Friday, September 28, 2012

My Song

    There's a road...

A winding road that never ends...

Full of curves and lessons learned at every bend...

Going gets rough...unlike the straight and narrow...

It's for those who go against the grain...

Have no fear.... dare to dream of a change...

Live to march to the beat of a different drummer...

And it all might come together
And it all might unraveled
On the road less traveled.....

For the road less traveled ain't for the faint of heart
For those who choose to play it safe and never stray too far....

Me?  I want to live my life and one day leave my mark...

On the road less traveled....

I've chosen a pathway I may not endure

One thing's for certain nothing is for sure...

And it all might come together...

And it all might come unraveled...

On the road less traveled.  --George Strait

It took the better part of my twenties to teach me that I am much happier on this road. 

It is simple and sustainable.

It is real.

It is mine.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Fat Tire Fever

As the weather starts to get colder, I find myself longing to hear that familiar, oh so sweet crunching of snow beneath a pair of Nates. That said:

This is my project for tonight.

Ummmmm.....I better come up with something clever now.

And learn how to stay warm in a whole different kind of cold. On a Pugs.

Monday, September 17, 2012

The Best Pictures

When I close my eyes and think about it, I can vividly recall just about every detail of Artist Point on a sunny day in May now well over five years ago. My then partner in crime and I had just finished an awesome trek from Hell Roaring Creek to Gardiner, MT. A trip filled with vibrant wildflowers, a bit of hitchhiking due to an injury, serene tent sites along the river, some big mileage days and always wondering if we had hung the food high enough. I took a lot of pictures during the trek.

On the way back to Colorado, we stopped at Artist Point. It was a place I had always wanted to see after my mom described the sheer beauty of it to me. Dirty, sweaty and grubby from a few days in the backcountry, I set my pack down and dropped to my knees when I saw what was before me. The colors, contours and unique elegance of nature was captivating. I reached for my expensive camera that had all the cool bells and whistles at the time, thinking that this would be a picture to enlarge, frame and hang in my living room to always preserve the memory

Ugh. Battery was toast. No charger.

For a second, I was a bit sad that I would not have any pictures of this amazing place.  Then I just gazed at the scene before me in complete silence and total awe. I let the details and the colors soak into my memory. I sat for another half an hour probably, knowing that this was a picture that would never be lost or buried somewhere on my computer. I closed my eyes and captured a "picture" I can forever instantaneously recall.

Sometimes I look back on the days before I blogged about every hiking trip, 14er summit and took pictures of my bike by every sign post and every trail. I spent a month in New Zealand backpacking and I can remember the "nonphotographed" places sometimes more than the nine million pictures I took. I love some of those memories because the feelings they evoke are rejuvenating. I wasn't worried about documenting it anywhere so I didn't just snap a pic and go....I didn't feel motivated to share it with  the world. They didn't go straight to a Facebook post with some clever caption. An experience minus documentation posted for the world to see. Yes. It did exist at one time.

I miss that time. I kind of feel like this guy sometimes. (Which served as the inspiration for this post). I feel that I am caught up in the life documentation frenzy and it just doesn't sit right in my heart. I think it hit me a few months ago when I found myself actually taking pictures specifically to put on this blog. Ugh! Not proud of that at all. That's not me.

As much as I love to write for personal analysis and catharsis, I also like to share my thoughts, experiences, highs and lows with those that are interested in laughing at or finding inspiration in my journey through life. But the world of social media and the everyday "look what I did" picture is infiltrating itself as I am beginning to see that I am sometimes losing the "now" to the "what's next" to obtain blog fodder. That realization over the last few months is unsettling.

When I slow down and savor each detail and relish the present memory is flawless and the pictures that live in my heart are priceless and sacred. Lately, I am finding myself reaching for the camera a lot less and my GoPro is headed for Craigslist. I am not saying that pictures of beautiful sunsets, places, trails and bikes are wrong or that I am not bringing my camera anymore. I just want to be able to close my eyes and, similar to Artist Point, vividly remember the feelings and emotions from a lot more places and experiences.

I like real. Authentic life, relationships, conversations and emotion first exist offline. I struggle to find authenticity with this other world we have created online. And as ironic as this sounds, I appreciate my awareness of this struggle and the struggle itself.

From it, I grow....and it reminds me to:

Turn the quiet up, turn the noise down
Let this ol' world just spin around
I wanna feel it sway, wanna feel it sway

I want a little more right now, 
A little less what's next....

-Eric Church

Good Afternoon, Good Evening and Goodnight.... (Sorry you have to endure the political advertisement before the clip).

Saturday, September 8, 2012

CTR ITT 2012

I don't remember exactly what my bail out text to Les said from the junction of the West Jefferson Creek trail and the Colorado Trail, but when I close my eyes and relive the fifteen minutes I sat with my head in my hands before pushing 'send' I vividly see every letter of the last two words that ended the message:



Heartsick and hurting as I watched precious time slip away limping up Georgia Pass. In my most convincing inner voice, I was trying to tell myself to keep pushing, the pain will subside, keep going, it will be nothing in a few minutes.

