yesterday September 18th, was my 51st birthday, and time for another feats-of-strength.  this year i wanted to something in moab utah. one of the things i’ve always wanted to do was to survive desert conditions under extreme conditions. one of the options that came to mind was the famous white rim trail. 103 miles along the cliffs.  most of the suggestions for this ride recommend having a “sag wagon” or stashing supplies, or riding with a group.  since i didn’t have any friends.. i decided to do it solo.  carry enough water, food and tools for 103 miles.





as it turned out, a one hundred mile mountain bike ride through the desert has a lot of parallels to aging and life.  i came up with this theory somewhere around mile 40.  let me just outline the stages and i’ll fill out the items as i go along.

Miles 0-9

This epic, started pretty early for me around 5am.  The road was smooth and mostly paved, just riding with a head lamp i didn’t really get to see the amazing life around me.  i rode fast and hopeful.  hopeful that that future would was going to be amazing.  hopeful that i was going to get through this ride like no one has ever done before.  like i said, there are parallels to life, and when i was ten i was hopeful that i would be able to do anything i wanted.  i don’t really have a parallel for riding with a headlight … but looking back, i don’t really remember much around me, so i’ll just skip this one and continue… with this post.


Miles 10-19

These were the miles where i could see more around me. the moon light was illuminating the beautiful canyons around me as i fearlessly descended the shafer switchbacks.  i didn’t realize how fearless i actually was, until i caught a glimpse of the partially illuminated canyon wall.  i had stopped every now and then to admire how fucking dangerous this road was, and why people were not driving their cars off this thing, left-and-right.  it was truly an awesome and scary thing to be riding next to the shear drops to my side.  what does this part have to do with life? well back in my teens i didn’t realize how close to death i was all the time. jumping off ramps with my bike, driving jeeps, climbing things, jumping off things… also the endless energy i had back then was not even a “thing” you just did things.  here as i’m riding next to the cliffs, i feel no anxiety, no tiredness, and limits.


Miles 20-29

These were my “woo” miles.  It’s still predawn in the desert, but the light was starting to fill the canyons. Every mile was full of “fuck-yeahs”, and “holy-shits”… i was doing it.. riding through the desert all alone, but i didn’t feel alone. i was experiencing the moment to it’s fullest.  I took many pictures, and stopped to admire everything.  The miles were still going by so fast. I really wanted to be in that moment forever.  if you are wondering what my 20’s were like… pretty much that.  lots of hard work but it was only a means to all the great things i experienced. it didn’t feel like hard work, at least compared to how hard everything seems these days… but i’ll get to that later.


Miles 30-39

These were my, “ok get your shit together” miles.  I started to think about my pacing.  i had a mental list of how often i was supposed to drink, when and what i going to eat, and when i was going to reapply my sun screen and chamois cream.  just a side note, this is one of the most important things i did during my ride.  This was pretty much how i lived my thirties.  harnessing and focusing all my energy into something that is going to last. making plans, trying to follow them.  the definition of maturity.


Miles 40-49

These were my “i’m not that tired” miles. I was getting pretty tired, but i somehow convinced myself that i was feeling as good as i did back at miles 20-30.  i was clearly not, and it was taking far more energy than i had realized. i could tell because i was sweating more and breathing harder.  these were also the miles of realizations. the realizations that there were no turn around points.  if i turned back now, it would be almost as long and difficult as the planned-ride itself.  In life this was exactly what the 40’s were like for me.  walking around in denial ignoring any and all age related slow-downs.  i was absolutely convinced that i had the exact same endurance and strength as i did in my youth. (this is impossible by the way) also, it was in my 40’s, when i realized that there was no way back.  i was almost halfway through this life and everything i did or didn’t do correctly prior to this moment had already set my trajectory.  my personality, my fitness, my knowledge, and my career, couldn’t be redone.  just like this ride, i couldn’t take another route, i couldn’t pick another day, nor could i get into better shape, everything was set, it would take another 40-50 years just to get back to this point.  this happened toward the end of my forties, but the realization of it was like slamming into a brick wall. and the midlife crisis was hitting me once again, but this time out on the trail.


