i was riding home after an epic ride with some work buddies.  i rode from my house to la port colorado right at the base of rist canyon.  this is a popular hill for cyclist. i forgot to measure the distance of the climb, but it’s basically 3000 feet in about 10 miles.  i could be way off on that, but i don’t have my gps data here with me.   all i know for sure is that it was 40 miles from my house to the top of the hill.

i was heading home and i was real tired.  i was running out of drinks and i had no more food.  i still had about 20 miles to go and the sun was going down.  normally i don’t care about the dark but on this bike i had no lights or reflectors.  i knew i wasn’t going to make it home before dark so i was going to need a little help.  the problem was trying to plan where my “crew” would pick me up.   i got out my iphone and noticed that the battery icon was in the red.  i  had maybe 10 minutes left, but if i actually used the phone i’m sure the phone would have died instantly.  so i shut off as many battery wasting things as i could, and proceeded to make my first call.

i called the wife first…. no answer.

i called home … no answer.

i called the 15 y/o no answer.

i called the 12 y/o he answered!

son12: “oh hey dad, where are you?”

me: “i over here in fort collins, i’m kind of stranded, do you know where your mom is?”

son12: “huh?”

me [increasing frustration, but trying to be grateful that someone answered their phone]: “i am stranded in ft collins, my phone battery is almost dead, where is your mom?”

son12:” i don’t know….can you pick me up?”

me:”no i can’t pick you up, because i am on my bike and i don’t have a light…and i am stranded!”

me:”alright i got to go….” [hang up the phone]

so that little stop to try and get help took about 20 minutes and drained my already dying battery, and i got no where.  i quickly got back on my bike and started racing toward home.  after a few minutes my phone vibrated once.  i thought help was on the way, so i pulled over and got out my phone.  it turned out to be a text message from my 15 y/o.

son15: “can you pick me up?”

why are my kids all over town? irritated, i powered down the phone and continued my race for light.  the sun was going down rapidly and i was pretty tired from the day’s ride, but i was still pushing as hard as i could to get closer to home.  i knew i wasn’t going to make it home, but the closer i got to civilization the better i felt.  within a couple miles of loveland i decided that i better start trying to get a ride from one of these kind-hearted colorado motorist.  i stuck out my thumb and started hitching it.  as i slowly rolled through my last couple of miles;  car car car…truck, nothing!  for two miles i tried to hitch a ride, not one person even slowed down!

right when i got into town i remembered that there was a k-mart along the way.  i pulled in and tried to find a way to lock my bike.  the only thing i could do was tangle my helmet strap around the wheel to try and deter someone from riding my bike away.  they could easily remove my helmet, but they would have to take the time to do it, and hopefully i will be done with my shopping by then.

i am a mess at this point, i have dried salt all over my face and jacket. i don’t know what my nose looked like, and god knows what my hair was up to.  not that i care so much what i look like, but there were lots of people around that looked like they never rode a bike in their lives….nor did any of them exercise for that matter.

i walked into the store, marched over to the bike section….click, click, click, click!  my cycling cleats, made a lot of noise.  people that didn’t even notice me turned to see what all the noise was.  i kept marching to the bike stuff.  i got there and tried to find something cheap.  i did find something cheap alright, but i couldn’t convince myself to buy it.  it was a headlight the size of my foot and took 2 d-cell batteries. what the fuck?  the stupid thing probably weighed 3 pounds….but on the other hand it was only $9.99!  well i couldn’t do it because i knew that i would have to throw it away right after i got home…or find some way to mount it on my car or house.  i found a little light for 20 dollars… a lot more than i wanted to spend but at least i would use it after today. i also found a tail light that was fairly cheap and got it.

click click click…up to the register i marched.  as i was at the check-out, a mother and her 10 y/o stood in line behind me.  i could see the kid motioning to his mom something, some kind of secret.  i knew he was pointing out all the grossness visible that had dried on me and my clothes. sorry k-mart shoppers!

i got out to my bike,  and tried to open the hard plastic form fitting wrapper that most things come in these days.  you know the kind? where if you don’t use a box cutter, you end up cutting your hand or crying in frustration, or both?  i wrestled around with the stupid packaging in the cold and dark for a few minutes until i declared victory.  a premature victory i might add.  it turned out that my tail light needed a battery or two.  back into the store i went….click click…etc.

