More copy + paste.

5-7-2019
The Hole.

5-17-2019
I’m in mourning and building my way out of it. The buzz and rush of professional racing is over and a withdrawal is part of the depression. But I feel a large amount of shame which caught me by surprise. After having some time to think about it the shame seems to be coming from a few places. Mostly, I let myself down. I’m ashamed to let myself down. I let myself down by allowing myself to count on other people. I am shameful that I expected help and when I didn’t get it I became hurt. I am shameful that I let people get to me. I’ve learned in the past that I truly can only count on myself in most ways. I had taken that lesson to heart and lived quite independently – and was great at it. I didn’t forget about independency but I’ve been living this soft life which goes along with assuming I can count on my family to help me. But that was wrong. I was wrong. I was let down when I needed help the most. It hurts a lot. Furthermore, no one appears to care that they let me down. It is my life. Guess I should build walls again. My walls are strong. My walls are high. In my fortress I grow strong and sharp and happy. I grow independently and become successful independently.

But at the highest level of anything there is a team supporting whoever is at that high level. I do not have that team. I cannot count in my family or friends. At this point competing at the professional level at any away race is futile. In order to be successful I would need absolutely everything to be focused on racing. I would need help and I won’t have any. I am done. This is probably the most depressed I’ve ever been and I am alone and nobody cares or understands or cares enough to understand.

I’m not allowed to be depressed. Which is depressing. It is depressing that no one understands. No one cares to understand. I am depressed that no one cares. I haven’t cried. I am growing angry. It’s a path that has suited me well.

I’m getting over this but it will leave emotional scars or as I call it ‘how I am going to protect myself in the future from depending on anyone’.

This isn’t a place for a hero.
5-20-2019
Well I’m sick of being depressed and joking about it. It’s not for me except for once a decade. I am lucky. Or maybe I seek evidenced based methods for getting out of it. Exercise. Sunlight. Sleep. No substance abuse. Talking to family and friends. I am lucky to have good family and friends. I am lucky Heather is so great but at the same time I would not have been with her this long if she wasn’t. I am thankful and give myself too much credit. Ego. Id. Brent.

5-21-2019
I did a good job sucking all the fun out of bike riding and racing. Riding in the rain. Riding in the cold. Getting my self worth from my results and hating myself if I can’t beat 23 year olds who race for a living and have had support their whole lives. Bikes are fun. Bike riding is fun. Bike racing is very fun. And winning bike races is very, very, fun. Winning bike races at a high level is the most fun… and comes at the expense of a lot. It’s raining outside and I’m sitting in my warm living room not feeling guilty for not riding my bike right now. I need to keep the fun going.

Bike racing at a top level is also detrimental to my health. High probability of severe trauma and minor traumas [broken limbs, concussions, lacerations] are inevitable. Let alone osteopenia, external iliac artery endofibromatosis, wasting of my upper body, carpal tunnel syndrome, prostate abnormalities are all consequences of a life behind bars.

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One of the oldest tales of human kind is the hero’s tale. When a seemingly normal person confronts a great obstacle and and sets on a journey to conquer the obstacle, to slay the dragon. In The Hobbit the obstacle itself is a dragon. Gilgamesh, Disney movies, The Old Man and the Sea, the Bible. A hero’s tale may be the oldest form of story telling beyond the lover’s tale, although those are often intertwined. The bigger the obstacle, the greater the risk – then the greater the reward. As I get older in life and have time to think about myself one of the main themes I come back to is… myself. Specifically why I do the things I do. I’ve been a competitive athlete most of my life. But why? Truth be told my reasons change almost daily. Sometimes it simply feels good, other times it’s to decompress. Then again doing well at a difficult task is simply fun, but other times its just fun to ride a bike. But lets not forget the exploration aspect. It also gives me pleasure to get a little bit better than I was yesterday and racing gives me a way to objectively measure that via heart rate, power output, rankings etc. The point is I want to take subjectivity out of it. I don’t like it when I’m told I’ve done well if I haven’t.

This year however, the main thing I come back to is overcoming a difficult obstacle. This year was a big step up in competition. It’s intimidating to toe the line with real professional athletes. I’m carrying around a Pro card but I have a bit of an imposter complex. It’s difficult to get out of my head that I’m relatively old, small, and simply don’t have the time to train as often as some of the competition. But there are certainly other people in my same boat. My point is that last year I said I would stop racing pro if I turned out to be a chump. Well… that’s pretty much what happened. This year has been a dismal failure. My best race resulted in 2nd place early in the season. Otherwise I have been hard pressed to put down times that would land me on the podium for the non pro categories. I’m a chump out there. If it were a dragon I would have been a charred corpse long ago. Failure allows a chance for introspection and recalibration. I’ve only ever coached myself by basically using the old ASU track blueprint and massaging it for mountain biking which may or may not have been the way to go. With about 6 weeks left in the season I started working with Todd Wells for coaching and he has really enlightened me on the type of interval work I should be doing. He’s also been key in helping me with in race strategy [if I can hold my horses and follow the advice]. However there is one more thing I need to tweak: the bike. My bike fits my riding style which in comparison is lacking in svelt fitness [24.3 lbs] and relying on the large chip on my shoulder to guide me while descending. However, as fun as it is to shred down hill – most of the time in a cross country mountain bike race is spent climbing. Most races are won on the climbs. Hence, as much as I love my Ripley, I will need a more uptight no nonsense hard tail in the 19lb range.

