the plug and head home to fight another day than to push on and risk getting injured. We were to have another 250 or so miles in the loop or we could head back directly into the wind for 50 miles and learn from what we had done the previous night. 50 miles it was. We settled on a plan of riding the 35 miles to the next town and taking a break to warm up again.

Out the door and moving, my feet were warm and the sun was on my back and the wind was in my face. Nice and steady we paced around 7.5 mph. 20 miles in we stopped to eat a bit from our feed bags. I took a leak in the bathroom and sat down outside to eat a half frozen sandwich. I didn’t want to be in the wind. I went back in the bathroom and stood and ate my sandwich. I would rather smell piss and be out of the wind. Food done, we got back on the bikes. There was a guy getting ready to go fishing as we left. We joked about who was crazier. On we went.

35 miles down, 15 to go. We hit the next town, ordered the top notch $5 breakfast pizza and got some Gatorades. All warmed up we hit the road again. A mile down the road and I was thirsty again. Good news, I had 2 of the 3 liters of water left in my bag. Bad news, it was frozen solid. I considered stopping every time we passed a store. I also knew that I would be home in a few hours and all would be well. Slow and steady we made it back.

I walked inside my house to the greatest feelings; warmth and food. I ate until my stomach hurt, took my wet clothes off and showered. I napped on and off for the rest of the afternoon and slept all night.

There’s something to be said about getting out of your comfort zone. It makes taking it easy so much nicer. If I were to just wake up and get on the couch, I wouldn’t appreciate it. After a hard fought ride in the cold, sleet, and wind, my couch was one of the most amazing things in the world. We tend to take for granted the amazing things we have in life when they are available all of the time. Take a minute and be thankful. Thanks for reading.

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Wausau 24 Hour Mountain Bike Race Report

Everyone is standing lined up on the start line. The Le Mans style start will play well to me; I am not strictly a cyclist and I run very regularly. I have some nerves going right now, but that’s good. As soon as I get on the bike everything will calm down and settle in. It is just like a plane taking off. You start  off shaking and lurching, working through the turbulence. Then you hit cruising altitude and settle in. This race is just like that.

The count down is at one minute.

30 seconds.

10 seconds.


I settle into an easy pace and let the others run themselves into the ground. It’s only a quarter mile run to the bikes, and this won’t win or lose the race. That time will come during the night. A few elbows here and there, a u-turn around the course tape and we are back to the bikes. I pick mine up and jump on. Everyone is scrambling to get into the woods first. My biggest concern right now is not getting carried away. I hate letting people pass me, but I’m in it for the long haul and most of the racers are on teams or are planning on sleeping during the night. I have no such plans.

The single track starts. Left hand turn and then a nice little drop to get the groove going. We make it to the first rock section with people trying to pass on all sides. It’s a madhouse and I cannot see a line that I want to ride. I jump off my bike cyclocross style, running the section with my bike over my shoulder and jump back on. Things are starting to settle down and it feels almost like a nice group ride. I’m chatting with the other racers riding in line and having a blast.

We pop out of the woods and head onto our first big climb. I can already tell climbing and endurance are going to be my strength during this race; lots of the racers are better riders, but I can make the time up on climbs and by not stopping. There is a little descent, a short climb and we are on to the second section of the race. This part of the course is listed as black (expert) advance single track. They are not joking. I clear the first section with a very little finesse and a little bit more white knuckling and clenched butt cheeks. We round the corner quickly and I am leading this pack. I quickly scan for a line and see a large rock to go up and over that looks clear on the other side. It looked clear, but as I climb the rock, I see the other side is actually a drop onto medium sized rocks. Not good.

I have the choice of dropping the center of my bike on these rocks and possibly ruining my crank or bailing. I make a split second decision to bail. I lock up the breaks. My feet are still clipped in. This is going to be bad. I end up over my handle bars still clipped in and land on the rocks. My right knee and forearm take the brunt of the impact. It’s unpleasant, but I’ve had worse. It isn’t even close to stopping me. I jump up quickly and try to get back on my bike. The seat is facing to the right and the handle bars to the left.

