Saturday, September 13, 2014

More from the Journal....Very Random

June 30, 2014

As I look at my bank account. I feel like Harry Dunne: "I spent my life savings turning my van into a dog..."

July 4, 2014

I saw the fireworks over Seeley Lake tonight. I am writing from my "pent(out)house suite" at the Nordic Trails trail head. Sleepy but restless as I mull over the fact this state has taken ahold of my soul a bit. From Red Rocks Pass and the Centennial Valley to Seeley Lake, there has been no part of Montana that I did not feel myself wanting to further explore and stay longer.

Serenity is the concept my brain and heart kept playing with today as I rode. Serenity. The rivers, lakes and mountains exemplify the word like no other. The mountains do not hold my attention and lust like those of the majestic kings of Colorado, but they call with a softer voice--comforting and peaceful.

I ride without lights--in complete daylight--until 10pm. I drink in the cool pockets of air, I smell pine up high and fresh cut hay down low. The people of this land live with a great contentment and reflect a simplicity that is alluring. 

Could a move to Missoula compete with a return to Durango this fall? I think I need to find out.....

July 5, 2014

While waiting for my precious and steaming hot French Toast breakfast at Pop's Place the next morning, I looked out the window, then looked into my heart, grabbed a napkin and my pen. 

Here is what came out:

Note: After I got back to Denver, I did return and spent a week in Missoula. Me being me, I had to see. I had to explore the possibility of moving to Missoula even though I can't see myself calling anywhere but the San Juan mountains my true and permanent home. 

Missoula is an incredible place. Great people, small town feel, good culture, community, fishing, biking, hiking, you name it. And I could live in Missoula. 

If Durango, Colorado did not exist.....

June 24, 2014

Rawlins, WY.

My Wandering Jew died here....I loved that plant. Funny the little things that I remember. Each place I have been to along the TD brings back many, many memories. Mostly good. But not this one.....

Little did I know the plant and my marriage would share the same fate. Looking back, I think I kind of wondered. You know what they say about hindsight.....

Wow, that seems like an eternity of lifetimes ago.....wonder where he lives now? Haven't thought of him in probably 5 or 6 years. It took Rawlins to stir the memory.

Funny life is. sometimes.

(Ok, I will give you the backstory: Rawlins was where we (myself, my ex-husband and his son) stopped to stay the night on our move from Eugene, OR to Denver 9 1/2 years ago. We had a horse trailer packed with our belongings and it was freezing cold. I knew that the plant was going to freeze overnight but there was no way I could get to the tub to bring it into the motel. It did. I tried to save it but no luck. I got a tiny start a couple years ago from a friend in Silverton. It is currently thriving in my kitchen window.)

July 7, 2014

I have no words to write. None. Already written them all in my head and I am too lazy to jot them down. The Canadian Nazi Border Patrol lady is ridiculous. Don't let her get you down. Setting my alarm for 2am and will be climbing Galton Pass to see the sunrise from the top. 

I found this in a magazine at the Grocery Store in Eureka. It speaks to me. I like dares.

Dare to Be

When a new day begins, dare to smile gratefully.

When there is darkness, dare to be the first to shine a light.

When there is injustice, dare to be the first to condemn it.

When something seems difficult, dare to do it anyway.

When life seems to beat you down, dare to fight back.

When there seems to be no hope, dare to find some.

When you’re feeling tired, dare to keep going.

When times are tough, dare to be tougher.

When love hurts you, dare to love again.

When someone is hurting, dare to help them heal.

When another is lost, dare to help them find the way.

When a friend falls, dare to be the first to extend a hand.

When you cross paths with another, dare to make them smile.

When you feel great, dare to help someone else feel great too.

When the day has ended, dare to feel as you’ve done your best.

Dare to be the best you can –

At all times, Dare to be!”

― Steve Maraboli

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Entry #9

"The urge to run, the restlessness, the heart of stone I sometimes get, the things I've done for foolish pride, the me that's never satisfied...."
      -Tim McGraw Cowboy in Me

credit: Jason Rich

From the Tour Divide journal, my thoughts from the day's events and pedaling, written at 3am from my bivvy alongside the road, Como, CO. I started in Sargeants that morning and pushed until I found an acceptable power pole upon which to rest a weary bike and beneath, a weary, but thoughtful, girl:

My heart skipped three beats and ferried sideways in my chest cavity. A couple of seconds passed that did not involve inhaling.

Then the hammer dropped.