I like to be out of control.
8-5-2018
I don’t care. Today was supposed to be the final race of the season. But instead I’m sitting here on my deck hanging out with my lovely wife and my dog. This type of thing used to kill me, but I just don’t care right now. I’m burnt out. I fucked up this season and took bike racing too seriously. I also didn’t win a single race. For me, winning is the fun thing. It’s the high that I compete and race for and even the reason I ride bikes. The higher caliber the competition – the bigger the fight and the greater the high. But yesterday on some hill in the Sierra Nevada’s I was trying to spontaneously combust and looking at my heart rate monitor read “182” and I just thought to myself… “Why? I don’t care”. That’s when the field began to walk away from me and my heart rate dropped to 175, then 170 and then the high 160s. And I just didn’t care. I’m not diluted enough to think that if I maintained a higher effort that I could’ve won The Downieville Classic, but if I had the same chip on my shoulder yesterday that I had when I was in high school then I would have placed better. But as it stands I finished 43rd out of 57. The 2nd stage of the race was a shuttle assisted all downhill descent and supposed to be fun but the last thing I wanted to do was ride a bike.

8-8-2018
How to improve?
1. Reignite the passion. I need a chip on my shoulder. I need to get over myself and my results and refocus on how lucky and god dammed skilled I am to race at the highest level in the nation. There is a time and place for humility, but humility and timidity and manners have no place in high level competition. Actually they have a place and it’s called ‘last’. Sometimes you just have to be a motherfucker.
2. A race bike. An out and out thoroughbred, no expense spared, 19 pound, utterly fullsizeoutput_81espartan and satanically stiff full carbon machine made for cross country racing with the latest 5 prong connectors on 3 pounds of time code in a brown paper bag that makes you have diarrhea anytime the hill points down so I can point it down hill and get there as fast as fucking possible.
3. Disconnect my results from my fun. This is a partial vaccine against burnout.
4. NO NIGHT SHIFTS THE WEEK OF A RACE.
5. FUN!
6. Stay away from races above 5000 ft.
7. Focus on early season races in CA.

An athlete criticizes their own performance for the same reason an artist does not like their own performance. The greatest light comes from the darkest place.

8-28-2018
This running diatribe is becoming derivative.

10. Compare my results to myself. In this age of heart rate monitors and power meters I can easily compare my personal results from any given day. I must beat myself. Then I may also compare percentages instead of finishing order. But the key is to compare my performances to myself. I am the perfect control subject.
11. Mix in running during the season.
12. Train on different bikes.
13. “Rule every moment, seize every day!”
It’s clear that I’m the only one who cares about this. Which makes it difficult when external motivation becomes more important as the season takes more out of me. I try to lean on and draw inspiration from the closest people around me – but they just don’t care. Their apathy towards my pursuit is contagious and sometimes becomes outright annoyance which causes my motivation to erode and I’m that much more in a deficit. The solution to this is easy. Severance. It’s not what I want but I cannot control the interests of other people and if I’m going to succeed at this grueling task then withdrawing into myself is what needs to be done. This will manifest in apathy, emotional and physical distance but if they’re true friends and family then those bridges can be rebuilt. Not that I need to burn them, but they will become rusty.
10-1-18
I am going to slay a dragon next year. That dragon has a name – Brent. I will set out to destroy myself and my performances next year. I will need to reach further and higher than ever before and reach beyond what I have attained in the past. This will be hard because I’m kind of a mother fucker.

I need to write these words down and make them public because I need to be held responsible for my intentions. If I don’t take responsibility for these words and put forth my best effort then I will hate myself and become bitter towards myself.
10-24-2018
One of the reasons I am drawn to sport is because I like competition. Athletic competition is an outlet for being stereotypically male in the best ways. Growing up my mother would always try to suppress the outward energy / aggression tendencies I had. This made me angry and bitter towards her – she didn’t know how to raise a boy. When I found wrestling I became thrilled that it was an environment that promoted victimless violence with my peers. Cathartic on the most primal levels. My drive to be active and compete was suppressed as a young boy and being immersed in a place where I could listen to Heavy Metal and play fight reminds me of sport today. Plus it was the first time in my life where I would gain the adulation of my peers and elders and achieve goals. It struck a deep chord that rings through today and either rewired my brain to delve deeper into sport or just brought to light the hardware which was always there. Either way – I’m good at it and it’s enjoyable.

