One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Tag: bike race

Be Uncomfortable

If I continually did things that I was certain to finish, I would be unfulfilled because I wouldn’t be growing. I like the nervousness I feel when trying something new or facing an unfamiliar challenge.

I like having a big race hanging over my head. There are a few things that might happen; either I’ll push myself to new heights to be better prepared for the race, or when the race starts I will have to fight to sort it out as I go. Maybe both.

Either way I’m pushing to become a better person. If I fail, which happens a lot more than people like to believe, then I will learn from it. Where did things break down? Was it mental, physical, or was I short sited in something? Did I go into the race unprepared? Regardless, I will learn and grow.

I like that. I want to grow. I never want to settle for good enough. If I am successful, I like to take a moment to celebrate my accomplishment and then get right back at it, humbled. I have had people call me arrogant but I will be the first person to tell you that I’m not unique in my abilities or my drive. I am not special. My life has no more value than anyone else’s, I just want to get as much out of my life as possible, which might be the only difference. I want to look back on my life and tell the stories with the adventures sounding like the far-fetched dreams of a rambling mad man. If someone says that I am nuts for everything I am trying to achieve, then I’m getting where I need to be. I would much rather be outside the circle of normal and have people point me out as a person who has tried too many things and failed at all of them, than be one of the people that sit in the comfort being average and do the laughing.

I have DARE MIGHTY THINGS tattooed on my arm for a reason. It is a constant reminder to me that I would much rather be the laughing stock who tried to become everything possible with my life, than the person that gets to the end of my life and thinks “Fuck, I wish I had one more day.” Whenever the end of my life may come, I am ready for it. I am going balls to the wall right now chasing my dreams. The number of successes and failures I have is irrelevant. What matters to me is that I am going for it.

Dare mighty things.


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I was dead last. I liked it: Thought of the day

So I rode a cross country mountain bike race yesterday. I had my ass handed to me by the Category 1 racers. I knew it was going to happen. I had no dreams of being on the podium. Okay, maybe I did imagine it one time, but I realistically knew that it was very unlikely. That is exactly why I was in the race class.

You really have to go for broke and let it all hang out to find your weaknesses and improve on them. Most people fear being last. I would much rather be last place with the big boys, than win playing it safe. It is just like beating up your little brother. You know you can do it. It makes you feel good to win. You get confidence in your ability. On the other hand, you never get better if you don’t face adversity. That is why you runs sprints, lift heavy weights, go farther.

It would have been no problem for me to go down a class and blend into the field. I looked at the times and I would have been mid pack, other than the last lap when my tire went flat. I could have finished, had a beer and chatted with the boys and then headed home. My times were consistent, my pacing was good, I just flat out didn’t have the power or skills those guys have. That is what I need to see. I wanted to know where I was at. It is easy to step down classes, throttle back when you get tired or when it gets hard and coast into the finish. I am not into taking the easy route. I will never race to collect medals. What I want is to grow. I want to grow as a person. Physically, mentally, spiritually.

I have no dreams of being a world class cross country racer. However, these types of races are a wonderful tool for me to become a better endurance/adventure racer. If I can increase my power and pace by 1% over the course of a few days of a bikepacking race, that is a huge spread in mileage. If my technical skills are stronger, I will use less energy climbing, descending and attacking obstacles. I will never get faster by taking the easy route.

I had some people get all butt hurt about one of my posts other post about race day. Some people assume I meant that if you weren’t first you were a loser. That is not what it is about. It is about pushing yourself to do things you never thought possible. I WAS LAST PLACE AND DID NOT FINISH! It was glorious. I learned. The taste was bitter in my mouth when the leaders were having a conversation climbing the first hill and pacing a couple miles an hour faster than me. I will be back again for more. The Wausau 24 hour is coming up quickly and I have lots to work to do before then.

Relentless forward motion.


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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. 

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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.

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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.  

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Read the Ending

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Day 14- Tour Divide

Read Day 13

I wake up rather early having only slept between four and five hours. What I lacked in hours, however I made up in quality; I slept like a baby with a full stomach and a safe setting. This means I’m wide awake and ready to go. I pack my tent up and head inside. No one else is awake yet, and Kirsten is just getting set up for breakfast. She tells me that I am going to have to wait until all of the other racers are up and taken care of before I can get a ride back to get my tracker. She tells me that she has contacted Matthew for me and that I should send a message to him to make sure I get his response in writing. She gives me a hug and tells me it is all going to work out and I will be at the finish line before I know it.

I decide to take a shower, because why not? Afterwards I go back out to eat breakfast and everyone is stirring. I eat and go chill on the porch. The sun is coming up and the valley is beautiful. This is now one of my favorite places in the world. I don’t know if it’s the view or the hugs, but whatever it is, this place feels like it is magical. I’m soaking it in when I get an email back from Matt. Thankfully, I am good to go.

Since it’s a safety issue I’m fine to get a ride back to my tracker, which is a big relief. The Rev is just chilling out with me, and he says that he only has a couple days of riding left before he’ll drop to make it back home. So he will wait for me and help me push hard and catch up to the group we’ve been leap frogging. That sounds good to me, and now I’m doubly grateful.