My hammer.

My internal hammer. The force that crushes immediate emotional reaction for the sake of social comfort for all. I took a deep breath now that I was capable of oxygen intake and pictured the blue-handled Estwing hammer I used to help my dad fix fence with as a kid crushing a small rock into pieces. My mind is complex and makes instant connections when searching for understanding. Some are a stretch, but I was actually satisfied with its current analogy of the rock in pieces all over the ground.

Jill. It is done. It means nothing.

He is unreachable. You have known that for much longer than you will admit. Part of that is your fault and you don't get the forgiveness you requested for this one. Pedal away. Many miles to go tonight still and hopefully there is water in Hartsel.

You are a selfish SOB who has chased your own ambitions to high elevations, remote, hot deserts and absolutely epic experiences and put them before relationships. Unintentional but true. You want it all and you want to be the fastest at it all. You put epic first, everytime, in a fury to prove your strength to yourself.

How many drivetrains, chains, frames, brakepads, pedals, shoes, kits, socks and gloves have you completely worn out in just the last four years? Are you done? Are you satisfied?  Have you heard "I want to do fun things but not at this intensity" and "You are a go-big person, I am too, but not like that" for the last time? Has the deep lonlieness and longing for a genuine connection finally trumped your selfish obsession?

Have you finally realized you are a freak, and always will be, but you can't keep ignoring your human instincts? That it is time to honor and fulfill your need to love deeply, give unselfishly and love a man more than your goddamn bike?

Jill, you already know which force is stronger within you. You need love. You need to belong to someone you adore. You need to share your dream of a tiny house in the San Juans, your little horse barn connected to your little bike barn. You want to drift off to sleep in your backyard hammack wrapped up in a strong set of arms. Waking up underneath your bike on the trail at 3am with your lights still on makes for a good story, but maybe its time to realize this:


You have proved this to yourself time and time again. Is your brain finally satisfied? Can you listen to its lonely words for a change? Are you ready to tackle your true weakness--aka your selfishness?

Are you ready to find some balance, crush the walls around your heart, embrace some vulnerability, bend so every relationship doesn't end up breaking in the end and love like humanity is meant to love? How about making that your epic pursuit?

Live now. Love now.

Bikes and miles don't mean shit if the cost is ignoring your humanity. Time to wake up and stop making the same selfish mistakes. Look at the future that lies before you. Time to stop wasting time trying to reach those who are truly unreachable to you. Forgive yourself and move on.

And sleep.

As I look back and share my roadside ramblings, this is all I have to add today:

Allow balance to happen. It will if you stop and let it catch up.

I bought one of these on my 30th birthday in New Zealand. I am not a huge trinkety jewelry person but it caught my eye after I got to Queenstown after the Milford Track. I bought it to remember a magical place and later found out it means balance. It broke this May. Universe talking to me? Probably. I have both pieces next to each other. I think it is high time to find the superglue. Literally and figuratively.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Tour Divide 2014: Memories

The best memories of the Tour Divide come in bits and pieces. The smell of a certain food will take me immediately back to a cozy diner in Wise River, Denny's in Grants, Bode's Store, milkshakes in Atlantic City or lunch in Whitefish, to name just a few. An aluminum horse trailer on I-25 returns my memory to the top of Cochetopa and the conversation with the horse campers from Durango. A certain song I hear on the radio shuttles me right back to all the places I heard it in my ear while pedaling. I wish I could share these with another human, but it is impossible. No one else can feel the surge of emotions and feelings the tiniest thing will trigger. I remember the small, subtle pieces with amazing clarity as reentry into the comfortable, safe, relatively uneventful mainstream lends to a large amount of daydreaming and reflecting. In my musings of late, I have compiled a collection of my favorite quotes. Some are deep enough to warrant more writing and some are just hilarious anecdotes--an interestingly fitting description of the entire journey.

So in no meaningful or particular order, here are my favorite bits and pieces represented in quotations:

"Baby, baby don't panic, I know how to cook bannock.."
          -Dean Brody, Mountain Man lyrics. Music was a huge part of some days, and then would be completely absent for a week. Some feel it interferes with their time in nature. I have found some days it enhances and some it interferes. Songs bring memories, and take me to another place and another time.

