Entries in family (68)
It continues to be unthinkable as I type this. It continues to be...as it is often suggested...like a nightmare that you phase in and out of during the waking hours and yet when the mind's haze realizes once again like a wave that it is real and he's never coming back, the wave happens again and engulfs you. It starts as this rush of heat and panic somehow intertwined with one another with a race of the heart that feels more rooted in the stomach than in the chest. The moment your mind settles in to its normal peaceful rhythm it is shattered.
We lost him last night.
Christ please stop this. We lost him and that wave is back and it again is real.
The ring woke us shockingly at 3 AM. Those calls occur at night occasionally but thankfully they're often by mis-dials and you settle yourself back down in bed once the heart stops racing and your eyes, which remain open for a bit thinking and refuse to shut, close themselves on their own and allow you back to your peaceful sleep.
The caller ID this time was our loved one.
It is too soon to know why or what or how. The helicopter was brand new. Maintenance perfect. The pilot and doctor on this med-flight dear friends. 100's...1000's of flying hours. The nurse on board a compatriot.
They delivered their human cargo like an angel would have done...safe....at the hospital. And they flew off again to repeat this mission of life saving like they have done 100's of times before.
They fell off the grid. It lies in pieces. It is our lives.
Darren, can you hear me? I've nothing but a key board right now and the wave of heat that keeps going through me will not stop. Can you hear us? We love you our lawful brother, our husband, our father our son. You have two children my children's age. You have a wife...the sister of mine. Darren....please Christ wrap him in your love.
You need to look outside right now whoever reads this. You need to find a way to do this. For one second in your life heed this. Read the characters on your screen but listen to the message. You need to find light right now and you need to feel it on your face. You need to listen to me like no one has ever talked to you before and do nothing but breathe once you have found that source of light.
Reflect. On what is important.
The next mission is to reach out. You need to embrace those that enable you to be a better person. A better husband. A better cyclist. A better father. A better son. Find them and touch them. Even if it is as inconspicuous as putting a hand on their shoulder...or engulfing them in a hug.
Exchange love with them. For Christ or whomever you need to you feel light on your face and you feel that love of yours being exchanged.
It can not be replaced.
The pieces are scattered. My love is with her sister. They are facing something that should never be faced. But must.
This is not a dress rehearsal. There are no winners, only those who have acted beautifully in the play we're born into.
Darren, I love you.
What do we do.
Wow things have positively changed. When you put it out there and you trust yourself and have absolute faith that you have not f'd with the universe....all the while doing what you think and feel in your gut is the best you can do...and the right thing to do....the dominoes tend to fall in the direction you want them too.
It's been a rush the past 2 weeks and I am trying to ride/train when I can but life is moving extremely fast. The 3rd side of the teeter totter has been resolved in ways that I didn't anticipate and not scraping the ground so much...at least affecting my brain in bad ways like it was. I exhausted/belabored/dragged you all through the BS but now I feel like I am flying again.
Can I balance all of this new exciting stuff with my goals in racing and the eternal goal not to be an absent/angry/lifeless father/lump of a husband? Well, there is no option so I'll have to figure out new levels of balance. I will make it so.
Never hesitate and always trust your gut. It will see you through to what was meant to be. Always.
There are no accidents.
Are you with me?
The teeter totter is coming back into balance.
I didn't even know how to pronounce the town when I moved to CO some years ago. Fruita, Cahlaradee. Say it: Froo-tah. And it was, as legend already has it: epic. Our family and about 5 others packed up Griswald style and pointed our Family Trucksters towards this great town Thursday through Sunday. We set up camp and commenced some serious play.
First, some background: Fruita as you'll see on Google Maps is essentially as far west as you can get in Colorado before running into Utah. It's right near Grand Junction and on a couple of our MTB excursions were right at the border. The town of Fruita has...well not a helluva lot. It's got dinosaurs, shale oil deposits and mountain biking. And, oh, the mountain biking. I've been on epics before and this ranks at the top. The riding is very 'high desert' but is pure single track. What you trade for in deep-woods East Coast rooted single track, you make up for in other was like slick rock features, riding up through snake-like riverbeds (e.g. imagine a star wars like 'tunnel' of twisty/rhythm singletrack with walls on either side of you and you're railing this thing at mach speed). So, the terrain is very Colorado/high desert, but not all open and exposed slick rock riding in barren desert. It is single track amongst tons of greenery, over rock features with vistas like you see above.
Before I left, a team mate of mine, AC"2", sent me a the most beautiful and thoughtful note on Fruita about its riding, the beers...you name it. Written as a local due to the fact he was one. While I am an advocate of trail preservation as an IMBA and BMA member, AC had a very particular and personal way of putting it. And I quote...