“This is going to be a long day,” I say to myself as I get moving again. I still have nine or so miles to get back to the pits and have my bike straightened out. I get out of the technical rock section and back on double track; a little climbing then a little descending. Then I hit the the third section of trails, which instantly reminds me of the forbidden forest in Harry Potter. Here I am, at 10:30 in the morning, surrounded by gnarly trees with almost no light cutting through the branches. I’m still pedaling onward.

Some tight twists and turns and we are on to check point Charley.  This place is raging with fun. They have techno house music playing, a 6th barrel of beer on tap and they are grilling out brats and burgers. That’s enticing on most days, but today I’m racing, so I just zoom by and yell “Oww oWWWWWWW!” The guys cheer like we’re old friends and I am on my way.

Up and down some rolling double track and we are on to the last three mile section. This is a super fun pump track section with berms thrown in for good measure. I am relaxing and enjoying myself. The only things bothering me are my twisted seat rubbing my butt cheeks weird and having to over steer right to go straight. Still, I’m having fun. I pop out on the last little bit of double track. I take a Quick left, then a quick right and I am back at the start/finish line. I ride around the island of trees and yell again “Oww oWWWWWWW!” I finish the lap and hit the pit area. My first lap is 75 minutes. Nathan, my coach, is there to get me whatever I need. I eat and drink while my water pack is being filled and Matt the mechanic is fixing my bike. Two minutes and I am set and out on another lap. No time is wasted.

At this point, I am really starting to settle in. I’m watching my heart rate and keeping it between 140 and 145 beats per minute. Super chill. I groove through section one, make the big climb and hit the rock garden that is section two. I still cannot find a good line that I am comfortable riding. I ride what I can and walk what I have to. Again, I’m in this for the long haul, not risking a huge wreck to save thirty seconds. Slow is smooth, smooth is steady, and steady is fast. A guy blasts by me. He is also racing the 24 solo. He is riding crazy lines and falling off his bike, throwing caution to the wind. I pass him as he tries to get back on his bike. He goes off trail to pass me. We hit the next rock section and he hammers straight and fast as long as he can only to fly off his bike again. I tell him, “Slow is smooth, smooth is steady, and steady is fast.” He yells, “FAST IS FAST BRO!” It’s his ride and he can do it as he pleases. A few minutes later, I pass him at the next aid station. I cruise on through to the end of the lap. Nice and consistent. 77 minutes.

The real race starts when the sun goes down. It doesn’t matter if I can ride ten laps before sundown if I have to sleep all night before I can ride again. I stick to my game plan. I am mentally breaking the lap into four sections. First flow section when I leave. Rock Garden; when I get done with this section my risk of wrecking is greatly reduced. Enchanted Forest is the half way point. Check Point Charley and then I am into the final flow section.

The sun is going down and I am staying consistent. I am only adding 2-4 minutes to my lap each time around. Now that the sun is down, I take off my heart rate monitor and watch. I don’t care what my body is doing. My only goals are to keep moving, take short breaks, and make it straight through the night.

I keep moving. Ride a lap. Hit the pits. Talk to Nate, drink cold coffee, and then get back on the course. Everything is smooth.

I look down and see that the power indicator on my light is red. This isn’t good. It should last for 7 hours and I am not even on hour 4. I really have to pee but, I want to make it back without relying solely on my helmet light. I tie my junk in the proverbial knot and get to riding. I make it a good 15 minutes, but still have 20 to get back. All of a sudden I hit a huge root. The seat slams into my gooch and I relax and let a whole penis worth of pee shoot into my shorts. Fudge. I give in and stop to pee. Back on to the bike. I still have to get back to the pits to switch batteries. A few short minutes later the battery dies. I’m stuck with just the headlamp.  My eyes adjust well until another rider comes by with a bright light. Then I have to slow down and let them readjust. I make it back, switch the battery and get back out there.

