Monday, January 30, 2012


Insomnia. A rare visitor in my world. He comes when my soul burns hot for the pursuit of epic.

My thoughts, my focus and my dreams (on normal nights) have been hovering lately around my return to the Arizona Trail Race this April and the weird cactus-filled landscape that is so foreign, yet so newly mystifying to me. Its no secret that I am hopelessly and forever in love with jagged, snowy peaks that kiss the sky above 13K'. But something about this unknown, alluring, somewhat mysterious and strangely beautiful desert has me tossing and turning  at 2:45AM this morning.

I begin thinking of my ongoing training here in Durango, my upcoming bikepacking trip in AZ, money, how to best disassemble my bike, about gear choices, when to mail hiking shoes and my pack, how to get back to Durango from the finish and about more emails I need to send to coordinate the carpool to the start...ha. The details of preparation bring insomnia.

On the flip-side, the things that bring perfect, rejuvenating, refreshing, warm sleep include notions of things like:

Inherent challenge.

Solitude in the remote wilderness of a foreign world.

Pedaling through the cool night under the looming moon.

The strength to push on.

A sunrise on Mt. Lemmon.


The greater strength and wisdom to rest when needed.

The Grand Canyon.


No entry fees, no prizes, no hype, no support.

Yep, I love the pain of the big climbs and big descents after two days, the hot sun and chaffed skin as much as the way cold water feels on my lips, how sweet the sugar of dried mango tastes on my tongue and the relief my eyes feel from closing to finally sleep on the trail. I can't wait to get lost in my thoughts as I pedal, and to feel the miles go by as I study both the intricate and obvious details of a landscape that will never have my heart, but forever my interest.

I have decided to document my preparation in a series of blog posts from now until the night before I kiss the Mexican border and set out for Utah.

So, if Insomnia hits you some night, check ramblings may put you to sleep faster than the infomercials.


Monday, January 16, 2012

2012: Thumbs up for ROCK and ROLL!!

The following words are my ultimate words of wisdom and motivation for 2012. They come from a 5 year old. Sometimes we (I) forget that life (on and off the bike) is really:

This Simple

And anything more is, well, just needlessly complicated.

Be happy of myself. Keep practicing. And THUMBS UP EVERYBODY FOR ROCK AND ROLL!!

Love, love, love it.

So what's going to be rockin' and rollin' in 2012? Well, anyone who reads my jibberish knows I live amongst my mountains now. The call got too loud and I ditched the front range for Durango. Originally planning to just winter in paradise, a week here changed my mind. I have found home for a while. These rugged, serene and surreal mountains hold too much adventure to allow me to permanently return north.

I will miss the boys from the Boulder Trek Store Team and Erick, the mechanical wizard that kept my bike rolling. Thank you so much. My respect and gratitude is HUGE for you all. Hardcore. Motivated. Talented. Supportive. Positive. The energy that surrounds the team is incredible!

But I am now seven hours away and other opportunities from three other teams fell into my lap all within two weeks of each other.

So without further adieu, I am stoked to say that I am now a member of


"Search the skies brave pilots, there is a new constellation forming, the Bandwagon is shining bright"

There is an energizing light illuminating from the awesomeness that is Bandwagon Racing. Motivated, uplifting and passionate people compose the team that will undoubtedly be a force to reckon with in 2012. Myself and Joey Ernst compose the Durango chapter of the Bandwagon Galaxy, while forces like Doug Johnson, Stephanie Jones, Kristi Olson, Trevor and Pablo von Boeck, Jason Hanson, Eric Cutlip, Jon Csakany, Fred Hankinson and Allen Beauchamp patrol the vast universe of wonder that lies beneath Pikes Peak.

On the Wagon!

2012 Kits from Primal:

So sweet. Super sonic lightning suits that stand up against all weather and wind. Jet engines included. Guaranteed to make us faster. No training needed. 

But just in case the jet engine won't start some morning, Doug Johnson has taken on the task of harnessing my insanity and agreed to coach me this season. 

