Is Procrastination an Art?

A few weeks ago I wrote a post about making things happen instead of just making ‘someday’ plans. In that post I mentioned that my friend Nathan and I were riding from his home here in Farmington to his parents house in Ohio. It occurred to me that I haven’t updated things here about that trip, so here you go!

In June of 2017, Nathan and I did a slightly botched trip from Chicago to Memphis. That trip was our first together and despite the impromptu change of plans along the way, we had a blast and had every intention of going on another adventure together. Last fall, Nathan mentioned to me that he had long dreamed of riding from his driveway in Farmington, MO to his parent’s in Plain City, OH and that he thought it would be a good trip to take in the summer of 2018. As usual, I was all in from the get go and excited to spend some time in the saddle, exploring areas I hadn’t been on a bike before.

Over the winter, Nathan made and refined the route. The plan was to go through mostly rural areas, camping along the way. The camping piece was the biggest new thing for Nathan. His previous excursions had been hotel and/or AirB&B. That also meant that we would have to carry more equipment than we did last year. None of these things were new for me, but I was so very excited to get out and hit the road on another adventure! Our plan had us set to leave town about 2PM on Friday June 1st.

Much to my own chagrin, as I tend to do, I was a bit underprepared for the trip, even as the date to leave was approaching. I have no explanation for why I wait to the last minute, but it has repeatedly happened. For months Nathan and I had discussed what we would need to do to get ready, but I always found other things to occupy my time. A few things that I had given myself as todos were to make Nathan two feed bags for his bike and I also needed to make a new tarp for my hammock setup. My tarp that I normally carry would be used by Nathan on the trip, so I would need another. Several times Nathan offered to buy a tarp so I could use my regular one, but I would have none of it. Not only do I really enjoy making the gear, but I also intend to start an online business making bikepacking and hammock gear. What better time to get a head start on things than when you are preparing for a trip? Yeah, I know. I could have found an easier way to do this, but that wouldn’t be “me”. This procrastination made Nathan nervous and several times he asked about progress. His prompting goaded me a little, but not much.

On Monday evening, May 28th, (Memorial Day for those that don’t know and only four days before we were scheduled to leave on our trip) I sat down to design and construct Nathan’s feed bags. I had made several different versions in the past for myself and had a few ideas for what I wanted to improve. I spent all evening working on them and was pretty pleased with the outcome. They turned out aesthetically pleasing, utilitarian and light weight. I presented them to Nathan and he was more than pleased. In fact, he went on and on about them. Not only was I pleased with the bags as well, but I felt good about getting them done earlier than I expected. That spark led me to envision myself wrapping up my tarp quickly and easily the following evening. That didn’t happen!

In the latter days of trip prep, Nathan had realized he would be able to get out of town a bit earlier than originally expected. We changed plans to leave Friday morning. That meant I would have to have my stuff together the night before. No problem. In the remaining evenings of the week leading up to our departure, I found myself doing all sorts of things, but none of those were gathering my gear, preparing the bike or sewing the needed tarp. I did chores around the house, got caught up on work, sat around watching TV, hung out with friends and generally procrastinated. Just like old times!

In the past, I would normally get pretty anxious about my procrastination as my deadline approached. This time I did not. Somehow I felt at ease and just knew I would get it done, even if I went without sleep.

Thursday evening about 10PM, after all my chores, work and family time were done, I got my materials out and started cutting the tarp pieces out. My wife was somewhat flummoxed that I had waited so late, but not terribly surprised. I told her good night and settled in, figuring that I could pull the tarp together in a couple hours. I could then gather my things and get a few hours sleep. No worries.

As you can imagine, things did not go as planned. Now, it wasn’t that I had problems or couldn’t do what I needed to do. It simply took much, much longer than I expected to cut out and sew the tarp. As the clock ticked, I sewed. Little by little it came together. I put the finishing touches and guy lines on somewhere early in the morning and started going through my bike. After my maintenance was done, I started gathering up all my gear for the trip. There was a trip to Wal Mart to grab a few items that I needed, then I packed it all on the bike.