I’m actually not feeling bad at all. It’s well after midnight and sleep isn’t knocking at the door or anywhere in the neighborhood for that matter. It is getting quiet out in the woods; everyone must be sleeping. The 12 hour riders are gone now and the 24 hour riders are either spread out or somewhere else. I can hear the woman who has been squeaking the rubber chicken off in the distance; it has been pretty nice to see her smiling face out there. I have being making terrible jokes about the chicken all day. I ride by her and she smiles and says I am looking strong. I am feeling pretty good other than my lower back is getting fatigued from all of the bumps and roots.

A little time goes by and I see an owl standing in the middle of the trail. I catch this with just enough time to think “SHIT!” and hit the brakes. There is no owl there. I shake it off and keep riding. I don’t feel tired. Is my brain getting tired? It has to be around 4:00 in the morning now. I see a rider sitting on the side of the trail staring off into nowhere with his light blazing. I ask if he is okay, he says yes and that his eyes are just tired. I keep pedaling. Then he passes me with blazing speed. I find him a minute later sitting on the side of the trail staring into nowhere. I pass him again. This repeats a couple more times. I finally tell him that he should probably get some sleep. He is getting mentally tired and maybe my suggestion will get him to stop for a while. Less racers to compete against. He says he is fine and rides by me once again. I leave the technical section thirty seconds later and turn left up the hill. I should be able to see him, but he is gone completely. No lights, no sound. I am completely alone. Did I imagine him? Was he me wanting to quit or did he bail into the woods to sleep. I shine my headlight around as I ride and see no signs of him at all. I have to keep moving.

I get to the start/finish line and let out my calling card howl “Oww oWWWWWWW!” No one is at the timing station. I am damn near the only person still awake. I head toward the pit area and see Nate shine his headlamp at me. He has been sleeping by the fire for an hour at a time and getting up to prep everything for me when I get back. I am not really sleepy that I know of and the sun is about to come back up. My buddy Rick has just returned to the race from getting stitches from wrecking in the night. My lights are both about to die. I switch out my headlamp and Rick offers me a light for my handlebars. We make the switch and I am on my way. The sun will be up in 45 minutes.

I ride off into the woods. The bumps in the trail shake the handle bar light and it points down. I push it up. Then my helmet light falls, I push it up. This is happening ever couple minutes. I get pissed and take the handle bar light off and throw it in my pack. Now I just have to adjust my helmet light every time I hit a bump. I repeat this process until the sun comes up. I’m starting to feel weird. I’m not sleepy. My body is aching but my mind is strong. I don’t know what’s wrong. I cannot will this feeling away. I am happy to be out here. I don’t feel hungry. Maybe my blood sugar is low. I eat a GU pack. Nothing changes. I am at what feels like a snail pace now. I quickly drink all of the water in my pack. Nothing changes. I cannot shake this. I am dreaming of making it to Check Point Charley to get one of those burgers. When I get close I cannot hear any music. Everyone is asleep. I don’t have the energy or will power to walk the 100 feet to the grill and check if there is food. I eat one of the bars that are laying on the table and refill my water pack. I feel strange. I slowly make it back to the pit area.

When I arrive, Nate tells me that I am in 6th place with the 5th place person right around me somewhere. If I go now, I can beat him. I have to sit and cover my face for a minute. I look like I am crying with my face covered, but I’m just trying to make myself feel normal again. I eat two Oatmeal cream pies and drink half a Powerade. It feels like garbage in my stomach. I have to get up and move if I want to get 5th. I have to. Back hurting, head spinning, and stomach feeling like hell, I hit the course for another lap. As soon as I turn the corner, I start burping uncontrollably and at random intervals. Every burp is followed by puke. I stop the first few times so I don’t get it on me or the bike. After that, I stop caring; I puke right onto my handlebars and fork, on my race number and sometimes on myself. It might sound gross, but it’s actually making me feel better. I get my groove back but have very little left in the tank to push hard. I go through the motions I’ve completed so many times in the previous 24 hours. I see the fifteen year old kid that I rode with yesterday for a while. He is a great rider. I actually haven’t seen him all night. I ask how he is doing and what lap he is on. He says he is 3 or 4 laps behind me. Good. I don’t know that I could win a sprint right now. He pedals on and I keep riding my pace. There is only a mile left. An older guy with a 24 hour race number on starts to pass me. This has to be that guy who is in 5th. I ask him what lap he is on. He stares. I ask again and he ignores me and picks up the pace. We are on the final 1/4 smooth stretch to the finish. I guess it will come down to a sprint finish for 5th after all. I put down the hammer and give everything I have left to crush this old man’s soul. He gives up the chase and I coast across the line in 6th place. The person that I needed to hold is actually the 15 year old that casually passed me and said he was a few laps back. Well played little man. Well played.