"So you are not going home with me tonight? I have always had a thing for girls in Lycra and I haven't seen any around lately...."
          -Obnoxious guy in Lincoln, MT I finally had to just ignore as I was chowing down crap food trying to blend into the wallpaper. The Fourth of July rodeo had the tiny town hopping. As I crossed the bridge over the Blackfoot River and into town,  I was met with a fleet of ATV's driven by shirtless 30-somethings with hunting rifles slung across their backs. I felt like I needed to crack a Hamms can, shotgun it, bum a chew and use my water bottle as a spitter afterwards. Ah, loves me some Lincolnites!

"Excuse me, but would you like to join us on the Wise River today? Fishing is good right now and we happen to have an empty spot in the drift boat..."

          -Hot river guide and his equally hot friend I had talked to at breakfast and saw again as I was sitting outside the grocery store swatting mosquitos as big as Montana, and trying to contain my flock-of-seagulls hair enough to get my helmet on. I honestly thought they were talking to someone behind me, but when I turned around and saw only the fence, my jaw dropped to the ground. Turning them down in favor of slogging up Fleecer and that GOD AWFUL climb away from I-15 before Butte was my biggest (and really only) regret. If my time machine wasn't broken, I would go back and spend the day fishing.

"Can I take your picture?"
"Do you have a gun?"
"Are you scared of bears/being alone/the dark?"
"What in the world made you want to ride to Canada?"

          -Every camper in every campground in every state

"Do you want an otter pop? Here, take three..."
          -Firefighter at Beaver Head Work Center. Heaven comes in the most unexpected places.

"This can't be a cheap undertaking, how about helping me through the lunch rush and dishes in exchange for your tab?"
          -Super stressed out, overworked and underpaid bartender I noticed was favoring a bad knee at the Grasshopper Inn near Polaris, MT. I jumped in and helped him pour drinks, feed and clean up after about 35 people. Wow, did that really happen?

"Hey, are you that girl needing a ride out to Cabin Pass? I saw something posted by the bike shop. I would love to give you a ride, but I don't have a car."

          -One of the many awesome, kind and friendly residents of Fernie. This was the common theme as I tried everything I possibly could, short of stealing a car, to get back to Cabin Pass to rejoin the route in time to finish. After some more of the sting diminishes, I will post a detailed and clear account of what exactly occured from Whitefish to Fernie, but after getting back to Denver and being unable climb even 3 miles with the hub that was supposedly "fixed" in Fernie, I can't help but wonder if there was some divine intervention involved?

"I tried to slow way down so as not to dust you out..."
         -Dano, a long-time Missoulian and a very chill and all-around good dude. I saw him again, by coincidence, at Trixi's in Ovando after he passed me on a dirt road about ten miles south on his return from fishing. I spent a good hour of really enjoyable and inpiring conversation. The people of Montana truly make it the gem it is.

"Bout a mile off Old Mill Road, that spot nobldy knows, park the truck and we take off runnin, hurry up girl, I hear it comin, got a moon and a billion stars, the sound of steel and old box cars..."

          -Jason Aldean, Night Train lyrics A song that I always dream of living when I hear it. After a surreal sunset and a bit of refreshing rain, the song came on my ipod on the descent off Priest Pass toward the tracks just as the train roared through. Magical timing.

Speaking of magic. I learned that it is, indeed, everywhere on the Tour Divide. Absolutely everywhere in everything and everyone. Somedays, however, my challenge was lifting up a tired and lonely mind to look for it......

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Into the Abyss...

It's not all rainbows and butterflies out there.

Sometimes it miles and miles and miles of this....soothing or maddening? Depends largely on sleep and calories.  

I found my precious solitude versus deeply lonely precipice in Pinedale, Wyoming. I sat for hours. Paralyzed. Helmet on. Gloves on. Rig ready to roll.

But I sat. And sat and sat.

Absolutely unable to force my self to swing my right leg over that saddle and turn the crank. I tried. I tried convincing, chastising, questioning, teasing, persuading and even yelling at myself. I was floundering along the stony bottom of the great abyss of exhaustion--mostly mental. Ok, so my butt was a little chaffed, but nothing that was stopping me from moving.

Tears came. Tears went. Then they came again. And went.

Still no forward movement. I was so lonely and so tired of gravel.

I got out my journal and fire came from the pages. I hesitated a second before posting this as it is a look at my complete mental collapse and I suppose it could be embarrassing and really is pretty personal. But, as I mentioned before, I can't write another traditional race report "tied up neatly with a bow" (MB, you are a wizard with words sometimes!). And I have to say, this was a huge turning point as I found where solitude became loneliness and how I reacted. Anger, sadness, frustration, self-punching....and in the end all I really needed was some sleep (and French Toast). Funny creatures. Funny, funny creatures that choose to bikepack.