11-18-18
In Regards To Myself,

Well you’ve been doing this a long time. Indulging in your Peter Pan complex while that chip on your shoulder crumbles away. Before you let it go completely you may want to save a few crums and keep the pilot light on because you’re going to need it if you hope IMG_1226to pull off what you have planned for 2019. You had better cut the lines and empty the gas tank and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and invoke all that other cowboy bravado because you’re reflection is looking older and pretty soon later will become never. Lord knows Hell is cold this time of year and this Winter you will endure all of it. There will be cold days, rainy days, sick days, sunny days, bleak days, hungry days, quiet days, and lonesome days. Plenty of lonesome days ahead. But steady your hands, maintain your aim and stay the course. The light will come. This reads like a self help brochure and maybe it is. Because you know that no one can help you like yourself and that should bring you warmth and comfort. The clock is ticking.

It’s all worth reaching for.

11-19-18
Every left turn and right turn I’ve ever made has led me to this place.

11-29-18
By documenting my journey this year through mountain bike season what do I hope to accomplish and what is my theme? Of course I’d like people to watch. But I think it’s mostly for me and the people closest to me. I made a video in 2013 about the first year I moved to Felton, and I watch it regularly.
I just watched it and it brings the warm fuzzies.

Posting schedule Plan:
End of month pic montage.
Morning of race video talk.
Post race video talk.
1st of month video goal talks.
Opening plan video kickoff.
End of season video recap.
Pretty pics in story.
Pretty music vids in story.
Blog sometimes.

12-23-2018
I can’t explain why I become introspective when I ride a bike, maybe it’s because my life is in danger.
3-22-2019
Vail Lake STXC UCI C2

You know that part of your day when your hangin out with your friends listening to ‘Crazy Train’ when you hear the sound of carbon cracking and rubber scratching across gravel mixed with the painful cries of grown men to your right only to zag left narrowly missing their bodies. Then 2 minutes later you’re enshrouded in a dust blind going as fast as you can down 2 foot drops on rocky 30 degree slopes with a cliff on your right and cactus on your left while trying to keep up with the guy in front of you who is paid to race his bike when a cantaloupe sized rock rolls into your path so you white knuckle your brakes and pull up on your front wheel while gravity pulls you toward the cliff and at the last moment release the brakes so momentum can throw you upright and unweight your back tire to save yourself only to again hear carbon slamming against rock and painful cries from someone behind you but know if you take your eyes off the trail then you’ll join him? Then 30 minutes later your laughing at the whole thing with the guy while he’s dripping blood and remembering to drink so your legs don’t seize during your flight home that evening where you spend the night working in the Emergency Department sewing flesh and looking at X-rays.

You don’t remember that part of your day?

My definition of success is being able to do things that other people cannot do.

It’s like being addicted to turbulence.
It’s Heaven and Hell at the same time.

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2018; A Rambling Compendium.

2018 was one further step into adulthood. I do not want to grow up. Part of me never will – but every time the sun sets and rises I find myself drifting more towards turtlenecks and further from reckless behavior. I don’t like it. I am personally offended by time and entropy. The extent of my offense is sad, really. So, all I can do is harness this Peter Pan complex and unleash it in a controlled environment. I’ll probably always be like this… I think the personality trait at the root of the issue is fear. Fear that someday slips into tomorrow and blinks into never, and fear that one day I’ll look back and have regrets. If a person has any ambition at all then they will have regrets.  The retrospectoscope is 20/20 no matter how near sighted the present is. We live and learn and correct our mistakes but the lesson is always in the future and cannot be applied now. I often find myself thinking that I should have spent more time with this person or that, or I should have slept more so I could apply more energy at activity X. I don’t know, I guess by the time we figure it out we’re dead. It’s not lost on me how fortunate I am. I have a pretty high level of happiness and life satisfaction which is the direct result of thinking about my decisions and learning from the past. Trying to optimize everything.

I digress. Here is a short summary of events which meant the most to me during the last trip around our Sun.

Heather. I love being married. My wife is20180805_124120 the best and she will never get all the credit she deserves because I don’t know how to capture the moon. We have known each other more than half our lives. We know where each other comes from which gives our relationship a solid foundation and intimacy which is nearly impossible to find. A week does not go by in which I’m not impressed by her wisdom, selflessness, and ability to communicate. I value her opinion highly and count on her in ways I never thought I would ever allow myself to count on anybody. I look forward to spending the rest of my life with you. Words fail. All I have is gratitude and appreciation. I love you.

Bike Racing. I’m pulling off being a professional 76134756-_97A5423athlete and it’s not what you see on TV.  Outside of the Olympics, Cross Country Mountain bike racing isn’t on TV and thus there is not much money in it. Being a professional cross country mountain bike racer is very low in monetary reward and very high in prestige to a small Sub-sub culture. There are about 200 professional male mountain bikers in the country and snagging my pro card from USA Cycling is something I never predicted. I’m shocked to be here and know this is a rare opportunity to seize. With it came a collapsing black hole which pulls me deeper and deeper. It is all consuming to race mountain bikes professionally and I want to thank you for tolerating me while I find out how far I can push my body and mind.