So Fruita virgin,
First of all you are gonna love the one track man!!! Can't wait to hear what you think after all the hype and shit over the last decade.
I am envious of your "first time". Remember one thing though, it is bad ass cuz its narrow!!! Keep it narrow!!! All the trails in the valley were 18 inches wide for a long time until the onslaught of front rangers and the like in the last half dozen years. One simple rule... Your tires should NEVER leave the trail. Not to pass oncoming traffic, not to "go look over there", not to pull up beside your homey and chat about how this is better than workin', nor to avoid that cow pie.
The Desert doesn't heal, one tire track in the harmless looking grass or "bare dirt" will be there for years, and if it doesn't attract more tires it will surely act as a water channel and really eff up things after a while. If you do "miss your line", and we all have, take the time to stop, lift your bike back to the trail and kick dirt over the tire track, thank the desert for its mercy and giv'er.
I tell you all this, now, at you most vulnerable time, as a virgin, and out of respect that I believe you have the wholesomeness as a bike rider to appreciate it. Preserve this for your kids!
Perfectly said AC. And it was as pristine as he describes. The singletrack is PERFECTLY carved into the terrain. Each side bordered with this micro-biotic plant life. Think lichen but softer and greener and leafier. The trails were clearly designed by someone who has a vision of literally making someone smile for hours. The trails rhythm perfectly and leverage the terrain to keep you sailing and railing. If I were to explain them very generally (e.g. across many of the rides we did), I'd say that they were like a flat land dual-slalom course with high banked berms that come in succession one after the other after the other after the other so in some sections your momentum and skill at rhythming without pedaling will keep you flying. There are PLENTY of climbing sections if you link up the appropriate trails which we did along with natural stair cases going up and of course down...all formed from layers of rock. Some were so beautiful I actually said "Is this legal stuff we're on????".
I asked about some of the history when I met locals and all roads seemed to come back to Troy Rarick. This is the apparent Godfather of MTB-ing in Fruita and founder of Over The Edge Sports. While I am not here to spark a debate, on many occasions of the conversations I had, Troy was described as the guy who essentially 'saved' the town of Fruita. In other words, pivoting the town's economy from nothing to a true destination spot for mountain bikers...and with them, an injection of cash for the economy. It was he and others who worked hard to create the trail networks and work with BLM et al to make the trails what they are. I went into the shop to see if I could talk with him but he was at Sea Otter this weekend. Bummer. There is however an interesting interview Troy gave on Fruita and its 13th Annual Fat Tire festival in the latest 5280 Magazine (cover above) if you can source it.
To the riding specifics....
There was a GREAT crew for the weekend! It ranged from Rocky Mounter team mates Rich Z and John G and their posse of friends like Li'l Dave, 'Precise' Andy, Rally Sport Paul to our mutual family friend, supreme fast man and former GT rider Antonio G. In addition, ALL our wives and kids were there and had this huge, fun communal atmosphere. We did 3 epics....with the last day being the mother-load.
Day 1 we did at dusk which was beautiful. We railed for ~ 2 hours parts of the Kokopeli system...e.g. Horse Thief, Prime Cut among others before it got too dark and we needed to get back to the families.
Day 2 was a semi-epic wherein we did the "18 Road" network including Joe's Ridge which we did parts of in reverse...e.g. I climbed and cleared the 31% climb you see to the right. Ha! The Ahrens 29'er was SICK on the steep climbs! Don't worry, we railed it all in reverse to get in the spine-like descents at speed. Unbelievable. My day ended prematurely (although at the very end which was cool) with my Mavic Cross Max 29'er front wheel essentially coming 'undone'. I couldn't believe it! I have the 26'er version on my 1 x 1 and have NEVER taken a trui9ng wrench to them in 100's of miles. On less than 300 miles the front whee; undid itself. The front effectively came un-tensioned and spokes popped out of their hub housings. I was able to get it dialed in though at Over The Edge in Fruita.
Day 3. Boing! Epic. we went back and railed a fairly monster section of the Kokopeli system at fairly insane speeds. We did Mary's amongst a variety of other trails. This should be on EVERYONES must-do-before-I-die list of trails.
Each day, all the wives would do their own daily epics as well, covering much of the same ground the guys did. A whole crew of the ladies would gear up and take off while the guys watched the kids, then we'd switch off when they came back.
As you can see above, the trails literally circumnavigate the whole rim of the mountainside and give you insane views of the Colorado River. The terrain is mostly single track, extremely technical rock sections and short link-up sections of fire road. We did one section, Troy Built, which was ridiculously fun. It was a complicated set of 'problems' that had you thinking and thinking...if you are drilling it at speed like we were. It traversed through this whole bizarre volcanic rock section then sent you up, climbing single track to you gain altitude to come back down a bomber decent.
