by 4:30 I was out the door of my apartment. still very dark and kind of chili for my comfort level, but not too bad. just one day ago, or to be more precise, 8 hours ago, I had this idea that was going to be one of my most adventurous events to date. i wanted to hike up a fourteen thousand foot mountain, and then ride my mountain unicycle all the way down. the trip would involve carrying a 20 pound unicycle and 20 pound pack for about 3.5 miles with a 3500 ft elevation gain. it shouldn’t be bad, i had all day to do it.

I had climbed several 14ers this summer and had a pretty good idea what I was in for…. except for the unicycling part. I had googled around the night before researching a good mountain to climb, and one that would allow bikes. I know a unicycle is not really a “bike”… but I’m pretty sure that the spirit of the law makes me a bike, and i would rather be grouped with bikes, than hikers (nothing against hikers, i just really like bikes). i found a list of peaks created by some guy who claims to have ridden down on his unicycle. i wouldn’t be the first to do this but who cares…right? after some light comparisons between the peaks, i decided on gray’s peak. this would be the one for me. 14270 feet about 3.75 miles one direction and about a 3000 foot elevation gain from trail head to peak. perfect.

by 6:30 i was on the dirt road that leads to gray’s peak. a small rough dirt road. the directions said that if you have a low clearance vehicle, you might want to park at the start of the road and walk the 3.5 mile to the trail head. ok, but i’ll just drive a little further up the road and park on the shoulder when i need to. one mile in i see a guy hiking up the road. sucker!! haha… i bounced and scraped along as i past this cautious fellow in the pale morning light. funny thing was, every time i drove over a rock or passed a ditch… i thought to myself, “ok this is it, i should stop here”. as soon as i thought that, the road would mellow out and i could press onward.

it wasn’t long before i came to a sign that read, “1.4 miles to the trail head.” as soon as i passed this sign with a certain amount of “feel good” the road tilted upward and curved to the left. it was one lane at this point and within a few hundred feet of the curve, a huge rut was cut into the road by a season rain and run off. oh crap. i glanced in the mirror, and because of the curve and steepness of the road, it seemed too difficult to backdown at least in this car it was. so, onward i drove. the rut was angled and there were at least a couple rocks that were in all the wrong places. i angled my car and gunned it over the rut, not even able to really see where i was heading. woohoo! i was successful!!! damn, this lowrider civic made it up the hill and over the rut… sweet. i was pretty happy at this point. the road was mellow for the remainder or the drive… at least it seemed mellow compared to what i had just gone through.

the trailhead was almost full, nothing but 4×4 trucks and suv’s …and now one civic. one badass civc!
i don’t know what time it was, but it must have been early, because the sun had not yet made it over the valley, and it was still pretty cold. i packed my stuff and strapped my unicycle on to my small commuter backpack, and just as i put on the pack, i decided that should probably use the toilet before i spend all day on this mountain…. especially since it was mostly above tree-line. if you know what I mean.


i took off the pack and headed over to the friendly near by public toilet. i really hate public mountain restrooms because they are usually stinky dirty, and dark. much to my surprise, this one wasn’t half bad. clean and not stinky with a good amount of light…it’s going to be a good day i thought. the door lock was a little weird but i managed to jiggle it around and made sure the latch went into the opposing hole. it was a good idea that i decided to stop in, because by the time i finished locking the door i really had to go. actually it seemed like i didn’t have a moment to spare. as i sat there doing my business… i could hear people meandering around the parking lot getting ready for their hike. after a while i could kind of imagine where people were and i could hear one guy talking as he was getting near the restroom…then silence. suddenly with out hesitation he yanked the door open busting the stupid worthless lock that was held on by what must have been stripped rusted out screws. I sat there with a surprised look on my face (i’m only guessing i looked surprised.. because i was in slight shock)

“whoa!! sorry!”, he said as he closed the door.