Shane and Sarah’s wedding celebration. I first got to know Shane in the 9th grade. He was our safety tackle and c20181227_122259hampion high jumper and at some level I’ll always think of him like that. He was my first roommate and I knew I’d be well covered if he had the sniper rifle when we were playing Halo. It doesn’t matter how many years pile on – we’ll always be able to pick up right where we left off [which was probably a very offensive joke]. He married a smart woman and they invited Heather and I to an evening filled with most of my favorite people in one of my favorite places. Hell yes. I can’t ask for anything more. I love you both and hope we may dance together again.

 

Bend, Oregon. It’s no secret that Heather and I love Bend Oregon. Just call it Pleasantville. We get to stay at our favorite hotel, take our dog and visit a good friend. We just unwind and relax. It has a great vibe. It feels safe and welcoming and unpretentious. We get to tube with our dog. This year Jim and Alison went and we introduced them to the rapids. Some of my best memories are made there. Just be sure to “get your head in the game”, “you actual retard”.

101st edition of the Giro di Italia. Think of fullsizeoutput_233your favorite sport. Now think of your favorite team. Now think of your favorite event. Now imagine someone asks if you’d like to become part of the team and run the medical side of things at that event which goes throughout Italy. To say I am lucky is an understatement. Working for Education First – Drapac was an opportunity I never considered to even be a possibility. It’s in the same realm as imagining one day you’ll own a yacht or be a movie star or a professional athlete. I made some friends. I made some memories. I got sick and took antibiotics and walked around The Coliseum. I worked hard and did what I could to assist apex road cyclists with attaining their goals. And the boys surprised us with espresso and pizza.

Kauai. Thanks to my kickass in laws (who gets to say that?) Kauai feels like our second home. Our time in Kauai puts us in a groove. Naturally wake at sunrise, exercise, stretch, shower, acai bowl/egg sandwich, coffee, beach, nap, read, burrito, read, sunset, eat, sleep. It’s the perfect life. We’d live to be 120 if we lived like that every day. I promise I’m not bragging. I’m just reminiscing. Here’s Heather in Heaven:fullsizeoutput_80d

Downieville. I found gold in the Sierra Nevadas. It’s still kind of a secret so I’m going to shut up.

Best songs 2018:

1. “Take it all back, Pt 1-4” Ceschi. 

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On the road home from US Cup #2, when I discovered “Take it all back, Pt 1-4”.

“On ‘The Road’ again –
that was a reference to Cormac McCarthy.
33, still singing fuck the police
while the mark of the beast
surrounds me through targeted marketing.”

“Every other rap is another bad attempt to redefine pain.
Teen angst never left these veins
Guess that I can’t win if I don’t pay.
The sting of failure never fades away.
But it’s all ok…..
David Bowie’s ghost told me that
we could be heroes one day.”

It’s poetry. The song is unlike anything I’ve ever heard. Smart but crude. Pessimistic yet hopeful. References to Cormac McCarthy, David Bowie’s ghost and being 33 with a Peter Pan complex. Substitute “Still singing these songs” for “Still racing these bikes” in part 1 and “rap” for “race” in part 4 and it is shockingly parallel. If you find another song like this then please send it my way. Thank you.

2. “Reborn” Kid Cudi. 20190107_140101

To me this is a song about keeping up with the grind as much as it is an instruction. “Keep movin’ forward” is sang 67 times in 5 minute 24 seconds. Life is tragic. For everyone. All you can do is accept it, learn from it, and move forward. Great strength is found when action is taken and not just written or talked about. Failure becomes more prevalent at the top level of any sport.  I hate losing. Losing feels as bad as the death of a pet.

3. “The Comeback Kid” The Midnight.

Here is the song most of you will appreciate. The link above is even set to a Karate Kid montage for extra nostalgic effect. The Midnight has been a favorite music group for the past few years and they introduced me to a whole new genre of music called “Synthe wave”. Full of vibrant cords and pop beats that feel like the best of a warm Summer you had decades ago. Give it a try. Youtube is filled with their songs set to 80s/90s movie montages. I dare you not to tap your foot to the beat or get amped.

Best books 2018:

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas.

“There he goes. One of God’s own prototypes. A high-powered mutant of some kind never even considered for mass production. Too weird to live, and too rare to die.” I like freak shows and this book made me laugh harder than any other book I’ve read in the last few years. I look forward to exploring more from Hunter S Thompson. Here’s a short video of some of the one liners.

12 Rules for Life: An Antidote to Chaos.

Here’s a self help book that I cannot recommend more. At the crux of what is said is to try to be better than you were yesterday. Stop comparing yourself to others. Help your family, help your community and always tell the truth. Also, stop to pet animals you encounter on the street.

