Friday, February 1, 2013

New Website

Hey y'all... Thanks for checking the blog! This is being moved to as of right meow. I'm gonna keep writing, hopefully more often for that matter, but I think you'll like the new site a little better. At least I hope you do.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Gas station coffee is critical

Something about the holiday season makes me innately aware that its time to start ‘real’ training again. I don’t know exactly what it is; maybe eggnog or Christmas cookies act as some sort of subconscious signal. Or maybe I’ve just been away from big bike hours and sore legs long enough to have forgotten what riding 4-6hrs a day really means… and for some reason I start believing it’s a good idea again. I know some who might argue that I am impossibly obstinate. And I haven’t even gone south yet…
Regardless I find myself back in pop-tarts and gas-station-mocha-cappuccino season again. Those become two essential staples in my diet. Its beginning to be that time of year where I really can’t eat enough in the day to replenish what I burn, and I cant sleep enough to completely recover from my efforts. It’s a special time where I find myself laying on the floor a lot, usually staring at the ceiling, and when I do make it to the couch or bed my legs ache. Conversations can be tough because coherent thoughts and sentences become illusory. 
I had a phenomenal December, during which I continued to rack up the hours nordorking, snow-biking and touring. I spent a weekend in Bellingham for my cousin Mari's wedding, and as great as it was to be with my family together celebrating something so special, I would be lying if I wasn't scheming about how to spend more time exploring the Galibrath MTB Park the whole time. For the first time I decided to stay in Bozeman for the holidays, and my parents instead came to visit me. We had five days to ski and dine as we wanted, and I think we did a pretty good job for ourselves. I loved being able to show them around in this winter playground (wait why do I live and train here?!), with stable, cold, powdery snow and fresh tracks to be had both in the backcountry and on the nordic trails. They ended up having to take off Christmas day in attempt to catch my sister back in Washington for a dinner and work the following day. I joined Keegan and family for Christmas dinner and just enjoyed the hell out of it. I think it was the best holiday week I can remember.
We followed that up with a New Years to rival all up in Cooke City, MT renting out the Woody Creek Cabin. Eight of us found ourselves in what are some of the most brilliant mountains in North America skiing cold, dry powder under blue skies. We made it until 10:30 New Years Eve, but it was midnight somewhere, and having the gas to properly welcome in 2013 the following day seemed more important than staying awake. Had we eight bottles of champagne instead of four, this might have been a different story…

Those three days of stupefaction kicked off a week (and closed a training block) that by Saturday had turned me into a terrifying, spandex-clad cyclist highschooling pop-tarts and gas station ‘high rev’ coffee in a Belgrade parking lot. So I’ve got that going for me… There’s plenty more of that to look forward to in the coming weeks and months. But I’ve also got Corrine moving back to town sometime this week, and I get to go to Switzerland in five days time, and I only have to stay for four days! So there are lots of good thing coming up too. I’m pretty excited for what I foresee myself being part of in the near future… even the parts where I’m bonking… somehow.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012


Monday ski touring with Allen

There’s and asterisks in the title for a reason.  It’s well into December now, definitely training season again, and although I’ve been putting in some moderate 20hr weeks I absolutely do not feel like I’ve been training. That being said I most definitely find myself in a shape other than round…
Wednesday singletrack
I’ve got this fortuitous upward movement, which I think arose after my recent revulsion of the paradigm I spent last year using. Lately, training has equated to backcountry faceshots on bluebird powder days, a short lived ski racing comeback, breathtaking December singletrack, long road rides with friends, trail runs that last for hours and gym work that is making me feel like a more balanced human-being (I will never be Arnold, but hopefully the T-Rex arms and shoulder problems will disappear).
But its not merely powder skiing and being beaten by middle-schoolers that is making me feel so good right now, but a more profound something they are feeding. Someone close to me calls it happiness training… and seems pretty straightforward. It’s powerful, and honest, and transformative. It goes beyond the efforts I make during training; it is embodied in balanced life I am choosing and the people I am surrounding myself with.
This Fall was restorative for me, and positioned me to find myself in this calm right now. I’d been training and playing enough to hide most indications of my dark beer and cookie diet, but after taking a couple weeks away from formal training during the first half of Movember I finally felt like I needed to start working again. I spent ten days over Thanksgiving visiting family and friends while training on my favorite roads back in Washington. After that, and a visit from my close friend (and fellow Olympic dreamer) Corrine, I’ve got my body and head moving in a new direction looking toward the 2013 season. This paradigm shift makes this pursuit feel more sustainable and authentic… two feelings that breed lots of happiness. Absolutely none of what I am doing feels remotely like the cold, winter drudgery that can arise out of base training. I feel (and hope) I am on the way to the best condition of my life. And it’s got me convinced that I am into something brilliant.
Wednesday singletrack
Sunday faceshots