“it’s alright, man no worry” i said in my haha-nothing-just-happened-voice.

son of a bitch! i hate when that happens. it’s not that it happens a lot, but it does happen, and i don’t think i have ever been on this end of it before. as i left the restroom he was no where to be found. i’m guessing he wanted nothing to do with an after-conversation. and neither did i.

i quickly got back to the car, got all my shit together and started hiking up the trail. the trail starts out very steep. my violent pace was sooned governed by my non-aclimated lungs. after some heart pumping pain… i finally settled into a slower sustainable pace and continued up to my destination. after about a half mile or so, i realized that i didn’t pack my shin guards. fuck! there was no way i was going to risk riding down this thing without my guards. i turned around and headed back to the car.

i passed a bunch of people on the way down, and most said nothing about the unicycle that was conspicuously strapped to the back of my backpack. one lady however, stopped and asked me what i was going to attempt. she was utterly impressed when i told her my plan. it was cool that she had the vision to see how ambitious my goal was and to think that i could do it… even though i hadn’t really even started.

as i got back to the trailhead, a couple hikers asked me if i knew of any water around here. i told them no, but i had some in my car that i could give them. they followed me back and accepted my water and off they went. no questions about my unicycle… just thanks. i got my shin guards and headed back up the trail. as i entered the trail i noticed a forest service sign that symbolically said that the following was not allowed: bikes!!!!! wtf?

i was going to go anyway, but remembered the spirit of the law and decided to go home and look for a new mountain. dejected, i walked back to the car. a group of asian tourist were gathered around taking pictures of themselves. one of them spotted me and started toward me.

“hey, excuse me!”

“yes”,i said, fully expecting to answer a round of unicycling questions.

“can you take a picture of us?”


i took a bunch of pictures of them with several of their cameras. each picture was reviewed by them … i guess for quality purposes.

“thank you very much!”

“you’re welcome, have a nice day!”

i headed back to my car, drove the long road back home. i had one more day to try another.

it was very dark this morning when I woke at my new home. no alarm clock, no early to bed, just a good old fashion gut check at 3am. the future looks pretty scary when everything is dark, and the only thing you have to comfort yourself is an iPhone that’s partially connected to the Internet. the Internet is not going to rescue me at this point, and make me forget everything, keep me company, how can it?
I wondered around my dark apartment looking for something to distract me. as I walked down the stairs, I could see the silloutte of my single speed from the small night light plugged in just behind it. i love my bikes… all of them. I know that thou shall not covet… but if you knew me, and you know what my bikes and I have been through, you would understand. my bikes are beautiful, they’re tough. they are reliable, they nearly killed me, and in general they never let me down.
I wasn’t planning to ride this morning, but just seeing my bike there made me think. you know, I don’t feel like doing anything right now but, if I don’t do anything, I will have done nothing. so, I gathered all my stuff. I don’t know my new neighborhood yet and I didn’t feel like exploring this morning, so I decided to ride somewhere familiar. I thought there was a chance to catch the sunrise somewhere, but i had to hurry. given the time I had till sunrise, flagstaf seemed like the perfect choice.
I hurried everything into my car, and drove up to boulder. i parked at the chautaqua lower lot and quickly got my bike out of the car. the sun would be up soon and i didn’t want to miss it. it looked as if i was going to be very close, so i hammered up the first part of the climb till my lungs were burning. i made it to the point just above the ticket booth and stopped there. a thin layer of clouds was just off the horizon, and it was blocking the sunrise. my heart was still beating pretty hard as i sat there on the side of the road with my bike on the ground. there was no beautiful sunrise for me to witness…. just disappointment. I sat there for a few minutes hoping that the sun would break through the clouds… but it didn’t.
with my heart still beating I jumped on my bike and rode as hard as I could up to the top. flagstaf used to be my favorite climb in all of Colorado. it’s steep, it’s beautiful, and it’s full of life. it was my barometer when I was training…. it was my church, when I needed it. disappointed from the absence of the sunrise, I rode as hard as I could. I am not as strong these days, because I have been trying to nurse an injury, but i rode at my limit anyway.
I got to the top and turned around. riding down I could feel everything. my big knobby tires on my single speed, created this tiny humming noise. I could hear it and feel it like it was a favorite song. there were hardly any cars around so I used the entire lane. I carved back and forth moving my knees from one side to the other. the gravity and inertia from so many little cutbacks started to make me feel good again.
near the bottom, as I turned the corner to get back to the ticket booth… I noticed something. the sun was starting to rise above the layer of clouds. it was as if the sun was waiting for me. i had given up hope to see the sunrise this morning, and when i finished my hard work of going to the top and getting back, it showed up…. it showed up.