I ended up staying up all night getting things done, but not once was I worried about it. The last time I stayed up all night was during Trans Am Bike Race in 2016 and it was invigorating to know that I would be hitting the road in just a couple hours. Once it was all done, I kissed my wife as she headed out for work. I then grabbed a shower and got dressed for my adventure. It was time!

 

It’s Just a Bike Ride

As a veteran of TABR, my interest is piqued this time of year to all matters of endurance bike racing. Trans Am Bike Race, Tour Divide, Trans Atlantic Way, Northcape-Tarifa and several other races all come across my Facebook feed daily and I spend entirely too much time perusing the musings of racers, dot watchers and fans as they wax eloquent (and sometimes not so) about the various things going on in whatever race they are following. Sometimes it is entertainment. Sometimes it is shocking. Happy. Sad. Horrific.

I think that is the beauty of following these events. It is real life played out in an adventure that we get to watch on social media. Connected, yet disconnected. Well, at least the dot watchers and fans have a disconnect. For racers and their families the Facebook groups are a way to keep track of their loved ones. It is that very idea that makes what I am about to say sound callous, but I believe I must say it. Facebook is tainting endurance bike pack racing.

Over the course of the past few years as Facebook groups following these races have exploded in popularity, I have seen little steps toward transgression that have frustrated me. I try to ignore them in the interest of growth of the sport and ride-your-own-ride, but it is getting worse. What started as an occasional person reaching out for/to help on social media has turned into an everyday occurrence. Dot watchers make comments about racers being off course, sometimes even tagging the racer in their post. Racers make posts ambiguously seeking advise or assistance. Even dot watchers posting about someone sitting too long in one spot is crossing the line.

The fact is all of these races have a set of rules that are very similar. Traverse a route under your own power without outside assistance. Racers are to follow the spirit of the race, self-policing. Esprit de corps. That means when a racer toes the line to start one of these adventures, they are accepting the rules set forth by those that came before and they are choosing to do this thing on their own.

Had the majority of instances where people obviously and publicly break the rules resulted in racers relegating themselves from the general classification, I would have nothing to say, but that is not the case. Racers ask for advise during a race on social media and masses of ignorant dot watchers and fans flock to “help” so that they feel a little closer to the action. When someone speaks up against this, they are lambasted with name calling and classified as uncaring, unsocial and just mean.

When fans take to the airwaves to “report” that someone is off course or taking a longer break than expected, it is a problem. A racer off course must correct the mistake themselves without outside assistance. If the small mistake of missing a turn means an 80 mile detour that potentially costs you the race, so be it. Ask Sarah Hammond about that one. A racer sleeping off two weeks of huge mileage who might get passed by someone if they stay down any longer has a situation that they would likely want to deal with, but a notification or phone call from a loved one to “make sure they are all right” is against the rules. Period.

I understand we have had fellow racers who have been struck by vehicles. This is tragic and sad. My heart breaks for them and their loved ones. As road users, we should be guaranteed more safety….but we aren’t.

It might not be PC and you might not like it, but toeing the line for a race means accepting that risk. The risk is there that a stationary dot is injured or worse. I don’t know what the answer is to that situation, but I do know if I was out there racing my guts out, I would not want someone breaking the rules to contact me. Some will think that is easy for me to say because I haven’t been in that situation. Fair enough. But, the rules are what they are and the agreement participants make to do these events supersedes what a fan thinks.

Before the start of Trans Am Bike Race, anyone at the start line will hear Nathan Jones say that “it’s just a bike ride”. It is, but I think some folks misunderstand. If a racer makes a wrong turn, it is just a bike ride. Let them figure it out. When a racer looks to be sleeping in a ditch for 12 hours, it is just a bike ride. Let them sleep. They made the choice to do this and I bet they are REALLY tired! Racers, when you have a problem and don’t know how to solve it, remember it is just a bike ride. If you ask for help, relegate your self honorably. It is just a bike ride.