My focus has narrowed this year. I am guessing some training races (Durango Dirty Century) will get thrown into the mix somewhere in here, but this should keep me out of trouble:

April 13, 2012, 6:30AM: AZT 750

June 16-17, 2012: 24 Hours in the Enchanted Forest- coed duo w/ Les Handy

July 30, 2012, 6AM: Colorado Trail Race

September 14, 2012: World 24 Hour MTB Championships 

I have been ever so lucky to gain support this year. Bandwagon Racing has the greatest sponsors in the galaxy and I have listed them below and added them on the front page of this blog. Take the time to click on them, check them out, really learn about what they have to offer and consider them first among all the choices out there.

Schwalbe Tires
Ride Clean
Primal Wear
Pranava Yoga Center
Squirt Lube
Kate's Real Food
Feedback Sports

Additional support for which I am GREATLY thankful for:

Back Track Outdoor Video Gear

And, I leave you with a short guidebook when in my neck of the woods:

If you are in the MTB capital of the world, Durango, CO:

Velorution Cycles

Attention all you LUCKY 12 Hours of Mesa Verde racers:

Don't bother going anywhere else when in Cortez.

Kokopelli Bike and Board

Get out there and do something remarkable in 2012. Stop saying "I can't" or "I will when...." The time is now. Your life is now. And you only get one...

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Breaking Point

White Rim, Canyonlands National Park. By bike (of course). 101 miles straight through. No camping.

Dubbed WRIAD by some hardcore badasses, I got the invite to join in on the ride Jan 2.

Full explanation of the route here.

Completely stoked at the challenge and beauty of this undertaking, I rearranged my schedule only to have my car completely crap out on me a long, long way from Canyonlands.

Well, so much for that. Happy New Year to me....Welcome to 2012. Ugh.

After taking care of the entire car fiasco, I decided to just solo the route last Tuesday. My fellow mountain biking addict buddy, Brian, decided to come along and we left Durango Monday morning to ride a short, fun ride and set up camp north of town to get an early start Tuesday morning.

Sovereign Trail was the consensus and we set out around noon. Brian sets a quick, even pace that pushes me to ride faster and smoother. I chased him on his Fuji hardtail through techy rocks, fast turns and a few climbs for about 3 hours.

After trying to rent this bike (with no luck) to roll on the upcoming AZT 750, we set up camp that evening and built a roaring bonfire.

Lucky that thing was roaring because the longer the sun was down the COLDER it got. The sky was perfectly clear and the full moon eliminated really any need for headlamps. My phone alarm was set for 5:30AM and I crashed out in my tent inside a warm 0 degree bag.

Tuesday morning was bitter cold. We started a fire while we quickly broke camp and drove towards Canyonlands on Hwy 313 to Mineral Bottom Rd. Parking at the top of the Horsethief Switchbacks, the temperature was hovering in the single digits. I put on warm layers but had no face mask. I was not anticipating the excruciating cold of the early morning.

We rolled out, lights mounted for a probable post sunset return and started down the switchbacks. Most park at the bottom and camp,.but just for added self-torture, we were going to climb back up in the dark after 100 miles.(Yeah, I know...don't say it).

Starting down the descent that led to my demise
The next 1.5 miles of descending was the most miserable and painful 1.5 miles I have ever encountered. Sub zero temps in the shade and a bone-chilling, joint burning, hypothermic wind hit me straight in the face. I literally froze up and my brain was convinced that my body had quit functioning.

Don't let the sunny spot fool you, it was barely warmer than the shaded switchbacks

I slowed down as much as I could and watched Brian, tucked down tight, gain a switchback on me. I began shaking and my teeth were chattering. The icy, evil wind was searing my exposed skin but I somehow made it to the bottom and into the sunshine.

I broke.

I wanted nothing whatsoever to do with pedaling one more inch. I took some time to try and warm back up and recoil the emotions and hatred of the cold. Once I was able to move my lips to speak, we both realized that the 10 bucks needed for both of us to get into the park was still in the car at the top of the switchbacks of death. We contemplated going on, hoping for a nice park ranger, but that plus the shaded canyons that lie ahead caused me to bag it for the day and go ride something else in the noontime sun.. If it were a race, I would have dug deeeeeeeeeeeep and suffered through for the next 10 hours, but my spirit was lying broken in pieces at the bottom of that canyon.