as the legend has it, the magnificent centipede  was about to ruthlessly inject its prey with a deadly venom… then unexpectedly the poor doomed prey ask him a rather benign question:  “you have such a large number of legs, how do you keep them all coordinated enough to walk, seems very difficult?”

the centipede laughed with his usual arrogance and said, “you know i never really thought about it, you see i just kind of…..”

at that moment the centipede went into a deep concentration, realizing he never actually tried to figure it out. he picked up one leg and tried to think about what was next…. unable to figure out what to do next he stood there motionless, helpless confused.

the brilliant little prey walked away to live another day.

this story comes to me, not without a lesson: if you force yourself to think about something that comes intuitively, you may render yourself incapable of performing the skill that was once so easy.

recently i learned this lesson as i have been trying to improve my running form.  for the past 4 months i have been obsessed with my running form, and just form in general.  i have been running for about 30 years, and my form has not been horrible.  it has changed here and there but for the most part it has been generally quite smooth.  however i believe that it has not been the model of efficiency.  i don’t run symmetrically my knees bend too much on every stride, and my feet spend too much time on the ground.  i have been watching video after video of proper running form.  each time i watch a video i get something new to work on.  maybe i just have a short memory and i’m just relearning the same thing over and over again, but i always leave inspired.  i have been practicing the “pose”, studying the chi, and fawning at the barefoot runners.  i even run with my vibram five fingers to help me get up on my toes.  i aqua-run three times a week to practice my form and work on strength.  i work out very specific muscle groups to enhance parts of my gait that i like.  needless to say i am quite obsessed.

though i have been very dedicated to studying  the human running form, i have one very glaring problem.  i can not run anymore.  i remember the old days when i could just leave the house and run like a deer through the neighborhoods and trails like there was no limit.  it didn’t happen every time but it used to happen, and it was what running was all about.  now, my running has turned into complicated dance steps performed with a puppet using hundreds of strings made from human muscles.  every move of every muscle is thought out, analyzed and corrected…. from my toes to my neck and shoulders.  by mile two i am completely exhausted, my enthusiasm is gone and everything feels like forced exercise.

i long for the days when running will be fun again.  my mind is so fixed on running correctly; i think i will never get back to running freely.  perhaps i should take a shot of jägermeister, like i did when i learned to telemark ski. i was so overwhelmed that i ordered a shot of jäger, got back out on the slopes and voila, i could tele!

a quiet mind and a relaxed body is what i need right now.

log this.

the boston marathon is just around the corner.  as of this day it is only 78 days away.  this is my third time qualifying for the big event, but only my first time signing up.  the first two times i was just a kid and felt i had bigger fish to fry than running a classic.  now i am in my 40’s and i have big hairy audacious goals for this race, or i should say that i “had” those kind of goals…now they are more like little peach-fuzz-like modest goals.  it’s not that i lack drive or that i give up easily, but it’s more like i don’t want to kill myself.  i don’t mean jump off of a building-end-it-all kill myself, but more like drive-myself-onto-the-freeway-until-my-tires-blow-out-and-i’m-still-going-with-nothing-but-rims.  i got that metaphor from watching t.v. late at night, i think it was called greatest car chases or something like that…. if left unregulated i will run till my body falls apart.  in fact i think i hit that point 20 years ago when i told myself i would never race again…somehow i’ve made a comeback or sorts.  i race again, and last year i even “raced” a full marathon.  during my journey over the past 20 years, i’ve developed all kinds of ideas an innovations that have helped me to continue running.