Miles 50-59 

These were the toughest miles to deal with by far. i had just fallen into a rhythm.  consistently ticking away the miles with every pedal stroke.  the dirt road was smooth and predictable as it twisted along the desert rim.  as the road rounded each of the canyon’s edges i could see it disappear off into the horizon.  i was getting good at estimating how long it would take me to get to the next corner.  how long before the next mile, how long before my next drink…etc.  i had accepted my situation, i was comfortable with my pace with the amount of energy i was expending, and my overall physical condition.  i was being smart i was walking the bike when i needed to, i was going out of my way to avoid bumps and be as smooth as efficient as possible.  i was trying to conserve energy and avoid injury.  i had to look at the big picture of finishing this ride alive.   at this point in the ride i was working with a combination of experience and familiarity of the surroundings to help me move through the ride.  as my brain started to beat to the rhythm of this ride, i was calm and confident that this would be another epic mountain bike ride that i could put on my “adventure” resume, if there is such a thing.  and like lightning from a clear blue sky, the rhythm stopped.  the easy rolling dirt road turned a corner and went straight up into the sky.  i had to walk the bike up this long steep road, there was no shade, no flat spots and the weight on the bike and on my back were now getting notice.  i was surprised how much energy it took to hike the bike, up hill.  when i got to the top i was sweating much more than i had all day.  i didn’t think too much of this hill until i got to the top and saw the the road immediately went down hill just as steep as the climb up.  this really sucked.. no long freewheeling downhill to enjoy.  i had to keep on the brakes and hold my weight back to keep the back wheel from slipping.  i wasn’t expecting that change in terrain… until it happened again, and again for the next 12 miles.  each new corner brought unexpected energy draining challenges.  i cursed and screamed a few times but that didn’t help, these hills kept coming and there was nothing i could do to change the situation. all my rhythm was gone i had no idea how fast or far i was moving, but it was far slower than i thought.

in life, this is pretty much exactly how my 50’s have been going so far.  i was on a difficult but comfortable pace as i left my 40’s.  i had accepted my modest life for what it was.  work and family were good, and physically; i was still hopeful that i could return to some sort of age division champion. after all, nothing was broken or worn out, or needed replacement.  i’ve had financial, family and physical set backs in life but i learned to deal with most of them and somehow managed to get smarter and stronger as i moved along.  my 50’s started out with a familiar running injury, plantar fasciitis.  this version of PF, took months to finally go away, taking all my fitness with it as it finally left me in the cold january snow.  it was only 2 short weeks after being healed, that i broke my lower fibula while running.  i had no chance to regain my fitness and had to walk around in a cast for 2 months.  i was completely disabled and dependent on everybody to help me out.  this was a rather small setback compared to the personal tragedy that hit me back to back.  in the following months , a dear friend took his own life in a very tragic manner.   still mourning the loss i got news that my sister was kill crossing a street, one block form her home.  this is a whole other sad story by itself.  but the reason i bring it up, is because, there is actually a parallel to the ride.  now that i am 51, i am starting to realize that life can give you a sucker punch at any time.  i can disrupted, slowed, twisted or set back, but how i choose to deal with these things,  is exactly how i dealt with those miles… cry and scream, but keep moving.


Miles 60-69

These miles were the miles where my head was full of internal voices.  i’ve had voices earlier but they were simply practical tangible voices that would remind me to drink water, lean back, look at the views etc.  at this point however, those voices switched over to more motivational and philosophical voices.  they would say things like: “what am i doing?” “i don’t think i can make it” “please be downhill the rest of the way”, “i guess it’s ok to die out here”…  after spending a few miles with these types of messages going through my head,  an amazing thing happened. my internal voices turned into “bad cop”.  it started saying things like, “shut up you fucking pussy” yep my brain actually said that.  it was something that actually shocked the “good cop” side of my brain.  bad-cop voice was actually full of advice… “stop your fucking whining, you wanted to do this, you asked for it. don’t expect anyone to help you. you either die out here…. or finish it”  i have to say it kind of worked.  negative thoughts are the demise of any effort.  i can talk myself out of anything, it’s easy to start feeling and acting how you are thinking. i don’t know how my brain chose this way to intervene.. but it did.  in life, i’m not in my 60’s so i can only imagine what this is going to be like.  all i can imagine is a guy who stopped worrying about things long ago.  when new challenges come up he shuts up and just puts them into one big fuck-it bucket.  and just is living out his life “dealing with it”.  no regrets, just acceptance to this is it.


