Thursday, October 23, 2014

That'll Knock Some Sense Into You

Concussions, they're a nasty beast and not designated to NFL players alone. In a lifestyle of high speed, risk and adrenaline a concussion or two is no unfamiliar occurrence. A lot of media hoopla has been made over concussions the past few years, but to a real person concussions can have very real affect. Is the science conclusive, does the affect of media hyperbole muddy the waters of the real world implications? It is difficult to say.

What I can say is the few confirmed concussions have changed my brain waves.

In 4th grade I remember smashing my head against a classmate's knee during pick-up football at recess. I distinctly remember an "offline" type buzzing noise, and squiggly lines protruding from an open door as I laid on the ground trying to piece together how I got there. Strange you forget much of grade school, but that moment is quite vivid.

The next instance happened in 8th grade. On a regular Saturday with the Park City Freestyle Ski team. I was with my best friend Chris Geaslin taking laps through King's Crown terrain park. On the classic roller coaster box, I caught an edge at the end of the box feature and flipped right onto my head on the hard packed snow. I actually remember the crash, but the next thing I remember is fuzzy memories of being in the lodge for lunch. I skied around in the rest of the day, and just chalked it up to another ski crash.

I had quite a few head hitting ski crashes throughout High School, but none were that bad or literally non-memorable. Another crash was another opportunity to try it again. High speed, high risk, high consequence but the high reward of a pure adrenaline rush. It was an addiction, and it was being alive.

In January of 2013 I found myself coming to in a hospital in Southern California. I remember trying to figure out where I'd been, and what my life was. I have a family, dammit I know I have I have a family but what are their names? I live somewhere, where do I live, what are my roommates names? I have roommates! I am in college. Why am I here? There are Cliff Bars in my pocket. My phone number starts with a 435. I need to call my parents. This bed is flat. I have friends. Who are my friends?vAm I alone. Why am I here? It was circles and circles for hours. I pieced together that I had crashed on the last practice run of a slope-style competition on a sketchy course in Southern Cal. I chased the dream, and the dream fought back.

The following weeks and months were difficult and blurry. Upper-level Business college level classes were struggles. I played eeny miny moe on any test questions involving math, and I didn't really care. Social relationships were even more disconnected than before. Skiing became unappealing, and I found myself at some Cat 5 bike races in the spring. 

Bike racing relight a fire. Despite a crash in the spring it became the new drug. Often I felt dead inside, unless pedaling away till there was nothing to give. Solace was found in the pain cave.

At the 2014 LOTOJA race a silly mistake lead to a nasty crash and a helmet splitting collision with the pavement. Head was ringing, body was bloodied and expectations of winning were crushed. Pedaling a bike was all I knew, and I biked the last 50 miles with no incentive outside of pure stubbornness.

A race hangover and head injury lingered for awhile, but acceptance of responsibility and the winning high of leading my friend Keaton to end of year race victory 2 weeks later subdued the beast.

I suppose there should be a point to connecting the dots of head injuries of the past. It becomes apparent that there is no point, it just happened. My brain and my body are here. We've had some scars and bruises, but real life doesn't stand a chance in hell.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Sometimes Things Go Right

2014 was to be the 2nd year of bike racing.

There were a lot of high hopes motivating winter training. New team, new bike, open schedule and hours upon hours of winter training to get to the fittest and lightest yet. During trips to St. George in January and February, we were absolutely crushing it and ready to go.

Then the Valley of Fire Stage race came around at the end of February. It was the most fast, competitive, aggressive and stressful racing I'd been apart of. It was during the road race that an overuse injury in my right Achilles tendon reared its ugly head. I barely finished near the back of the pack and only with the help of Anson and Alex, in severe pain the entire race.

When we got home, the season was over before it ever really started. I sat on the couch watching my hard work slipping away from my body as friends and teammates raced through March, April and May.

After 8 weeks off the bike, it was finally OK to get back on the bike and start the work again. Fitness didn't come easy, all to evident at the first race back at the Sugar House Crit. A poor result in in the 4/5's where a few months earlier it would've been perceived as lesser competition.