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Its snowing where I am

I am watching it snow and I’ve got a cold. It must be November. I haven’t ridden my bike in 3 days, and do not intend to before next week. The only thing I'm planning to do is drink tea, sit next to the fire and nap. Then I'll make a whiskey soda, dinner with my friends and resume sitting next to the fire. Tuesday I left my house for a total of 45min to get groceries. I might go to some hot springs tonight… that’s assuming I don’t start the napping thing at 3pm on my couch and just migrate to my bed for the night when I wake up. It must be my off-season. I’m savoring this right now, I only get a handful of days off every year.
After Marathon Nationals in September I continued to train, anticipating a trip to Michigan for Iceman Cometh. It was looking good until about 10 days before the race, I still had good fitness, and after a month at home I had begun repairing my shattered head. But some logistical walls came up and I didn’t end up making the trip, which was certainly a disappointment. Instead, I rode in a silent Yellowstone Park Saturday with Marshall Opel and the rest of the Montana peloton (meaning a buffalo herd), and Sunday I went out with Sophie (Pete’s sister…) to ride the Continental Divide Trail. Which is absolutely one of the most enjoyable trails I’ve ever ridden... Good company helps. It was hardly a compromise, but instead another incredible weekend in what seems like a brilliant series of weekends I’ve had since getting back to Bozeman.
The best part about training for Iceman was that it was an excuse for me to go do awesome stuff in the mountains of Montana. I spent 4 breathtaking days in the Beartooth Mountains backpacking with the ‘rents. I can’t really say anything other than that. Words and photos just don’t do those mountains justice. The riding has been phenomenal, and I’ve made a serious point of checking out some places I haven’t explored before. Some of those rides have been with friends, old and new, and the memories of others will stay between myself and the grizzly bears I found myself sharing the mountains with. Before November 1st I was already skinning up Bridger Bowl and getting snow in my face on the way down. And I’ve been running a lot too… usually with Sophie, who’s short legs always put my much longer ones to shame, in cool places around Bozeman. We tried to climb Cowen, but with the peak completely shrouded in clouds, ice and snow, our day just turned into an epic 6hr wintery run (one that started way too early in the morning, especially after spending the night trying to sleep in the back of a Subaru). We ran the Bridger Ridge a couple weeks ago now too, in a windstorm… and on that day not only did I get beaten up by Soph, but Oli, her neighbors Corgi, also beat me to the parking lot. His legs are probably 3 inches long. Humbling.
There’s been a lot of that happening in my life really… the whole humility thing. Everywhere I turn, I run into friends I haven’t seen in months, all of whom are still the intelligent, good, honest, exciting, comic, adventurous, loving folks I remember them to be. I find myself surrounded by brilliant people and things to do. Many are new and all of whom I appreciate so so much. This is stuff that makes a life. 
And I feel like that’s what I’ve been trying to get good at again… Life. I’ve had to reestablish myself here after a season away. I’ve had to find a meaningful routine, and reciprocate to the people who give me so much. I think I’m finding various degrees of success with the thing as a whole. Its kind of been a grand jump into the ocean, some of the waves I’ve ridden pretty well, and others with a little less grace and triumph. I am happy here in Bozeman again, I can’t really see myself being anywhere else… and although my heartstrings are being pulled, it’s not by the allure of something or somewhere else as they have in the past. Probably what’s most telling is that the snow falling outside my window is my signal that its time to start training again soon, and I’m smiling.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Figuring it out