Pro Cycling on $10 per day.

Long road trips. Shedding skin in multiple states. Cheap motel rooms. Bad food. This is a cautionary tail which details one sarcastic mans journey into professional cycling. It is an account of the beauty of hardship and perseverance involved in chasing a dream.

 

For the 3 of you who made it this far, thank you. You are the people for whom I write… and try to explain myself to. I hope this helps. Love you! Sometimes it’s hard to be a human being when you don’t even know what being human means, but it sure is fun.

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In Regards To Myself

Well you’ve been doing this a long time. Indulging in your Peter Pan complex while that chip on your shoulder crumbles away. Before you let it go completely you may want to save a few crums and keep the pilot light on because you’re going to need it if you hope to pull off what you have planned for 2019. You had better cut the lines and empty the gas tank and smoke ‘em if you got ‘em and invoke all that other cowboy bravado because you’re reflection is looking older and pretty soon later will become never. Lord knows Hell is cold this time of year and this Winter you will endure all of it. There will be cold days, rainy days, sick days, sunny days, bleak days, hungry days, quiet days, and lonesome days. Plenty of lonesome days ahead. But steady your hands, maintain your aim and stay the course. The light will come. This reads like a self help brochure and maybe it is. Because you know that no one can help you like yourself and that should bring you warmth and comfort. The clock is ticking.

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It’s all worth reaching for.

2017 in review

Overall 2017 was a very good year. Many highs and thankfully not too many lows. Although media in general makes it appear that the country and indeed the world is descending into chaos, I find that it has never been easier to be human. Food and water are essentially a given, shelter is available if you are able to put forth minimal effort. Healthcare is a human right in this country. It may be expensive, slow, and most often frustrating but it is near ubiquitous. After food, water, shelter and healthcare what else is there? Relationships, knowledge, and my favorite – leisure. Knowledge is easily accessible for now, however dependable sources and the age of spin should make a person cautious about what they see with their own eyes. Relationships prove to be the most elusive for me. The closest ones I’ll probably guard over zealously until the day I die. Maybe it was watching American Pie too much growing up or maybe it’s because of nostalgia. If I’m being honest it’s most likely that close relationships just make me feel really good and are the by product of sport, laughing, mischief, and some primal need for social interaction so I seek them out selfishly. I would like more and if you’re reading this then you’re likely on my short list. So here’s to you my friend! *winks and double guns*

Yup I just used that as a literary tool.

Although life is easy it is also very complicated. Try to help me not to get those two confused, friend. Lets laugh a bit more, not take things too seriously and call each other on our bullshit this year. Hopefully I’ll see you face to face in 2018. Let’s not keep this digital.

 

Best Songs of 2017

“Map Change” – Every Time I Die

It’s really my perfect song. Melodic-metal, scream-singing, brutal-beauty. To top it off Every Time I Die released a music video which provides a wide cross section of real America. We all know the people in the video. I have even been some of them and given different circumstances I could be any of them. The video made me cry with it’s harsh forlorn beauty. The song made me cry at the Carson City Off-Road while thinking about a friend and their family. And then ETID came to Santa Cruz and played it live. Start the video at 3 minutes if you don’t like metal. You’ll at least appreciate its honesty.

“Only For You” – Heartless Bastards

This was the quintessential road trip song. Heather and I listened and sang along to it during many highway sunsets. Plus I heard it first here at 2 minutes in. 20170721_141113.jpgDreamy.

“Cool” – Netherfriends

Finally, here’s the song everyone likes. If I could bottle 2017 into the feeling of a song this would be it. Netherfriends is a one man group who collaborates with all kinds of musical artists and released OVER 20 NEW ALBUMS this year. My favorite new artist this year. Fan for life. Good Vibes and truth.

 

Best Books of 2017

Behave by Robert Sapolsky

Ever wonder why we’re all assholes? Especially YOU and ME?! Well you’re in luck friend, because this is the book for both of us. Dripping with sarcasm and packing a works cited section that could kill a small dog if you dropped it.

The Haywire Heart by Zinn et al.

Most of this I learned at ASU and in Touro but this is a nice summary. Spoiler: cut the shit. No Alcohol. More sleep. Lay off the hard intervals [not yet]. And eat this: Hawthorn, Magnesium, Garlic, Iodine, L-carnitine, CoQ10. Overall exercise is great but you can over do it. So if you’re heart gets above 190 bpm or you pass out then knock it off.

I Am Jade Falcon by Robert Thurston

“A true Jade Falcon, despising her fate but going straight for its throat.” Diving back into the Battletech universe like it’s 1999. Sci-Fi is the best. I never much liked reading fiction because it’s too much like real life and not stimulating.

 

Best Movies of 2017

Logan

Where do you even begin? This one stayed with me. It was heavy and at times funny. But this one again made me cry. I’m a pussy. I am not like The Wolverine.