Limited success came at the weekly crit series, where I showed brief moments of form in the B's but could never quite snag a win.

The Station Park Crit came and I proceeded to crash the first corner on the first lap. Adrenaline pumped  intensely enough to fuel 45 minutes off non stop chasing and timid cornering, but my heart dropped at the finish when I discovered my bike had been cracked. Another poor result there despite a monster effort and only a broken bike and road rash to show for it.

Two weeks later I came to the Capitol Reef Classic with high hopes and a new Ridley Helium. As the state championship the Cat 4's would ride alone and I liked my chances with great form, lean weight and strong teammates with me. Eight miles in and mere moments after starting to chase the early breakaway my old school Zipp's finally let me down,  breaking a spoke and loosing hub tension in a corner at speed. Somehow managing not to crash, excessive haggling with the wheel car driver ensued and a lot of time was lost. A time trial chase into a headwind brought nothing and I only managed to catch my teammate at the top of the big climb. A miserable 30 miles to the finish brought another poor result and a retired wheelset.

Heber Valley Road Race brought high hopes but nervousness after last year's debacle. No mechanicals or crashing but SaltCycle-INTELITECHS and Cicada racing teams both fell asleep at the wheel and let a two main break  make us look silly. The race was for 3rd place and after a failed attempt at a solo flyer on that scorching hot day, I came away with no result to  show for it.

LOTOJA training began to ramp up with long base miles, but the Chase Pinkham Memorial crit was another opportunity to seek a good result and train for speed as well. No teammates joined me in the 3/4's and in the last lap the position battle was lost, negating the strong sprint I had for a 12th place finish.

One race was so much fun and not all that difficult, so I signed up to race with the 4/5's last minute. This race was surprisingly much faster and 1.5 hrs of crit racing eventually caught up to me in losing position in the final 1/2 lap. Two races, one night and two mediocre at best results.

The following weeks brought an even higher volume of riding for targeting 200 miles of LOTOJA in September. Longer days in the saddle also  brought plenty of days in the rain. Keaton and I managed to get a 5 hour ride in, but a tubular blowout at Jordanelle cut the day short. It was actually kind of nice to have my sister come pick us up, after 5 hours in the rain we were ready to be dry.

LOTOJA came, and I was ready to fight for a win in the 3/4's. Fit, lean, mentally prepared with my equipment running seamlessly and an experienced course knowledge; I was damn ready. On Salt River Pass I dug as deep as I've ever dug before, to stay with the leaders and make the leading selection of riders heading through Star Valley.

Through Star Valley we endured obnoxious and dangerous locals, police officers and road conditions alike. I missed my support crew in Afton, a consequence of a poorly planned support route, but Cameron from Infinite Cycles saved my bacon with an extra bottle. I chugged straight Skratch Labs powder mixers to fight off cramps, and as we settled into a pace-line my body felt stronger and stronger.

In Alpine, I grabbed my feedbag from my uncle Dustin and successfully brought 3 new bottles and fresh food on board. Looking ahead I saw the group reforming 100 meters in front of me, and thought "I should catch up to them, and also throw my feedbag."

The next thing I remember is rolling in confusion and  pain on the road. Reality set in quickly, and the race situation was much different now. A police officer began to call an ambulance, and some good Samaritan locals tried to help me out. I yelled at the officer (no respect given for buzzing cyclist in a race), thanked the couple and asked them if they'd help me get my stuff together off the road. The Ridley was in good shape, Zipp wheels as well, but I was a bloody mess and my head was ringing as I smashed my stem back to center and climbed back on to finish that stupid race. Keaton summed it up perfectly when his group caught up to me.

"Dude, you look like shit!"

Keaton would go on to finish 11th, and I limped in a few minutes later at 19th. It wasn't our day.

On Saturday we went to Ogden to race for the state champion title at the Harvest Moon Criterium.

The CAT 4 field was small with only 20 riders, and 6 of those riders came from our team. Dustin Layton drove the pace early and attacked twice, and after we caught him the 2nd time at about 12 minutes into the race, I launched an attack which established a solo breakaway.