Best of all was the 'scene'. 5 or so families all camped out in tents and pop-ups around a communal cul de sac with no less than 15 kids ripping around on their bikes, unicycles, Razors in addition to fishing at this huge lake and eating 'smores until they were all collectively psychotic from the sugar rush. Nothing better on earth than seeing the kids in that much bliss.
So kids, the Fruita trip will become an annual. I do not feel like I 'completed' enough and am craving to get back. So go and have an epic time but heed AC's advice above and keep those fat tires center lined with the singletrack!
Some digital celluloid....
Holy Joy. The joy that only a wife can give to you. That was today. She and I, fat tires and in-the-woods communion. Sitter with the boys to give us that oh-so-needed grin session. Just like when we first met and we rolled in epic rain showers together railing trails we shouldn't have been on trying to mak e a B-line back to our car.
It's coming folks. I sense the change because the initial domino has been flipped. I flipped it. How can I do this? Because the one I love tells me the cage door is open. So many men have to suffer for the need to keep on keeping on for their situation. Blindly. Soullessly. My lady used her own Kung Fu power to kick the cage door open and set me...us free.
So Bliss. I apologize. I want you back as a reader. I'm so close to ending my crappy rants of boo-hoo-woe-is-me-isms. You are my benchmark and litmus test and I heard you as you sat in the back of BCS. It spoke to me. And I know how you, my peeps want me. How I want me.
So close. On top of it. Back doesn't hurt. Mind is freeing. Energy lifting. Spring coming. Kids laughing.
Big daddy's back. Big daddy is coming back, laughing.
Fat tires have drugs in them. Do you know this?
...on the toilet. Oh, my rides certainly rank up there too if I am not concentrating on ensuring I reach channel zero when the teeter totter is all out of whack, but the porcelain throne is absolute peace and focus for me.
Take my session this week while on the road. 5 weeks in a row. 5AM and I start the day with a think-session. That in itself is good news as I am usually bound up like a cement plant when I get in the aluminum tube out of DIA and get my game on in some other city. Nerves? Not enough water? I'm becoming an old fart? Lack of activity to keep the system churning? Those are the typical variables preventing , um..regularity, but Wednesday AM the factory was moving out the product very productively. So the thoughts rolled in.
Oh, back to the porcelain-inspired thinking. Even in the wee hours the hyperactive brain is on overdrive. And whence it use to be with inspired thoughts ranging from software product design to Ren and Stimpy, i got sucked into the teeter totter imbalance problem. So, what does that mean to you, my reader? Instead of speaking all in abstract and whatnot, I'll boil it out: It's side 3 of the 3 sided teeter totter imbalancing everything....and it has for some time (as you know). Why can't I just move on? 12 years. Started there before I met my wife and got married; we grows-dup some kids during this time; lived lives in the family of the company in SF before we even had a brain-fart about Boulder. We partied together, worked hard together, struggled together and crushed the competition together. What is it about me? Why can't I just move on? Why can't I take leaps of faith? As I kept on thinking, I kept on numbing and before I knew it I was crippled and could barely walk. The thoughts were deep and the session was good but I was late for my meetings. I left too many dangling thoughts there on that porcelain Wednesday morning.
Back home midnight Wednesday. Up an at it at 7 bells today with every input firing off rid lights, bells bleeps and buzzes. I shut them all down. Had coffee at the table with my lady and boys and helped get them out the door for school and for their days to begin. I get in my office chair and the thoughts flood in again. I can not focus on anything else. Why can't you do it man? This is not an issue of anyone in particular, the company or otherwise doing shite things at me to/me. I think it is just the beginning of a chasm. A very natural and gradually diverging chasm not unlike when an ice sheet breaks apart in the Arctic after naturally wearing away a part of itself. 12 years. Crispy around the edges.
The lunchtime training ride helped anesthetize. It's always temporary though. Tangentially, what was fun was dropping some full kitted-out roadie up Sunshine on my 29'er. Hmm. Maybe I'm not so bad off after all. But that smile was short lived as the thoughts got pulled right back to: what do I do?