everyone says, “listen to your body” but does anyone really know what that means?  i hear runners talking all the time about it. but does anyone really speak body-language?  that’d be cool if rosetta stone had software for learning body language.   listening to your body doesn’t just mean that if your ankle, knee or foot hurts during a run you should slow down.  it really means that you should perhaps stop, and consider not running till it stops hurting.  in fact at this point, the problem is probably screaming at you.  did you fail to listen to anything before the run?  even if there was no communications at all between you and your foot or whatever, did you fail to consider that maybe you ran too hard the day before, did you get enough sleep, was your body completely fresh? my point is not to criticize runners, but to bring about the point that listening to your body, has many many levels.  i am by no means successful at this point, and i actually have a confession to make.

i am kind of injured.  i say “kind of” mostly because i am still trying to figure out the severity of it.  i have considered various outcomes from stress fractures to it’s-all-in-my-head… and i still don’t know.  the only thing i do know is how i became injured.  it’s not like i am obsessed with mileage.  i am actually a very conservative runner.  i try to listen to my body, and as a result i have very modest weekly totals.  when i ran the san francisco marathon last july, i finished with a 3:12, and my weekly mileage was 30-40.  so how did i get injured this time around?

last week i had this epiphany of about my training and my injury.  i got injured because i stopped listening to my body and started listening to statistics. the statistic are all around me and i find it very difficult to avoid. how far did i run this week? how much did i run last week? how much do i need to run? how much did my friend run?  it is very easy to get caught up in this “rat race”.  in fact, i think most of us don’t even realize we are in a “rat race”.

the problem is that almost every training program out there is mileage based.  from beginner to elite… we have prescribed recipes for our workload.   the fact is, everyone is different, everyone has different obstacles in their daily life that effects their training. they could be sick, sleepless, hungover, stressed out…whatever.  weekly mileage is an artificial benchmark that was chosen empirically for the average person with similar goals.   before i have to debate this point, let me point out one thing…. every running training program out there falls apart when when you introduce cross training.  and what is cross training? cycling?  jumping jacks? shoveling snow?  unicycling? all of these are forms of exercise that benefit you greatly but usually can not be categorized by even the greatest of all programs. perhaps you could break down each of the muscle groups that are most worked in the said events, but can you really control when they happen? no, you can’t! what if you have to shovel your driveway to get to work? and you have intervals planned that same day? or what if there is a break in the weather and you want to go out for a unicycle ride (this only applies to me)?  what if you got drunk unexpectedly on a saturday night (maybe this only applies to me as well)? should you still go out and do your 20 miler?

so what are weekly mileage plans good for? they’re good for feeding the obsessive compulsive behavior in most of us.  we need something tangible to stroke our egos.  we need to quantify our efforts.  when i return from a lunch run how, unimpressive would i be if couldn’t tell the receptionist that i ran eight miles. “i ran at a good effort for me today”… not too impressive right? actually it’s not the receptionist or coworker, or spouse of friend that we are really trying to impress… we are trying to impress ourselves.

i look back at my old logs and i must say that sometime i am quite impressed.  sometimes i feel that i’ve kicked ass, and sometimes it’s a shocker to see how little i’ve run.   this is actually what caused me to get injured.  i looked back at my mileage and looked at my friends’ mileage…looked at my goals, looked at my friends’ goals, and felt i needed to step it up a notch.  i ran a very modest little 3 mile run with my vibram five fingers. the next day my calves were a little sore as usual, but i had a last minute plan to run with my friend.  i didn’t think i should run, but since the weather happened to be nice, and i don’t get to run with her that often, i ran.  the day after that i had a planned 15 miler.  i didn’t wake up that morning feeling like i wanted run.  the weather was cold and crappy, my legs were tired, but i had planned it….so i ran it.  i knew it was wrong when i started and the last two miles of that run confirmed my initial feelings…. that’s when my left shin started to really hurt.