Lap after lap I clawed away from the group seconds at a time. "10 seconds, 11 seconds, 12 seconds, 12 seconds, 12 seconds"  Alex yelled from the crowd every lap. There were thoughts of quitting the effort, there were thoughts that the effort would succeed, but ultimately the wind picked up and took its toll and the group caught me 35 minutes into the 40 minute race.

Nobody could fault me for a bad result at that point, I'd given my effort and did my best to settle back into the group. Nothing's 100% in a bike race and a gust of wind blowing caution tape into Taylor Benson's bars proved that. Taylor hit the pavement hard and Robert and I just managed to stay on our bikes behind him. The race was neutralized for 3 laps, allowing me to recover and refocus.

The race was restarted with 4 laps to go. Anson went straight to the front and stretched the group to single file for two entire laps. After his monster effort I sat 3rd wheel behind two strong riders with 2 laps to go. The riders swapped pulls but I remained 3rd wheel through the first two corners of the final lap. The speed on this lap was  blistering fast but I accelerated to the 2nd to last corner to pass the two riders. In a 53X11 balls to the walls effort on the front, I knew Keaton was right on my wheel though I had not even checked back to see. Cutting the final corner tight and accelerating while swinging wide, Keaton was launched to the win and I coasted into 2nd.

The season seemed to come full circle in that final corner. Keaton had crashed during the race, I'd given a huge effort but had nothing to show after being caught, bad luck struck friends and I nearly went down as well. We stuck in there, made the right moves and were finally rewarded for it. It was the best way to end this season.

Monday, June 30, 2014

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Recap, Part V: Please Sir, May I Have Some'or?

Jen did awesome!

Meeting up with the Infinite Pain Train near the end of Cedar Canyon, she latched onto the group and came roaring into the exchange area sporting a big smile.

Insert your deity here only knows how we managed to maneuver through the most pissed off, inconsiderate and general barbarian like motorists that plague the roads of the municipality known as Cedar City.

Seriously, those drivers are farving awful; one cyclist even got hit, and we were buzzed more times than I get buzzed in a month in Salt Lake City. I have family down there so I hate to say it, but in terms of safety downtown Cedar City is one of the worst places to ride your bike in the entire state of Utah.

 Just treat every motorist like they want to KILL you and you might make it out OK, but I digress....

After surviving the mean streets of Cedar, we hammered our way up Iron Mountain.

The legs were feeling phenomenal for having already ridden 112 miles on 30 minutes of sleep, and as the lightest member of the group I set pace on the climb. We managed to stay in a group of 4, adding a few stragglers along the way.

After the climb up Iron Mountain, the descending and rolling hills into Enterprise were a blast. With a change in direction and a tailwind at our backs, we cruised.

In the last 10 miles, only one other Infinite rider and I were taking solid pulls. The rest of the now 8 person group was just hanging on, which would be just fine if they didn't keep coming to the front and slowing the pace from the 25-28mph range to a 20-24mph pace.

There were a few attempts to explain the importance of staying out of the work zone, so that the big boys could complete the task at hand faster.

A few snark comments about "trying to win the stage," or "splitting the group on purpose" resulted in an exchange of very eloquently phrased responses.

I assure you the exchanges were along the lines of "Sir, if you'd like to suck my wheel please have the courtesy not to gripe about the speed. I so would love to finish this leg sooner than later."

In which the weak replied "Please sir, may I have some'or?"

At least have the dignity to drop out of the pace line without complaining, man. (To be fair, it was only 2 guys who complained, none of the Infinite crew)

Dropped the wheel-suckers in the last mile.

Which set Perry up in a perfect position to defend our finishing position....

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Recap, Part IV: That's Beautiful Man

Perry was off on his 36 mile, leg 8 from Henrieville to Panguitch. Essentially in no man's land with the Intermountain Team 10 minutes ahead and the next closest riders some 10 minutes back, he'd be alone the entire time.

After starting  his last leg at nearly 100 degrees, he'd have the coldest leg of the entire race. We saw the temperature drop down to 31! That's a bigger swing than a baseball player at a steroid convention.

Along the way, I actually managed to sleep for awhile, only to be awaken by the deep burnings of a digestion system gone awry. The next 24 hours would be the gastrointestinal equivalent of Dante's Inferno. 