i grabbed some batteries at the end of the register and stood in line.  i was second in line, but second, only to the guy with literally 100 cans of cat food!  isn’t there a way to scan one item and then enter the count into the register?  in this case “count” would be 100!  i’m guessing not, because the register lady was doing one at a time.  she got to about can 73, when the lane next to me opened.  i quickly reached over and gave my stuff to the new register lady… and i was off.

now it was completely dark, i had all my low quality k-mart lights mounted shining in all their glory, but i could barely see the road.  the headlight had such a small beam the radius on the ground was probably only 18 inches.

anyway, it was a long, arduous and kind of a sketchy ride home.  when i got home, i saw my wife’s car in the driveway. wtf?  she said she was home the whole time, and couldn’t get to the phone in time.  she tried to call me back but it went straight to voice mail.  everyone was acting like things were all normal.  i asked if son12 had told everyone about where i was.  he didn’t tell anyone. actually he didn’t even know himself…. don’t ask me why he didn’t know, just being a 12 y/o i guess.

1 headlight for bike $19.99

1 taillight for bike $9.99

1 bottle of purple gatorade $1.00

1 4-pack of batteries $4.99

1 non-existent support crew $0.00

80 miles … priceless.

test post for yesterday’s epic day.

via Garmin Connect – Activity Details for Untitled.

a few years ago i  used to wake up  very early in the morning and ride my mountain unicycle on the trail before work.  i would leave my house in the dark and get to the trail head just before the break of light.  i loved doing this trail, i had been doing this for years, and i slowly but surely i was able to master each section.

as far as safety is concerned, unicycling is actually a little safer than mountain biking.  i know most people are probably thinking that i am out of my mind for saying that, but i truly think so.  i have been riding a unicycle for so many years, i don’t even think about falling.  not that i don’t fall, it’s just that i fall so often it’s not a big deal anymore.  i fall hundreds of times, but i rarely get injured.  i always use body armor for my shins and knees and a helmet for my head.  the difficult part for me is strength and power.  it takes a lot of strength to climb hills and a lot of power to get over obstacles like rocks and logs.  falling is more like a controlled dismount.

so i guess my sense of reality is a bit twisted. when people see me riding on the trail, i always get comments like, “you’re crazy”, “you’ve got a lot of guts”, or “oh my god, be careful”.  when i hear these comments i always wonder why they think it’s dangerous. i don’t think it’s dangerous, i do think it is extremely difficult…. and yeah, i think i am “crazy” for attempting something many people can not even do on mountain bikes.  i think i have “guts” for not giving up, even though every muscle in my body is trembling, my heart rate is well over 180, and i’m sweating so profusely, it looks like i just had water poured over my head.  i don’t think of myself as a dare devil.  i don’t think i am in the same thrill seeker category as base jumpers, fmx, and other adrenalin junkies.  i think i am somewhere around the same category as a rock climber….don’t ask me why, i just think we have a lot in common for some reason.

so one morning before work,  as i sat in my car at the trail head waiting for more daylight…. i began to think.  recently i had read in the news paper that there were mountain lions killing people in california (more specifically mountain bikers).  there had also been mountain lions spotted colorado at the time, but none at this particular trail.  i worried about this for a moment but figured that my odds were pretty low.  i decided to go right then, because i wanted to get to work as a decent hour.  so i took off, and as i entered the trail i passed a sign that i had passed hundreds of times in the past, but this time it kind of stuck in my head.

“beware of mountain lions”

for the next couple of miles that was all i thought about.  as i passed bushes and rocks the thoughts of a mountain lion stalking me began to take over.  the fact that i was breathing extra hard and looked rather vulnerable to a mountain lion, made me even more worried.  what if i did get attacked and even killed that morning? the head lines would probably read:

“Unicyclist Killed by Mountain Lion”

in my imagination i could see mr. public in his robe and coffee reading the paper with his family around the breakfast table.  he shakes his head and says, “shouldn’t have been unicycling”

maybe mr. public was right; i shouldn’t have been unicycling… but most likely, i shouldn’t have been there in the first place.