Vuelta, here I come!

Well, it’s that time of year again–the time of year where I apologize for not updating more and, as explanation, say that you won’t believe how crazy things have been.

The short version of what’s happened since my last update in April: I raced (and finished) all of the Ardennes classics, chased them down with Romandie, then Giro, and finally went over the cliff in Dauphine. Then I hurried back to the US to be with family, and in late June my father passed away after 6 years of battling cancer. If you’d like the longer version, I’ve updated my Velonews page (find the tab at the top of the page) with the links to my latest rider journals.

As always, here on my own website I like to give you the scraps/side-stories that don’t make it into my Velonews journals….

First, I’d like to thank everyone who reached out to me and sent words of encouragement following my dad’s death. The support was overwhelming, and know that even if I didn’t respond to your message (there were so darn many of them!), I read every one and truly appreciate them.

After returning to Colorado following the funeral service to make the somewhat-jarring transition from funeral- to wedding-planning, I was thankful for the opportunity to spend a couple weekends deep in the mountains, well off the grid. I was able to incorporate the trips into my training, doing the 5-hr one-way ride out there, while Kate made the drive and met me there with clean clothes and my cross bike. I did a 4hr gravel ride up there, a fairly grueling day on some underestimated roads. The day ended well, though, with a grin-inducing 20-minute descent, complete with power slides in switchbacks. I may have even shouted “yeehaw” at one point.

The scenery up there was also a great chance to dive into my newest hobby: photography. I got my dad’s camera gear–2 bodies and an array of lenses, and now I’m stumbling my way into the world of photography as I learn how to get the most out of them. I came away with a handful of shots that I’m proud of. It’s proving to be a fun way to spend off-time, and every time I lift the camera I think of my dad. Here are some of my favorite shots:

An hour spent with the hummingbirds, but I managed to snag this guy in flight!
An hour spent with the hummingbirds, but I managed to snag this guy in flight!
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At Wind River Ranch above Estes Park, a huge rock slide left a tremendous trail of destruction
At Wind River Ranch above Estes Park, a huge rock slide left a tremendous trail of destruction
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Bear scratches on the tree
Bear scratches on the tree
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In other news: before leaving the US, I did perhaps the most uncharacteristic thing possible and got a tattoo, which my mother was none too happy about. It sounds impulsive, but I’ve been mulling this in my head for nearly a year now.

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The line comes from a song by Demon Hunter, one of my favorite bands. I’d listened to that album hundreds of times in the past decade and have always loved that line, but it wasn’t until a year ago that it occurred to me that it would make a great tattoo. I thought about it, and then left it alone, too scared to go through with it.

Then I was plowed by a car, and in the ICU the idea came back to me. I made the decision to get it done, but life got busy again and I kept pushing it back.

Then my father died, and in the hours spent on my bike contemplating life and death and eternity in the days and weeks that followed, this line kept coming back to me. It got to the point where I could look down at my arm and see it there, and I knew that I needed to finally get it. This reassurance–of an eternity in heaven, guaranteed by Christ–coupled with the urgency of living this one life well, is what my mind locked onto in both of the hardest moments of my life. It’s a message that I want to make sure to remember (and share with others), and now I will. I also like the symbolism of the font–the worn out typewriter (there are actually imperfections in the type), as if this is knowledge gained through a life of well-lived, typed out by a storied man wishing to share his wisdom.

I’m not guaranteed one more day on earth–I could be hit by a car or claimed by cancer. All that’s left between me and the everafter is this little thing called life.

Now I’m back in Spain and racing again, and having a lot of fun. I didn’t get any results in Burgos, but I’ve got some serious form coming on. I’m fresh, light, strong, and motivated, and looking forward to a great 3 weeks in the Vuelta a Espana!