I became particularly keen at locating bathrooms. For whatever cruel reason, every bathroom at every gas station from Moab to St. George had only one stall. I became well versed in the art of bathroom line conversation.

Leg 8 and 9 are arguably the most scenic legs of the race, transitioning from a red rock desert landscape around Bryce Canyon and Red Canyon into the aspen trees and pines surrounding Panquitch.

Truly an underrated part of the state, and with a full moon still hovering and the morning sun waking up the valley, there were more than a few moments to take everything in. That's beautiful man. 

Eric had a solid leg 9, and enjoyed the fresh new pavement, steep climbs and wicked fast descent along the way to Duck Creek. This is the leg for that makes being rider one worth it.

Jen was off with her last leg, a leg I'm a bit jealous of as she had one of the best descents ever with Cedar Canyon. It's an incredibly fast descent on perfect pavement, big flowing sweepers and a set of s-turns with perfectly matched banks. Magnifique!

It's literally so awesome it makes you call out in French.

She also did an incredible job in catching on, and staying on with the Infinite Pain Train (The group of 3 Infinite Cycles team Perry and I had each ridden with earlier). This  would prove to be invaluable along the final two legs.

Awaiting for her in Cedar, I was ready to smash out my last 43 miles. Uncertainty lingered, and would my legs pull through after the hurt that'd been put on on Legs 1 and 2.

Monday, June 23, 2014

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Recap, Part III: This is Just a Tribute

***Important Clarification****
In my last installment, I briefly mentioned we left my mom to descend down boulder mountain with arm warmers and a jacket. Well, that was lie. Apparently she actually only had a vest and arm-warmers, and in the sub 40 degree descent she totally froze, reaching near hypothermia when she rolled into Boulder. Tough lady huh? She definitely had the toughest legs to deal with. 


Team Intermountain Live Well riders Dustin Nielson and Manny Cypers had the greatest and best leg 7 in the world.  (You should probably listen to this song while you read or none of this will make any sense, skip ahead to 1 minute in).

It just so happened to be, the best leg 7 in the world; it was the best leg in the world! You gotta' believe me, and I wish you were there, not just a matter of opinion as STRAVA proves it.

STRAVA KOM leaders for scale.

A long long time ago (one week),
on mile 1 of my 2nd 56 mile leg,
I was cruising up a long and lonesome Highway 12 road.

Then all of the sudden,
there shined a shiny speed demon,
in the middle of the road.

And I said,
"Can I hop on with you guys....I'll work."

Well Many and Dustin
they looked at each other
and they each said, OK.

And they crushed the first climb without a thought in their heads (beside we'll probably drop this punk), and then the descent just happened to be the (2nd best) descent in the world;
it was nearly the best descent in the world.

STRAVA For Scale (And no my heart-rate didn't go up to 232bmp, silly Garmin)

Look into my eyes and its easy to see
1 and 1 make 2, 2 and 1 make 3;
 it was destiny. 

Once every couple times a year or so
when the blood doth pump, and the legs doth flow, and the tires doth ro-ooolll,
I can push out enough threshold power to hang on with the fast guys. (I know that last part didn't rhyme)

Needless to say,
they were stunned I actually held on.
They asked, "Be you a Men's Competitive Racer?",
and I said "Nay",
I am but a Co-Ed competitive participant.

And we rockeed on!
Ahhh, ahhh, ahhh-ah-ah, Ohhh,
whoah, ah-whoah-oh!

But mine was not,
the greatest leg 7 in the world.
No, it was just a tribute.

Couldn't remember to pedal faster,
no, no!
I lost them at mile 43 near the top of the big climb.

Needles to say, the legs were done.
Cramp, cramp, ouch,
and the body was stunned.

I asked the full moon,
"Be they angels?"
And they said "Nay, we are but men."
Rock on.

And the peculiar thing is this my friends:
the my last 2 miles and final descent on that fateful night  didn't actually go anything like theirs did.
I lost 10 minutes in 13 miles!

So surprised to find you can't put any power down,
that's a BONK;
All right! All right!