So, uh, here goes:

June 27, 2014

What is it I am doing? I don't care to get on my bike and mindlessly suffer down another stupid gravel road. Instead of relishing and enjoying, I am thinking of my GPS, the miles elapsed and still to ride and FACEBOOK COMMENTS....seriously, Jill? You are thinking about Facebook??????? Aaaaaaaaurrrrgh!!

I think constantly about the rain forecast and how getting soaked does not sound appealing. AT ALL. I think about my daily average miles and how they are not up to my standard. I think about the blue and pink dots out there and wonder if I will ever see another racer.

WTF? Who am I and what have I become?

I have become what I despise. My loneliness has trumped my desire for adventure, my yearning to see new places, to be self-reliant/sufficient, wild and free. I surged through New Mexico with a rabid hunger for miles and mountains. Excited. Motivated. Invigorated. The remoteness of the state was uplifting and towns didn't suck the time away as much.

But in the last few days, each town I get to I log in to #$%^&@ Facebook. And see pictures and posts and comments from other racers. I read BS from those who don't do, only talk and talk and talk. Ah, but it is my choice to read all the crap. So why? Why do I read it? Why do I post my thoughts? Why do I feel the need to check back for comments? Why do I feel the need to "share" while I am racing my bike.

KEYWORD: while


Is it a game of can this be topped? Can I "out-epic" you?

When do I rest my mind? Isn't that part of why I am doing this? What about the Triple Crown? Do I even care anymore? Is it that important? Really? Or is it the smell of the hayfields outside Boulder, WY and bonfires shared with strangers from ABQ? Is the small talk with random people who see the weird, skinny girl all alone with a bunch of bags strapped to her bike more comforting? What has this evolved into? What does it even mean to me? Whose journey is this?

I am so damn lonely. Yep, I said it.

Lonely. Lonely. Lonely.

One of my most favorite things to do is to find the most serene, remote and comfortable places to stop pedaling, roll out the bivvy and savor what is around me. But my loneliness (I guess?) drives me to obsess over miles my body is happy to cover but my mind and spirit want to enjoy. I wanted to stay at LaGunitas campground, Brush Mountain Lodge and Cochetopa. I want to share that in REAL LIFE with someone. Tangible. Conversation. Laughter. Not clever captions I find myself creating as I pedal.

Where has real life gone? Is it all a mirage? Can I live it without sharing it?

The lonlieness I feel drives me to share when I would much rather be sharing with a real person I enjoy being with. True story. I do not think about social media when I am "sharing" my adventures and passion in real life.

Ah, what a twisted mess my brain is. I need to sleep.

Monday, September 1, 2014

We Interrupt Your Regularly Scheduled Dose of Epic...

I can't.

Not yet.

I have a couple of Tour Divide posts ready to go and all I need to do is hit the "publish" button. But I am not ready to share them. Why? It seems as though my efforts to capture the immensity, the intensity and the poignancy of the adventure in words and pictures, in fact, diminishes all three.

In plain English: They kinda suck.

It will probably take me a couple more weeks, but my thoughts will collect themselves and the dam of words will burst. The entire Triple Crown run has been on my mind since last October, and my mind is tired. As tired as my legs when I bagged the CTR three weeks ago after only a hundred miles.

So here is how I rest, recover and refocus....

Do what I know and love...

Ride to rocks and play on them...

Ride to mountains and play in them....

Find rivers and play on them....

Go to the Arkansas and play with friends...

Play on knife edges....

Climb to the top of more rocks and play....

Use feather power to climb steep stuff to play on....

Try to ride things and laugh when I dab....

Burn things....

Keep burning things into the night and stare at the Milky Way above knowing I get to sleep in...
Go to birthday parties...
Relish every second I get with my family...

Drink Crown with brother and uncle...

"Don't Look Back"

And some stories!
Find places where it snows on Aug 31 and play....

Monday, August 4, 2014

I choose d)

You are only given a little spark of madness. You musn't lose it.
                                                                                      -Robin Williams

Click on the word madness. 

Ask yourself:

a) Kerouac reincarnated?

b) Words to transcribe and post on the bathroom mirror?

c) a soul-gripping wake up call?

d) all of the above

"You can't get away from your heart...."

Wednesday, July 30, 2014