This time I am not writing from an airplane… I am watching the road stretch out in front of me instead, along the Colombia, headed back to Bozeman after racing Marathon National Champs yesterday in Bend, OR. It was a fitting place to bring my season more or less to an end (I may still try to go race Ice Man in early Nov). I was back in the sagebrush and Cascade mountains where it all started for me (in eastern Washington) all those years ago, road tripping, surrounded by family and good friends. Although my Dad wasn’t able to make it down, it brought me back to my roots. Wrenching on my own bike the night before the race and searching out generous souls who were willing to drive from one feed zone to the next for me out there. It was reminiscent of a time when everything was new… this being the first time I have ever done a Marathon race, I had no idea what to expect, no idea how to approach the race. This brought back memories of my first WIM races, first Sea Otter and first National Championships. This trip came at the end of a season where I breathed this sport, not always out of passion, but because it was my job… and as I’ve mentioned before, a lot changes when your escape becomes the means to a living. A lot of the purity in pedaling gets obscured. This season I was distanced from all those things that made this whole endeavor resonate for me in the beginning, which at times broke me completely… and although I know the experience will serve me well in the future, it felt good to be home racing simply because.
As I sit here reflecting on what I experienced this season I am humbled and oh so aware of what a lucky duck I am. I am beyond grateful to all the people who helped me get to this point, and though my first season as a professional. My parents and innumerable amazing friends and family in Bozeman, Wenatchee, Colorado and around the world, David, Alex, my teammates, Julien and the Taramacaz family, everyone at BMC, Marc and all those USAC people who believed in me and helped get me to this point… Jason, who told me 8 years ago I could do this and be one of the best (I don’t know if I believed him then, but I do now)… the cycling communities in Washington and Montana. None of us could be successful in what we do without these essential networks that support and inspire us. And I think over the past few years, I don’t know how many really, with so much focus given to school and cycling, I didn't always demonstrate my appreciation for all these incredible people in my life. Thank you, for all you all do. I hope I can make it more personal to each of you soon.
This season was so challenging because I was away from all those people… and with this seasons chapter closing, what I am vastly more aware of is that it isn’t necessarily where you are but who you are with that creates valuable experiences (only in some semblance of solitude was I able to really understand that). Reflecting, my most cherished racing moments are road trips with my dad to the next event, bonking with Gian Dalle on Blewett Pass, blasting Daft Punk in Northern Arizona with Mitch on the way to Bonelli and Fontana, eating cheep Mexican food with Lydia in SoCal, riding with the National Team in Kirchzarten, and winning Nationals with my friends and family waiting at the finish line. What stands out are not the places or scenery or results, but whom I was with. I think back about the moments that I will carry with me after this year, and likely waking Keegan up at 2 am after being gone for 5 months will stick with me more than being the top American in Houffalize. Because what is a victory or ‘success’ if you can’t share it with those closest to you?
By saying all this, I realize I am putting myself at risk of being called a hypocrite, as I am sure I take off for another long trip or move to a new town at some point in the not too distant future. But I guess I’ll have a better idea of what I need to hold onto and look for when I make those choices, and I’m more aware of the perspective I need to maintain in order to keep this pursuit rewarding and fulfilling. That feels good.
Keeping all that in mind, I am really looking forward to next year... I think not only do I have some of this big stuff figured out, but I have a lot of the little stuff worked out too. Where and how to live, what I need around me, cell phones, bank accounts... all the details that make it click. I know the dynamic of our team, and I am looking forward to racing with Julien Absalon next year. I enjoy the people I find myself around, and look forward to spending my time in Freiburg instead of Valais next year. But for right now, I need some time to rest my weary head, and I think I can find that in the mountains of Montana and Washington. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Montana: Land of goats, sunburns and epics

