Why I ride

Hmmm……

Well to be honest there are times where I don’t have a clear answer, I throw my hands up and ask that very question. There are other times where I could give you a precise answer right on the spot. So to really get to the bottom of it I think we must first go back to the beginning.

Like most kids my days on the bike were spent riding to school, jumping off curbs, seeing how long you could make your skid mark, how many skid marks you could make and basically just exploring the neighborhoods. My first was a silver and black BMX style bike that had the braking system where you pushed backward on the pedals and that protective pad that went across the middle of the handlebars. I’m guessing that was put there so you didn’t knock your teeth out while launching yourself off the two foot high curbs. SO RAD!

Some of my fondest memories with this bike are the countless hours riding the dirt jumps that were behind the trailer park my dad and I lived in. Up and over up and over again and again.Then there was, what I affectionately call “The Path”. This little stretch of dirt road was located around the perimeter of school. It was lined with pine trees, had berms on the side and had killer jump at the end which you could launch yourself off of, out of the shade and into the dessert sun. The way it was laid out looked similar to how some of the streets in Europe are lined with trees on both sides making a canopy overhead. Then there were more hours spent riding outside the confines of the neighborhood and out into the dessert. Following walking paths up and down the rolling hills that surrounded. I remember going out there and just sitting in the dirt with the little yellow flowers that blanketed the desert floor, towering bushes and tumbleweeds. I don’t remember doing anything in particular, maybe I had some Hot Wheels or Legos to play with but I do remember just siting and immersing in the feeling of being alone out there with just my thoughts. Oh the joys of solitude. After I outgrew this bike I don’t remember riding again until high school. This is because, once junior high came around my life was all about rollerblades and roller hockey. I’m sure most of us remember this gem of a movie. SO RAD!

OK OK, moving on.

The next bike that came into my life was my first mountain bike. A powder blue GT Avalanche that my step dad purchased from the bike shop he worked at.

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Here is a snippet of some of the memories with this bike:

  •  Numerous night rides up the Chutes
  •  Flipping over the handle bars for the first time
  •  Moab
  •  Starting my path of bike racing
  •  Winning a state championship
  •  Hauling ass, numerous times, to get home and out of a lightning/rain storm
  •  Learning that low tire pressure is a good thing
  •  Learning  that I can’t always force the bike where I want it and thus learning acceptance

While these are all great memories there is one that sticks out for me and I’m sure most can relate to in there own way. While I was taking music classes at the Conservatory and before I moved to California I met a girl.

*GASP*

See, now you can relate.

This relationship only lasted a few months but made a lasting impression on me. When it did end, like everyone in history, I was crushed and filled with heart ache. I remember going to work and just being mad and frustrated all day. Up to this point there hadn’t been any consistent riding. Just a few rides here and there. Then one day after work I decided to pull the trusty GT out of the garage and go for a ride. It was just the typical loop from my house, to the high school, up the side trails, over to The Chutes and up the always steep, tricky uphill to the parking lot which has a great over look of the city.

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This overlook was always a great place for me to catch my breath and just take inventory of my life. Being able to look down on the city gives you the sense that you’re looking down on your life from above. Being able to spot all the little landmarks of special events in your life, good or bad, and just reflect. I would do this loop, consecutively for weeks after work until the time came for me to start packing up and head west.

During my time in California my focus was solely on music and the only riding that was done was when I returned home on vacation.

When the band I was in at the time parted ways I was left with a few months of just working before I moved back home. My step dad, a few months prior, had hunted down a road bike for me on Craigslist and genrously packed it up and sent it to me. He said that I should go out and explore the beauty of the central coast before I came home. That’s exactly what I did too.

When I got the bike via FedEx I was giddy like a little kid at christmas time. I ripped open the box and put the bike together immediately. A few days later I was out in the hot sun riding the back roads around Santa Maria and discovering, again, the excitement of exploring on two wheels.

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This beauty is now my commuter. I love the paint job the most.

Around the same time I received this bike, The Tour was going on, Lance Armstrong had retired for the first time and Alberto Contador was beginning his climb, literally, to fame. I’m not exactly sure why but watching the way Contador would dance on the pedals as he was climbing mesmerized me. I’ve been hooked on cycling ever since. This is when I first started thinking about racing as well.

For those who don’t know who I’m speaking of here is a clip for you to watch. Just as a heads up the music is pretty cheesy.

When I got situated back at home I was burnt out on music. I desperately wanted the spark and passion to be there but it just wasn’t. So the next best thing I could do to occupy my time was to find a way to compete again in whatever form. Getting back in touch with soccer and playing indoor was my first step. Then I looked into getting into triathlon for a hot minute but decided that since I was poor and hadn’t swam since I was little I should just move on from that idea. I then found Duathlons which was great because they are just a Run – Bike – Run format. I had a bike and I had running shoes….PERFECT. I found a local series that had 3 races over the course of the summer so I signed up and started training. I did pretty well at these races and competed in them for a couple of summers. I ultimately came to the conclusion that I liked the bike leg of these races more than I did running. If I was going to run I would prefer to run after a soccer ball rather than running for the sake of running.

