Tuesday, July 24, 2012

How Bad Do You Want It?

I debated for a few days on whether to post my gear list for the CTR this year. I am going light--uberlight--this year. I didn't go buy a bunch of expensive stuff, just a killer new raincoat I found on sale. In fact, there are some notable things that are staying home this year--my shitshow red Sea Line dry bag stays and so does my Montbell sleeping bag. My trusty old 2010 Superfly 100 gets the nod eventhough it  is on its third frame, original drivetrain and has gone far more miles than I drove a car this year. I will post more after the race because I really just want to ride my bike right now far more than I want to talk about riding my bike.

This year CTR is about one thing for me--breaking the women's record. The current record is highly respectable and set by one tough lady. We all just watched her crush the Tour Divide record. She is faster, way more experienced, better coached and most likely tougher than I am. I have never met her and I don't know her personally, but from reading her blog, I can closely identify with her writing and give her my utmost respect.

So I am throwing my guts on the line and going big. I am not giving any thought or energy to failing. I believe in only a few things in life with everything I have and this is one of them. Sure something huge could go wrong, break, etc. And to use a worn out cliche--that's life--the uncontrollable variable.

But the tired legs, the tired mind, the pounding hail, awesome lightning storms, the mud, the rocks, the hungry stomach, the grinding dirt road miles or the next hill to climb--those represent my weaknesses and are what I am out there to overcome. 

Next year, I am going to tour the Colorado Trail from south to north. Yeah, like a real tour where you ride during the daylight hours and then set up camp and build a fire and sleep all night and eat hot food. And have time to gaze into and savor the views of the mountains that own my heart and soul.

But this year you won't see any pictures of my bike at every sign post or see me lingering at laudramats in Buena Vista waiting out the black clouds. It's not going to be a comfortable 5 days and 3 hours.

But as I lie in my bed drifting off to sleep, I constantly remind myself that not one mile or one thing on the Colorado Trail holds a candle (sorry, I am just full of old, overused cliches tonight) to the miles I overcame on the Arizona Trail between Payson and the Mogollon Rim. And I think of the lyrics to a song I heard at a concert last Saturday in Denver that brought tears to my eyes (which I successfully hid) in the middle of thousands of screaming people:

Are you hungry?
Are you thirsty?
Is it a fire that burns you up inside?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Are you eating, sleeping, dreaming
With that one thing on your mind?
How bad do you want it?
How bad do you need it?
Cause if you want it all
You've got to lay it all out on the line

 And so I fight off the demons of insecurity again.

And I believe. 

I just fucking believe. 

Skinny tires took me here last Saturday....

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Thoughts From the Bottom of the Demotivation Hole

Rain in Colorado.

 At last.

This was my 4th of July celebration near Westcliffe, CO. Traditional fireworks were replaced by precious rain and a trip to 14000 feet. Crestone Peak was checked off the summit list and later in the day we bailed off the Needle as quickly as possible when Mother Nature pulled out her big guns about halfway up the east gully. Lightning, spine-tingling thunder and hail around 4 pm ended a long, but gorgeous hike in the Sangre de Cristos.

Getting a later than desired start, Les and I left South Colony TH at 8:20am. We summited Crestone Peak at 12:30. The approach is longer now that the road to the old South Colony TH was closed in 2009. Broken Hand Pass is a long slog up, but the reward is Cottonwood Lake and some fun Class 3 climbing up Crestone's red gully.

Peak summit looking at Kit Carson and Challenger with fond memories
At the top of the red gully
The Peak was my ninth summit in the last thirty days. For the first time in the two years since I started mountain biking, I have been taking some non-pedal time. About mid-May, just after 12 Hours in the Wild West, the Superfly 100 finally got some rest. His overzealous jockey spent most of the month of June shackled at work for 12-16 hours a day and seriously deprived of precious sleep. Serving beer to tourists all day and night becomes utterly exhausting after (I lost count of how many) days in a row. As a result, my motivation to ride has been pretty low. So low, in fact, I did not even start the Durango Dirty Century last Saturday, but chose to sleep for almost 14 hours instead.

Thus, big mountains are my refuge, my sanctuary. my corner of the planet where life makes sense, no Texans ask me if  "y'all serve shiner-bock" and I do not lose the "now" to technology. Usually I prefer to pedal to this place, but for the last month, my hiking muscles have been called upon a bit more frequently. 

Starting with Little Bear the day after my birthday, I have tagged Ellingwood, Blanca, Eolus, Wilson Peak and Crestone Peak and repeated Sunlight, Windom and North Eolus. All but Wilson involved nights in my sleeping bag before and after. Sleep is easy, deep and rejuvenating between two layers of down above 10,000 feet and my mind and body thrive. I found and drank from the fountain of youth many times:

Do not try this at home. You do not see me drinking unfiltered glacier melt at 12K'...it is only your mind playing tricks on you. 

I did lots of yoga above 14000 ft:

I made new friends:

Climbed with old friends:

Laughed with old friends:

Ascended thousands of feet:

And descended thousands of feet:

Stared into the perfect Colorado sky a lot:



Built fires:

Ate snow cones:

Slept in the middle of dirt roads:

Helped old friends whose legs aren't as young as they used to be:

Got caught in a blizzard of goats:

Hey goat!

SLEPT some more:

Averted the campfire ban at the time and still had marshmallows for breakfast:

Rode trains:

Stayed in luxurious hotels:

Ok. Enough with the pictures. Well, one more:

HAHA!! I was called: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lara_Croft.
Sans really cool weapons...

In my non-pedal time, I began to find my desire to pedal big miles again. These summits refreshed my mind, body and soul. I shared them with friends and every second I was out there I existed in the "now", the moment, the present. 

What if I strove to live like this all the time--savoring conversations, events or just everyday life as something meaningful? Why do I always have to run or pedal to the mountains to feel present? Could I increase the quality of my relationships, my efficiency in accomplishing my goals and my motivation by being more engaging and aware? By actually, really, truly listening to others when they speak? By living life and not feeling the need to constantly be connected, distracted or productive?

Could I reduce this?

Notice how the background is blurred and the person is isolated as life continues and moments are lost to a phone.....Hmmmmmm, pretty symbolic to me.

Can I stop doing this everyday? 

Stop needlessly documenting my life? Stop letting it suck my time away? 

I quit for 30 days after I found myself logging onto Facebook for absolutely no reason but boredom.. (Disclaimer: Facebook is not all evil. I fully agree that it is a great tool when used appropriately, thus, not the point I am trying to make)

What did I find after 30 days? I logged back on and saw the same people saying the same things, posting the same pictures. Being FB-free wasn't hard at all. Sure, I wondered what people were up to and missed some pictures here and there. But it really helped me see the extent that technology is robbing society of the now.....Isolating us as we let more and more of life happen while we are updating our status and uploading a thousand pictures of our bike (ha, so guilty!). It is lessening interpersonal relationship and communication quality. When did it become mandatory to be constantly connected? (not talking about work requirements here) Or if there is no 3G or 4G or whatever why do we feel we need to update our status to reflect this? 

Can't see it or don't believe me? Hide someone's iphone from them and observe what happens....

Just my two cents as it applies to my climb out of the demotivation hole.