Miles 70-79

These were the most difficult miles covered so far.  the road was kinder and less difficult than earlier,  but with my diminished capabilities and fading enthusiasm, it was very difficult getting through these “septuagenarian” miles.  it was unclear if the internal voices became silent or the internal ears became deaf, but there was no more complaining, no more self affirmations … no motivational speeches, and even the internal “wooos” were long gone.  just one quiet  mile after another.  i think it was an implicit determination that kept me riding through the sun-soaked desert in a zombie-like manner.  i was moving so slowly that i stopped checking the gps long ago, because the lack of progress was greatly demoralizing me. i didn’t want to be seen crying out in the desert.  every few miles i had to  stopped and rest under the puddles of shade that were cast from small bushes next to the trail.  i wanted to stay stopped for long periods of time, but i knew my energy levels were on time limit.  just being out in the sun was taking its toll.  the backpack was nearly empty but still seemed as heavy as it was at the start.  i was too tired to dig through my pack to get some sort of nourishment form the food or gels that i had packed, so i often just sat there carefully sitting in the small piece of shade dreading the moment i had to get back on my bike.  in life, i am not in my 80’s but i can only imagine how this will parallel life.  just an old tired man with limited physical capabilities struggling to do simple things, that were once taken for granted.  still being able to take a walk, ride a bike, make dinner, and mow the lawn… but doing them ever so slowly.  giving up on doing things at are special and outstanding just focusing on getting through the day.  i’m almost crying as i write this because i can imagine it so vividly…. almost as if it is real.  all i really know is that, life is going to be tough when i get there… i am clearly not ready.


Miles 80-89

These were the “easy” miles that wouldn’t end.  no matter how far i looked forward there were more and more winding and twisting road off in the horizon.  all i could do was put my head down and pedal one circle at a time.  it was brutally hot day but the road was pretty easy for a while, with the exception of one last 1700 foot climb out of the canyon.  there was no way i could pedal up this thing i had actually decided that long before i started this ride. i had read that it was steep, and i knew that it would be challenging on fresh legs.  even though i was content on walking, i tried to ride it several times, but there was nothing left in the legs… or my spirit for that matter.  after about a mile of slow delirious marching up the road, a car approached.  they stopped without me flagging them down. the lady in the passenger seat ask if i was alright. i told her “not really”. she asked if i needed a ride, and i replied that my bike won’t fit. her husband said “we can probably make it fit” i took a look in the back and told them unconvincingly, “it’s alright, i’ll make it.”  she said,”are you sure, how about water? you good?” i gave them a thumbs up, they drove off, and i instantly regretted that.  i kept walking.  a little further up the road a bunch of guys were filming a motorcycle video.  they had nice cameras and motorcycles. i stopped to talk to them. they were impressed that i had done the whole loop on a single speed. i told that i wasn’t done yet and this hill is just about killing me.  they wish me luck and off i walked.  a couple turns later i found some shade and put the bike down and laid in the road flat on my back with my arms out. it felt so good. i could hear myself breathing. i could also hear the film guys talking, with their voices echoing. i couldn’t make out what they were saying, but the incoherent sounds made their way into my altered state of consciousness, providing me with the most captivating psychedelic experience i can ever hope for.  after a few minutes, i finally got up, and started marching back up the hill…one switchback at a time.  i got to the top and thought “hallelujah” almost done. the rest of the road was rolling gravel.  in life…again i can only project what it will be like in my 80’s.  i imagine that now the simple things in life will require greater struggle.  it will be the time when, to the outside world, you can no longer function. people will try to help, but you will be too determine to hang on to that last piece of dignity..self reliance.


Miles 90-100

These miles were full of false summits.  a feeling that if i can just make over that little hill over there, i know my truck will be there.  i rode most of this section but it was difficult. at this point however pedaling seemed easier than walking.  rolling hill after rolling hill i kept thinking the same thing.. it’s gotta be over that hill. finally i stopped and checked the gps… i had about 8 miles to go. it doesn’t sound like much but when you’ve been thinking that you only have about “one mile to go” for the last 3 miles…. very heart breaking. this is when i needed that other voice to yell me through this. i needed people with motivational signs yelling “good job, you’re almost there!” but i wasn’t in a race, and no one knew i was here.  i couldn’t hold up my head any longer while riding … nor could i hold my arms on the bars while walking.  everything hurt.  finally i heard a truck coming.  without thinking i stuck out my thumb and glanced back. it was the filming crew!  the driver stopped the truck right next to me said, “ok, hop in man!”  without hesitating he jumped out of his truck and threw my bike in the back. he didn’t verify or second guess my request, i guess it was very clear to him that i needed help.  he cleared out the back seat of his truck, and welcomed me in.  his girlfriend was riding shotgun and kept apologizing for the mess.  i told her don’t worry, i am just so happy to have a ride.  the guy and i had some small talk, but i was having a difficult time talking.  my throat was so dry that i could barely make sounds.  the ride took quite a long time even though he was hauling ass though this gravel road.  7 miles later we arrived at my truck. i was so happy to see it. the guy pulled out my bike and backpack and wished me luck and we waved good by.  i opened my truck and climbed in the back and laid down watching the sunset.


