Category Archives: Everest Challenge

Finding peace on the bike

Everyday when I get on my bike I learn something new about the transformative powers of cycling.  Creative thoughts flow.  If I’m angry or hurting, somehow cycling helps me work through those feelings, and turn that energy to the positive.  Cycling is constructive.  Cycling and sport in general helps us focus our energies, overcome fear and use our life for the good.

When I watched a story on New Mexico’s opioid crisis, it made me think of how cycling can change our course.  Then my friend sent a link to a video of Juanjo Mendez’s story.  Juanjo was injured in a motorbike crash, and felt depressed afterwards.  But cycling brought him back.

Dr. Leslie Hayes in Rio Arriba County suggests the real solution to drugs is to get meaningful things in peoples’ lives.  We are not going to arrest or medically treat our way out of the opioid crisis.  We need love.  Stories like Juanjo Mendez’s are proof cycling adds meaning and hope.

Cycling helps us cope with pain and trauma.  If addiction is an effort to avoid pain, as Dr. Gina Perez-Baron suggests, cycling and sport in general may be a constructive outlet to deal with our hurts in a healthier way, even focusing our energy to propel us towards our goals in sport and life.  To get super proactive building healthier lives,  we can promote cycling and healthy sport.

Sport has the power to change the world.  It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does. It speaks to youth in a language they understand. Sport can create hope where once there was only despair. It is more powerful than government in breaking down racial barriers.  —Nelson Mandela

References:
“New Mexico deploys best practices to avoid the worst outcomes in the opioid crisis”
https://www.pbs.org/newshour/show/new-mexico-deploys-best-practices-avoid-worst-outcomes-opioid-crisis
Photos are from Saturday’s ride  https://www.strava.com/activities/1251054152

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The fire inside

I clap my hands in infinite joy and amazement, before the first opening to me of this august magnificent, old with the love and homage of innumerable ages, young with the life of life, the sunbright Mecca of the desert.  And what a future it opens!  I feel a new heart beating with the love of the new beauty.  I am ready to die out of nature, and be born again into this new yet unapproachable America I have found in the West.  –Ralph Waldo Emerson, “Experience”

I cycle up into the high country
From a city at the edge of where the mountains touch down
Rising above the Río Grande’s winding course through the green center of town

At the top of the Sandias filling my water bottles
People approach me shining with lively curiosity
Conversation flows easily on this August day

Where did you start from?  How long did it take?
From home, not too long, you can do it too!
One foot after the other, eat, drink, be comfortable, take your time

And marvel at how cycling activates our care and joy
The fire inside us flowing upward like an awakening volcano
We see the world with new eyes rediscovering beautiful America

Cycling Up America’s Mountain

“Within my first week riding, I found a local club (Big Orange) that taught me how to ride and encouraged me to start racing.” —Krista Doebel-Hickok, Women’s Hill Climb USA National Champion 2016, on how she made the transition from running to cycling

I raced the inaugural USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships August 13th on Pikes Peak west of Colorado Springs.  The course begins at 9,400′ and ends above 14,100′ over 12.4 miles.  It’s an incredible ride.  I raced up Pikes Peak in 2013.  That year we raced up Mt. Evans, Colorado’s other paved mountain road summiting above 14,000′, on Saturday, and we raced Pikes Peak the next day on Sunday.  That was hard!  Knowing the course helped me relax and enjoy all the rest and recovery I could get after the drive up from New Mexico.   We toured Garden of the Gods and saw Rocky Mountain bighorn sheep grazing,  A tranquil scene.

Co Springs garden

Colorado Springs garden of the gods

Garden of the Gods bighorns

Bicycle events are like conferences, festivals, and meetings all rolled into one.  It’s invigorating connecting with so many diverse people passionate about cycling, and inspiring to see people doing their thing.  This trip turned out to be full of serendipitous connections beginning with the hotel we stayed in.  The Buffalo Lodge at the base of Garden of the Gods in Manitou Springs is in the process of repurposing the historic motor lodge into a cycling adventure base.  Great!

Buffalo Lodge banner

Buffalo Lodge hosted the 12th annual Roll Bike Art festival the night before the race so we were surrounded by a rolling party.  Leagues of cyclists pedaled in throughout Friday evening.  An absolutely stellar vibe.  Cycling is not just about pedaling circles.  The whole experience counts.

