One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Tag: motion

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.

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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

 

 

Day 2- Tour Divide

Read Day 1

I wake up around seven in the morning. I am feeling better. I am exhausted but, I am now mentally prepared for what the ride is going to be like. I know that I have ground to make up. I get my clothes together and dressed and head down the hallway to the bathroom to brush my teeth. The hallway is almost empty. The night before it was absolutely packed with bikes. Not only am I slow, everyone got a head start on me today. Oh well. I am relentless. I will not stop. I get my bags packed and ready to put back onto the bike.

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I go outside to realize that I have locked my bike to the pay phone that I couldn’t find last night. My bike is a muddy mess. The drive train is pretty clean thanks to my friend Moon setting is up with a chain scrubber. I pick up the pay phone and get a hold of my girlfriend Alex. She was concerned because my tracker stopped sending a signal. I had shut it off. She tells me I am behind the pace to make the 25 day cutoff. Not a surprise. I will make the time up today. When I get off the phone I see some trail magic. The person who owns the house across the street from the hotel is letting everyone clean their bikes with the hose. I clean my bike, say goodbye to the boys and head over to the gas station for food. I see Billy and Lana again. Billy is a TD veteran and has even rode the course yo-yo. South to North to South. I ask Billy how long it is going to take him to finish and he say 21 days. I must be on track then. I double up my food. My hydration pack is absolutely stuffed with food. I take off and climb a monsterous hill leaving town.

My GPS is good. I am feeling good. I have tons of food. This show is on the road. I hit some of the fire roads I have heard so much about. I am dodging ruts and having a good time pedaling. The mud is like peanut butter but I will catch these miles up. We get to the end of the fire road and start to go into the woods. This is when I  come to find out the GPS isn’t always right on point. The fact the the race is 2800 miles and the GPS can only hold 10,000 points of reference means that there has to be some averaging on the route. Some of the time when the route is a horse shoe shape, instead of having a nice curved line, it will be an arrowhead of sorts. It will show a line out to the apex of the  curve and then shoot an angle straight back on the other side. This makes for some real fun when there are three routes that come together in one spot. I zoom out the screen and take my best guess at which route it might be. I guess wrong. I come back to the intersection and choose the next route. I guess correctly. I bounce around enjoying the trails and eating food for the few hours until I hit pavement going into the next town. 

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When I make it to town I call Alex again. I just wanted to hear her voice and I have her tell me that I been riding strong. Things are looking up. I eat at Subway, stuff my hydration pack with food, and set sail. I am 200 miles into the ride and less than 100 miles from the US. I am going to make it to the US tonight! The going gets rougher. After a short amount more on the pavement we go into rolling climbs. You climb for 5-15 minutes decend for two minutes and then climb again.

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The terrain gets progressively worse and I get slower. Every few miles I am crossing water and getting wet. I am burning through my food quickly. I should be taking more time to enjoy the views and take some big sniffs of the beautiful mountain air but I am too focused on catching up the miles. Head down, spin hard. I’m not stopping often enough to enjoy this amazing life experience.

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By the time the sun is going down, after 10PM, I am catching up to a few people.  I throw on a jacket and rip some amazing down hill sections. I actually catch up to a 70 year old man. A man that could have been my grandfather or great grandfather was ahead of me……… Knowledge and skill beats strength and effort. This is when the fun for the day really starts.

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Little climbing, blast down. Little roller, rip some turns and get skeezy. This is the life. Blasting down the mountain at 25 miles per hour with an amazing sunset in the background. You are only granted so many days in your life and this night is a sunset I will never forget. When I decide to crash for the night I find a cool group of dudes in a real campsite. I am still 30 miles from the US border. Then the bad news sets in, I am down to one half of a gas station sandwich, I have a handful of nuts, and some chocolate pieces. I have to make the decision to wake up and be starving or go to bed starving. I eat half of everything and decide I can make it to the US in the morning in three hours tops. There is a big town there and I can grab a bunch more food. I go to bed thinking things are on the up and up. I wake up dry heaving. My heart is racing and my stomach is painfully empty.  I might not have got the fueling part of the race down yet. Back to sleep………

 

 

 

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

Thanks Mucho,

Mike

Read Day 3

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Speed work- Week 2 Phase 2

I have been giving myself a beating lately in the gym and on the bike. I don’t remember feeling stronger than I do right now Usually, whenever I look back, there is always a point where I can say that I have been in better shape, faster, stronger – you name it. Today, I am sore from going hard on power work yesterday. I lifted 4×5 on hang clean, push press and front squat. Then 3×5 on bench. I know I don’t need upper body to race bikes but, when I am not on the bike, I like to be able to put on a heavy pack and hike. Or, God forbid, there is an accident on an adventure and I need to carry someone. After bench, I had three max sets of pull ups. Last, I did a variety of box jumps and explosive power moves.  I like the soreness. Today I have speed work on the bike. I will push all out for 4 x .25 miles, 4x .5 miles, 4x .75 miles and 4×1 mile. I love it. Spin hard and fast. Try to push my limit on how hard my body will work for me. The 1 mile repeat will be a mental game of how long I am willing to suffer and keep the pace up. Most people will give up mentally before they do physically. I don’t want to be like most people. I want to be the best me possible.