"Keep moving. Walk it off. This does not hurt!" I yelled to the trees.

My voice cracked, "C'mon, Jill. C'mon!"

I threw my bike down in frustration and fury because, deep down, I knew this was not a pain that I could embrace and ignore for 400 more miles. This was equivalent to the pain of someone hitting the ball of my left foot with a ball-ping hammer while my toes were flexed. About two and a half hours earlier (I think) on the descent from Kenosha, I stuffed my front tire between two rocks with a small root bisecting them. The bike stopped and, subsequently, I did not. I caught myself in midflight over the bars with my right knee and managed to unclip my left foot and slam my first metatarsal into the sharpest, hardest rock on the entire Colorado Trail. I have an uncanny, natural talent for finding such stones it seems. Pain instantly shot through my foot and a loud stream of unmentionable adjectives followed.

My first counterattack on severe pain is to ignore it, bounce back up and get moving again. Adrenaline is normally my ally, but this was excruciating. I could barely touch it and could count my heartrate as it throbbed. I hoisted myself up, grabbed my bike, untwisted the cables and slowly moved forward. I lowered my head in stubbornness, and with the first few steps, I knew this one was going to be a bitch to ignore. I gingerly clipped back in.

Aaaaaurgh!!! Nope. I unclipped and used my arch and heel to descend the rest of the way to a creek. I really wanted to cry but I was too pissed off so I took my shoe off and wrapped my foot from the top of my arch to my toes with Coflex (a staple of any trip I go on).

"Now GO, Hueckman!" I yelled to any tree above me who would listen.

I began pushing up the rooted, rocky switchbacks. Any weight on the ball of my left foot each time I pronated hurt like a mother.....But I had a record to break....Ignore.....Push....Just....Keep pushing.....Try some Skrillex, some Disturbed, some Rhianna. Keep going. Get to treeline and see how it feels.

Tears came to my eyes more than once when I tried to move faster than the crippled turtle's pace I was rocking. Then the garbage thoughts came into my head as I looked down and saw I had lost more time than I thought. Hello self-doubt, hello "what are you doing out here?", hello "it didn't work for you last time", hello "you have no shot at the record anymore"......hello "you are letting everyone who believes in you and has helped you down" ......UGH! STOP.

So I did. I had just broken treeline and I set my bike down by the trail and walked a couple yards away and took off my pack. The wind was picking up and I put my baselayer and light down coat on. I ate a few Swedish fish and drank about half of my full water bottle. The garbage thoughts were quiet for a moment and I logically contemplated my options:

1) Camp right here and see how my foot felt after a few hours of being elevated. (I don't do painkillers, NSAIDS, etc of any sort (ever) so this was the best medicine it was getting since the trailside ice machine was not in service today) Problem: I am gunning for the record and making up 11+ hours by the time I got going was not possible. This was based on the assumption that the magical foot fairies were going to come and make my foot "all better." Um.....yeah right.

2) Push on in severe pain and legitimately risk doing further damage. Problem: Slooooooow pace and the fact that I need a healthy foot. Darn details.

3) Call it and bail down West Jefferson Creek trail (which I knew was all downhill) and wait for Les to get my sorry carcass. Problem: Facing the reality that I was not going to own the women's record this year.

This reality is what brought my hands to my chinstrap. I unbuckled it, a bit shaky and chucked my helmet as far up the trail as I could. I lowered my head into my hands and closed my eyes. The disappointment, letdown and sadness I felt at this moment was too deep for anger, tears or really any emotion and I just sat in complete silence and numbness. I prayed for some comfort and then, like a zombie, stood up, put on my pack and began pushing my bike toward my helmet and the West Jefferson Creek intersection. This is really the only time I could not feel my foot. Honestly, I couldn't feel anything. My experience was akin to someone hitting the pause button on all temporal and spatial sensations as I slowly moved closer to the intersection. I robotically picked up my helmet when I passed it with no reaction and continued on. I knew I was done, but I still had a few dozen more steps to the border of this vast land of complete numbness.

Then the text. Then the technical singletrack descent and the dirt road ride to the Jefferson Market to be picked up by Les. I chose this way because it was much closer to Aurora than Frisco.

CTR ITT 2012:  Done. 17-somethingish hours. Didn't even make Georgia Pass. Unable to push through the pain of a completely unexpected crash. Welcome, Young Jedi, to bike racing. Some you win, some you lose. The unexpected can make you or break you.

MJ's words help me put it all in perspective over the last week of  licking my wounds and getting ready to jump back in the ring:

I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life and that is why I succeed. ~ Michael Jordan