in life i can’t imagine what i will be like to be in my 90’s if i make it that long.  i imagine that’s when you just “give in”. you won’t really need to ask for help, but hopefully there will be people around you to help even if you don’t ask for it. all shame will be gone and you may even feel good, that you made someone else feel good that they helped you.  i hope this is how it works out, but until then i’ll just have to wait.  as a side note, whenever you help someone do it with enthusiasm…


your mileage my vary

be epic

the preamble

i guess it all started last week when i was talking to dave at work. i told him i was thinking about doing some epic mountain bike ride around north boulder/lyons/longmont. it was one of those rides that are made-up as it comes out of your mouth. “yeah… i’m going to ride heil ranch down to picture rock, and hook up with hall ranch go up the rock garden….” yeah, i was so full of enthusiasm back then, poor dave just shook his head in disbelief.

his only words, “dude, that’s gonna be tough.”

to which i replied,” wanna go???”

i don’t remember how it happened or what he said, but basically it was a no go.  i think i even lost a little bit of steam on this one.  don’t get me wrong, it’s fun as hell being “epic” alone… but twice as fun when you have someone to be epic with, and even better if you have someone to share your story with.

by thursday morning i was thinking about everything but my big ride.  there was the turkey trot in the morning, then there was the actual turkey for dinner… followed by food coma and late night pie.  i’m not much of a shopper, but all i could hear on tv/radio were “black friday” commercials, “black friday” emails…etc.  i was pretty content with not going shopping on friday, and I was pretty content with not doing any kind of a workout.  after all i had just run a 5k turkey trot!

friday morning, on the way home i decided to stop at the bike shop so I could return some shit that i bought last week in another failed bike restoration project.  i handed the guy my returned items in a bag and told him i was going to “look around”.  This was actually one of those times when i kind of stood in the middle of the store and spun around till i found something that caught my eye … and there they were, bib shorts!  i had wanted bib shorts since 2001, but have not been able to spend the money, or have not been interested in bike clothes…or whatever.  i had no intention of buying bib shorts, but they were marked down to an unbelievable price.  i just had to buy two… right next to them were a couple sweet jerseys that i also could not pass up.

one hundred bucks later i’m walking out of the store with a couple new jerseys and some sweet ass bib shorts.  i’m not exaggerating about these bib shorts either.  the anti-bacterial padding is so thick and nice, it’s like having a bike seat sewed on your ass (actually i’m not too sure about that analogy).

a funny thing happened as i was driving home, my epic bike ride plan, came back to life!

the ride

11 am start time. i know what you’re thinking… “for and ‘epic’ ride, you sure are starting late.” there was a good reason for the late start, but it mostly had to do with poor planning and a cavalier sense of urgency because i never stopped to do the time math.  i just wanted to do 40 miles… everything else should come together. :)

i started out at the heil ranch trail head.  the temperature was in the high 20’s, but the trail is quite shady so it felt a bit colder.  this trail is about 9 miles long and known for its rocky mojo-killing terrain.  the first three miles were all uphill and my arms were already burning from the vibrations.  this was going to be a long day.  i looped around the top and before i knew it, i was 6 miles into the ride as i approached my junction.

the next leg was down picture rock.  5 and a half miles …  all down hill.  the first three of those were get-off-your-seat kind of bumpy.  these are the kinds of trails that make me so happy i ride a 29er.  not so happy that i have a hard tail… and kind of pissed that i over filled my front shock with air.  by the time i got to the bottom i was 12 miles into the day, and 28 miles from utopia.

hall ranch is a completely different trail.  it has lots of buffed out single track with a few sections of very hard technical leg-blowing rock faces.  although the trail is mostly sunny, it still felt pretty cold. i think maybe it was just the wind chill on my sweat covered clothes making me “feel” cold.  anyway, my plan was to just take my time and get through it.  unfortunately my plan didn’t account for two guys with matching kits just ahead of me.  i chased, like any good ex-cyclist would.

as i rode up the rock garden that makes hall ranch famous, i lost traction on some loose gravel and fell forward.  my handle bars twisted and the back of my right hand came crashing down on a pointy rock. unfortunately the back of my glove has no protection.  have you ever noticed that when it’s really cold outside and you get injured, that no matter how small the injury, something feels broken??  well that’s what it felt like, something was broken!  i yelled out the work “FUCK” which seemed to help a bit, but it was by no means a long term solution.  i felt my hand bleeding inside my glove, but i was too afraid to take it off to check.  i soon realized that despite my pain, i could still move everything and actually hold on to the handle bars.  ok, enough wallowing in my pain…. i had some guys to catch!