 

Someday Will Never Come

This week and next, as cyclists from all around the world converge on places like Astoria, Banff, Alta and Dublin to embark on journeys that will be life-defining, many folks sit at home and get ready for what I believe may be the greatest and slowest show on earth– dot watching!

With so many great races starting in the coming weeks, people are excited about it. And they should be. It is a blast to follow the dots and it can be very addicting. I have spent many hours hitting the refresh button over the past 4 years and I always look forward to “the season” of endurance racing.

That said, I had a bit of a wakeup call yesterday. One of those moments of clarity that we all have from time to time. Something that brings perspective to things. A friend of mine who I went to high school with lost his wife and I went to the funeral visitation.

As I stood in line at the funeral home waiting for my chance to give my condolences to my friend, I saw the pictures of his bride and the faces of the families and friends gathered together, many of them very young. You see, she was just 47 years young when she passed suddenly last week in their home.

Being someone that worked out religiously and was healthy, you would never have guessed that she would be someone to die at a young age, but death draws no quarter. Life is fragile and can change in an instant.

I realize that we have all been touched by death in some way. Deep down we know that this ride can end at any moment, but we refuse to dwell, which is healthy. However, maybe we should think about our own demise more often.

If you are reading this, one day you will die. It may be many years from now or it may be today. That said, can you give yourself one good reason not to do the things you dream of?

Some people are content to watch and have no desire to do one of these races. That is awesome! Carry forth!

On the other hand, if you are dot watching this year and dream of doing one of these crazy races, I challenge you to start making steps to fulfill your dreams. Waiting until you retire or until you have all your ducks in a row is in my opinion BS. Too many times I have seen people have plans and dreams that never come to fruition because they just kept putting things off and death caught up before they were ready. I guarantee you Denise wasn’t ready.

With that, I am making my own steps and leave tomorrow morning with my buddy Nathan to ride to his parents house in Ohio. It isn’t an impromptu trip, as we have been planning for this tour since last fall, but it will be a blast and something I will always remember.

I hope you make some real plans and not just “someday” wishes. Ride on friends!

All the Little Things

Photo by Miguel Á. Padriñán from Pexels

This morning as my wife and I got ready for the day, we chatted about our fitness pursuits. I was pumped that I just finished a 4 mile tempo run, fully spending myself in the process. She was talking about her own excursion where she walked 2 miles with a friend. In that, she mentioned how she always watches for pennies while she walks and picks them up. I have done that myself and find it fun to add the extra change to my coffee can in the closet. Her reasoning was different though and surprised me, as she often does.

“Picking up a penny is a reminder to me to find value in everything and everyone, no matter what their external value may appear to be. The homeless person, the drunk walking down the street, the poorly dressed, the outcasts, even the arrogant, all have value and I need to remember that I am in no position to discount their worth”

My wife is so compassionate to people. Many times I miss opportunities to express compassion to folks. Her words made me stop and think about my actions.

Those words also made me think of all the little things we pass by everyday. Not just discarded items on the sidewalk, but what about the flowers, the trees, the birds. We walk right past things everyday that have great worth, unintentionally refusing to take notice.

Today, I hope you will take notice. Look someone in the eye and smile. Do something kind for someone, especially if you think they don’t deserve it. Take just a moment to stop and “smell the roses”. Admire simple things in creation. A bug or a bird. Take in the day.

Everyone and everything has value. I hope that thought brings a smile to your face. Enjoy your day!

The Most Important Thing Not Talked About

It is May and very soon riders will begin their travels toward the start of races all around the world. The North Cape-Tarifa starts June 20th, the Trans Atlantic Way starts June 7thand Trans Am Bike Race fires off on June 2nd, just to name a few. Riders from all over the world have trained their bodies, refined gear choices and prepared their bikes for what will be amazing adventures and times they will never forget!

