One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Tag: Cycling (page 1 of 2)

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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24 Hours of Wausau Mountain Bike Race- Training Program

Here are all of the phases of my training program from the Wausau 24 hour race. There are some events that are not listed on there that I took part in addition to the training.

I rode TOMRV , I had a week of climbing 14ers, I ran the Grand Canyon rim to rim, as well as a few miscellaneous things. I also strained a ligament in my hip about 5 or 6 weeks out from the race and had to start my taper early. This was a completely random injury; I don’t feel like I was over trained, these things just happen sometimes.

You can see that I was pretty strict about filling out the numbers when I started but after a few months, I just went to writing it down in a note book and talking to my coach (Nathan Tackett- #Tackettraining) whenever I felt the need. He is a stellar coach and bases his programs off of science and proven training methods. I can’t praise him enough.

In no way am I saying this program would be best for you, as it was built specifically to my needs. Every person has different base training levels, strengths, and weakness. It might work for you but, I will make zero guarantees.

Without future ado- here is my training program.

If you have any questions about any of it, shoot me an email using my contact page.  If you want to talk to Nathan about having a training plan set up, let me know and I will have him get a hold of you.

Being Fearless

There are people that see me as fearless. This is not true. I have fears. I have just worked extremely hard on not letting my fears stop me from doing what I want.

I had just finished 2500 of the 2800 miles in the Tour Divide and I sat crying in a parking lot of a gas station. I had finally let my fears overwhelm me. I worried about running out of food, running out of water, getting hurt and not being found until after my death.

I had let my fearful “what ifs” run so wild in my head that it was crippling me. I had to call Alex and tell her that I was a failure. I believed that everyone that knew me was disappointed in me. After she talked me down, I started to think about why I was afraid. Like most fears, it was irrational. I had plenty of water, food, and I wasn’t taking any unnecessary risks. I have training and knowledge to help me survive most any situation. I thought of all of the things that could possibly go wrong and then paired them with what I had done to be prepared if that situation arrived. I finally calmed myself when I realized that I had prepared as best a person could in my situation. I got back on my bike. Calm and collected, I pedaled off knowing that what was bothering me most was my mind. The fear was just something I let build up and take over.

The moral of this story is, don’t aim to be fearless. Learn to work through your fears as they arrive and not play out all your fears in what if situations. If something happens, sort it out then. Before that, prepare yourself as well as possible.

Fear will only stop you if you let it.

Don’t let it.

Can or Can’t, you are right. Being Positive. Thought of the Day

I was just out riding my bike and trying to make a Live Facebook Video and my phone died. It happens. I didn’t charge it last night. The important part is the thoughts that were rambling in my nugget. So here it goes.

On a large enough scale the universe as a whole is a net neutral place. You might ride 20 miles up hill. Then you are going to be able to descend the same amount back down. You might ride into a headwind but, at some point you will get a killer tail wind. Every person in the world has the same opportunities to choose to see the good or the bad. I do understand that some people are born into absolutely horrendous circumstances while others win the genetic lottery, have wealthy families and above average intelligence. But none of that really makes a difference on how you choose to see you situation; you can dwell on the good or the bad.

The good news is that it is really up to you on what you see. If you want to see all of the bad, you will seek it out. If you want to see the good you will seek it out. This is called confirmation bias. Have you meet that person that swears that they look at the clock everyday at the same time? They don’t. They look at the clock hundreds of times a day. Whenever it isn’t their lucky time and they look, their brain makes a snap categorization of the time and then chooses to let it go as a non-confirmation. They might even miss the magic time in the day. Their brain ignores that. Might be a few days before they see it again. When they do!!! AHHHHHHAAAAA!

A person’s brain cannot process all of the information that is being sent into it. It is impossible. You would have a melt down instantly. So your brain has to find patterns to sort the input and process it or not as fast as possible. Think about what the bottom of your feet feel like right now. I bet 30 seconds ago you didn’t even take that into consideration. It wasn’t important to your decision making process. What type of car do you drive? I bet you see people driving that car all of the time. Why? Confirmation bias. You brain see and ignores thousands of cars a day. It is a non-event. Then you see the car you drive, which you associate with “car” and bang, you see them every where.

What does this have to do with everything or anything? You have the choice to see the good or the bad. If you are consistently looking for good things to happen to you, you will find them. You have that lucky friend that wins everything. They don’t really. They just ignore all of the losses it took to get the win.