i chased and chased but the gap was not closing. finally i saw them stop up ahead.  i caught them and passed with a “friendly” oxygen-debt “hello”.  i guess they didn’t want to get passed by this fred with the generic “black kit”, so they started up right behind me and started chasing ME …. fuck!  i held them off on the hill, but when we got to the flatter stuff, my single speed gearing was just too spinny to catch them.  i tried to keep them in sight and managed to get back to their wheel on some super fast gnarly descent.  it was SO much fun.

it didn’t look like i was going to pass them, so i stopped to eat lunch.  20 miles into my day, and about 14 miles back to the car.  as i sat there eating my lunch, i kept contemplating my options.  1. do i just go back and make it a 34 mile day… or 2. do i continue on to rabbit mountain?  actually the first option was just a facade of my rationale peaking through.  i HAD to do rabbit mountain.  I had been wanting to link all three of these trails since the early 2000’s.  i didn’t have a clue as to how many miles it would be, but my roadside math told me it was going to be close to 50 when I got back to the car.

the ride out to rabbit mountain was about 6 miles of pavement.  not a big deal, unless you are riding a single speed with low speed gearing.  so there i was riding down highway 66, at about 14 miles per hour with my RPMs at about a buck ten – a buck fifteen.  i couldn’t wait for the merciless spinning to end.  It seemed like forever, but when i finally got to the trail head, i stopped and ate the remainder of my lunch.

there were lots of people and dogs out on this trail. i had to stop every now and again just to let them pass.  as i was riding around the top loop, i stopped to take a picture of the lowered sun.  then it finally hit me… i’m not going to have enough time to get back…. shit!  at this point my arms and legs were nothing but jello, but i had to hurry.  i had no choice but to fly down this bumpy ass trail, with my legs screaming and my arms trying to hang on.  i was about 34 miles into the ride and everything was going downhill quickly … figuratively.  one positive note that i’d like to share: my ass was so comfortable in my new bib shorts! :)

i spun back down the highway not much faster than my ride up.  by this time, the cars were starting to put on their head lights.  it was starting to get noticeably darker by the minute.  i was starting to worry but then i had a brief moment of elation when i remembered that i still had my sun glasses on!!! woo hoo another 10 minutes and my elation was gone, it was really getting dark.

when i got to the bottom trail head of picture rock, i had about 6 miles of continuous uphill and 4 miles of downhill back to the car.  there was no sunshine and i was riding on the east facing slopes in the trees…it was going to be super dark.  i passed by several riders on their way down, and the last ones were at mile 8.  they gave me a look like, “you’re seriously going up, right now?”  i removed my shades and kept going.

it was getting very dark at this point but i was still riding.  i don’t know why i kept riding, i think i was just determined to get up the hill.  i should have stopped 2 miles earlier but I didn’t.  i had to trust everything i knew about mountain biking at this point.  i could barely make out the trail and the rocks were just two dimensional dark spots on the ground.  i knew i had two big wheels that could ride over just about anything… and i also knew that i’m very decent technical rider…. so leaned way back to prevent any endos from happening, knees out, fingers on brakes and heart on the trail.

delirium and fear set in.

so with 4 miles to go i finally called it.  it was getting too dangerous, i couldn’t see anything.  i was cold, tired, under dressed, and for the moment 90% blind.  i could see the dark trunks of the lodge poll pines and i could see the stars.  that last item couldn’t help me but it gave me something to focus on when i got nervous.  this area is known for it’s mountain lions and recently there have been lots of sightings in boulder county.  i became obsessed with that fact over the next couple miles.  there were several moments when i could have sworn i saw a big beige blob flash in front of me.  i had no light to see anything just a bunch of dim shapes in the darkness.  staying on the trail was becoming increasingly difficult.  it’s not like there was a single track trail with tall grass bordering the edges.  it was the contrast of rocks with rocks bordering the edges.  using the trees as guides and the discoloration from the loose dirt i could kind of  see my way.  it was so subtle that if i looked down and focused on the ground beneath me, i couldn’t see the trail.  i had to look far enough ahead and slightly blur my focus to “see” anything.  i marched along taking high vertical steps to avoid tripping.

i began to think about stopping and waiting till the light of morning to make my way out of here. morning seemed like a really long time from now.  i thought that if i just stopped to rest, things would be more clear… mentally.  i didn’t want to panic and get lost.  most of my thoughts at that time involved stopping, waiting, or calling for help.  i did end up stopping for a moment just to get some gu drops, and i put on my nice warm ski hat.