And this was not the greatest Leg 7 recap in the world,
this was just a tribute.

Couldn't remember how to do the greatest leg 7 recap in the world,
no, this was just a tribute.

Friday, June 20, 2014

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Recap, Part II: Is There an Essential Oil for Headwind?

The beginning of leg three started with the deceivingly nasty climb. The wind had split up the group so much that I was in no man's land nobody  except for a few riders passed shortly after the exchange.

The headwind was strong but manageable, but after roughly 25 miles of solo time trialing my support crew let me know that the closest person was about 15 minutes in front of me. At that point I was very discouraged and motivation took a dive.

"Is there an essential oil for headwind?"


You would think they'd have that though right?

Anyway I took some time to slow down to eat and drink, and just to my luck a group of three guys approached. Having been working together they'd been going faster than I can go by myself at 260+ W average over the first 25 miles. It's a long race, I didn't really want to burn myself yet.

(Yes the big W, Watts. I have been demoing a power meter for work at This SRM power meter way more than an amateur like me would ever need, but a very cool tool for training and racing. Most advantageous for pacing on hard efforts.)

Back in a bunch I could be down to 150 avg. W  while drafting, recovering and saving all kinds of energy and putting out better efforts on the front. Unfortunately one of the members of our group got a flat tire and our group was reduced to three. We weren't exactly fast.

Soon after  we were caught from by behind by the Infinite Cycles "Pain Train" of four strong dudes. That was a great group to be with and we cruised through the last part of this leg despite the headwind, tailwind, crosswind, circular gusts of wind.

A few gusts just about knocked me off the road, and you had to stay very sturdy and the drops to maintain. Temperatures hovered near 100, much water and First Endurance EFS was consumed, and cramping muscles were kept at bay.

The Infinite guys were a little bigger than me, great for pushing it out of the flats but not so great for climbing. I dropped them on the climb, partially because I just wanted to be done and partially because descending with a group didn't sound all that fun in the wind.

I rolled up to the exchange at a time of 2 hours and 44 minutes, an average of 20.6 mph over 56 miles. Not lightning fast by any means but certainly respectable.

We were still in fourth place behind Team Fatty-WBC and another two teams. I wasn't sure if we had gained a little time back or had just limited the losses. The podium looked to be a long shot.

Perry was off on his leg with a long gradual climb through a beautiful canyon and then along a long straightaway to the next exchange in Hanksville.

Eventually the Infinite pain train caught up to Perry, and he worked well with the group. This group really cruised fast to the exchange, a bit too fast for Eric who wasn't quite ready when the train arrived.

The man's got a certain routine O.K, and Perry is just too damn fast!

Equipped with a lights but no safety vest Eric was off into the dusk.

We caught up to them on the first real climb of leg 5.

With the skills of seasoned team directors, we slowed the car next to him while Perry did his best to get a reflective vest around Eric. He sort of got the dollar store quality vest around him in a crisscross pattern of interesting character.

Let's just say we could tell which rider was ours.

Eric also worked really well with the Infinite Pain Train and they stayed together for the whole leg.

Sleep would've been nice on this leg, but most of the time I just tired to calm my mom down about another ride in the wind.

That first leg scarred her a bit emotionally, and she just didn't want to go out if there was to be anymore wind. Naturallythe tents at the exchange shook with all the same devious forces from earlier in the day. She's a trooper with the heart of a lion and set off into the night anyway.

The climb over Boulder Mountain at night is truly incredible. Giant pine along the winding road, the night sky lit up by a full moon and ferocious winds made the scenery truly amazing.

Jen finally started to enjoy bike riding again once she got into the rhythm of the climb. She worked alone but sometimes that's how she rides best.

At some point Perry Eric and I fell asleep on the side of the road and we almost lost her, but after a brief panic we got back in touch.

Near the summit we left her with fresh water to get to the finish, but the temperature dropped to almost 40°. She'd be very cold, but at least she had a jacket and arm warmers.

Once we were at the exchange in Boulder I got my bike and my lights ready with a killer Light and Motion setup from Eric. My lumen count totaled somewhere around 2300, perfect for staying safe on the harrowing descents on Highway 12.