Here is what I do. If it helps you, sweet. If it doesn’t, make this article an non-event. Take the time each day to appreciate the things that have gone right. The things that you find happiness in. The things that don’t make you happy, agree that it is just something that has happened in between you happiness. You get a flat tire on your bike? Don’t worry about the flat tire, think about all of the awesome miles you have ridden between flats. Got two in a row? I bet it has been a really long time since that has happen. Tons of great miles in there. Have a bad day training? Let it go. Bad days have to happen as part of the process to make your self better. Is your goal to run a 5k? Don’t think about only being able to run 1 mile. Think about how much better that mile feels every time you run it. You haven’t even started yet? That’s perfect too. You have made the decision that you are going to work toward you goals. That is the hard part. Choosing to better yourself.

You get my point. If you want to see the good, you can find it. Anytime and anywhere. If it is just a really shit time for you, remember that is not normal for you. That is just something that happens every now and then.

Want to try an experiment? For the next 7 days, write down 15 positive things about your life. Start everyday with “I woke up and I get another day to be stellar.” Bam! You already have one done. Then as your day goes on, search out those positive events and list them. The bad ones just let them come in and go out as a non-event. A pass through to another positive. If you have more than 15, keep listing them. At the end of the day, read the list of that day and all of the days previous. I bet you will be amazed at how many great things happen to you.

I’m serious, try this out, and you will be pleasantly surprised. I want to know how it goes, so hit me up in the comments or send me a message and let me know.

Catch you cool cats later,

Mike


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Call Me Crazy: Thought of the day

The Tour Divide starts next week. Muhammad Ali died last week. Those are two separate things. They are connected though. Ali made some of the craziest public statements about his success and his greatness. He said that it keep him hungry for improvement so that he would not look like a fool publicly.  So here is my statement.

In 2017 I will race the Tour Divide and finish in 15 days. Fifteen. That is 180~ miles a day. That is 50 percent more per day than I rode last year. I will do it. I have been training my ass off. I have been studying gear, nutrition, cross training, riding hill sprints until I am sick of my bike.

One more statement- The Tour Divide will be the first race in my 10 thousand mile bike packing race project over the course of the following 12 months. I will do this. You have my word. When I am tired I will push harder. When I don’t have the motivation I will work harder to find it. This is what I am doing. This isn’t a dream. This isn’t words I am just typing and saying. This is a plan of action. I will die with my shield or on it. You have my word on that. You can call me crazy. People said the same thing last year when I trained for 14 week and left for 2800 miles of racing. I finished the race within the cut off. I am more driven now.

Stay focused on your goals my friends. You can do amazing things if you stay positive and get moving. I am not lucky or gifted. I am relentless.

Contact me if you want to sponsor me. I am going H>A>M!

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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Resetting your Lefty Fork

I spent hours searching the internet, watching videos, and reading technical specs about resetting the needle bearings in my Lefty fork. I was worried I was going to take it apart and ruin it. Truth be told, resetting it is one of the simplest repairs I have ever done. Less than five minutes, super common tools and a little brute force.

Most of the references I dug into, talked about the shock length for different travel forks. If you open it and the measurement is inside a specific range of errors, just reassemble it and let it be. That seems silly to me. If I put my tire pump on and the tire is 10% low, I am going to put the air in it while I am there. That is why I suggest that when you have your fork apart just reset the bearings even if it is only 10%. It takes an extra 30 seconds or less.

Another aspect that I realized it that you just slam the fork down and bottom it out. That is it. Give it a good whack. No need to make this technical. “With the traveling velocity of a common sparrow and end force of applied squares” Blah blah blah. Whack it hard.

Last step, adding air .Start with 3/4 of your weight in pounds. I weigh around 180 so that is 135 pounds. I actually ride at 140 pounds because I like a little stiffer ride. No rocket science of sag percentages, travel ranges, rebound speeds. Start with a good guess (Which is what the charts are anyway) and then adjust it to what makes you ride the best and feel the most comfortable. As long as you don’t add 1 billion psi or have in zero, if it feels good, it is good. It is that easy. Check out the video below and watch me reset mine in around 3 minutes.

 

 

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Day 15- Tour Divide

Read Day 14

The morning is perfect. The sun is rising and slowly warming up the field I slept in, and the dew smells sweet. If my butt cheeks didn’t hurt so much I would think I died in my sleep. The sunrise is absolutely stunning. I am not quick to pack up and get going.  All of this has put me in a chill zen place, where everything is just flowing. As I get my gear together, I munch on some food and turn on some tunes. Nature calls and I walk out further into the tall grass and answer. Then it’s back onto the bike and get moving. As I roll out, I look out and see a nice looking lake, held in place by a large dam. The morning still feels pleasant.

Large lake on the Tour Divide

The houses are spectacular in this area too. I am zigzagging around the lake parking lot looking for the trailhead as it gets increasingly sunny. I need to get my sunglasses off of my helmet. Damn it.