I slowly pedal to the pit area and lay on the ground.  My back hurts, I am starting to get sleepy and I really want a beer. I can’t stomach a beer. I am just going to lay here for a bit.

195 miles in 24:20. 6th in solo men’s category and 45th overall including teams. Average break between laps 6.7 minutes. Average lap 90 minutes. Fastest lap 75 minutes. Slowest 120 minutes.

I feel very strongly about the results of this race. I didn’t hit the mileage goal that I set, but that is perfectly fine. I gave it an honest all out effort and learned about where I can improve. I am going to focus on these weaknesses and bring them in line with everything else.

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The End- Tour Divide

Read the Beginning of the End

I get back to pedaling. The roads are crappy mud because of all of the rain. I make my way slowly as another storm rolls in. It is mid day and I set my tent up just to get out of the rain. I take a nap. When I get up the rain is slowing. I take off again and there is water draining out of my tent bag.


I see a family walking on the road and I ask if they know where Beaver-head ranch is. “Go over to the building with the green roof and tell them Jack sent you and to feed you.” I go over and wash off my bike with the hose and when I go inside there is a wonderful old lady in her 90’s. It is Jack’s mom. This is not the ranch I’m looking for, instead it’s privately owned.

Jack’s mom wants to know if I want food, and I do. You never say no to free food. She feeds me, and in true mom fashion, feeds me again as we talk about everything and nothing. Jack’s dad is sleeping on the couch sitting up and hasn’t moved since I got here.  The rest of the family returns from their walk and they invite me to stay the night with them and celebrate the fourth of July this weekend with the family. They offer me my own cabin, more free food and all of the beer and burgers a person could want. I can’t. I have to go. I cannot sit still for that long. They give me as much food as my bag can hold. I make a note to send them a thank you card and take off. They really are wonderful people.

I wake up in the morning and want to make one big push to the end. No sleeping. I will go all the way without rest. I will do this. I take a five hour energy and get a gel packet with caffeine in it…

I wake up hours later with the sun almost all of the way up. I have my hand half tucked inside of my sleeping bag bag. SHIT! I pack my gear and get going with a later start on the day than I want.

Alex and I always talk about building our dream home together. She really wants a wrap around porch. This house looks like what I see in my head when I think of it.


I roll up to the gas station. I don’t know if they’re allowed to open carry, but I’m not going to tell the guy at the gas station in the middle of the desert that he’s wrong. I’m not concerned, I’m just glad they have food. They even have Spam slices! My buddy Rick loves fried Spam sandwiches, and I am going to eat a couple slices for him. He got me into riding as an adult. He would even get up at 11 at night to help me fix my bike so I could ride the next day even if he had to be to work at 6am. Good memories, but I better get going.

As I’m cutting through a campground, I think that it can’t be the right way. Everyone is partying for the fourth of July. Where is the trail? It has just rained and there has to be someone who left tracks. The internet isn’t working on my phone, so I can’t look it up. There is another route around this campground on pavement to the next town. Is it one of the places that the changed the course? I don’t care at this point, I just want to be done.

I find a small bed and breakfast on the side of the road. Everyone stares at me when I walk in. I ask for a menu and the lady behind the counter questions what I am doing. They lost their food services license and are not legally allowed to sell food. I don’t care,  they have wifi. I ask for a dozen eggs and bacon to match. She brings it out with a smile and some cans of Coke. We chat. Her and her sister are struggling to make ends meet and they cannot afford to pay for the renewal on the license. She is an absolute sweetheart. As I search the course online and find out that I have to go back to where I just came from, she brings out three sack lunches with sandwiches and cookies. She knows where I’m headed and tells me it took her two days to get over the divide pass on foot. I head back out.