Buffalo Lodge neon

Buffalo Lodge when in doubt...

I was blown away by the culture, sports and art.  A creative and inclusive community, where people are comfortable and don’t feel like they have to act tough or prove themselves.  I was especially touched by this piece of art made from recycled bike parts including chains and sprockets.  I’ve never seen hard metal and sharp edges flow in such organic and riverine form.

Buffalo Lodge art show flow

Great Sand Dunes hotsprings sunflower echoes

On race day I was up early to eat and stretch.  My race started at 7:10am.  It was a joint event, coupling a USA Cycling sanctioned race with a citizen’s ride in the Italian gran fondo tradition.  Some of my favorite events are like this, Iron Horse for instance, because you get a wider range of participation and more people riding for different reasons.  They started riders in waves and my group, Masters Men 40-49, started in the 8th wave after all the gran fondo riders.  We had 30 some riders in my group and over the first mile of the course I worked my way to the front of the pack from the back.  One rider went off the front with clear enthusiasm.  I spooled up and followed.  We worked together for a half mile and when the road pitched up in earnest, I was alone.  I rode my fastest tempo and metered it out to hold on to the top.  With a time of 1:14:34 I won my race by over two minutes, and was faster than my time in 2013 which was 1:15:33.  I had the 8th fastest time on the day behind pro/amateur elite racers.  Next year I plan to go for the top overall, but this year I’m glad I raced Masters.   It was the right choice to keep a healthy balance and meet life’s demands.  Life is more than cycling, but cycling helps with everything.

Great Sand Dunes chamisa and showers

On the way home we visited Salida and they were holding the inaugural Salida Water Festival.  There’s a growing movement in Colorado to conserve water and change public values and behaviors.  The strategy involves developing technologies to keep water pure and use it more efficiently, and incentivizing smarter behaviors.   Transportation innovation is happening similarly, coupling advances in technology with programs to shift behaviors and support values, attitudes and lifestyles that can make the legacy of our era more of a positive one, preserving our natural heritage so a healthful abundance flows downstream in time to future generations.

Salida water festival

Sand Dunes water

On the way home we stopped in the San Luis Valley at Great Sand Dunes Hot Springs.  We immersed our bodies in the waters on Sunday morning after camping out beneath the enormous sky and open space that is our heritage in the American West.   Cycling teaches me to be vulnerable, to be open, and reach out to something greater than myself.  The world of cycling is truly driven from the heart.  A cycling experience based in patience and love is just the beginning, not the end.  Poetry in motion.  Thanks to my team and sponsors for their support, all the club cyclists who teach me how to ride, and the greater community involved in cycling, who make it richer and make events like this possible.  Grateful we made the trip!

2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb / USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships

2016 Broadmoor Pikes Peak Cycling Hill Climb / USA Cycling Hill Climb National Championships, me finishing

References
Race home and Photos http://coloradospringssports.org/index.php/events/pikes-peak-cycling-hill-climb-main
list of participants  https://www.usacycling.org/register/2016-30
photos https://www.facebook.com/pikespeakcyclinghillclimb/
results http://my4.raceresult.com/59091/?lang=#0_BEE445
buffalo lodge bicycle resort in Manitou Springs http://bicycleresort.com/
roll bike art festival in Colorado Springs http://www.rollbikeart.com/roll-2016.html
Ideas for the last paragraph are adapted from Weston Noble
cycling, like music, ‘allows us to have feelings we never knew we could have’

Kalamazoo Strong

“This is about the healing process.”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

“The roads are back to being ours again…this ride is tremendously energizing. ”  –Rider from Kalamazoo

The cycling community is amazing.  700 cyclists gathered in Kalamazoo to finish the Tuesday community ride.  This is one of the most courageous things I’ve seen, to direct the energy toward peace and healing, and to pull the community together for proactive solutions.

‘We didn’t ride with Lance.  Lance rode with us tonight,’ said a Kalamazoo cyclist.