the moral of the story is….. mileage isn’t everything.  statistics are very vague indicators of your fitness.  especially if you cross train.  please don’t think that listening to your body is going to make you into a “lazy” person unable to push through pain.  there is good pain and there is bad pain.  listening to your body does not mean to run conservatively all the time.  if your mind and body are up for it…. let ‘em go!  by all means take advantage of the days that you feel good! don’t hold back because it’ not in your training plan to run fast this particular day. however use common sense, if you are tapering for an upcoming race.

what is my plan for boston?  (if my injury turns out to be minor) i plan to work as hard as i can for the next 78 days.  i am not going to log any more miles, no more dailymile, no more rigid plans, no more mileage based workouts.  i have many activities besides running that i plan to get me closer to my boston goals, but i will go as i feel, i will try to balance my mental and physical attitude before and during each and every thing i do.  i don’t need statistics to tell me i am not working hard enough,  i don’t need motivation from others, i find my motivation from inside me.  i want this to be a very enjoyable journey to the boston marathon finish line.

feed back is welcome.

now that fall is officially here i have to start worrying about a lot more things when i commute.  in the good old days of summer i mostly had to worry about packing my essential work clothes….shoes, socks, underwear, pants, shirt, and wallet.  with the exception of pants, think i have forgotten at least one of those items on the list on more than one occasion.  nothing like walking around the office all day in a retro “once” cycling jersey.  admittedly it was a little awkward and embarrassing, but it was actually kind of convenient. i carried around my pen, notepad, and cell phone in the back pockets for most of the day.  socially, that was probably the worst of all things to forget… god forbid i should ever forget to pack pants.  i would hate to walk around the office in padded cycling shorts… probably get slapped with a harassment lawsuit, get fired and have to explain to the judge what “really” happened.  also, it used to freak me out when i forgot to pack underwear…i think i was over reacting because recently i learning that my teenagers go commando all the time, i don’t ask why…but i don’t care so much.  it’s not like high school where i’m standing up in front of my coworkers and the office-jock decides that it would be funny to “pants” me.  anyway those days are over i hope.

now that fall is here, i not only have to worry about my clothing, but i have to worry about the weather and lights.  the weather is not so bad, it’s just that it can change drastically within eight hours. it can go from very very cold in the morning to very hot in the evening… and the worse part is when the weather goes from warm to cold.  those are the days when i really dread the ride home.  it’s usually dark, i’m under-dressed… and my support crew has the night off, or something.  anyway, i’m probably too stubborn to call it off and get a ride home.  it never fails,there is always someone at the office, who insists that i get a ride from them, they can’t understand why i don’t just take the ride already… but i have to explain how demented i am, and that i have absolutely no other choice but to ride home underprepared.

note: the absence of light problems usually occurs when i forget to pack my light, or when i forget to charge my battery at work.  by the way i don’t risk lighting problems….i may be an idiot but i’m not stupid!  haha…

so the other day it was my birthday and i got a new commuter light from my family.  they knew exactly which one i wanted because i had emailed them a link before my birthday.  just to make sure there was no confusion, i went ahead and ordered it as well.  i even brought it in from the mail box when it arrived.  after i opened it up and i made sure they all got to see the birthday present that they bought me. i couldn’t wait to ride home the next day.

the only problem with trying out the new light was that it didn’t get dark soon enough. this time of year it gets dark around 7:30.  i usually get out of work at 5:30.  so i decided to work two extra hours.  it was ok, i think i won some respect from my coworkers. “hey leo, working late huh?” ….me: “yeah, i just want to finish up some stuff here, you have a good evening…. he he”  a little after 7 i suited up, packed my stuff and out the door i went…

i forgot to pack my tail light, but i had my old flashy headlight with me, so i just mounted it on the seat post and pointed it backward.  as i rode it wasn’t completely dark so my headlight wasn’t too impressive.  as it got darker and darker the peripheral scenery slowly faded away and i could feel my mind sharpening as i just concentrated on what was in front of me.  each curve of the path brought a slight rush of adrenaline as i had no idea what was around the corner.  i stuck to the right as much as i could just in case there was someone on the path coming the other way.  as i exited the gravel path and pulled on to the shoulder of the county road, i could see my beautiful little light light-up the road paint.