Two lost riders are right where I got lost as well. They’re starving, so I point them in the direction of the Bed and Breakfast. I head up the muddy divide pass. I know I have to take a left trail at the top, but there are five of them, none of which are really headed the way I think I’m supposed to go. I lay my bike down and walk the trails hoping my GPS gives me a clue which is correct. I find it and retrieve my bike.

This trail is barely walk able. I have to shoulder my bike and grab plants to make my way up. It drops off to both side.


Now the trail is too narrow for me to carry my bike. The rocks are too close on one side and the drop off is too close on the other. I get on my bike and hope my flow is smooth enough to not drop to my demise.

I am heading downhill to Silver City; it literally is all down hill from here. I am flying! I cut through a small town and see a saloon with food. I am not stopping. I WILL MAKE IT TONIGHT.

Silver City is a giant crap hole. They have all of their ‘Merica celebrations going on. Almost everything is closed. I stop at a gas station and buy tons of supplies. I am not stopping again. I talk to the attendant and ask where is a good place for a sit down meal. It will be my last until Mexico. He tell me about a killer Chinese place. Closed. Drunk people on the street tell me about a burrito place. Closed. I go to a bar and get a burger. The music is blaring. I don’t care. I sit by myself and eat in peace.

I’m trying to leave town, but the road is out. As in gone out. GONE! I try to see a way to carry my bike down one side and up the other, but I don’t see anything. I ride a few blocks over and cut back to the other side of the bridge to retrace the route. If they relegate me for missing 300 feet of the route they can suck my butt.

I am going to make it tonight. I see another storm rolling in at my back. I am flying. I am probably averaging 20 mph in the sand through the desert. Up and over the rolling hill. I can see another monster storm in front of me and I don’t care. I am going to make it tonight.


I pedal hard into the night. There are thousands of reflective green things in the sand around my bike. Am I going crazy? Seriously, what can those be? I get off and shine my light on one of them. It is a spider. Those are all spiders. Whatever. I will be sleeping at the border crossing tonight.

I get back on my bike and turn on to the last paved road of the race. All pavement and I have a tail wind. The storm in front of me is getting closer and stronger.


Border patrol stops me. I tell him what I am doing, but he says he knows. The only other people out here at night are drug runners; I am headed the wrong direction and am terrible at what I do if I am moving drugs, and not racing. We laugh and I get moving again. The wind is now in my face and I am pedaling under 4 mph. This blows. My ride isn’t going to be here until tomorrow at 10. I pedal for another couples minutes and decide to set my tent up. There is a fence on both sides of the road and the other side of the fence is the same thing. Sand. I go to bed. I will finish tomorrow. I have less than 100 miles to go.

Morning arrives. I have a ton of food and water. I’m pedaling downhill and will be there in no time. Then I get a flat tire.


I sit down and eat some more food. It doesn’t matter now, I can eat enough to be stuffed full the whole way. I only have to ride a few miles an hour to make it to the border before Alex’s friends show up. She really does love me tons to set that up for me. I pump my tire up and ride ten miles.


I stop and eat a bunch of food and pump my tire. Repeating this process every ten miles until I am 2 miles from the end. I stop and change my shirt. I really want to finish the race with my Plan for Adventure shirt on. Alex’s friends will be taking pictures as I ride in. I wonder what they look like.

My GPS dies. I am not going to change the batteries. I stay on this road for two miles. That is it. I pedal to the border crossing. Where is everyone? No one is outside. No one is looking for me. I ride across the border to Mexico. I had to have crossed the finish line.

I stop in the vehicle inspection area in the shade and take my helmet off. There are a few guys a hundred yards away in their uniforms looking at me. I nod at them. They nod back. I sit by myself and eat.

I guess I better get back to the U.S.

I stop at the crossing back into the United States. They open the door and ask why I just rode a circle. I told them what I was doing and that I didn’t know where the official finish line was because my GPS died. I ask if they want to see my ID or passport. They say no. They congratulate me on finishing in 23 days and close the door with me standing there.  It’s a bit anticlimactic, I suppose.