Baby Driver

Fun. Just damn fun. Movies like this don’t come out often. And the soundtrack is killer.

Blade Runner 2049

This may be the movie which makes me buy a TV. The orange scenes in Las Vegas are hauntingly beautiful. And in the end, the most real thing in the main characters life is the most artificial.

 

Best Memories of 2017

November in Arizona

This weekend had almost everything I could ask for. I saw both my parents all my nieces and nephews and almost all my sisters. I also got to hang out with my Aunt Vicki and my best freaking friend and a long lost buddy as well. To top it off I saw Joe Rogan live in Phoenix, got (too) rowdy afterwards and slept in my friends kick ass bus. I definitely got too drunk which resulted in a top 2 hang over of my life which is a big regret of 2017 because I had some plans the next day which I couldn’t make it through without vomiting in public. A large piece of my heart will always be in The Valley. Maybe I’ll be buried there.

Oregon

Not too far, but far enough. Oregon is swiftly becoming a favorite destination for Heather and I. What’s even better is that we can usually meet up with a friend or drag a couple friends there with us. In February Jim and Allison joined us for a tour of Portlandia… through the portal of McMenamins. 20170211_091209.jpgHow do I describe Mcmenamins? A cheeky and delightfully refined series of historic hotels, pubs, and restaurants throughout the pacific northwest that make you wonder if you’re on a light dose of LSD. They’re my favorite and usually haunted. In July we went to Bend, OR and met up with Logan (not The Wolverine either). 20170716_165229.jpgDude. Tubing. Eating. Laughing. Fun. Tubing down the Deschutes river on a blue bird day in July is my happy place. Having a friend built in to Bend is the icing on the cake. One of Heather’s favorite moments (afterward) was hitting an unexpected patch of turbulence and then submerging while the dog was “assaulting me and I had snot and mucous coming out of my face and people on shore went ‘OOOOOhhhhh!!'”. Well I thought she was rad.

Winning my first Pro Mountain Bike race

“There’s Brent Wood our overall leader.” WHAAAAAaaaa??? 6 hours into an 8 hour race I thought I was chasing a group ahead of me but it turned out they were just ghosts. I could almost see them dissolve into the misty forest. As a culmination of decades of sweat, blood, broken bones, fatigue and more than a few tears it was unexpected and I am proud that I did it on my own. A lot of other racers had pop up tents with team/friends/family to fill bottles and hand food to them. My teammates were racing and busy grabbing their own podium spots so all I had was a tote bag full of bottles and Hammer Gel stashed on the side of the course to pause at every 90 minutes and reload. It was long and lonely and hard. fullsizeoutput_2e1.jpegPrior to this I was wondering [and still do] what in the hell I was doing entering mountain bike races as a “Pro”. I have a job that only allows me to put in 8-9 hours per week on the bike while most guys at this level are putting in 12+. I felt validated to say I was a “Professional mountain biker”. Bonus for being in the beautiful middle of nowhere California on one of the most fun courses ever. It was beautiful. There’s a pond. It was my favorite moment on the bike all year.

 

Worst Memories 2017

It can’t all be sunshine and rainbows. If a person does not remember their mistakes and the bad times then a person does not grow and become a better person.

The Breck Epic

20170816_123121.jpgThere was one fun day out of six. I get it. This race tries to be hard for the sake of difficulty which I appreciate, but it foregoes fun descents in order to take a fire road to another mountain pass so we can take our bikes for 2 mile hike. No. That’s not bike racing. Instead, lets rip down a technical trail and find some rideable terrain. Let’s mountain bike. It was a week spent above ten thousand feet breathing out of a straw getting passed by 50 year old roadies going up hill who freak out anytime the trail goes down or isn’t strait. I have news for all of you endurance athletes: endurance sports are not that hard. You’re not a bad ass because you can pedal or run or swim fast. If a person wants to do something truly difficult then try a combat sport. When you’re tired and out of breath on a ride you might get dropped, but no one is going to strangle you unconscious. Wanna fight about it? I learned that living at sea level, I can’t compete at altitude and expect to do well.

Hand Foot and Mouth Disease

Part of working in the trenches of medicine. I’m sure most people who work in an Emergency Department are colonized with MRSA and afflicted with numerous viruses annually and we usually handle it in stride thanks to our unbelievably effective immune systems and vaccinations. 20170517_134702But, In 2011, a new strain of Coxsackie virus, A-6, appeared thanks to globalization.  This new strain has a different clinical presentation and a different age group of involvement. Basically it has a proclivity for adults and is more severe. It hit me pretty hard for about 2 days. One of those days was the Old Cabin Classic, which is one of my favorite races of the year and my local race. It was the most I suffered the entire year due to being sick and is in part to blame for missing out on a major goal I have- to win my local race. Not much to learn here other than to prepare for this coming year.