there was a closed road up ahead, so the traffic was non existent, i could ride in the middle of the road if i wanted. in fact i did ride in the middle of the road after i passed the barriers.  i felt like i was flying through the darkness i could hear almost nothing but the rumbling of my tires as i zoomed through the empty county road.   it wasn’t long before i was on the concrete bike path.  the path was really dark and curvy but not as open as the gravel path earlier.  even if someone did have a light i wouldn’t be able to see them until they were 10 feet in front of me.  so i slowed it way down….and it’s a good thing i did because there were lots of people out walking their dogs.

people really forget that they are out on a shared path sometimes.  they often walk with their dogs on one side of the path while they are on the other.  they just assume that no matter what time of day, they are the only ones on the path… oh yeah and who needs reflective gear?  it got to be kind of annoying after a while trying to see people, i kept thinking i saw someone, and slowed down, but it turned out to be a shadow….. bleh.

anyway, wear something reflective or light colored please, and for the love of god stay to the right!!!

i made it back to my car and felt a bit energized.  the first night ride of the season is always a blast.  i just love it.  i actually always enjoy it just a little bit even on the bad days.  i don’t really enjoy all of the logistics that fall and winter commuting bring but i get used to it, and before long it becomes fun too.


this past week i got a new performance bike catalog in the mail.  i don’t really need any bike stuff, with the exception of mountain biking shoes.  i never plan on buying them because they are so expensive.  i always look at them like bike-porn in the catalogs just to have something to look at i guess.  this week they went on an unbelievable sale.  i don’t know why but these shoes never go on sale…never!   but here they were in front of me, the exact one’s i told one of my mountain biking buddy that i was needing.   i was so excited, and couldn’t wait to get to the performance store to pick them up.

after about 24 hours of waiting, something dawned upon me… i am training for a marathon.  not a mountain bike marathon (if there is such a thing) but a real running marathon.   i am planning to run more miles in the next four months than i have in the last four years.  i’m not going to stop cycling during this time,  i’m just going to change my priorities a little bit.  from now on mountain biking and cycling are going to my cross training activities, and running well that’s just going to take the spot light for a little while.   for the past 10 years, mountain biking has been the fruits of my labor. my cycle commutes, my weekend trail runs, all of it has been so that i can go out on my mountain bike and have a blast.

if running is going to be number one,  then i am going to require some better equipment than my clearance running shoes, cycling sox, and 15 year old tech shirts.  after going over the short list of things i need for running, i realized that the first item was going to be a new pair of running shoes. of course this means that sale or no sale the new mountain biking shoes would just have to wait.  i am not too excited about putting my mountain bike shoes on hold, but i was excited about getting a new pair of running shoes.

i went down to boulder to get my running shoes and i picked a mighty fine pair, if i do say so myself.  i felt pretty content that i was transforming myself back into a runner after a pretty long hiatus…. as i left the parking lot, i remembered that sale at performance bike.  it was only a mile from where i was and maybe i could pick up some gu, endurox,  or maybe some socks. so, i decided to stop by.

as i walked up to the store front, there was sign after sign reminding me of their super sale and the 20% savings for team performance members…which i was!!   the first thing i saw were some beautiful cheap cruiser bikes… those are nice, but even if i wasn’t focused on running right now, i still couldn’t buy one of those… moving on.  found some killer socks. then the jerseys caught my eye.  oh my god they were almost 30% off!!! they never go on sale.  i found a sweet fox mountain bike jersey my size… i picked it up and carried it around for a while.  i saw the sidi mountain bike shoes… oh they were beautiful under that discount sign.  i picked them up and looked them over.  i found my size and started to try them on… when it hit me.  i just spent 100 dollars on a pair of running shoes.  i can not afford two sports.  i sadly put down the shoes, and even walked over and put the jersey back.  everything was crazy cheap.  i found some cheap commuter tires for my bianchi, which i almost justified, until i realized that i had tires that will get me through the season.  camel baks, panniers, pumps… all of it i had to walk away.  that place is a crack house,  i had to get out.  i ended up buying some endurox, green socks, and some wonderful chamois butt’r.  not a bad haul, considering i could have easily spent $300 on cycling gear.