I don’t know who I am supposed to be getting a hold of for a ride and my phone has no signal anyway, so I start stripping my bike down. I throw away the garbage and stuff all of the extra clothes into my seat bag and use it as a pillow and go to sleep in the shade next to the garbage can and the bathroom.

I wake up a few hours later to Alex standing over me. She came to surprise me and pick me up. We load up my bike, take a few pictures and head back out on the road. I really want a chocolate shake, but there’s no food nearby. It’s going to be a few hours.


An hour down the road I finally become coherent and realize that Alex has flown halfway across the US, rented a car, drove hours and hours to come and pick me up. I really love her. She must love me. I am an extremely lucky man.

We find a Sonic connected to a gas station. I bet they have shakes. They DO! I get a mountain of food and a shake. The shake is gone before the food comes. As I am eating my food, I lean over and fart loudly. The plastic bench makes it even worse sounding. It doesn’t even register that this isn’t normal etiquette. Alex looks me right in the eyes and says “This is what you have become now?” Everyone within earshot of the fart is waiting for my answer. I am filthy, sun burnt and don’t remember my last shower. I giggle and say “I guess so.” I am happy. I am alive. Everything hurts. I have lost 22 pounds in 23 days. I made it. I think I could go faster. I have more in me. I am already dreaming of starting the race again. Maybe I will train harder and plan better. What if…

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Beginning of the End- Tour Divide

Read Day 15

Exhaustion is really setting in. I’m no longer really ever awake or sleeping. I blur on and off of the bike. The order of events happening make no real sense to me. I think I might have a concussion from wrecking. 


I have been trying to pack too much food and water into my backpack. I get off my bike to take a break and let my ass rest. There is blood running down my left leg. I try to peel my underwear off to see what is going on. They are stuck to my ass and I have to peel them off of the cracked callouses.

A guy comes out on his balcony and yells that I am doing a great job on the race. I really want to get to the next town, Frisco, to clean myself. I haven’t showered in days. Sitting is not fun.


I finally get there and get a room in Frisco. I order food before I get in the shower. When I get my pants and underwear off it looks like a massacre happened. I take a butt selfie of the damage to try and see what is happening. I delete it immediately after I look at it. No one every wants to see that. The water hurts so much it makes my eyes tear up. I make the decision that I will scrub the dried blood and callouses off. I wrap the washcloth around my knuckles and scrub until I can’t take the pain any more. I use my half numb finger to feel if it is clean. I don’t think I wash anything else on my body. My food arrives and after I eat every crumb, I pass out,  face down and butt naked with an empty family sized lasagna pan next to me.

Some time later…

I am climbing out of Breckenridge. It takes hours, but the views are beautiful.  I even see a person with a tent set up on a huge boulder sitting next to the edge. I get to the top and there is a train car and elevation sign. Maybe I take a picture. Maybe not. Like I said, everything is pretty blurry at this time. Descending the single track in the woods is slow going but amazing.  


I meet Australian Dave and we ride together. This is his second attempt at the race. We ride into Salida and eat dinner. Every place is super busy. There is a festival in town and a rodeo on the edge of town. We pick up Jeremiah Johnson on the side of the road. We pick up Nick sitting on the side of the road with a whole pizza, cellphone in hand trying to find a place to stay. Everything is booked solid. Campground is sold out. We find a bar to ask where we can sleep. 12 miles up the mountain. We all stumble outside and pedal for under five minutes. We find a wooded picnic area that has a “no camping” sign. We walk right past it into the woods deeper and closer to the creek and go to sleep.

I fade in and out- blurring again- but then I’m at a fire station in the middle of nowhere. I fill my water and talk to the volunteers for a bit. Back onto the bike. I make it to a town and see another rider. I’m feeling really depressed. I sit outside of the gas station on one of the islands and cry for as long as I can remember. People stare at me as they fill up their cars and leave. I just want to quit. I lost my tracker. I missed my goal time. Everyone at home has to hate me for not being strong enough. I call Alex crying. She talks some sense into me. I just have to keep going. That is all. She still loves me. Everyone thinks I am doing great. I just have to keep going and make the cut off.