My personal experience has been limited to TABR15 and 16, but I know the elation and stress that one feels as they prepare for these races. You obsess about every detail and every gram of weight. You want it all to be perfect, which it won’t be, but that doesn’t dissuade you from making your race prep the most important thing in your life right now.

I have been there and if I am honest with myself, I have to admit I loved that process more than just about anything I have ever done! It was such a thrill to submerse my entire being into preparing for the massive challenge that is TABR. All that preparation then turned to determination at the start of the race with my entire mind, body and soul funneled into one goal- to reach the finish.

At 2:58AM on June 29, 2016 I finished TABR. That was it. I was done.

At that moment, I began my recovery from TABR, which I believe has been more difficult than the preparation. I don’t mean physical recovery. That took a couple months and was expected. The larger, more difficult problem was the mental and emotional recovery from the race that I had NOT planned for at all and had no prior knowledge of the potential pitfalls of post event depression.

If you do some research on long distance hiking, you will find people talking about post hike depression or post trail depression. Why are people not talking about this for long bike rides? I do not know, but I am aware of some riders who have had similar issues.

What is post event depression?

From what I have been able to find, there is no clinical diagnosis for this condition, but it is certainly real and can affect anyone after a big event. In my obviously layman opinion, I think it could be classified as something similar to post-partum depression or PTSD. Frankly I have not experienced either of those, so maybe my analogy is off. I do know that it is certainly a multi-faceted puzzle, and the largest pieces revolve around hormone levels and a missing sense of identity.

When you pour yourself into an event of this sort, your identity changes. As you go through the race, the race is all you can think about. Once it is finished, you are a changed person. Spending the sort of time and energy that it takes to do an event like this changes the very fiber of your being and creates a new you. Your old identity is gone and you have to learn to deal with the new one.

Additionally, your body chemistry is completely jacked after these events. When the race is over, you have spent the last 3-4 weeks sleeping minimal hours per day, in every way exhausting your body, allowing yourself zero recovery, eating as much junk food as you can stuff in your mouth, building up huge amounts of adrenaline and dopamine…and then you just stop. Your metabolism is bonkers. Your body needs sleep, but you can’t seem to stay asleep for more than a few hours before waking up at a start, thinking you need to get on your bike and go at a dead run somewhere. Then a few weeks later, you can’t stay awake. You sleep 12 hours and it isn’t close to enough. Like a heroine addict your body craves the insane amounts of dopamine you had during the race, but it isn’t there (and shouldn’t be). Along with that, your cortisol and melatonin levels are out of whack and your brain doesn’t know how to deal with it all.

There are several things you can do to help guard against this. Some say to just sign up for another huge event. The fire you felt for your last event will be lit for a new one and your body will ride the massive swings in hormones along the way. That works for some and for a time, but it wasn’t a possibility for me. With limited funds and a family at home, I had to navigate things differently.

For me, I spent two full years dreaming, preparing, obsessing, failing (in 2015), re-preparing, re-obsessing and all but selling my soul to finish TABR. Over that time, preparing for the Trans Am became not just something that I was doing, but actually who I was.I lived life, went to work, spent time with family and friends, but TABR was always there. Once the race was over and I was back home, I had to learn to deal with life without the Trans Am. That was a challenge I didn’t know how to handle.

I found myself in a pretty deep funk, having difficulty being motivated to do my work, little to no desire to do things around the home and this created massive tension between my wife and I. About 6 months post-race, I sought counseling for marital issues, but soon realized with the help of my counselor that I was experiencing depression and my marital issues were just a symptom, not the cause. Fortunately, my wife was patient with me, and so was my employer. Things started coming around and I got well again. In an ironic twist of fate, one of the things I read about to deal with post event depression is to just wait. You will feel well not one second before you are ready to feel well.