don’t forget to check out my running blog for my running adventures.

the top two

about eight years ago i was in the market for a new road bike.  i didn’t know too much about road bikes except for the little bits of information my friend gave me about components and such.  i had no particular bike in mind, so at each bike shop i would just pull out a bike from the rack, look it over and wait for the bike-cupid to strike me.  when i finally visited the last bike shop there were two bikes the caught my interest right next to each other.  i pulled out the first one, and i kind of liked it.  it had just about everything i was looking for and it was in the right price range.  the only thing missing from this bike, was that cupid arrow.  i really wanted something with pizazz, and this bike had none.  so i pulled out the next bike, it was very similar to the first bike, only it had red rims…..hmmm.  i pulled it out of the rack, held it with one had fully extended so i could get a good view of it.  as i stood there staring at the bike, trying to picture myself on it, a really cute female shopper passed by (i think a cyclist) .  i was kind of blocking the isle so she had to kind of had to go around me and the bike.

as she passed, she looked at the bike i was holding and said, “nice bike.”

i smiled, turned to the bike salesman, and said, “i’ll take this one!”

the bike salesman and said with a stone face, “right on man, good choice.”

i really loved that bike it was my first real road bike.  it was light, it had dura-ace components and it was hawt!  i know the girl only said it was “nice” but to me it felt like she meant “hawt.”

anyway, i rode it to work almost everyday that first week.  about that same time back at home we were getting ready for an extended weekend trip to yellowstone national park.  i was still pretty excited about my new bike and i didn’t want to leave it at home, besides i knew there would be some great road riding up there.  so i took it along.

that first night we stayed in a cheap hotel along the wyoming idaho border.  we unpacked all of our stuff into the hotel room and i brought my bike in for safe keeping.

i don’t really remember what everyone was doing but i remember exactly what i was doing.  my bike was parked in the narrow isle between the left side of the bed and the window.  i was laying on the bed next to the bike, and my wife was on the right side of me reading a book or something.  i laid there in bed propped up with pillows. i had one arm around my wife and the other arm to my side.  i remember looking at my bike being so happy, and each time i thought about my bike i would hold my wife a little tighter.

finally after a few minutes of just thinking about how  happy i was, i said,” i am so happy right now.”

my wife asked, “why?”

without thinking, i just said it like it was,”well, i am right in the middle of my two favorite things!”

my wife: “WHAT?!?!?”

me: “what’s wrong with that?”

my wife: “ME and your BIKE!?!?”

my wife: “…i am included with your bike?”

me: “well, yeah…”

me: “isn’t that good?”


needless to say i didn’t get any that night… nor did i get any for the next few nights.  i guess it kind of worked out that i had my bike with me, i got to spend a lot of time thinking about what i said.  even to this day, i feel really badly about the grouping my wife with an inanimate things, and often apologize to my wife when i bring up the story.  she actually thought it was pretty humorous at the time, and she still does.  over the years i think she has actually learned what an honor it is to be top two in my twisted world.


it was a perfectly formed line of people that started along the sidewalk of lawerence street and turned past the dirty brick building onto park avenue.   if it had been a different crowd with different people, it would have looked like a special night in downtown denver.  however, most people know better.  most people stay away from this area this time of night, unless they are driving by, on their way to a better place.  this is where the homeless and the helpless hang out every day and every night.  since it was nearly dinner time the crowd was much larger than the daytime crowd.  in the yellowish lighting from the street lights their colors were washed out and appeared like an old faded photograph from the great depression.  no smiles, no conversations, no cell phones…no families.