My bike has too much food and water on it so I have to push it up the hill. A guy in a truck stops me and says he just saw another rider getting ready to set up camp in the national park. I really want to camp with someone and have a conversation, so I hurry as fast as I can to catch them. So of course, I wreck my bike and flip over the handlebars. I lay there. I decide it isn’t worth being hurt over finding someone who is possibly not there. I set up camp and start a fire. I leave the door of the tent open and just watch the fire. I some how have a phone signal. I call Alex. I just want to hear her voice again. Once I hear it I am better. I don’t know what came over me this past day(s).

More blurring. I think about how I’d heard that the people on the Indian Reservation laugh at white people who ask for sunscreen. I better buy more before I get there. More blurring…

The sun is going down and there is a huge storm in front and behind me. Luckily it is getting cooler out. I get out my rain jacket, put my headphones in and my hood up. I ride a super fast pace on the pavement jamming to Led Zeppelin.


When I round the horse shoe corner an hour later the rain is in my face and the storm is getting more intense. The rock faces are on either side of me. The only flat spot is on the other side of a fence. I jump the fence and set up my tent. The wind is getting crazy. I have to anchor my tent to my bike. The rain is really coming down. I take everything off my bike and bring it in the tent with me. The rain rushing under and around the tent is a few inches deep. I don’t care at this point and fall asleep in the pond.

I ride into a town early in the morning and meet a guy from Iowa. His son when to school at the university of Iowa and his daughter in law went to high school 15 minutes from my house. It’s a small world He buys my breakfast and even a few pieces of pie.

Jeremiah Johnson and I ride together. He wants to be done with the race. He is obsessing over the notes that his friend has given to him about the course. Every uphill is the worst thing he has ever done. I try to stay positive. We find a small restaurant that is also the gas station and grocery store. They have a Sasquatch challenge; you have to eat a 5 pound burger and 2 pounds of fries. I fall asleep in the booth as Jeremiah finishes the challenge. When I wake up he is leaving slowly so I get on my way. He catches me around nightfall. We are high in the mountains and it is almost freezing. How are there still mosquitoes? We start a fire and go to bed hoping the bugs will leave.

It is 20 degrees and the mosquitoes are still here. WTF? Jeremiah takes off quickly and leaves me all alone with my thoughts. I want to make it to Pie Town today. There is supposed to be amazing pies everywhere. I have got to make it.

By noon it is well over a hundred. The skin on my face is burnt and I have been wearing long sleeves just to keep the sun off. A couple stops me on the side of the road and asks if I am alright. They give me a 2 liters of water. I drink it all and give them the bottles back instantly.

There are storms almost all day long now. I can see one up the mountain in Pie Town. I have to keep going. I want to be done. There is water rushing down the road now but, it still isn’t raining on me. This is going to be bad.


It starts raining on me so hard I can barely see. A lady from Pie Town stops me and asks if that’s where I am trying to make it. She says she will go back and open her jewelry store, since all the pie shops are closed at 3 or 4 in the afternoon. She says she will see me soon and takes off. I pedal further and the rain stops. I find Jeremiah hiding under a tree, trapped because of the rain.


The shop is heaven. We buy piles of frozen tiny pizzas, hot dogs, sodas and snacks. I ask what the toaster house is. She is afraid to actually go inside but here it is a free place to crash.


The toaster house is eclectic. Anything you want is there. Freezer full of pizza. Fridge outside with beers and ice cream. It is too early to stop for the day but I don’t care. I choose a room and get a bowl of ice cream. There is a drunk guy who is talking about hiking for years on end to get here. He also starts talking about Vietnam and how great he was at killing people with a flame thrower. He interrupts my conversation with Jeremiah to make a racial slur about the president. We tell him to leave. He wobbles in the doorway for a few minutes and says he knows he is not wanted here and takes off. We go to sleep.

I wake up pouring sweat. Drunk man has started a roaring fire in the wood burner. It was already 100% humidity and hot as sin. I go outside with my air pad and sleeping bag to the porch and the van seats that are sitting out there. I go back to sleep.