Story here:
http://www.cyclingnews.com/news/lance-armstrong-rallies-kalamazoo-cycling-community-after-tragedy/

At the Margin of Safety

“The only problem with the law is that nobody but cyclists know it.”  –Steve Tilford

One of the more discouraging aspects of bicycling is the too-close pass.  Unsafe passing is always physically scary but it can be especially tough mentally when it’s intentional.  I saw this comment on Steve Tilford’s blog:  “I don’t know how many times in my lifetime I’ve had people yell single file to me.  Probably 1000’s.”  For people to flourish on public roads, to make them healthier roads, we have to target threatening, intimidating and irresponsible behaviors.   We are advancing civil rights in many social areas, why not transport?  We all know that mobility is fundamental to American identity, we are a people on the move.  This song reminds me of these bicycling times, “not the best of times but they’re the only times I’ve ever known”.

kimo tickets

The hardest part of the violence I’ve witnessed (first hand and through story) is the damage it does to people and communities.  Perfectly healthy well adjusted people saying I’m not sure if it is worth it if I can’t stay safe out here cycling.  Tilford has another post about the upsurge in gravel road riding, in part driven by the desire to avoid motorized traffic.  I would say the majority of bicyclists prefer mountain biking simply because it feels safer.  There are positive drivers for off road cycling–the beauty and solitude backcountry affords, the intimate contact with the textures of raw earth felt through your tires, the technical challenges–but much of it is driven by avoidance, people who just don’t want to deal with the chaotic behavior on roads.  People want to support bicycling for all good reasons, begin by enforcing safety on the road.

Sunset last evening

The best address I’ve read for this was produced by the American Psychological Association’s “Task Force on Reducing and Preventing Discrimination Against and Enhancing Benefits of Inclusion of People Whose Social Identities Are Marginalized in U.S. Society”.   They did this report called Dual Pathways to a Better America  that is really succinct and universal.  The premise basically is that promoting diversity is the proper anecdote.  The bicycling community is well aware that acculturation to bicycling–when it is naturalized and people become accustomed to it, and most people do it at one time or another–disarms that “otherness” and creates a normalcy, helping us connect as humans.  “Discrimination, stereotyping and bias generate exclusion and marginalization for certain groups and wrap a blanket of inclusion, security and opportunity around others…Irrefutable psychological evidence supports the understanding that everyone is affected by systems of discrimination, and when these systems are challenged, the eventual acceptance of and support for social diversity is exponentially healthier for everyone” (APA report, introduction).  The intolerable part about biases in transportation (including the conception of privilege) is that human life is in the balance.

I’ll be writing a lot about this, but for now, there’s an important quote here from the FHWA approach for accommodating active transport:

“There is no question that conditions for bicycling and walking need to be improved in every community in the United States; it is no longer acceptable that 6,000 bicyclists and pedestrians are killed in traffic every year, that people with disabilities cannot travel without encountering barriers, and that two desirable and efficient modes of travel have been made difficult and uncomfortable.”

Crest arrow

This FHWA document is insightful and thorough in its evaluation and disruption of the status quo, and recommends good changes.   This is a call to action that takes responsibility and changes attitudes.   The Vision Zero framework, one that approaches every traffic injury as preventable, is helpful moving forward.  “Ethics: Human life and health are paramount and take priority” is principle number one.  If we change our attitudes and make people the priority we win, and the world and the roads connecting it will be a better place, good times to come.  Then the stories we write about the road, our hopes and dreams, will help to move us forward.

The Bicycling Movement

“As more people join in it’s less risky.” –Derek Sivers, How to Start a Movement on TED

This TED talk reminds me of what it takes to get safer streets for walking and bicycling.  It takes a few forward thinking people to recognize that active transportation makes a lot of sense and when we join in and invite our friends we make beautiful dance steps in our streets.  Next time you see someone walking and bicycling, have the courage to follow and become a leader.  Here are pictures from the bicycling life around Albuquerque, early March 2016.

Bosque family cycling

Impact and coffee

flourish

Kimo

blossoms up

Resources: Check out SINC’s facebook page  (Social Impact through Nonprofit Community) for the Impact and Coffee events on Tuesday mornings.  https://www.facebook.com/SINCNM/

Seize the Day

whoa

I’m pretty sure the slower I ride, the more time I have to absorb what I see.  Plus I have time to chat with people.  This is such an exciting time of year to Spring forward making life anew.  Change happens one conversation and one bike ride at a time.  Carpe diem, walk bike talk.

Trail Miles

Elena Gallegos glow

Seize the day

La Luz in the fold

The confinements of the road are also the conditions of its freedom.  –Kenneth Burke, 1966