suddenly everything felt alright.  i felt under control.  i could still see the stars,  my head was warm enough.. and there seemed to be no urgency to get back…i had all night!  i marched along, carefully picking off landmarks along the trail.  it wasn’t long before the last landmark appeared… the parking lot with my car.  nothing says “welcome back” like a bottle of gatorade and some malt vinegar chips, waiting in the car!!!

walking: 4 miles

road riding: 12 miles

mountain biking: 31 miles

total: 47.25 miles

gatorade and chips: priceless!

race! i actually did a while back, up at winter park. i was on a roll after doing the boulder short track.

i got there kind of late, which seems to be my signature move these days. good thing i registered early so i didn’t have to do anything but tell them my name. i got my packet and rode back to the car. as i rode back it started to rain just a bit… then a bit more, then it became a torrential downpour and to be in it, was no fun.

i quickly put on my rain jacket and tried to warm up the best i could. there wasn’t a whole lot of time so i just grabbed the stuff i needed from the car and rode off to the lift. the race actually took place high up on the mountain atop the mary jane ski run. i threw my bike on the lift and hopped on the next chair as the lift circled around. i forgot to take off my camel bak and it was under my rain jacket and full of water…. a little too full. so full i couldn’t sit all the way back in the chair. i tried to sit a little sideways but the seat was soaking wet and swinging back and forth because i was one person all the way on the left of a 5 seater. i decided that just sitting still would be the best thing.

cold and freezing i sat there holding on to the back of the seat. the rain was still coming down hard and any warmth i had from my “warm up” was quickly fading. the ride to the top took forever, and i was so glad to be at the top. it actually felt warmer at the top than it did at the bottom. i got on my bike and quickly rode to the starting line. this got me a little warm but no where near what i needed.

within a few minutes some guy started the race and we were off. i raced with the young experts and the single speeders…. believe me, all these guys were good. i used to be a good climber but these days with all my slow rides filled with picture taking and beer drinking…. i had nothing on anybody. i labored up these hills as everyone around me passed like i was 93 years old. the course consisted of three 6 mile laps of a really long steep hill followed by fast twisty down hill single track.

as i got to the top of the hill tired and beaten, i would accelerate as i dropped down into the single track. i’m still a pretty good technical rider and i could get some places back as i wound through the trees. each up hill i would loose about five or six places… and each down hill i would gain two or three. a net loss, but at least i found something i was good at.

i finished the race tired and sore, with eyes full of mud, and my tail between my legs. not quite the cinderella story i had hoped for, but it wasn’t bad for an ex-cyclist.

i started following lance armstrong’s tweets this year mostly because he was going to race the tour and i wanted the have the heads up on everything that was going on before and after the stages.  i was not disappointed.  lance is one of the most prolific tweeters around. he tweets first thing in the morning… right before bed,  he retweets articles, pictures, videos.  i’m never bored.  anyway right after the tour he went on vacation in the bahamas, then returned to aspen colorado to train for the leadville 100.

he had been doing the usual posts telling what ride he did, who he’s having beers with, then on a thursday [not remember the date] he posted that he was going to do a mountain states cup race at snowmass in aspen! i thought about it for a little bit, then decided that i would take the family and drive up to aspen race in the same race as lance armstrong, and have my family take a bunch of pictures of lance while i was at the back of the race making sure there was no one behind me. the family was on board and agreed to the 3and a half hour drive to aspen on saturday morning.

to make a long story short it took almost 4 and a half hours to get there.  i was 30 minutes late for the start of the race, and wasn’t about to try to jump in.   it’s kind of funny, because that morning i was really nervous about racing. i hadn’t raced for years and i wasn’t in shape…yadda yadda, yadda.  as we got closer and closer to aspen i started to realize that i was not going to make it.  when it became official that i was not going to make it, i started to really want to race.  i started to think in my mind that i was ready and i was going to do well…danm it!   when i got the race, 30 minutes late, and got to take a look at the area between laps. it was really long steep uphill fire road that went right through the base of the skii area.  there was no place to hide no where to back out, and no where for me to look good.  i was so happy i didn’t race.  my whole attitude changed, i went from grumpy asshole, to mr. sunshine in a blink of an eye.

so i got some pictures of lance:

lance after the first lap

lance after the first lap


lance finishing or winning.

lance's people escorting him somewhere.

lance's people escorting him somewhere.

so it was an awesome day for me.  i didn’t even mind driving 4+ hours each way to stay for 2hours in aspen.