Mike Kinney on the Tour Divide

Oh well, no sense taking yourself too seriously.

Then I discover that they’re missing. Gone. I’ll squint until I make it to the next gas station, I guess. The sun is getting hotter as I ride into town, and I’m glad I made it in time to get glasses before my eyeballs melt out of my head. I’m not particularly hungry for anything. I am eating but nothing is really good. I’m just sitting outside eating a couple cheeseburgers and wishing that I would have loaded more music on my phone. A few hundred songs is plenty when you have access to the radio and Pandora, but it doesn’t take long for those hundred to get repetitive when you listen to them on a loop. I decide to take a break from music for a bit.

Beautiful views on the Tour Divide

I head back out on the road and as I leave town and start climbing again, I start feeling lonely. I haven’t really seen anyone today. I haven’t really seen much of anything; there are beautiful mountains and wilderness but I think I’m starting to get a little jaded. Halfway up the ascent, I see a guy parking at a view point area. Since I’m lonely, I decide to stop and see what he’s looking at, hoping that he might talk to me. The view is just a big drop off, but the guy is pretty interesting. He is the supply truck for his wife and friends, who are are section riding the Continental Divide. Five years ago they started in New Mexico and they ride three weeks a year. We chat for a bit, but I’ve got to keep rolling. I head back on up the hill!

More Tour Divide Views

I pedal into the evening and grab a spot to call it a night. I’m not feeling incredibly enthused though…  guess I will wake up and ride tomorrow. I bet the leaders are done already. Shit.

Continue Reading

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Day 4- Tour Divide

Read Day 3

I wake up with the sunrise and I am ready to get back at it. I slept like a baby. I pack my gear and get on the bike. I have this terrible feeling in the tops of both of my patellas and my feet are hurting. They are on fire.

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When I make it to the next town, I gobble up as much food as I can and get some Excedrin. When I am leaving town I swing by the bike shop to see if I can get some type of bag holder for the front of my bike to carry more food. No such luck. When I am leaving, I first meet Jeremiah Johnson. Not the wilderness man. This guy is one hurting unit. He smells like he might have recently sharted and then rubbed on a whole tube of Icy Hot. He tells me the first two days, he crushed the race, Yesterday he blew up and couldn’t pedal anymore so he just stopped in the town and crashed on someone’s porch. I feel bad when he says he is thinking about dropping. I need to keep moving though. I pop some painkillers and get back on the road.

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Now that I have cell service I ring Alex and ride with her on speaker phone and chat. It feels nice being able to talk to her. The pain in my feet isn’t really letting up. After an hour or so they are in so much pain I cannot pedal. I stop on the side of the road and put my feet up on the bike for 5 minutes while I eat. This pattern will repeat. 55 minutes of riding until horrible pain, feet up, and eat. I am actually passing people. I must be catching up on the pace. Late in the afternoon I pass another rider climbing. He says that he cannot take this much longer and he is probably going to drop. That sucks. I will not quit. Relentless forward motion.

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 I run into two guys named Will and Nick. Will is from California and Nick is from England. Will’s buttcheeks are raw and on fire and Nick isn’t feeling like being alone so they are riding together. They drop me. As they climb off into the distance I stop and put my feet up and eat. I get to the crest of the mountain and am ready to descend down to the town that I will stay in for the night. There are some nice flowing switch backs and I am grooving. I swing out to the ride and get ready to rip into the left turn, when over the brush pile I see a huge grizzly. I slam the brakes shut, my butt cheeks slam shut and my mouth drops open. Before I left for the race I loved to tell people that I would get my camera out and take a video in case it eats me so they can make some money on it. The night before I was one hundred percent sure that I would uppercut a bear in the genitals and stand over it while it lays there in defeat. I did neither of those. The bear was 30 feet away. That is a long way. It is also really close for an angry bear. I get my bear spray out, which is guaranteed effective if the bear is within 10 feet. 10 feet is piss your pants close for a bear. So I stand there. My face is somewhere around armpit height on the bear. It is a damn monster. It growls. I stand there shaking. It paces back and forth. I stand there. It growls. I yell. It paces. I talk calm. It growls. I blow my whistle. It paces. This goes on for what seems like a month or two. It has been five minutes. The bear loses interest and trots off into the brush. I pedal like I am in a 60 second time trial. My legs are on fire. Every time I can catch my breath, I yell “HELLO” or “HEY BEAR”. I do not want to run into another bear. EVER. After an hour or so I catch up to Will and Nick checking maps on the road. I tell them the story and ask if I can ride with them. They say sure. It takes every fiber of my being to keep up with them but, I do. We get to a campground and try to decide what we are going to do. I know what I am doing. I find a Montana Hilton. If you do not know what that is, it is a concrete outhouse with a steel door. As the other two discuss tea and crumpets. I take myself shaking inside, lock the door, and set up my sleeping gear. I eat like a king by the light my headlamp and fall asleep.