All of that said, I hope that you folks who are racing events this year will take some time to think about how to deal with life after your race. It is a vital piece of your planning and as I am sure you have heard, failure to plan is planning to fail.

Below I have a few links about post trail depression that I hope will help. I am not a doctor of any sort, just a regular guy who likes to ride his bike, so read up on this for yourself and take my words with a grain of salt.

I wish each of you well and the very best of luck. Keep the rubber side down and remember…it is just a bike ride. 🙂

 

LIFE AFTER THE PCT: POST-HIKE DEPRESSION

https://www.rei.com/blog/hike/life-after-the-pct-post-hike-depression

 

5 Ways To Manage Post-Trail Depression

https://thetrek.co/5-ways-to-manage-post-trail-depression/

 

POST TRAIL DEPRESSION

Post Trail Depression

Book Review- The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor

 

In my last post I told you guys how I had set my goals for the year and have big plans to make great strides in many facets of my life. I put as much trackable and numeric emphasis on my goals so I can keep an eye on things and watch my progress. This has already paid dividends as I meet my small goals each week, check them off and get to experience the gratification of making headway. It is great to see I am making progress!

I also asked you guys what inspires you and what you aspire to do this year. Scott Williams commented that he plans to be even more purposeful with his goals and actions in 2018, focusing his efforts in ways to help other people. I think that is fantastic! Making strides to be better in whatever area of life that you choose to advance is great. If you can tie that to your desire to work with or help someone, it gives you additional motivation to meet your goals and achieve your dreams. Good job Scott!

One of my goals this year is to be better read and I have made good on that by spending 30 minutes every day reading. I have chosen to make the subject matter of the books I read something that enriches me in some way. Thus far the books I have read have been non-fiction and would fall in the self-help category, but I am not opposed to fiction. As one of my very good friends put it eloquently, many times fiction is more real than non-fiction, offering timeless lessons. I couldn’t agree more. We will have to see what books end up on my nightstand over the course of the year. I will certainly keep you informed.

As of late, I am reading a book by Shawn Achor titled The Happiness Advantage. Shawn grew up in Waco, TX. As a young man and high school student, Shawn expected to stay in Texas and applied to Harvard on a dare. Much to his surprise he was accepted. Upon going to Harvard to study psychology, he fell in love with the campus and atmosphere. He did his undergraduate, then decided to stay for his graduate studies, taking on teaching duties to pay his way through. He also proctored young students and had the opportunity to help some 1600 young men and women as they navigated the waters of an institution that would give them an education few get to experience.

There are few places where the very best and brightest from around the world gather. Add in the ancient buildings and a deep history as an educational institution, Achor explains Harvard as being a very special place that reminded him of Hogwarts. One would think that this magical atmosphere would be an academic heaven of sorts, where young bright minds would not just go to learn, but flourish. The reality he found was that despite the one of a kind education experience and promise of high success that such a prestigious degree as one can earn at Harvard offers, many students find themselves struggling with depression.

Why would these kids be depressed? Imagine the competitive nature of an institution where everyone is from the top of his or her high school class. Imagine being THAT kid in high school- top of your class, excellent academic marks, great expectations of yourself and exceeding the expectations of faculty and family. Then transport that kid to the beginning of their freshman year at Harvard. Immediately 50% of all those 1%’ers are below average. After a lifetime of being at the top, these kids now have to learn to deal with emotions that they don’t know how to process.

Watching these great young minds deal with the rigors of a highly competitive environment in which everyone is the best, Achor wanted to make a difference. Why shouldn’t these kids be happy? That question fueled his research and subsequent work, propelling him to make the conclusion that the old adage of “work hard to succeed” is bunk. Maybe some of you are rolling your eyes at that. Before you throw the baby out with the bathwater, let me explain.