Getting too drunk in Arizona

I’m 32 years old. There is no excuse for getting too drunk. It’s not the act of over indulging that I’m ashamed of – it’s that I had plans the next day with a great friend and I had to cancel them. We had tickets to watch ASU wrestle and I pissed it all away. Additionally, I was a poor guest in the The Zelimir Dekker but thankfully John took great care of me and let me off easy like only a guy you grew up with could.

 

What to improve upon in 2018

More time with family and friends.

Life is impermanent. We’re all getting older until one day were gone and something steals our carbon, just like we’ve been stealing carbon from our food. When we look up at the stars and wonder about the universe, all we are is the universe in human form looking at itself. When either my life is done and dusted or someone I know is done and dusted I don’t want to look back and think that I should have been there or done that. So I’m coming to see you in 2018 (if racing and training permits) and you should come see me. I have a spare room and a wonderful wife who makes great food and coffee and a Redwood forest with an Ocean. 20170721_124846This is a genuine offer and I’m not just saying this.

Live the life of a Professional Mountain Biker.

I don’t mean the glamour and travel and results. I mean the training, the diet and the sacrifice. If I put in the work then everything else will fall into place. Call it FOMO if you want but my athletic ability is decreasing and I have a limited amount of time to compete as a Professional. And I do mean compete. Not just be in the way. I don’t want to be some chump. To do this I need your help. Specifically ask me how training is going and encourage me to get out on the bike. If we’re out to eat then encourage me to eat nutritiously. And if I need to go for a ride [which is every single day] then please encourage me to do so. In 2018 I’m getting a coach and a power meter to fine tune my training. I don’t want that to be wasted time and potential so I need you to call me on my bullshit.  This typically takes the form of rationalizing why I need to look at my phone/sleep which then leads to not training enough or showing up to races 5 minutes before the gun goes off scrambling like a cat in a bathtub to make it in time. 71384780-Old+Cabin+Classic+2017-779This is directly at odds with my first goal.

Become better at medicine.

I am fortunate to do what I do for a living. It can be a great source of negativity in my life – but in the end I get to help human beings in their time of need. I don’t take this lightly but we all have strengths and weaknesses and I need to appreciate and work on my subjective weaknesses. This means studying. IMG950584This is directly at odds with my first two goals.

 

Sleepless in the saddle

This may set the tone.

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Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

“3 hours is a long time when you’re already on your knees.” 

The sun greeted our hollow husks two laps ago and is now broadcasting its radiance so that all of our nocturnal trauma is plain to see. I am proud of my hard earned abuse. It’s about ten on Sunday morning October 4th, 2015 and what my body began whispering to my brain in the dark last night has built like a crescendo to violent demands typically reserved for episodes of COPS. My body is in a trist with my brain and while my brain [backed up by my testicles] usually gets the better of these arguments – on this morning my brain is a bit pensive for one good reason. I’ve never pushed my body to this place before. You see dear reader, I have spent the previous twenty two hours racing a mountain bike named Turbo Slut 198 miles and climbing 27, 000 feet of Trinity Alps splendor during the World Endurance Mountain Bike Organization’s 2015 World Solo 24 Hour Championship.  Ten AM on Sunday is the first time I’ve peeled my ass from the bike seat. I’m laying on a fold out lawn chair with feet elevated staring through my left big toe while my IMG_3824brain is distracted with ‘why’. Why does anyone do this? Why did the timelapse night portion from the promo video have to look so cool? And my most pressing question in this moment is why the hell does my toe hurt SO BAD!? But in the tangential light of California morning sun some things are more obvious – my toe is visibly pulsating and I’m desperately looking for a reason to quit. Enter Heather; my fiancé, my friend, and the last person I want to disappoint because she just spent a sleep deprived night on a high school football field assisting a nihilist in annihilating himself at The Solo 24. I tell her I’m tapping out and she plainly tells me “No”, undeniably reasoning that the toe is not permanently damaged and there is still time for one more lap if I shut up and move… now. Her words galvanize what is left of me to rise up with all the grace of the Tin man and schlepp my carcass 5 feet over to the bike.

It is astonishing how much everything hurts. This is the moment where I realize I may have shaved a week off of my life and just so the universe can rub it in, I look up just in time to watch a gentleman from Australia grind past me. This particular Aussie has been in hot pursuit of yours truly since the initiation of this parade of pain and like a good sheriff – he got his man [me] shortly after sun up. Although the only bounty on my head is self-determined, the Aussie now claims second place while first place resides twenty two miles ahead with a Belgian. Prior to this moment I have never ridden for more than a tarmac smooth one hundred seventeen miles, or pedaled more than eight hours and while that may seem impressive it’s utterly disproportionate to this monumental task set before me. But the sheer romantic gravity of a gargantuan endeavor is what pulled me here in the first place. So how do I react when I am on the brink of destruction, depleted, torn, and dirty with one foot hanging over the craggy edge? Apparently I’ll react by doing whatever good people tell me to do and right now the best person in my life is telling me to straddle that Turbo Slut for one more round in order to salvage my solitary goal during this race: just keep going. So I kissed her goodbye, clipped in, and pushed off to burn whatever I had  left.