It was two or three in the morning at that point and all I really wanted was coffee. I downed a Starbucks double shot and was amped with that to get going.

The Infinite Pain train rolled through ahead of us, but their next riders were all asleep. (Apparently this happened a few times to them. I love those guys and their fun to race with but there's a running joke at the Utah Crit Series that every time Infinite gets in a break, you can plan on Infinite chasing itself down. They're a great team with a bunch of cool guys, but they sure like to beat themselves.)

I saw my moms lights come rolling in, I set off and happened to notice that there were two very fit looking Intermountain Live well guys behind me.

Wasn't sure what to expect on the 56 mile leg on Highway 12, but with a full moon at my back and a brightly lit road in front, it was off into parts unknown.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

2014 Rockwell Relay Race Recap, Part I: Of Wind

A note: Started my first "real" job at Competitive Cyclist a few weeks back, and have become much busier than I've grown accustomed to. Have been neglecting writing, but thought a good old fashioned race recap would be the best way to get started.

Team Crankenstein was back for another go at the Rockwell Relay, A 525 mile Relay from Moab to St. George.

After a 3rd place finish last year, we were hungry to get on the podium again in the Co-Ed Competitive division.

Eric, the angry bike mechanic and gorilla chested man would be our first rider this year, swapping legs with me to keep things fresh.

Jennifer, my super mom often mistaken for my girlfriend, would be our 2nd rider again.

Yours truly, a strapping young lad with calves of a god and toys of a pro, would be our 3rd rider.

New to the team was our 4th leg rider, Perry. A strong, fashionable, nearly middle aged chap with a knack for wearing jorts and finding classy pasta establishments.

After a night at the Lazy Lizard Hostel and cold oatmeal for breakfast, we gathered  in our compact and efficient Subuaru-Kuat Rack-Thule Box chariot of glory, and sent Eric off at 9am.

Eric hung with the leaders for a while, but the fierce headwind quickly splintered the groups. Though it was not as hot as last year, the wind was relentless.

Eric finished his first leg in 3 hours 30 minutes, a more than respectable time. Behind 3 teams in the Co-Ed division yes, but with that wind it was all about survival.

After a dropped exchange of the slap bracelet (blame the wind), Jen was off for a 45 mile leg. A 45 mile leg straight into what can only be described as a dust storm the likes of which hasn't been seen since Tatooine (Star Wars reference anyone???).

Trees shook in the dust storm's path, car doors were nearly impossible to open, dust barraged the side of our vehicle; and we were all just a bit worried for Jen.

She held on for about 10 miles with a fast group that was shredded soon after by the pace. We handed fresh bottles and words of encouragement, but her face and body language were in anguish and despair.

She was absolutely hating it, and let us know. Afterward she said all she wanted was to be hit by a car so should could quit. Nothing serious, maybe just a brush by a slow moving RV and a trip to the hospital for a broken collar bone. She hated her bike, she hated this race and just wanted to quit. It was that bad.

The conditions were truly horrendous; not the kind of weather one should ever try to ride a bike in, but that's the nature of the beast that is the Rockwell Relay.

Of course she kept going being the warrior that she is, but I think that 45 miles may have been the most difficult riding she's ever done. Absolutely mentally draining and physically exhausting. 

We left her with fresh bottles with 7 miles to go, so that I could get ready for my first leg.

I met her with a mile left to go to the finish. She was not in a good place, but I knew after she realized what an insane accomplishment it was to even finish that leg she'd be just fine.

After that nightmare, I was off for  56 mile leg into the wind.

All by myself, in no man's land.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

My Team

As a newcomer to bike racing last season, I was alone.

Sure there were other riders and a lot of new friends, but as far as really being apart of anything, I was alone.

There were many friends in the bunch, but each race was a solo effort, benefiting or suffering solely from my own decisions and efforts.

In the fall, things changed after joining the SaltCylce-INTELITECHS racing team.

Why join a young and relatively new team; the underdogs of the Utah Cycling Association? What appealed to me was the individual makings of the group; like minded, young, strong and dedicated cyclists.