I was taught from a very young age that the key to success was hard work. Work hard and one day you will find that you succeed. This comes with the overlying idea that as that hard work pays off, you will be happy. What Achor’s research found was the opposite- happy people become successful people. Chase happiness and you will likely find success.

The book goes on to give some basic principles and ideas to put into action and work toward finding happiness in your life. I must say, I don’t feel like I am short on happiness in any way, but it is always a good idea to make strides at improvement. Currently I am only about half way through the book, but I am confident in my recommendation.  If you are looking for a good read, pick it up! You can get it on Amazon by clicking HERE.

This year I will be going through books and am always looking for suggestions. I read The Magic of Thinking Big earlier this year. Do you have any suggested reads? Comment below!!!

 

Plans and Goals for 2018

2017 was a great year. Good and bad happened, but I have to label it great. I didn’t reach all my fitness goals in the last year. In fact, I didn’t reach many of my goals, but I still choose to say it was a great year. I rode part of Tunnel Hill Trail with my wife in May, toured from Chicago to the Missouri boot heel on our way to Memphis with my friend Nathan in June and rode the length of Tunnel Hill both directions with Nathan in October. I had a DNF at the Ozark Trail 100 mile MTB race and stopped 6 hours into the Wolf Creek 12HR MTB race. I ended the year with 1661 miles of cycling, well short of the totals of any of the last 6 years since I started riding a bike.

There have been times that I have found myself feeling dissatisfied with 2017, but I am choosing to look at it as a year of rest, recovery and reflection. Miles and fitness were low, weight was high,  but I really enjoyed the times I spent on the bike. That is worth a ton. I also spent a lot of time focusing on family and relationships with friends, which made me happy. I went back to school. I got intentional about finding peace within myself and working to avoid some of the pitfalls that have traditionally led me to depressive episodes. Goals met or no, some great things happened in 2017.

On the down side, my biggest problem as I look back at 2017 was a lack of focus. My goals in the past have been somewhat ambiguous and general. Things like “lose weight”, “make better choices eating” and “increase savings” are nice statements, but without actionable items and specific, quantifiable marks, the objectives had no teeth. I didn’t have something to break down to the month or week, so I didn’t keep track of what I was doing. When I got to the end of the year, I looked back at my goals in my journal and realized that if those things were actually important to me, I needed to make some changes.

When goal setting for this year, I got numeric and, in some instances, a bit crazy with what I want to accomplish. For 2018 I am going for trackable items and the end targets are BIG!

I set specific goals for the amount of weight I want to lose and in what timeframe I want that to happen. I outlined exactly how many miles I would like to ride at a minimum and what events I plan to do. I set a goal to start a morning routine of exercise, meditation, reading and studying Spanish. I could go on, but I think you get the point. In 2018 I will be tracking my progress and making adjustments so that I reach my goals or adjust expectations as need be. Instead of stopping at the end of the year, looking back and wishing I had done different, I am going to make those small adjustments needed to stay on course (or adjustments to the course itself) all along the way.

So what has happened so far? I’ve been doing Couch to 5K three days a week and yoga twice a week. I am down 7.9 lbs and making healthier choices with my eating habits. I’ve meditated for 10 minutes 13 of the 18 days so far this month, read for 30 minutes 12 days and practiced Spanish for about 20 minutes the last 15 days in a row.

I have many other pieces of the puzzle of my life that I am working on this year as well. I will graduate with my associates degree in May and I have set some aggressive goals for my work and income. I have specific items planned for volunteering, teaching, improving our finances, family trips, home maintenance and plans for our future. With all that, I believe that 2018 will be a fantastic year!

Have you set any goals for the coming year? I know it is mid-January and most people have stopped talking about their resolutions, but it isn’t too late to dream about what you want for 2018, make plans and make it happen. In fact, now may be the perfect time to take specific steps to make your 2018 amazing. What inspires you? What do you aspire to do or be? Leave a comment and let’s chat about it!