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Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

After leaving the stadium an overwhelming sense of isolation engulfed the course, which was swiftly replaced by a profound hatred for hills. No, this hill. No, this 2.4 mile 1,514 foot monument of bleeding martyrdom coercing me to dismount and walk its steepest yet penultimate fifty feet. If there was a gun to my head then the hillside would be decorated a most acidic red because there was no way to overcome my seizing muscles and ride the entire forsaken thing. Alas, the grade relented and all that was left between my bone weariness and the merciful finish were nine miles of marvelous California dirt.

Twenty three hours prior I was in a trance on the same nine mile descent while shredding above my abilities on whoops, turns and catching air with Olympians, downhill (1)world champions and some of the best ultra endurance mountain bikers in the world. It was some of the most fun I’ve ever had and that fleeting euphoria is why I am a mountain biker. But this time the final plunge felt like holding twenty pound mits for Mike Tyson after he ate a dozen espresso and meth burritos. Painful and messy. Every. Last. Bump. Agony. I don’t remember seeing any racers that last lap but there are dream like memories of thanking the volunteers one last time and grabbing a Coors hand up from some friendly grey aliens at the top of the climb. After the final descent I rolled across the finish line with all the fanfare of a quiet fart during a job interview. Some people may savor the finish and a job well done but I had no desire to savor anything. I went straight to our pit area, pried off my spandex, lay down on the ground and slept.IMG_3840

Upon waking about an hour later I was incapable of doing more than groan and stagger around our pits looking for things to eat while Heather disassembled her temporary home. But I was better off than some. I watched with frozen empathy as a singlespeed racer went pale and completely unconscious a few meters down from us. By the time I zombied over to him with an ability to offer zero assistance he regained control over his body and the color was returning to his face. Racing that course for 24 hours on one gear had to be absolute fuck mothering madness.

Thanks to modern cell phone technology the cumulative damage is easy to measure: Average heart rate of 134 beats per minute over 23 hours of moving time while ascending 30, 204 feet across 211 miles. Other less tangible costs include radial nerve neuropraxia of the right hand for 1 week and deep chub rub usually reserved for busy gigolos. This resulted in 30th place overall and the bronze medal in my age group. The only adventures to smash me like this before were long wrestling tournaments in high school – which speaks volumes about the true intensity of wrestling.

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Photo Credit: Santa Cruz Bicycles crew at the WEMBO

It’s been a month since my first 24 hour race and some answers have been found while others remain elusive. First off, I reaffirmed how fortunate I am to be able bodied. Secondly, at about 3am I learned that if a woman is willing to support me whole heartedly while I adventure like a child on a mountain bike for 24 hours then I desperately love and yearn to marry that woman. Third, this race has reinforced that a bleary eyed concoction of danger, pain, and sleep deprivation can reveal flickering moments that grant heightened clarity and are crucial to my version of a balanced life, and a mountain bike is a worthy vehicle to capture that clarity and perspective. Finally, I have learned that the only thing holding my Ibis Ripley back from ripping down a hill are the diameters of my testicles.

 

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Patterson’s Pub.

This is Don.

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This is how a bar man should appear.

He should be strong of wit, jolly of voice and the understated man behind the curtain who ensures libations are never far away. After our own work days are done we indulge our follies whilst our conductor labors long into the night after ordinary folk have gone home. He is a friend to the work weary, daily patron and unknown traveler. Note the crisply pressed shirt. What you cannot see in the photograph are his shoes, shined with what we may conclude are years of pride in himself.

 

While much of this is hyperbole one thing is indisputable – the man knows how to pour. Each pint glass was pulled from a chilled refrigerator and wiped clean with a cloth. The glass was then docked with it’s predetermined beer of choice at a 37.5 degree tilt while the product was jettisoned direct from the tap, which is direct from the brewery, which is direct from an idea. As the container is filled it is brought about to be vertical. Standard fare so far, but what made this different was that there was minimal overflow. Instead of filling until the glass was overflowing and wasting a good thing, this pour was terminated just at the brim with only a few millimeters of froth extending beyond the meniscus which was finally excised utilizing a steak knife. The steak knife is an oddity. Oddities should be favored during leisure time.

 

While it is easy to make off with the booze at face value and carry on with the evening, one ought to address the subtext conferred by the effervescent potable. While not trying to put too fine a point on it – there is something charming about beer. Perhaps charming is too narrow a word. Fascinating? Invigorating? Encouraging? Adventurous. To each person this oft contemptible and sometimes revered liquid offers something different. In healthy moderation, a good beer is a great situation.

 

As far as the pub goes, it is an affectionate building filled with laughter and warmth on main street in a town with a foggy beach on a crisp day. It reeks of savory wood fired meat and you are invited.