A hard right turn sent us back up the climb of shame:

Thoughts of riding Amasa Back as a substitute began to creep into my head as I climbed, doing my best to stay right on Brian's back tire. Yeah, I was pissed at myself for turning around. But I got over it.

Amasa Back has a strange way of easing one's mind immediately:

Here is some raw footage (no music or editing yet) of the descent back to the parking lot. Its long and will get boring, so I highly recommend skipping through to minute 15:00 and watching through the end. Gives those who have never been on Amasa Back a look at some good, clean fun in Moab.

There were about three drops beyond my skill/comfort level at this point but it felt good to clean 95% of the descent Tuesday. Especially since a year and a half ago, I walked 70% of it.

And my mood changed from this:

To this in a matter of a few hours:

Lessons learned:

Bring a facemask
Don't forget your 5 bucks
DRIVE down shaded sub zero switchbacks

But the most important:

“Be master of mind rather than mastered by mind” 
                                                 -Zen proverb

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

I wonder...

Today, two years ago, January 10, 2010, was the first time I rode a mountain bike on a trail. I borrowed a bike and showed up at Three Sisters just outside Evergreen, Colorado. As I unloaded the bike and put my road bike shoes and pedals (because that's what I had) on to ride, I noticed something was up with the rear derailleur. It was a spring, or something. Before I could ride I had to take it to the bike shop. Crap.

It was cold and I wasn't thrilled with the idea of driving into town and getting it fixed and driving back to the trailhead. I was, however, very intrigued with the idea of pedaling a bike up a snowy mountain. I debated for a few minutes and ALMOST bagged the ride and called it a day due to the hassle and the time it would take. But when  I am intrigued by something, I must experience it. So I delayed the ride for a couple of hours, got the derailleur fixed and the rest is, well, history. Two years and thousands of miles later, I cannot help but wonder where I would be and what my life would be like had I made a different choice two years ago....

Would I have won my first race (Cat 3) in August 2010 at Keystone?

And then won it again (Cat 1) in August 2011?

Would I have met this guy (and his pack goats) on the Arizona Trail?

Would I have spent hours researching and putting together a bikepacking setup in my little Morrison apartment?

Would I have blown up and cried my eyes out in frustration over slashed sidewalls and hours of lost time repairing/buying new tires in Tucson on the AZT 300? 

Would I have gotten the honor to race and stand on the podium with my friend, Erick, at 24 Hours in the Old Pueblo? 

Would I have rattled my teeth out for 60 miles on an ugly $400 singlespeed at Pueblo Reservoir?

Or scraped a bunch of junk together to build another $400 bike so I can roll snowy trails again and feel the snow crunch beneath 6 lbs of tire pressure?

Would Gus have become the old love of my life?

And Carl become my new man?

Would I have climbed this?

Or this?

Or this?

Awoke to this?

Drifted off on the trail to this?

Would I have had the honor to line up at the start line and finish an all girls mountain bike race 10 minutes behind the fastest women (Georgia and Katie) in the sport?

Would I have toured the Colorado Trail with a Black Sheep?

And a goat?

Would I have been at the start of one of the greatest races on the planet?

Carrying a $200 sleeping bag inside a $20 SeaLine Dry Bag for 477 miles?

Would I have stood here?

Or here?

Or here?

Would I know the meaning of this so clearly?

Would this inner light glow so radiantly?

OR...had the bike shop been closed, would I be still fighting this everyday to make the man a buck and pay for things I don't care about?

Highly unlikely.

Two wheels and high peaks are my passion. What is yours? If you were unable to define yourself by what you do to earn money what would you say? Have you ever thought about that? But, most importantly, are you happy? If so, why? If not, why not?

As I sit here tonight in Durango and I look out the window into my back yard. I see a hammock, a clothesline and a small garden. I hear no horns or motors from steel coffins rushing to get somewhere. Life moves at a slower pace yet a healthy, vibrant and contagious energy constantly flows through.

Conversation is much more than a glance or two up from the smartphone. People smile genuinely. Eye contact is the norm. I miss things about Denver and part of my heart stayed with the people, the trails and the mountains I love.

But my true heart yearns to see what is ahead and cherishes the lessons, people and experiences that have helped build the singletrack that will take me there...