Finishing 2017 Strong

As mentioned before, my days of late have been busy with work, school and renovations around the house. I haven’t made much, if any, time for cycling. That said, little points of interest have been poking me, prodding my sedentary self and giving me grand ideas for the coming months and year ahead.

After a conversation with a good friend the other day about goals achieved this year and other goals not so achieved, I have come to the determination that I want to get back on one wheel. Last Christmas my wife gave me a unicycle. I had wanted one for a long time and was excited to get out and give it a try, but I really didn’t know where to start. A quick google search led me to Mike Boyd’s Youtube channel. On his channel, called Learn Quick, he posts videos of his progress learning new skills. One of those was his unicycle video, which is truly brilliant and inspirational! I decided to not only use his tips to try to learn to ride the uni, but also video my progress.

Unfortunately, with only a couple sessions in the first two months of the year, I shelved the uni and haven’t touched it since. It sits in the corner, taunting me each time I notice it. The time has come to make good on my goal for the year. My plan is to recover my progress from earlier this year and learn to ride the uni before the end of 2017. That will require practice, but I’m confident I can make it happen.

Another fantastic bit of inspiration has come from my friend Janie Hayes and her blog of her Trans Am Bike Race 2017 adventure. Janie is truly an artist with words and will captivate you with her story. Despite knowing that I won’t be racing in 2018, by reading her posts, the question that has come up in my brain is, “could I give the Trans Am another go?” The answer is a resounding YES! I love the route and in many ways feel like I have unfinished business with the race. I am certainly proud of my 24 D 16H time in 2016, but my goals for that race were more ambitious. The thought of going back for another shot makes me excited and I found myself staring at spreadsheets last night until the wee hours, plotting what I would do if I toed the line again.

As I said, there won’t be any racing of the TABR/TD magnitude for me in 2018. That is, unless I would come across some sort of windfall that would make it feasible. I wouldn’t want to make a go at it without a completely funded budget for racing and with home projects and 2 kids in college, I don’t see it happening. There is, however, something that I could do.

Ever since my Trans Am tour in 2011, I have dreamed of writing a book. I have never considered myself a writer, but while blogging that trip, I had several people say they thought I should. I brushed it off, thinking that they must have poor taste. The fact is, I wasn’t confident in my writing and invalidated their responses because of my insecurities. Since then, I have taken some classes and the writing comes so easy to me. Add in that my class grades reflect the same positivity as my 2011 blog post praisers and I find myself more than intrigued.

I have spent some time brainstorming and writing around a couple of ideas. One in particular has me excited. I’m not certain how it will flesh out, but I anticipate maybe a road trip/cycling vacation with Jeneen in 2018 to do more research, capture photos and add in some stoke for the project. I’ll leave it at that for now, but I am SUPER excited about it!!!

As always, stay tuned. I will report my progress here and cannot wait to do so. First, I’m going to go show that unicycle who’s the boss!

The three amigos ride again!

Despite my lack of riding as of late and all the other responsibilities that have kept me out of the saddle, I came across a great opportunity to get out this morning and I just had to go. My friend Ben, who moved to Colorado this past summer, came back to spend a bit of time with family and wanted to get the old crew back together for a MTB ride at St Joe. I couldn’t pass it up!

The morning was a cool one with temps in the upper 30’s. Having not done any cool weather riding since last spring, I found it funny how I feel like I forget how to dress for temperatures. Last night, as I was getting my things together, I was uncertain what to wear. In the end, the base layer and leg warmers I chose were just right. I could have used some covers for my toes, but it was a short ride and I made it.

Ben, myself and our friend Lindell met at the Blankshire Trailhead. We said our hellos, got on our garb and hit the trail. Ben had his Weimaraner Toby along as well. We hit the paved path and took the first left on the MTB trail. I felt completely out of my element.