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Above is a picture of bunny I took for Alex. She loves them and I love her.

 

Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. If you like what you read give it a share.

Thanks Mucho,

Mike

Read Day 5

Day 3- Tour Divide

Read Day 2

Wake up in the morning feel like Pee Diddy. I wake up a little sad and disheartened by the amount of food I have been eating over the last couple of days. I am still smiling. The worst day on an adventure is better than the best day sitting in an office chair.

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I have been on feast or famine mode. I really need to lock things down for nutrition and get my poop in a group. I eat the other quarter of a sandwich, finish my pistachios and half of the chocolates. I am camping next to some super awesome gentle dudes. Josh hears me grumbling about having too little food and he offers me some Kind Bars. This really makes my heart happy. I might actually live. My body is a little tired and sore but I get moving. The climbing is steep. Then it gets gangster. I am riding in gears 1-3 out of 30. What in the world? Really. Before I left for the race I remember thinking that there was no way on any terrain that I would ever drop below 10 miles per hour. Here I am, spinning my heart out and climbing at a whooping rate of 3.5 mph. Then it gets better.
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The trail turns into mud stairs with a nice stream rolling down. I shoulder my bike and climb. I don’t care. Nothing will stop me. My motto is “relentless forward motion”. It doesn’t matter how fast you move. If you are moving, you are making progress. It literally all cannot be up hill. At some point it will go down. Back on the bike. Back to pedaling about the same pace I can walk. Food is gone. Oh well. I run into a crazy guy from Austrailia on a single speed bike. A GUY ON A SINGLE SPEED WAS IN FRONT OF ME! He is standing on the pedals, riding side to side on the road to make it easier. I ask him how it is going and we chat for a while. The chatter makes it go faster but, I am still hungry. I find out what a front bum is (Take your pick- NSFW). Then we get to the glory! Hit the top of the pass. The descent is just as steep as the climb and just as rocky. I am ripping. I try to relax and take in the good graces of gravity. From the ridge line I swear I can see the border crossing.

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I can smell and taste the food. I hit pavement, take a left and head to the good old US and A. It is an easy transition for me. There are a few other riders from other countries that have to go inside and fill out paperwork. The gate agent looks at me, gives a smile and a wink and says “sweet ride” and then starts chanting “U.S.A….U.S.A….U.S.A…”. This really didn’t happen. I show them my passport. They look at me with a little concern for my safety and I ride on.

There is a duty free station about a half mile up the paved road. I go in, turn on my phone  and order a bacon cheeseburger, a gallon of soda and a gallon of water. The first person I call is my girlfriend, Alex. I can’t wait to hear her sweet voice and find out how much I am crushing the race. She does the polite thing and asks how I am doing and says she is glad that I am ok. I am almost in tears as I get my food. I am so hungry. I take my first bite of french fries and Alex says “You are way behind the cut off. You are pacing 27-28 days. You need to hurry up.” I really love Alex with all of my heart. That did not stop me from thinking horrible profanities about her. We stop talking and I start devouring my food. It is tasty. That unbelievable rush of emotion you get the first time you have sex – my stomach had that feeling.

I pack my phone, jump on my bike and head the five miles to town to get resupplied. When I get to the store I try to figure out how to pack any more food in my backpack. No matter what I tuck in there, it isn’t enough food. I buy mountains of food. I will figure it out. When I get outside I see a racer with a dry bag filled with food, rolled and clipped shut over his aero bars. Thats it! I go back in and buy more food to fill my dry bag. My tank is now full, my bike is loaded to the brim with food and I am ready to rock and roll. I head back out on the course and I am making some great time. My speed picks up and I have a tailwind. I am taking a break now and again to look at the map and cue sheet. I see one of the sections tells you to enjoy the view of the lodge pole pines that line the road. When I get to this point, is is magical. I am too overwhelmed and forget even to take a picture. It is the type of place that makes adventuring seep down into your soul and fill your spirit.

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I ride until sunset and see an RV parked by a lake with someone in their bivy sack, already sleeping. When I pull up the gentleman comes out, offers me food and beer and says I can set up anywhere I want. I pitch my tent and ask about the bear situation. He says it is cool, they have a fire and a big dog that barks whenever they are close. I really couldn’t care. If I see a Griz, I will start my camera, whoop his ass, then go back to sleep. Night night.

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Please feel free to leave comments and ask questions. If you like what you read give it a share.

Thanks Mucho,

Mike

Read Day 4

 

 

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