It wasn't just a move to join a team for the sake of not being alone, it was a move to connect and race with people like me, and I was immediately welcomed into the family.

I had known the team president Tom, from a very painfully long ride earlier in the year. He was a strong crit rider and a really nice guy. I'd also learned  from experience with other team members that SaltCyle-INTELITECHS really possessed a unique culture.

It was an easy decision.

Throughout fall and winter, I rarely had to ride alone. From group rides on Saturday, to meeting up with a teammate or two for ride up Emigration or to the Marina, there was always a friendly group of riders to meet up with.

Team members helped me discover new routes and roads around the Salt Lake Valley, and kept my motivation high for training through the winter. Sometimes we had to ride inside, but a few "trainer parties" at least helped in sharing our suffering.

A few of us did some riding in St. George together, highlighted by a 110 mile day to Zion Canyon and back. Our pace-line worked like clockwork; sharing pulls, playfully attacking each other on the climbs, and stopping for a much needed coffee break at the base of the canyon.

We finally raced at Valley of Fire in February, where I found just how valuable a team was.

Together we traveled, stayed in the same hotels, went to dinner, hung out at the races and joined in the general shenanigans and tomfoolery involved when a gaggle of lycra clad amateurs seeks to hammer each other into the ground.

Our squad tried to have any sort of an impact in the 3/4s, but were really no match for the strong group of racers. Ultimately Keaton finished fairly well and nobody crashed, so it was a success.

 And then I lost touch with my team.

Suffering from on overuse injury for 6 weeks, I was on the couch.

No bike, no team, no fun.

Inactivity, my own unfathomable form of suffering.

I was frustrated, angry, depressed and in despair. The training all winter was for naught, my fitness declined as race day after race down went by.

Eventually working my way out of this funk, a crucial motivator was a desire to race with my team again.

Fitness is coming back, weight is dropping off and my first day back to racing is within sight.

There is a great desire to join the ranks of my team once again, to help my teammates reach their goals and find and shatter my own personal barriers as well.

It was eye opening how being away from something forces you to identify how valuable the thing was.

I need my team.

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Back on Snow

Yesterday was the first day on snow since like what.....mid February?

Jeez, things have changed!

After spending 4 weeks nearly exclusively inside with a Achilles injury, getting out in to the mountains again was the best medicine ever. Both mentally and physically, since yesterday morning at Park City I'm feeling refreshed, energized and focused in a way I haven't felt since racing at Valley of Fire.

Eric and I hiked Jupiter Peak a few times, with the highlight of the day being among the first 10 to reach the summit. We were treated to creamy untouched powder towns from top to bottom, whooping and hollering the whole way down.

I had missed that!

Yesterday I also registered for LOTOJA, this year opting to race in the much faster and more challenging CAT 3/4 group. Keaton, a friend and teammate from SaltCycle-INTELITECHS will be joining me this year, and I'm seriously looking forward to training and racing together.

A big case of nerves comes as a side-dish, per usual for events such as this. Challenges, questions and doubts all swirl in your head when faced with the challenge ahead, but this is part of the allure of such an event.

It's not something you can take lightly, and few can just show up and race for 200 miles. It takes dedicated planning, time, commitment and sacrifice to prepare one's body for one 9 hour day of racing. Success is only possible through commitment and meticulous preperation for months leading up to the event.

April is the time to begin that journey.

Sunday, March 30, 2014

Touring in The Tushars: Part Two (sortof)

Checking out from a life focused on bike, skis, and the outdoors over the last month has been a horrendous experience. It has become very clear that constant physical activity and motion outside is required to live with any balance. When finally healed from this injury, there will be stronger commitment and appreciation to the lifestyle that brings happiness.

I've been meaning to finish this story for over a month or so now. It's been something to hold on to, an untold tale of fun and adventure; something to look forward to.

Words are a bit hard to come by at the moment, and pictures of our touring in the Tushar Mountains speak for themselves really. There's also a short edit from Go-Pro footage of some turns. The skiing is certainly no where near the level it once was, but it's still enjoyable all the same.

Tushar Trip from Trevor Jackson on Vimeo.