But things are not bad here and I'm not writing to complain, in fact things are not even just different, things are good! When I think back to the 28 years I've been lucky enough to have and especially the past four, I have no regrets. I have dedicated my life for four years to being a better mountain biker and the journey has taken me places beyond my wildest dreams. I no longer have any idea where my limits are so I've gone looking in new places. I mean hell, the Arrowhead 135 is often rightfully billed as a hardcore winter ultra (I mean zero disrespect when I say the following) and I treated it like a 27 hour fun run complete with a below zero nap by the fire and an excuse to eat chocolate and bacon. I will be back sometime by the way but next time on foot or skis to really
Even better than all the rides however are the people and my trip to Minnesota drove that point home hard. Everywhere I went I had a free place to stay, food to eat, wonderful conversation and I'd have to force myself upstairs to bed. To Doug and Paul specifically, a huge thanks. To Dave, Charlie F, Rick and the rest of the hotel crew, another thank you. I can't even begin to thank all the people I should and that's just from the Arrowhead! Beyond that Scotty who instigated all of this (and who is my ankle injury partner) and the rest of the CO bike crew you are all amazing friends. Plus the enduro riders and bikepacking.net junkies who are all now addicted Facebook'ers (even JP!), I treasure the memory of every ride done together. So how could I rightfully complain, I've had a fantastic 28 years and could only hope to have the rest of my life filled similarly.
So what have I been doing? I've been biking but subject to the whims of other body parts that are not so happy I hurt my ankle. I've been running a little, as much as my ankle will tolerate. And I've been climbing, mostly with my new partner and friend Aaron. We've been pulling plastic at the BRC where I finally made my way up a 5.12 and am onsighting some 5.11's. It's nice to see definable progress even if it is fake rock. We've been climbing ice where you can't help but laugh and smile climbing frozen waterfalls by arming yourself with metal spikes. And we've been trying to get into the alpine whenever we can to climb ice, snow, dirt, rock and whatever else stands between us and the summit. Alpinism combines the self support and long efforts aspect of enduro biking with the technical challenge of climbing (which I still suck at). That and it's just darn pretty up in the mountains so I like it a lot. Oh and I guess there isn't really a clock to race, just the sun to the horizon.
The older I get, the less I seem to care about a lot of material stuff I used to think was important. I'd take a king size bed one of these days over a fancy HD TV or new computer so wifey, doggie and I can all fit comfortably. And I haven't bought new clothes in years if they aren't outdoor related and even many of those are starting to show a little age. Socks especially, man I love Smartwool but I wear out the entire sole of the sock! I used to frown when I ripped my jacket or pants or sleeping bag, now I realize that patches are signs of use and signs of love. I suppose it's just trading one type of materialism for another but the "things" that let me experience the outdoors seem to hold more value to me.
So with a healthy dose of respect and a touring perspective, my birthday present (and Christmas and Valentines day and...) is my big trip to Alaska for the Ultrasport. Even if I can't race my fastest, I'm looking forward to some beautiful sunrises and sunsets from the seat of a bike, the soles of my boots or the comfort of my sleeping bag. And how could anyone complain about that?