after missing the grand opening of a new trail in boulder county last week i’ve been preoccupied with the getting home and out on the new trail.   some time before i got home i got sick.  i was out in new jersey in a hotel with a fever and nothing to do but watch tv.  somehow i just forgot about riding all together.  yesterday was my first full day home and i wasted no time heading out to the trail.  unfortunately  the fever completely erased the fact that there was a new trail open in the area.  i stupidly headed out to my “everyday” trail.  i actually got about half way through it [the tough half]…. when suddenly i remembered…new trail!!!! “wtf am i doing here?” i turned around and sprinted bak to the car.  i was exhausted, just recovered from a fever, been at sea level for over a week, not to mention that i am not in the best of shape anyway…..ugh!   i headed out to the new trail, my head chest and both shoulders were hurting :).

the new trail is the opposite direction from my house so i was about 35 miles away.  it was a pretty long drive, but i was too excited to care.

there is a temporary trail head parking on red gulch road. there were only about five or six cars at the time.  i headed out on the trail and it starts out winding through a valley.


the trail is pretty buffed out at this point with lots of powdery dirt from all the traffic.  plus the trail is only a week or so old, it needs a few rains under its belt to get firm.


such a beautiful trail….. wait till you bomb down it!  there were lots of sections that were cut into the side of a hill.  you can see from the picture below, that it must have taken a lot of work to do this.


it’s really interesting riding on these sections, because there is a drop off on one side and wall on the other. also,  there are lots of sections where you have to turn on a bump, or else go off the edge.  if you have balls to go fast, your skills will improve tremendously!  i’m a little rusty, but i still went as fast as i could…. no brake usage!


just more pictures.





not sure what this was but it was pretty cool to see…

i love old abandoned vehicles.



as the trail heads up toward heil valley ranch it starts to look a lot like the heil ranch trail [forgot the name]


finally after a very short 5.5 miles, the picture rock trail connects to the wild turkey loop… woot!



the trail builders went through a lot of trouble to build this trail.  they made sure you saw some interesting sights along the way like to old rock foundations of something, and the sylo, not to mention the two abandoned cars.   you can tell that the trail purposely seeks out these land marks for us to reflect.

there is lots of single track on this trail.  the only problem is that you really have to pay attention to others on the trail.  there are lots of blind corners, and steep drop offs if you are not paying attention.  i would recommend going on off hours to avoid people.  this trail is ideal for some who want to improve their down hill skills.  just make sure your skilled enough to go fast!  i did this thing on the way down where i tried to not use my brakes.  i wasn’t too successful, but it was fun trying.


it was a full moon this evening, but you wouldn’t have know with all the cloud cover. last night i got an undecipherable message on my cell phone from an old buddy of mine. i couldn’t make out what he said on his message, because my cell service has the worst messaging system in the world. it can make anyone seem like they are right under niagra falls floating in their barrel, eating a peanut butter sandwich …with the tv on :). so anyway, i knew that the last time my friend and i were going to ride together was on the last full moon. that trip got canceled due to work obligations. i kind of figured that he wanted to go riding on this full moon. it was kind of late so i just pinged him in the morning.

we decided to meet at 8:30pm in the town near the trail head. i am not going to give away any names on this post, because we were about to ride the trail illegally, and i don’t want to get busted. i will only say that the trail rhymes with “wall dance”, and the town name rhymes with “shmyons”.  i got to shmyons about 7:30pm.  i know it was pretty early, but i was coming directly from work, and frankly i didn’t want to spend another minute at work. so i just got some of my stuff ready and sat in the car for the next 50minutes, listening to my ipod with my new bose head phones. if you don’t have a pair of these bad boys i would strongly recommend it. especially if you are waiting for a friend in a dark parking lot overlooking the town. the song and artist of the night was iron wine‘s “wolf”. i sat there for a few moments and it wasn’t long before i was asleep. i was pretty lucky to wake up 5minutes before the ride. i was also pretty lucky to not have to have my friend wake me up.

shortly after my friend arrived, we packed up our camelbaks, put our bikes together, and we were off.  we wound our way through the small side streets of town mostly without the aid of our headlights. we were both trying to conserve our batteries at this point and besides there were small hints of the road lines illuminated, from the diffused moon, and the distant light pollution from the random street lights.

