One Relentless Life

Relentless Forward Motion

Tag: relentless forward motion

My Old Friend, Self-Doubt

It will all end at some point. Whether that be on a nice sunny day with a tail wind and everything going right, or on a stormy depressed day with a head wind beating you physically and mentally. It will all end. So when shit is going good, I like to remember to soak in the love and share it. When things are going bad, I try to remember that it can’t last forever. No storm has ever raged forever. No mountain I have climbed on foot or bike has went forever upward. Eventually, it heads back down again.

During the climbs or tough times, I go into my suffering hole and relax with my good old friend Self-Doubt. I’ve come to terms with this old companion of mine. He lies to me. He makes me feel bad. He makes it so I never want to go on living or leaving my couch. The thing is, I now know deep down inside of myself, that he’s lying. Suffering will go away and I will bounce back. So that lying son of a bitch, Self-Doubt, can hang out as long as he wants. Hell, I’ll pour him a drink and make him comfortable too. I know that I will outlast him. I am fucking relentless. I will never surrender. Sure, there are moments where I find myself shocked by Self-Doubt’s presence, but then I shake it off, relax and wait for the next sweet ass deal that life has in store for me.

I’ve been in some really dark places in my life, but do you want to know something neat? None of them lasted. One of these spots even lasted years, but you know what? It’s over. I’m not worried about being sad again. Bring that shit on. I will never set a goal of being happy all of the time. I will instead work on trying to keep the valleys as shallow as possible and get through them as quick as possible. At some point in your life, you are going to feel like a piece of shit. You’ll feel like everything you’ve done has been the wrong choice. Just remember that if you relax and keep moving without dwelling, it will pass. Unless you are a shitty person to everyone and in everything you do. If that’s the case, then get down to sorting that out first. That’s what I had to do.  Am I perfect? No.

But I am relentless,  even when I’m hanging with Self-Doubt

Stop Reading My Articles

If you don’t feel like you’re gaining anything from reading my website, please stop reading it. I urge you to do something else with your time. Chase your happiness and passion.

We tend to look at the large chunks of time and money that we spend and are consciously aware of it. We have to go to work,  that’s eight hours, we have to pick up and drop off the kids from school and activities, that’s two more hours. That time is gone from your day to day life and you are very conscientious about it. We have to pay our mortgage, car payment, and medical bills. Those costs in time and money stare us in the face every day.

What we tend to overlook are the transition times and transition spending. If a dam were to break, the results would be catastrophic; these are our large unforeseen expenses. The bill comes in and you cringe. But we never take the time to realize that we spend just as much money on what I like to call transitional happiness. You really want to take a vacation to some far off destination, or put in a new patio for entertaining your friends, but you never seem to have the money.

However, if we went back and audited our spending, we would be surprise to see that we spend the cost of that vacation in micro transactions. Death by a thousand cuts. We have Amazon Prime accounts, Hulu accounts, NetFlix accounts, we buy a new pair of shoes every couple weeks, we go out to dinner with friends 2-3 times a week. Nothing is a large one time expense like the $1500 trip you want to take but, every month or two we are spending the cost of the trip on items that temporarily appease us. We slowly satiate ourselves into the tomorrow mentality;

“I will just buy this one thing today and tomorrow I will start saving.”

“It is winter now and the patio cannot be put in, so I will buy this TV for the Superbowl and in the spring time, I will save for the patio.”

These are just examples. In your case, the patio and vacation can be what ever your dream is.

The same concept goes to time. You know where the big chunks are going and they weigh on you like a tons of bricks. You dream of the time you can retire and how glorious it will be. You will have all the time in the world to purse your health, happiness, and you might even take up a few new hobbies. What you don’t notice is, YOU HAVE THE TIME RIGHT NOW! You are just burning it up in transitions and with the excuse, “If I find the time”.

First, let’s address having the time. You will never find the time. You have to schedule the things that are important to you and set the standard that you will not miss that appointment. If it is a priority, you will get it done. I like to ask people “How many times have you left your house without your pants on in the last year?” They look at me like I am crazy. You put pants on because it is a standard that you have set on which you will not budge. If you are going to be two minutes late for something, you could easily save those two minutes by not getting dressed after you get out of the shower. Just get dressed later when you find the time. But that will never happen. Because wearing pants is a priority.