Real focus on the root of the problem started to materialize the more altitude I gained on the bike. While I had these realizations before, or sort of stub thoughts about them, this trip to the mother ship spoke to me about distance between them...and me. My experience was different this time. I have been working 967 miles away (according to United mind you as I know that mile accrual intimately), isolated as one of the people trying to keep this company as successful and driven as when we were tiny and obscure. The core of executive team have circle wagon meetings at will....and decisions are made in real-time. Except for my input of course. It's not intentional, it's just reality. I'm not there. The decision to move here in 04 and the conditions of my situation were absolutely different at that time. Now, more than ever, my A game and the influence it can have is...limited. And that is a pain that is extremely tough to bear when you have as much self pride as I do. I try to do the best, but it's neutered.
So, all the rants you hear me go off on about teeter totters and such....it's all rooted here. the Family (side 1) and health (side 2) sides sing in harmony and are rock solid. But side 3's challenges lie at the epicenter of the fire in my brain. I do not expect many of you to understand, but those that know me will find this all fairly typical. I do not give up. It's like 'crossing for me. I race against the best Masters in the country and refuse to give up race after race until I meet my personal goals. They began with just get into the top 20, then top 10 then top 5 and as God as my witness, I want to have that feeling again of raising hands over my head having overcome the challenges of racing against the best and training through all my drama to make it so.
So that is the personal conundrum, kids. To do all these things, at least in my tiny experience of mine, is to have absolute balance. Harmony. My instinct is killing me, which is to not let go. Not give up. Not yield and keep at it. Not let business drive my family's geography, to ensure we still keep driving towards quality of our lives. I need my time to come to the conclusion so I may have to drag you through more vetting. But Spring's coming and with it clarity.
God, the ride was killer today. I'm lucky.
Stupid me. Oh, stupid me. I thought I was free and clear but Montezuma is smiling from wherever he is these days at me, the dumb-ass traveler. The Mexico vaca was fantastic, but tiny little secret agents embedded themselves in my intestines for the trip across the border and have initiated their assault this AM.
Geyser. That's all I can say. The wife and I woke up with rumbling intestines and a low grade fever this AM. After getting the kids settled with some b-fast and got our coffee brewing, we both at precisely the same moment tore after the bathroom in an Olympic level sprint. Hilarious. My wife won. I needed to keep it together for the trip back up stairs to another bathroom to ensure I didn't have another episode.
I think I'll have to take a day off the bike. I value my chamois too much for them to take this kind of abuse.
And I repeated that phrase more than once over the last few days. Sorry for the lack of updates folks but the fam and I were in May-hee-co on some family R & R. I am sufficiently bloated and anesthetized by way of bad well drinks and Dos Equis served in plastic cups. Mmm.
The brief vaca was a great relief from the pressure cooker and at the epicenter of that relief was watching my boys absolutely free, running like mad men up and down the beach, through the surf without care 1 in the world. It's inspiring to see that. I distinctly remember doing that as a kid. Running up and down the beach on the water's edge, back and forth for hours doing the thrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrp with my lips to sound exactly like a 1970's 2-stroke Yamaha until my lips were swollen and red all around. I saw my kids doing the same...occasionally interrupted with a bout of Transformers or Power Rangers combat between themselves, then back to moto's.
So, we're back, somewhat tanned and stoked that we just bucked the system and punched a hole in the chaos to circle our wagons and be with each other as a family, The getting out of the grind was good. It didn't change the core of how I feel about certain things these days on one side of the 3 part teeter totter, but did give me clarity over how I truly feel about it and that there is a light at the end of the tunnel. As my beautiful wife has told me time ad infinitum: the cage door is open.
Moving on to 'cross things, no Cult Cross for me folks. As 'crossy as I am, I am not going to make it up to Eagle. I am not kidding when I say that my fingertips and toes are JUST back to normal after their 'nip from CO States on 12/7. Crazy and I'll not be inviting that back into my life any time soon so LG's 10-20" of snow on the course while 'fun' sounding send shivers up my spine on ho to work through that frost nip/bite stuff. I am entirely on the down low for now with training and even if just to attend Cult Cross and shoot photos and see my peeps, I personally want to stay close to home for the time being and not go yet one more place...one more trip...one more get up and go which I can't seem to make stop these days. Down low is the tempo these days. Enjoy yourselves though race fans!
What did you do today to elevate your heart rate folks? I mean besides throttle your computer? Whatever you, me, all of us with the taken-for-granted ability to wiggle all of our appendages are doing by staring at our PowerTaps and putting in our miles to keep fit and reach our goals this season pales in comparison to the depth Chris digs day in and day out to get it done. My boy Klebl, the same kid who is responsible for getting me on a mountain bike in 92 and falling back in love with two wheels (Damn you Klebl. Damn you. I could be a happy fat drunk Irishman at this point), won his 8th national cross country ski title amongst throwing down in Europe. Read his blog here and next time you throw your leg over your carbon fiber, smile and get it done. Chris is.