 

As always- Comment, share, ask questions, or even offer some knowledge to me. Catch you outside.

Day 1- Tour Divide

Read the Preface 

 

Day 1 of the Tour Divide

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I might have made a bad decision. When I woke up I had the prerace jitters times 2800 miles of unknown. I seriously considered drinking a beer before I left for the race and it was 5 in the morning. When I arrived at the Banff hostel to await the start of the race, everyone looked like they were a seasoned veteran and I was the only rookie on the line. I knew this wasn’t true, but it certainly felt like it.

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My Garmin eTrex 20 had yet to sync up and kept telling me I was off course. None of this is helping my nerves at all. Crazy Larry comes to the front of the crowd and gives his speech on the race. It is a gentleman’s race. No one is out there making sure you follow the rules. The grand prize is nothing.You race the race the way you live your life. If you are willing to give your integrity and cheat, that is up to you. We are instructed to follow behind Team Rice Burner (Billy and Lana Rice) and JP (Jay Petervary). We all take off in a nicely organized blob. When we hit the fence marking the official start line, there is a mass of people putting the hammer down like it is a 9 mile cross county race.

DSCN0014 Three wide going down hill around corners, making hard passes in the brush. I am in the back in almost dead last trying to ask everyone pedaling past me what type of GPS they have and if they can figure mine out. No luck. I have a bag of nuts with me, some chocolates and water. It is only 60 miles to the first area with food and resupply. 4 hours tops. I cruise along trying to decide what I am going to do about my GPS. Eating snacks. Couple of hours in I stop to refill my water and use my filter. I have a Sawyer Mini filter, so it takes a few minutes but is very light weight. The terrain is tough. Really tough. After I get back on my bike and start to pedal it starts to sleet. I get out my rain jacket and rain pants.

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Within minutes I tear the crotch out of my pants. My crotch is getting wet. My food runs out. This is getting miserable. Really. I get to the first resupply. I am soaking wet from the waist down. I am starving. I am shaking from the cold. I am super dizzy. I really miss home already. I go in to buy food and warm up. I ask if I can sit inside until I quit shaking. I am told it is too busy and I will have to sit outside in the rain with everyone else. Defeated, I go outside, strip down to my underwear and put on every piece of clothing I have. After what seems like a few hours, the sun is out, I am not shaking anymore and I am sure to be dead last and way behind the cut off pace. I get back on my bike with double the food I thought I needed to make it the next 60 miles to my goal stopping point for the night. I hit the road and run into two cool guys and chat and ride with them. Great news, my GPS hits the first way-point and it is tracking fine. We chat about the 2014 Tour Divide. There was pouring rain the first week. I will pass on that. As we approach the power line section which is supposedly the make-or-break point for the first day of racing, it starts to sleet again and harder.

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As we drop down elevation it gets warmer and the sleet turns to a drizzle. This is nice but the trails are quickly turning into mud with the consistency of peanut butter. The three of us choose lower gears and keep on pedaling. I luckily had a rear derailleur that was set up to scrape the chain as is passed through. This keeps me shifting smoothly. I am getting tired and weak. The sun goes down, we are still no where near the first town, which will be 20 miles shy of my goal. I run out of food again. The three of us drag ass into town at almost midnight to get food and a hotel room. We have decided to split one. There is a Chinese restaurant connected to the hotel. They are closing up shop but are nice enough to let us get take out. My stomach feels raw from being empty for so many hours. We find out the hotel is all booked. We are going to have to sleep outside. Devin says he is going in to make magic happen. 20 minutes later our food is all ready and we have a place to sleep. Only $30 US each to sleep on the floor of the banquet room. No showers. Don’t care.

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I try my best to eat what I can but I feel like I am dying. My heart is racing from the day’s beating. I drink water and lay on the floor. What have I got myself into? I wake up in the middle of the night to my heart still pounding. Drink more water. Still no pee. Fall back asleep.

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

Thanks Mucho,

Mike

Read the next day

Preface to the Tour Divide

The Tour Divide is the world’s longest off-road race. It is also the world’s longest self supported race. From Banff Canada to Antelope Wells New Mexico. It covers almost 2800 miles with 200,000 feet of climbing and descending crisscrossing the continental divide. You have to navigate on your own. There are no check points or aid stations. You ride as far as you can everyday. You sleep where ever you can. Showers were a luxury. Some days had temperature swings of almost 100 degree Fahrenheit. How did I ever decide to do this? I am positive beers were involved. Lots of beers and shit talking. I love a good challenge. If I really want to tell people that “Impossible is nothing” I have to live by those words too.

What I want to share with you are some of the stories, both good and bad. There was heartache, happiness, feelings of being the strongest person alive, and also times that I wanted to lay down and never move again being a failure to everyone I ever tried to inspire. Some of the stories are 100 percent factual, some of them are probably a little skewed due to fatigue and being concussed. If you get anything from this adventure I went on, I hope that it is the fact that I am a normal everyday guy that refuses to quit. I am not a natural athlete. I am surely not the smartest. My gear was not all top of the line, best you could get. I just want to show people that you can do anything that you want to. The two ingredients are hard work and consistency. Relentless forward motion. You will have times that you are on top of the world. You will all so taste the bitter sting of defeat. If you keep moving no hardship can last forever. So join me on this journey.

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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

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