i eventually turned on my super-mega-light-of-the-sun headlight as we rode along the highway. i think an oncoming car just gave me the light flicker to indicate that my “high” beams were on. “sorry, i only have one mode”, i said to myself,  as the pissed off driver passed.  light humor and catch up stories were yelled back and forth as we rode up to the trail head.  the night had a really neat fall feel to it. it was probably mid to upper thirties, foggy, and kind of drizzling. from the headlight it almost looked like really light snow. except for our occasional conversations, the moist air dampened all the sounds and made for a very quiet and almost eery atmosphere.

mountain biking at night is a little different beast than regular mountain biking.  one of the biggest challenges is having the light point in the correct direction.  i usually use a handlebar mounted light, but this forces you to only see where the handlebars are pointing.  as my fried point out to me, it is much more advantageous to have a helmet mounted headlight.  that way you can see where you are looking.  so simple!  another problem with headlights no matter where they are mounted, is that they tend to remove depth from the scene.  we both found ourselves riding up to some point in the trail…fairly slowly, only to realize that what was in front of us was actually very steep and needed some momentum.  another weird phenomenon from headlights, is that they either add or remove shadows to or from objects on the ground, causing small unimportant pebbles look rather significant. conversely, big boulders without shadows almost seem flat…..huh, imagine that.  i was lucky to have giant 29 inch wheels which got me through most of these but not all of them.  i had a couple of falls related to this phenomenon, but riding at night is still by far, more enjoyable and exciting than a day ride, given the same trail.

i know that i have written about riding at night a few times, and how enjoyable it was.  these past posts were all city and highway ride on my commute home.  there is really something special about mountain biking at night and riding up to a trail with your lights only able to illuminate the bushes and trees guarding the entrance. the rest of the trail looks like an entrance into the abyss of the mountain.  in fact, each corner looks that way momentarily, just before you turn into it.  there is a brief instance in every turn where you have to rely on faith and experience to get you through without incident.  this makes every moment exciting, and you never want to get out of the “ready” position.  you know the position? … pedals level, weight off the seat slightly in back, arms and knees bent outward.  if that isn’t enough for your entertainment, there is a whole slew of illusions that add to your senses.  as you’re riding as fast as you can past the trees and brush, your headlight cast rather dynamic shadows upon the nearby objects that sometimes move in organic nonlinear directions,  giving the appearance of a moving life form right next to you.  i find myself constantly looking to the side thinking that i saw something move. i think my heart rate hovers pretty high whenever i ride at night.

we actually had some deer encounters as we were flying through the darkness in our tunnels of light.  it was so cool to see them coming up to the trail…crossing in front of us in all their glory, and going off into the foggy dark emptiness.  they couldn’t have been more than twenty feet in front of us.  at first they looked like the dancing shadows from our lights, but then you could see their glowing eyes, and huge shiny antlers, as they came charging past us in full stride.  this was a very cool diversion back to the augmented reality of night mountain biking.

almost as soon as we started heading back my battery became so weak that the small orange glow was no longer “like the sun”. at this point i could barely see the trail and the diffused moon was not much help.  i have never used my light longer than the time it takes me to ride home from work…roughly an hour.  it was really too bad that we had been out for an hour an 10 minutes.  my friend had extra batteries with him, but their strength was as unknown as the universe itself.  i tried one battery and it was only slightly brighter than my battery.  i still able to ride with it for a few hundred yards before giving up on it.  the next battery was a little better and i was able to use it for almost two miles.  i still couldn’t see very well so i had to ride a little more cautiously.  i found myself riding over these unbelievable boulders and ruts despite having a “light”.  it was very scary a couple of times, when i found myself atop a big rock on the side of the trail…thinking, “how’d i get up here?” when this battery died, i had one more of my friend’s batteries to try.  this one was very weak, i almost got no illumination from it at all.  almost immediately after installing it i had a pretty good endo. this was probably one of my better endos.  as i was going over, somehow i unclipped out of both pedals simultaneously ejecting myself from the bike and rock carnage.  i must have been more than 5 feet from my bike when it was all said and done.  after this fall, i then decided to really take it easy, since i was basically riding blind.  i could barely see which direction the trail turned… let alone all the technical difficulties underneath my tires.  it actually wasn’t too bad once my eyes got used to the night, my mind started to relax, and my cadence slowed.

we both made it out of the trail without any major injuries, and without fines from our illegal ride. despite the absence of the moon light, you couldn’t ask for a better night.


this really hurt.   i went out for a ride on tuesday, and this is what happened.  i was having a pretty mellow time, doing the trail fairly slowly.  my m/o this time was to do every section.   i did do every section….. until i had the fall.  it was one of those slow motion tip over type falls.  i turned around right after this happened,  because i was kind of worried that i was loosing some blood, and i didn’t have a bandaid or anything.