Zen On Dirt



I broke my camera.  It took a flying leap to freedom and discovered that the ground wasn’t soft.  All pictures on this blog will be shamelessly stolen from Scott until I figure out getting a new one.

It turns out that I’m a bit of an adventure junkie.  I don’t do well with routine.  I don’t do well waking up in the same spot every day.  I don’t do well knowing to a pretty good approximation what’s going to happen today, and tomorrow, and the day after.  I used to be good at all these things, I really was.

And then at some point in time, I fell off the Normal Human Being bandwagon.

We landed in Durango about two and a half weeks ago now.  We got ourselves hooked up with a place to stay temporarily, I’ve been given the go ahead to actually start putting miles on the bike, the knee is 98% there, I’m making a little bit of money, I should settle down and enjoy, right?

I probably could if the Tour Divide wasn’t starting tomorrow.  It’s not that I actually want to go out and ride my bike for 18 hours a day for three weeks over washboards and get rained on and get scared of bears and whatnot, because really, I think it takes more than a year to fully mentally recover from a Tour Divide ride, but watching people get prepared for it, and get psyched up on it really made me crave adventure.  The unknown.

Yeah, it’s nice knowing I have a fridge full of food, but there’s something romantic about the notion of not really knowing what my next meal is going to be.


Scott came in the room two days ago and said, ‘Want to go camping?’

‘When?  Tomorrow?’

‘No.  Today.’



It took us under 30 minutes to pack bikes and camping gear, under an hour to get the primo camp spot we’d been eyeing during our week of homelessness when we first got here, and just a hair over two hours from the moment we started getting ready to being back at camp, a lovely spin on the trail under our belts and dinner wares out on the picnic table.  We cooked under the trees, slept out under the stars, dozed in the bright sunshine of the morning, and then went for a ride on unknown trails.


With both our knees in the ‘semi-questionable’ category still, we played it conservative choosing a route.  Two hours, maybe?  I bet the knees could handle that.  We climbed and climbed and climbed, and then descended, descended, and descended, giggled, hooted, and wondered how they could build roads so steep, and then climbed back up to camp.  It was an honest to goodness mountain bike ride, of the multi-hour quality complete with beautiful mountain meadows, deep forests, beautiful ridge lines, big views and descending that got my adrenaline flowing.

Packing up camp took approximately five minutes and we were back in town for tacos 20 minutes later.  Then on to the river for a soak before heading home to return to real life.


It took 24 hours round trip.  There wasn’t really anything ‘epic’ about it, but it was just the break from the routine I’ve been settling into that I needed.  I still wish I was heading out of Banff tomorrow morning because I know that everyone who is will be in for a giant adventure, but instead I’ll blue dot stalk, continue to get my body back on-line, and figure out ways that I can make my life as unpredictable as possible.


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Double Cheese-Doodle

I went on TWO bicycle rides yesterday.  Actually three, if you count my redo when my tire went flat half a mile from the house and it started raining on me, so I turned around. Both rides were 32 minutes long, but were also both pain-free, which I can’t say I’ve experienced in the past six weeks.

It felt pretty amazing.  I was stoked.  Almost as stoked as the guy in this video.  (Backstory: This guy walks self-suppored to the South Pole and back and finds one of the stashes that he left on the way in and takes a video of it.  I guess there’s a whole documentary on his trip that they showed at the Banff Film Festival.  I need to see it.  Watch the video with the Closed Caption on for translation.)

This whole ordeal got me thinking a lot about my body and how sometimes I don’t give it the credit it deserves.  I ask a lot of it and sometimes I don’t give it the means to do what I ask of it.  Sometimes I forget how the mind-body connection is more powerful than I could ever imagine, and if the mind needs a rest, the body will ensure that it gets it.

Post AZT, I found myself getting mentally wrapped up in a few more ‘goals’ for the summer.  While my body was busy resting, my mind was plotting, planning, scheming, counting days until I could ride again, basically not shutting off.  What I’m starting to realize as I play trial and error with this recovery business is that my head gets just as worked over from big races as my body does and while it’s relatively easy for me to refuse to ride a bike for a week after racing, I’ve struggled with letting my brain rest just as much.


Even after the knee started to go, my mind was racing.  I started looking at my ‘goals’ for the summer slipping away.  I bemoaned the fact that I’d have to dig myself out of a deep hole for the second time in twelve months.  The knee got worse.

Sometime last week, I got sick of being grumpy.  I started to work on accepting that I might not race again this year.  I stopped calling the knee ‘Stupid Knee.’ I got myself immersed in some sedentary projects.  I let go.


The knee started to get better.  I still feel like I’m working with something extremely fragile, but I’m more open to listening right now.  I’m open to the possibility that my summer might be shot…with the knowledge that there’s a lot of racing to be done this fall.

Baby steps.  It’s all about baby steps.


Today, I Rode

I really went into the swimming business with the best possible attitude that I could muster.  I lasted exactly four swims before I cracked.  On swim four I hesitated jumping in: It was cold, it was wet, I don’t like water and exactly 33 minutes later I extracted myself from the water and swore Never Again.  The knee wasn’t making any significant progress with the laissez-faire attitude we were trying, so I decided to make use of my access to my favorite orthopedic surgeon, even though he was a four and a half hour drive away.

I was sick of being hurt and while I was doing my best to not let my inner grumpiness manifest itself outwardly, I knew I wasn’t being the most pleasant person to be around.


When I got the call from Dr. Griggs’ office yesterday morning saying that they could fit me in that afternoon, I jumped at the opportunity.  200 miles later, I found myself back in Crested Butte, which was an interesting experience in itself.  I had somewhat hoped to slip in and out unnoticed, but when the entire population is 1,500 people, I’m fairly sure that that is impossible.  It was weird being back, I don’t really have a better description than that.

In to see Dr. Griggs and tell him the story of Stupid Knee.  He pushed and prodded until he found the spots that made me jump off the table in pain.  He gave me his diagnosis.  He put me on a plan that we’re both hoping will fix me so I don’t have to throw more money at the problem.  He tested my glute strength and told me that surely, I could try harder to resist motion.  I couldn’t.  Apparently I have dismally weak glute muscles which is part of the reason my knee probably couldn’t recover from AZT silliness.  (Lesson: Listen to your coach!)

Then he sent me down to see Trent at Heights Physical Therapy in Gunni.  Turns out, Trent was my next door neighbor while living in CB and (surprise!) he made the connection far sooner than I did.  He saw me after hours where I once again told the story of Stupid Knee.  He had me go through a Functional Movement Screening, diagnosed me as fairly terribly imbalanced and not only with dismal glute strength, but horrendous core strength as well (Lesson: Listen to your coach!).  So one imbalance leads to the next, and here I am in my current predicament.  He then poked me with some needles, made my muscles spasm, and sent me on my way. (Lesson: Dry needling and functional PT is really cool)

Both gave me the clearance to ride, gently.  So today I did: Nearly 10 miles on country roads in a little over an hour.  It felt like flying.  Here’s to hoping I really am back on the path to recovery.