Next, I would like to bring transition time wasters to your attention. I want you to write down every minute that you spend awake and how you spend them. If you are anything like me, I am productive somewhere around 11-12 hours a day. I sleep about 7-8 hours a day. That is twenty hours. Where is the other four hours a day going? I am glad you asked. If you are average, you watch five hours of television per day. The average person looks at social media websites an average of an hour and forty minutes a day. Next, the average person sends around sixty texts per day. Teenagers send more, people over 55 send less. You have to check your email account right? Checking and rechecking. Send out a message, receive a response, send another out, it turns into more text messages, just in a different account…

I try to be very observant of how I spend my time and I waste a ton out of habit. I get done with a task, and I pull out my smartphone. I check and respond to 5-8 text messages. They take a minute each. If I get a response right then, I respond again. I check my Instagram and respond to some notifications that I need to and then browse though the people I’m following. Then repeat on Facebook. Then email. Maybe a few more texts came in. I did this exact thing this morning, even though I’m well aware of the time drain. I just had a conversation over coffee about it a few hours before that. I was working on this article in my head. I knew it was coming and I fell right into the trap! Twenty two minutes had passed before I was ready to start my training for the day. When I was done training, I had to fight every urge in my body to do the same thing again. How many times a day are we trickling out 15-20 minutes? Do it once and you’ve spent enough time to read a chapter in a book. Twice? That’s enough time to run a 5k at a comfortable pace. When I audited my own time, I was doing this ten times a day or more. Even if it’s only five minutes at a time, I have spent a whole hour of my life just passing time in a single day.

So now, this is where I urge you to stop reading my website and following me on social media. If you’re getting a positive effect out of my content, I would love it if you continue to read, follow, email me to invite me to have a cup of coffee and so on. On the other hand, if you can honestly look at what I am providing and you get mad or you’re only consuming it to occupy your time, occupy it doing something else. GO ON GIT!

You and only you can end the slow trickle of your dreams escaping you and the tomorrow mentality. Chase your dreams.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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 13- Tour Divide

Read Day 12

Wake up, wake up. I try to will myself to wake up. I stayed up late to stay out of the heat of the sun. I have to get up now to make sure it wasn’t all for nothing. I’m laying in a tent that smells like two grown men are smashed in a solo tent and haven’t showered in days. I’m starving, and I have to get up and move. I’ve only been sleeping a few hours. GET UP! I wake up the Rev and break down camp. I’m eating like a monster as I break down camp. I feel like an idiot as I realize that I didn’t consider how much extra food it takes to eat before going to bed and eat breakfast after a few hours of sleep. This is going to be rough. I have hours of pedaling to go, so I better get moving.

As we slowly get moving again, I can’t get rid of the hunger. The sun slowly breaks the horizon and I can already tell it is going to be hot. Really hot. An hour passes quickly and we stop to eat, but I’m almost out of food. We’re getting closer to a gravel road and will be out of the loose soil of the back country desert. As we hit the road I realize I have run out of water. Half of the guys that we passed during the night have already caught us. I’m down to one Gatorade and one bag of almonds. I’ve still got fifty miles to go.

I have two choices; stay still and wait for it to get hotter and my hunger to get worse, or tough it out, pedal and get to the next town. I would rather die trying than die laying down like a coward. I plan to drink one fifth of the Gatorade and eat one fifth of the almonds every hour. The gravel road is flat in comparison to a lot of the riding that we have already done but the rolling hills are still climbing and descending hundreds of feet per hour of pedaling, if not closer to a thousand.

One hour down, four to go. I open the bag of almonds and they fly all over the road. I want to sit down and stop. I won’t. I cannot give up. I pick up all of the almonds I can find and count them one by one. I put one fifth of them in my hand and try to eat them slowly. This is going to hurt. As I drink one fifth of the Gatorade, I can already feel my energy getting low and my legs getting stiff, but I still climb back on the bike. Two hours down and three to go. One more small portion of almonds and Gatorade. I’m starting to feel sick and I have to stand to pedal the hills. The rest of the guys we passed in the night are flying by us, but I have nothing left for effort to try and keep up with them. I’m getting dizzy and expending any effort is hard as hell. Three hours down and two to go. I eat the almonds and it might as well have been nothing.

All I want to do is lay down and push the rescue button on my SPOT tracker. I have  to move! The sun is getting blazing hot and every minute I am out here it gets hotter. Four hours down. My pace is almost nothing and I’m riding one of my easiest gears. I have to move! Five hours down. I finish my almonds and Gatorade. I have almost ten miles to go. The lack of food and water has consumed all of my energy. Every time I climb uphill I feel like I’m going to pass out. I have to make it. I’m running on fumes as I start to pass oil field workers. I am going to live. If I have to, I will beg for help. I dream about all of the guys with their coolers full of lunch and cold drinks.

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I hit pavement and see the town. I’m going to make it. I pass a Subway at the Love’s gas station but it’s packed and I need food now. I pass under the interstate and hit the other side of town. There is a Mexican restaurant. I lean my bike against the building and go in to eat.