After everyone is gone, we use the race tracker to take aerial pictures of where the tracker is at. It’s 40 miles away, so we better get after it. We head down the road, windows down and chatting about life. We make the 80 mile round trip and I’m ready to roll again. Everything at the lodge, excluding the rooms and cabins, are by donation. You pay what you can and what you feel it’s worth to you. If I had the money I would leave them a million. I don’t, so Kirsten says to pay for the meals and that the shower and camping are on the house. I leave them a two hundred dollar tip. I’m 100% sure that the hugs and help are worth more than any dollar I will ever pay. She gets a quick photo with me and we are on our way. As soon as we leave the real mountain biking starts.

The real mountain biking begins.

We’re climbing fast and high; it’s a wicked climb. We keep pedaling, and a few hours later and we are at the top. Colorado is going to be a tough summa gun. We start to descend some gangster hard off road trails. I have to stop every 20 minutes or so to let my forearms and calves take a break. This is a beating even going down. I have to wait longer and longer for Rev to catch up. He’s riding carbon rims and they are getting wrecked and wobbling all over the place. He says he will just get a replacement in Steam Boat.

Colorado section of the Tour Divide

We keep dropping downward. I’ve heard that right on the other side of the pass is a baller ice cream shop and I could definitely go for some ice cream. As we are approach the shop the Rev says his friends are there. Huh? This is a surprise to me.

He says something about traffic being bad and he has to get back to his congregation. This makes no sense. Sure enough, two of his friends are waiting in the parking lot of the ice cream shop with the back of the van open. As soon as we pull up Rev says he has to make a video really quick and he will be in for a chocolate shake. What in the hell is going on? Is he quitting on me? He is.

I go inside and get some ice cream and look for more vaseline. My ass is starting to get pretty sore. The Rev sneaks in, grabs a cone and as I’m walking out he shouts goodbye from across the parking lot. Whatever. I don’t need his helping catching up. I finish my cone and walk back to my bike, but the tire is flat.

As I’m fixing it, a few cyclists roll by and ask what I’m up to. They tell me the ride to Steam Boat is going to be a screamer if I wait a few more minutes for the storm to roll in. I have nothing but time. They take off and another guy walks up. “You have a flat tire?” Eat it you jerk bag. For some reason I am pissed. I slam my pump down and catch my knuckles on the brake rotor. Damn! When I look at them, two of them are white. This is bad. Blood starts pouring out. I grab my first aid kit and go into the bathroom leaving a trail of blood as everyone stares at me. I wash it off and wrap it with a part of my bandanna I cut off and some sports tape. That’ll do. Time to hit the road.

I get back on the bike. The wind is ripping at my back and I am heading slightly downhill. The miles are flying by. Nothing changes but I notice that the pedaling is getting harder. I look down and my tire is going flat again. I get off and pump it back up. Then back on the bike, back to flying. I slow down again. Pump and repeat. As I am getting into town I ride into traffic and a guy rolls his window down to give me a cheers. I ask him what bike shops are in town. He says The Orange Peel, which I’ve heard of; my good friend Moon knows the owner. I headed that way, following the bike path. The next person I pass says I’ve got a mile to go. I ride for ten minutes and haven’t found it yet. Did I miss it? I ask another person, they say it’s about a mile. Ten more minutes. Nothing. Ask, ride, repeat.

Turns out, it’s clear on the other side of town, but I find it. When I roll in, I ask if they can help fix the tire and change my brake pads. I have all the gear, I’m just to lazy to do it right now and I want to leave town before all of the comfort and beers draw me in for the night. Unfortunately, they tell me they are shutting down shop for the night and they have to get rolling so they can ride before sundown. This won’t do, so I name drop and ask if they know Moon. When one of the guys says yeah, I tell him that Moon said they would hook a brother up. Still no dice, they say that they’re hungry and really need to eat before riding too. Boom, that’s the solution! I offer to buy them all the appetizers they want from the bar next door if they fix my bike real quick like. They agree, so I go next door and order them one of everything and a big burger for me. I am stoked.

When the food is ready, I head back over. Two guys are working on my bike. Why do they have the front rim off? When I ask, the mechanic says the tires look fine. I point out that the rear tires is completely flat. They laugh and get to fixing the back tire and eating. I am stuffing my face and grabbing all of the supplies that I need. They get it all fixed up and ready to roll and right away I’m out the door. I am going to make up these miles!

As I follow the course closer to where a gas station is, I see hundreds of people outside enjoying themselves. I really wish I could stop and hang out. I just want a beer and some good conversation. Really bad. I shake it off, I have to keep going. I get to the gas station and resupply my food. I’m not quite ready to leave the safety of town and the awesome people, so I sit outside the gas station drinking an energy drink and calling everyone I can think of to talk to. I know I need to get going, I’m just wasting time. I get back on the bike and get back on the course heading out of town. The views are beautiful in Colorado. I love this place.

Views of Colorado

When I hit the edge of town I run into a Northbound racer and we talk. He has been laid up in a hospital for a while. A storm had rolled through a week ago and a tree had fallen on him! Good news is that he’s alright. Better news, the SPOT tracker SOS button works really well. He pushed the button and said he had emergency services there in no time at all. That is a relief. As always, I have to get going. We pedal our separate ways. I only ride for another hour or so. I am not tired but I’m mentally done for the day. I walk out into some tall grass off a country road and set up my tent. I lay there and think about how I am going to catch this time up. I have gone from being on an almost 30 day pace down to a 20 day pace and I am now back to 23 or 24 days. Shit happens.

Read Day 15

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