Zen On Dirt

The final weeks

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The end always sneaks up faster than I think it will. Back in October, November, December, even January and February, it seemed like winter in Tucson would never end. I could always put off the motivation to drive up and ride Ridgeline because I had plenty of time. There would be endless Starr Pass rides. No need to get Seis burritos now, they’ll always be there. Ok, that last parts a lie. Whenever there’s even the slightest reason to go get Seis burritos, we go get Seis burritos. 

But now I’m sitting here with only three days left till our lease is up and anything that doesn’t fit into our cars goes into storage for six months and we point north, and I ask myself, where did the time go?

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I guess it’s a common life question, one that receives serious thought due to picking up and doing something completely different every six months. Each half-year becomes a very finite time period, instead of month rolling into month, year into year, I’m forced to stop and think, what did I do with my last six months? Was it worthwhile? Was it fun? What will I remember about winter of 2014-15?

Lots. I’ll remember lots.

Heck, just the last nine days, I’ll remember lots.

I’ll remember shrieking like a small child when trying to pass a rattle snake that Scott had already pissed off. There’s a primal fear associated with the sound of their rattle, one that can’t be reasoned out of knowing that I had plenty wide of a berth that it couldn’t get me, and that it was cold out and it couldn’t move fast even if it tried. Snakes, I will not miss this summer.

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We spent a lovely Sunday morning riding a lap of Cyclovia, the semi-annual celebration of human powered transportation. Several miles of city streets are shut down and taken over by bikes, walkers, adults, kids, vendors, music, and people looking to have a good time. The sheer number of cyclists who come out, all shapes, sizes, and ages, always makes me smile. Usually we get some ice cream, but this time we were aiming to pick up a Seis breakfast burrito on our way home. Life rule: When given the chance to get a Seis breakfast burrito, get a breakfast burrito.

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Drum bike!

Shannon’s birthday ride came just two days later. We’ve started a girls single speed ride on Tuesdays out at Starr Pass. Most weeks, we ride as long as possible to end up being those customers who show up at Seis five minutes before closing asking for burritos. This time, Shannon got off of work early, giving us plenty of time to toodle around on bikes and make it to Seis with daylight to spare.

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The desert is so damn green right now. I’m going to miss it. I’m also going to miss our girls’ ride. Though I’m really looking forward to riding trails that aren’t filled with rubble. And climbing big hills. We don’t have big hills on this side of town and I sort of miss them. I’m going to miss Rufus, our semi-tame stray cat who comes by most every morning and sometimes at night.

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On Wednesday, fully aware that I should probably be a good bike racer and rest up for Whiskey 50 weekend, I hijacked Scott and Chad’s techy taco ride and hauled them up to Ridgeline instead. It really would be my last viable chance to ride Ridgeline this season, and I would have felt really bad if I’d skipped the freshly completed trail entirely. Rest be damned, I can rest when I’m dead.

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We made good time up and around. I nearly ran into two javelinas getting it on, which was actually a little unnerving because they are mean little piggies, and I figured that they probably weren’t too stoked with the interruption. Luckily, they ran off snorting in different directions.

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We made it back with only 20 minutes of riding by headlight, not bad for a post-real work day ride. Having hijacked the ride and pushed my agenda on it, I felt it was only fair to relent to a trip to In-and-Out burger. If someone could enlighten me on what’s so great about In-and-Out, I’m all ears, but I’ll admit, it did the trick. Hungry belly no more.

And then we went up to Preskitt so that I could race the Whiskey 50 on my single speed, one of those ideas that seemed like a good one when I was stoked on racing after 24 Hours of the Old Pueblo. Every time I race, I debate whether there’s a better way I could be spending my weekend, and the ‘resting’ time leading up to it, and the ‘recovery’ time after it. I’ve come to the conclusion that racing is simply a good time, and as long as the rest/recovery sacrifice isn’t too great, is well worth the effort.

Plus, it’s a great excuse to stay in shape enough so that I can ride with people instead of fiddle farting around at normal Ez pace.

Unfortunately, the weather didn’t fully cooperate for a weekend full of festivities, showering us with rain and hail multiple times per day. Luckily, we got to stay at Kurt and Kaitlyn’s little cabin in the woods, where we even convinced them to build a fire one night and got the place roasting. The weather seemed to mostly hold off for the actual racing, including the pro crit Friday night.

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Race day itself turned out to be perfect racing weather and fun racing. Kait walked away with the win and a trip to Japan for single speed worlds, but I reached my goal of making the top five and getting one of the neat little whiskey flasks, perfect for bikepacking.

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Photo from Kurt

A part of me hates getting beat. The same part of me knows that I didn’t put in the work to be at the top of my game. It’s an interesting place to be as I work towards learning how to race for fun instead of with 100% commitment. Interestingly, my usual post-race internal dialogue reel of ‘Next year, you’re going to train, and eat right, and do all the intervals’ only lasted for about 36 hours. The whole time I smiled at the little voice – I know you well. You’ve helped me achieve a lot. You’ve helped me reach nearly every bike racing goal that I set. I devoted much of my life listening to you, and it was worth it. But now, I’m going to go eat a donut. There is nothing left to prove. 

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We came home in time to host a Christina who was looking for a last minute Warm Showers place to stay after getting stuck in a hailstorm outside of Lordsburg on her cross-country bike trip and hitching into Tucson. She’d been fighting headwinds for the past several days and was pretty excited to be nearing California where she wanted to get on the Ellen Show.

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I’d love to have a tally of the number of nights we had guests this winter. I’d put it pretty close to 40-45% if I had to take a guess, and I love that.

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Leaving to explore the world. We’ll be following soon enough. 

As we head out for a summer of adventuring on bikes and on foot, it’s fun to look back at all the new people I’ve met in the past six months, the new experiences I’ve had, the self-reflection time, the good times and the bad. It’s also a good time to sit and think about the next six months. There’s going to be some traveling. There’s going to be some racing. There’s going to be a long bikepacking exploration trip on another National Scenic Trail. There’s going to be a whole lot of fun.

I’m ready to get this house packed up and venture into something new.

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