I wake up to rain pouring on me. The wind is so strong it is blowing under the 10 foot long roof. I cover my face and go back to sleep.

Morning comes and luckily, drunk man is nowhere to be found. I make a stack of sandwiches to go. When I get on the road my wheel is making a funny noise. I have a broken spoke. I take out my fiber spoke emergency kit and get it fixed. This repair spoke should hold up for over 300 miles.


Read the Ending

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Day 5- Tour Divide

Read Day 4

I wake up to the beautiful smell of sweet flowers. It just happens these flowers smell like B.O. and a toilet next to my face. I haven’t showered yet on the race. When I try to stand up, my feet won’t even take the pressure. They hurt bad. So I sit up and lean against the wall. I eat some food and take some pain killers. I then put my shoes on as tight as I can. With the assistance of the toilet I get up off the floor. I take a pee and hobble outside. There is a gorgeous lake that I didn’t see the night before. I hobble around for a bit and decide I better get moving.


The other guys are just starting to rustle around. I hop on my bike and slowly pedal off. As I start the climb up the pass I meet Jean Michel. He has been getting lost over and over because he does not have a GPS. Only the paper maps. He took the race on short notice


Jean is from Tahiti and is riding the race for a friend of his. Just one year ago his friend and training partner were in Europe racing a sky run. Fast forward a few months and his training partner was diagnosed with Lou Gehrig’s disease. It was always his dream to race the TD and would never get the chance now.  So he decided to ride with me. We pedal up and over the mountain pass sharing stories of life and adventure. He loved sailing and the ocean. We descend into a small, hot, dry town. There is a lady checking names off a list and getting pictures as they came into town. They love the racers here. We go inside and have an ice cream cone or two. After we get more supplies we head back out on the road for more tall tales and pedaling.


The route today is a mix of gravel farm roads with mountain passes mixing in between. While spinning down a gravel road and looking at  a mountain in the distance a dually farm truck pulling a huge trail decides that our bikes are taking up too much of the road and heads straight at us. At the last second he swerves even closer to us and we swerve off of the road. What a jerk. Jean looks over at me as the dust is settling and says “You have to have a really shit life to do that to another person.” I giggle and think of what happens in his day to day home life. I picture his wife with a thick mustache, standing over him yelling about his shortcomings. His dog ignoring him when he tries to give him a treat and petting him. Then I think about how great of a life I have. I have a wonderful support network including the amazing Alexandra, who is keeping the home life going while I am off playing in the woods for weeks on end. All of the great people who have supported me to get me to where I am at. Life is grand. When we reach our stop for lunch we go inside and cool off while eating pounds of food. Jean rings his friend on facetime. I am almost in tears when I see him. Not one year ago he was loving life and adventuring around the world. Now he is in a wheelchair with a breathing machine. It is almost too much. At this point I am very thankful for the opportunity to race. Even if everything hurt . I still have the ability to do what I please when I please. After lunch we set out to make the push to Lincoln Montana and the first shower in 5 days. The going gets rough. The more I pedal the more my front shock collapses. It gets to the point where even if I lock my fork out on flat ground my face is pointing toward the ground. On any climb all of my power is going into bobbing up and down. It sucks. We finally crest the last pass and see Lincoln in our sites. We bomb down, hit the pavement and cruise to a bar and grill.


At the grill Jean schools me on proper food, why Americans are fat and how all of the selections are shitty. We both get double cheese burgers. I eat mine in a flash. He takes only a few bites. I then eat all of his. It feels good. Will shows up just as the place is closing. They are kind enough to fix him a plate of pasta. While Jean goes and gets us a room, I call my palio Moon and asked what I can do to fix the shock. He informs me I needed to buy a pump and live with inflating it everyday or wait for it to be rebuilt.. DAGGIT. The next town with a pump is Helena and is 60 miles away. Such is life. It isn’t an adventure without adversity. As I head towards the hotel, Will asks if he can crash with us. Hell yeah. So we go around to the room, take showers and crash. The shower is glorious. A bed is amazing and my stomach is packed full of cheese burger heaven. Life’s simple pleasures.

Read Day 6

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