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When the waitress comes around I take the menu, order the top two meals on the list, coffee, soda and water. It seems like an eternity before she returns with the soda. I drink it all in one go, and she brings me another. This one goes down slower. I feel the sugar hit my system and immediately feel more alive. When the food comes out, I finish it without breathing. She comes back around and asks if I want the check. Nope. I want the menu! I order another breakfast. When the third meal comes out, I enjoy this one. I sip my coffee and enjoy the fact that I will not die today. I pay my bill and head outside to find shade and nap. I need this food to catch up to my weak body. I find a nice tree with shade, under which it feels 50 degrees cooler. I pull out my rain jacket and use it as a pillow. Sleep comes easy.

I wake up and my back and legs are on fire. Am I getting a sunburn? I quickly assess my surroundings, but I’m still in the shade. What in the world is this? Then it hits me; I am covered in fire ants! I quickly get up and brush off all that I can find. A man can’t even nap in peace during this race. I head to the gas station to resupply and fill my water. When I get there, the gang of racers are all there. For some reason Will is there. So is Brian and the gang. He should be a half day ahead of me! Jeremiah Johnson is there. He found his legs again and is back racing! I load up, see the Rev and we leave town together.

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As we are head out of town we see Nick sitting on the side of the road trying to fix his tire. He throws something off the bridge, but I have no idea what. We pedal for an hour in the heat and decide to take a break in the shade. The only shade that is available is next to a large dumpster. It’s sitting in the sun in the desert so you can picture the smell. I sit down next to it anyway. After a few minutes we are back at it. Ride, sweat, climb.

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We’re starting to leave the desert. It’s still sandy but the climbs are starting to get bigger. Storms are rolling in. This is normal and I am used to it by now. I’m not happy about it, but I am used to it. The pedaling continues. I have heard that seven miles past the Colorado/Wyoming border is the greatest place on earth, Brush Mountain. I have to make it there.

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As the sun goes down, the Rev and I roll into a small town. There is a lady outside unloading her RV. They list camping in this spot and I am really tired. She tells us that she used to host free camping but no longer does; we can sleep there no problem but there are no longer any services like water or electricity. Better to keep moving. I know very well what it feels like to run out of food. She offers to fill our water and I kindly accept. It looks like we’re about fifteen miles out. It is now 9pm. An hour and a half and we should be there. Two hours tops.

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We swing onto a paved road and jam. A few miles up the road we hook a right onto the road that takes us all the way to the lodge. A mile or two up the road and a truck stops us. These country boys are drunk! They ask us if we have guns for all of the mountain lions. Nah, we’re good. We keep pedaling up. It has been an hour and is pitch black now. How far have we made it? 4 miles.

4 miles? Shit. I am exhausted. I start pedaling again. All I want to do is lay down and sleep. All the Rev wants is a chocolate milkshake Another hour goes by. Another 4 or 5 miles. I’m beat. I want sleep. Food deprivation has ruined my efforts today. Something is missing. My mind is foggy and I am trying to place it. I have my bike. I have all my bags. What is it?

IT’S MY SPOT TRACKER! I dropped it again. I get off my bike and yell until my throat hurts. This is it! I’m going to quit this race! I am dropping. There is no chance in hell that I can ride back and scan the desert for my tracker. I grab my bike by the frame with both hands and I am dragging it over to the edge of the mountain side to throw it off! Just at that time a truck rolls up and asks if we’re okay. He just came from hanging out at the lodge and is headed home. I tell him that I’m dropping because I lost my tracker. He tells me to hold tight and that Kirsten will figure it out. He heads back for his bigger truck and I sit on the side of the road and try not to cry. I’ve pedaled for weeks and now it’s all over. But when the man gets back, he tells me it will all get sorted out. I catch a ride the last few miles to the lodge and Kirsten is there waiting for us.

As soon as I get out of the truck I can tell she’s wondering  why there are two of us. She watches the race tracker almost 24 hours a day so that she can have food and drinks ready for everyone as soon as they get there. She doesn’t even let me tell her what happens; she just gives my one of the biggest hugs I’ve ever had in my life and tells me that whatever the issue is, we can get it sorted out. I then tell her my story as she makes burgers for me and the Rev. She says it won’t be a problem. Her and Matthew Lee, the race director, are old friends,and she can vouch for me riding there and not cheating. In the morning her friend that works at the lodge will give me a ride to find my tracker and it will all work out. I just need to hold tight. I eat my dinner and set my tent up in the back yard. As I lay down I think to myself that whatever happens I will have to accept the outcome. If Matthew says I’m getting scratched from the race, I will just finish it on my own. I have came too far to quit. I almost died this morning for this race, and I am not quitting now. I will die with my shield or on it. Relentless forward motion. I am not doing this for the online status of finisher. I am doing this to see how far I can push myself. I close my eyes and think of Alex. I hope no one is disappointed in me.

Read Day 14


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