After having not ridden MTB much as of late, I was way out of practice. Add in that fall has fell, completely obscuring the trail with leaves and I was more than cautious. I babied the corners and was on high alert for big rocks. After an easy first couple miles, we got to the first of the climbs. St Joe doesn’t have anything too big, but I am so out of shape that I was winded quickly. Fortunately the guys stopped a few times and let me catch back on.

Once on the backside of the course, I started to get my mojo back a little. I wasn’t as puckered up on the downhills and that helped to keep momentum for the ups. The climbs still hurt. I have GOT to get back out on the bike more!

The original plan, according to the text thread, was to do two laps. When we got back to where we had started, I let the guys know I was going to be happy with just the one lap. They agreed that was all they wanted today as well and we headed back to the parking lot.

Overall it was a fantastic little morning ride. Only 7.2 slow miles, but it felt good to get back in the saddle and enjoy some time in the woods, especially with the old crew. Ben said he won’t be back for quite awhile, so I was glad I went. Good times!

There isn’t much savings in Daylight Savings Time

The nights are coming much more quickly these days and with it, they bring cooler temperatures. Sunsets before 4:45PM and sunrises dallying until near 7AM make for long, cold nights that plunge below freezing. I realize that is not much of a mark for some areas, but for us here in Southern Missouri, it is cold.

All that said, the only cycling I have done as of late have been short trips on my towner bike to run errands, go to a friends house or meet a buddy for a beer. It is a slow time for riding, but I am ok with that. Other pieces of life have filled in the gaps.

After waiting far too long to do so, I have been working on the roof of our house. I’m doing a complete tear off and replacement, as well as replacing all the fascia boards. It is satisfying, but hard work, especially for a fella that spends his work days at a keyboard. Prior experience from days of yore gets called upon and I take my time. I am much slower roofing than I was at 19. I probably do better work though, as I am much more particular.

Another time sink as of late has been a personal endeavor. The reason I was roofing at the age of 19 was because I dropped out of college. After a tumultuous year at the University of Missouri- Columbia the year following high school, I came home and took a few classes at a local community college over the course of 3 semesters. Sadly, my heart wasn’t in it. Most of my classes I withdrew from and I did not pass the majority I kept. The frustrating part for my parents was that I certainly had the potential to do well, but the desire just wasn’t there. Even with the weight of disappointing my folks, I decided to scrap it all and went to work. What followed was a fast forward as I watched life start to unfold. Marriage, kids and life happened quickly. Before I knew it I had been out of school for 10 years and the thought of going back to college just didn’t seem like it was in the cards.

Suddenly around the holidays in 2001, I found myself unemployed due to a layoff. I decided to go for it and went back to that local community college. With life experience under my belt, school was easy and all my classes came up roses. I had a 4.0GPA on the classes I took and discovered I loved the challenge. As luck would have it however, I was called back from my layoff in the summer and school took a back seat once again.

Over the years that followed, I thought about going back many times, but I never got excited about it. This past spring, while having lunch with a friend, the subject came up. I said that getting my degree would be nice, but I wasn’t so sure at 45 that I wanted to go through the effort to make it happen. He encouraged me, I saw a spark of enthusiasm in myself and said I would look into it. Knowing this friend is the type of guy who will hold me to it, I decided I had better do more than just say I would call the school. I actually phoned the admissions office and asked to get a degree audit so I could find out how much I was short for my Associate of Arts. I was flabbergasted when I found I only needed 16 credit hours to get my two year degree.

The short version is that I went ahead and signed up for a couple classes to get things in motion. Now I am nearing the end of the semester and just wrapped up writing a research paper. Finals are approaching and I feel good about the prospects. I am only taking two classes, so the work load is minimal, but I am sitting on a 4.0GPA again. It feels good to be making strides at self improvement and doing well.

All that said, between work, school and family, my cycling has ebbed, but the saddle is certainly not forgotten. Soon enough I will be back at it and I can’t wait to see what 2018 has in store.