There is something about chasing goats around in the brush and getting sunburnt while building a fence line that is incredibly refreshing after spending the past 6 months with my nose to the grindstone. Riding with juniors on CX bikes (and getting dropped), finding myself lost in the mountains of Montana, running out of food and water with good friends on epic MTB rides, and elk tacos all also seem to bring me back to my roots and stir my motivation.
We all have different things that inspire us to get out of bed in the morning and motor along with our days… for some it’s their kid’s futures, for others money, but I think for the majority of us its a little less tangible… because we have some sort of visceral desire to contribute to society in some way, and find pleasure in the ways we go about our routines. I know personally I lost sight of that over the past 6 months. Or maybe I didn’t loose sight so much as I lost the feeling that what I was doing was somehow contributing to something larger than myself, and I know that I wasn’t always finding pleasure in my routine while living abroad. Even with phenomenal teammates and support from BMC,  because many of the things/people/ideas that enrich life were halfway around the globe, living in Switzerland, living to train and race, started to feel pretty unrewarding at times. I know that probably seems kinda ridiculous to someone who works in the real world… but when a passion and escape become the means to a paycheck, a lot of things get pretty muddled up. And when that passion is all you invest your energy in, well it means it can no longer be an escape. And that’s a damn stressful way to live. So after getting sick in MSA, riding like shit at Windham and Nationals, spending a week on antibiotics and sleeping, I’ve been trying to find a more healthy space to for training and racing to occupy in my life.
Two weeks chasing goats around 10 acres at Allen’s house, building fence, clearing brush and getting sunburnt was my first step in that. I took 10 days off the bike, took some antibiotics, and used my body in a way that it wasn’t used to. I was bug-bitten, sunburned, scratched and sore, and I haven’t felt so good in a while. Once I started to feel healthy again I decided to go exploring with Pete and Lydia on mountain bikes…. And did we explore! We were totally lost as we headed up toward Elkhorn Pass southeast of Big Sky, but somehow amidst what seemed like dozens of unmarked game and horse trails we ended up on the right one. We climbed and climbed toward the wilderness, and away from the rest of the world. We found some amazing descending and then by chance, nearly 2 hrs into a ride, a sign that showed us the way to our own mortality. As we climbed up a muddy, horse wrecked Buffalo Horn trail to what I think was Porcupine Lake, we all decidedly ran out of water and food. It was one of those days where you pass through hunger and into exhaustion and come out on the other side stronger than you were at the beginning. Your body finds a way to make itself go… it’s a transcendent feeling. At the end of an hour-long, Star Wars descent down Porcupine trail, we all seemed to have immense smiles on our faces and ample energy for high fives, wheelies and stoke. I don’t think I’ve ridden anything that cool in a long, long time. The ride took us no less than 6 hrs and the only people we saw had backpacked in from a much closer Tom Miner on the other side of the Gallatin Crest, and gave us strange looks. It was brilliant…
Since then I have slowly started to get back into a rhythm on the bike and in my day to day life. Coffee, goats, breakfast, ride, nap, town, BBQ with friends, goats. It feels really damn good. And I finally feel healthy and strong again. My legs aren’t the hollow shells they were 3 weeks ago, nor do I carry the mental fatigue that plagued me at the end of May and into June.
I also had the opportunity to go up to Helena and hang out with a bunch of super talented Junior CX racers at a USAC camp run by Geoff Proctor this week. I have a lot of confidence in the future of US Cycling after that. It was humbling. Those kids are fast… and they work hard. They are all so much further along in their development and the opportunities that have been presented to them than I was at their age. Some of them are already killing it over in Europe and are only 16 or 17 years old. I didn’t go to Europe until I was 18, and I had my ass handed to me over there until last year when I was 22… I know we all have a different trajectory, but no matter what, those are the kids who will soon be earning the US medals at World Cups and World Championships. It was inspiring to see them riding so hard, and having so much fun doing it. If we could all hold onto that as we grow in this sport, powerful things could happen. I’m going to try by continuing to put off building up the SLR01 that showed up on my doorstep the other day. Proud to say that over the past 10 days of training, I’ve ridden single track each day… and I’m better for it!