tonight was my volunteer night and i arrived as usual on my trusty green town bike.  as usual i missed the right street and arrived from a different direction.  i found myself having to cut through the line of hungry patrons… “excuse me”…”pardon”… “just one…sec” …”thanks”.  just toward the end of the line near my entrance, i found a good “no parking” sign that served as my bike rack.  i felt a little uneasy leaving such a pretty bike amongst the vagrants.  in reality most of them are not thieves nor are they evil, in fact they are  much nicer than your average mall shopper.  i didn’t have much choice and i was already late, so i locked my bike and walked away.   i had to cut through the line again to get to the entrance of the giant dirty brick building.  the door seems quite secure and daunting for some reason.  next to the doorbell was a sign that read,”press doorbell for 2 seconds and someone will let you in.” sure enough at the end of the 2 seconds someone opened the door.   every time i work here the entire staff seems to be completely different than previous visits.  perhaps they are the same i just can’t seem to keep their faces in my head.  i guess it goes both ways because for some reason every time i show up i am not instantly recognize as a volunteer.  i usually have to answer a few questions before i am allowed to enter.  i guess i really need to start looking less homeless.

on this night my job was to be the door man.  the doorman counts the people coming in and hands them silverware wrapped in a twisted napkin.  i’ve had many different jobs while volunteering here so each time it’s a surprise. what’s cool about being the doorman is that i got to look everyone in the eye and welcome them to dinner.  i greeted each person with “here you go….enjoy.”   after a while i had wished that i didn’t look some of them in the eye; quite disturbing.  you ever look into the eyes of a person that is totally insane? i don’t know how to explain it except that after it is over, it lingers on for a few seconds and you have to mentally pull yourself back into the moment.

as they came through the line one by one i couldn’t help but try to figure out each one.  i’m sure most of them had some tragic story of how misfortune and ill circumstances brought them to this lowest of lows.  i could tell how some of them were pretty new at being homeless, i could see that some were career homeless, and i could see how for many there was absolutely no hope for a miraculous turn around.  this latter group is perhaps what brought me here in the first place.

for the life of me, i just could not figure out some of these guys.  one guy looked rather well dress, and in a good state of mind…the only thing i could figure was that for some reason he wanted to come out for a free meal.  another guy had the most perfectly shaven head i had ever seen.  i don’t know how he did it, with out a home.  every year i shave my head around summer time, and i can not keep it cleanly shaven for the life of me….and i have a home.  another younger guy came in looking like dave gahan (for those of you who don’t know, he is the lead singer for depeche mode).  this one had on a very long leather-ish looking black coat that went down to his calves.  he didn’t talk to anyone and looked around quite a bit, as if he had a song in his head and he was looking around to see if anyone could hear it.  then there was the uni-bomber guy.  hoodie with mirror finish glasses.  this one kind of freaked me out a bit, mostly because i could not see his eyes, and he appeared to always be staring straight ahead, chewing his food for an unnaturally long period of time.  finally there was the guy with the sweater vest and tie. he was rather short and stocky and sported long curly dark hair, much like weird al yankovic.  he looked like he could have been in some kind of novelty ukulele band that specialized in carnival music.  no doubt that this little guy was weird, from his sweater vest and curled locks, to his timid eye shifting glares.  he was the very last to leave, never talked to anyone. even as we piled the chairs onto the table around him, he never talked, never smiled.. just sat there looking scared.

i don’t really care if the people coming through the door needed food, or appreciated the food they got.  they are society’s ultimate outcast. the unwanted, the unloved, the uncared-for.  somehow coming to dinner filled something in them.  it gave them something to do, or it made them feel cared for, or they just came to hang out with their friends. maybe they just came to meet new people.  even though i spent much effort trying to figure it out, the only thing that i really care about is that they did come.

it was a long night we served about 330 people.  this was much more than previous volunteer nights. i was exhausted and the night air smelled so good, after my 2 hours of duty.  i slowly rode my bike back to my car down the dark back streets of denver.

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.