At this point it’s 2009 and I’m off to Moab for a Thanksgiving trip. At the end of a long day navigating the famous Porcupine Rim Trail my friend was complimenting me on how well my GT and I were keeping up with him and his full suspension bike. He then asked

“Have you heard of the Winter Park mountain bike series?”

“No” I replied.

Up until this point I had only spent the winter months up at Winter Park.

He said that it was a well run race series with friendly staff challenging courses and that I should look into it. So later that night, after everyone had gone to their rooms, I got online and started looking into what this race series was all about. After reading through the course descriptions and photos from previous years I was sold and that summer I entered my first mountain bike race. Being out on the mountain that had been my home for skiing and snowboarding for so long was extremely more enjoyable during the summer. The lack of crowds and being able to ride on trails other than the main ski slopes was a big part of this joy. I spent the next 3 seasons racing this series and another called the Mountain States Cup series.

Sadly though, like most good things, my mountain bike racing has come to a pause. Thirteen plus years of abuse on the frame has caused something to come loose on the welds and there for made me unconfident in the safety of the bike. I’m not sure when i’ll have the funds to get a new bike but I look forward to that day with much anticipation.

This brings us to the present and the bike that I now ride.

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I’ve spent many hours on this bike over the past 4 years training and focusing on road racing. My performance has been up and down and it’s feel like it’s taking FOR E VER to just get out of CAT 4. This frustrates me at times and brings back to the question at large

“WHY DO I RIDE?”

“IF YOURE NOT GOING TO MAKE A CAREER OUT OF IT WHY BOTHER PUTTING IN ALL THOSE HOURS AND MONEY?”

I’ll conclude with these thoughts:

I ride not for one specific reason. I ride because some days I want to be that kid who rides dirt jumps and makes skid marks across the pavement. Other days I want to run away from everyday life and spend 5 hours riding just so I can get some peace and clear my head. Then, somedays call for pushing myself to my limits just to see how far and how much I can take, mentally and physically.

I understand ,that to those looking in from the outside, it may seem ridiculous to spend so much time training only to compete in something that is so fleeting. For me, though, it provides a platform for self discovery.

  • The hours spent training and breaking your body down.
  • The nutrition and sleep to help you recover and let your body adapt to these stressors.
  • The mental focus to do it day in day out.
  • Balancing it out by adding in some social time with close friends and family.
  • Then, you race, which brings it all together.

In the end the outcome of that race doesn’t matter. Its what you learned along the way to get to that start line and making note of what you can do better in the future to help you cross the finish line stronger, not just in your sport of choice but life in general. Because of this I will keep training and growing so I can get in touch with my greater self.

WHY DO YOU RIDE?

TTFN

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My humanity

Listen while you read

It was September 12th and senior year was underway. The soccer team was hanging out over a homemade pasta dinner and jubilating over the game we had just won. We were a few games into the season and undefeated…STOKED! When dinner was done and the rowdiness had settled I hoped into my rusty grey and green VW bug and headed home, music cranked! When I walked in the door I was given the message “Lyndsey called, she wants you to call her back.” Lyndsey was one of my good friends. I strolled on downstairs unloaded my back pack soccer gear and took a quick shower before calling. With damp hair and wrinkled fingers I picked up the phone and hit the glowing numbers that connected me to my friend.

“Hello?!”

“Hey Lynds it’s Aaron what’s up?”

“You need to call Vicky right away!”

“Umm OK…why?”

She wouldn’t tell me. I was left in anticipation as she hung up and forced me to dial the number of my ex girl friend. When she picked up I was greeted with an anxious and shaky voice.

“Hello?!”

“Hey Vicky, it’s Aaron. Lyndsey said I needed to call you and that it was urgent. What’s up?”

“Aaron, I’m pregnant!”  

BAM….and just like that life happened.

Silence filled the phone receivers for what seemed like eternity. I didn’t know what to say. All I could focus on was the buzzing in my ears and my heart beating like a jumping bean. When I finally came back to reality we ended up talking awhile about the situation and tried to figure out what we were going to do. Really though, how can two kids make a rational or wise decision on a situation that should be reserved for those who have more years under there belt?! We ultimately decided that an abortion was the best plan of action, which was then rejected some time later for the new plan of going through with the pregnancy. Though it’s been hard, I believe all parties involved can agree that this was the best decision. Senior year and high school did not continue or end in the same light that it had started.

**Please be advised: A cold front is moving into the area!**

Darkness started to creep into my outlook

dmitry maximov Months went by and the small amount of friendship that had built up between Vicky and I since the breakup evaporated. Hatred and spite took its place. When the day came to see my daughter for the first time at the hospital, I didn’t want to have anything to do with it. What should be a day of joy and celebration was anything but. All I could think, and all I had thought about over the past 9 months, was what a failure I was to myself and to my family. “Why is this happening to me?!” If it had been left up to me, I probably wouldn’t have gone to the hospital at all that day and just treated it like any other school day, but alas, I did go thanks to my family. I can’t recall all the details about the visit or even remember seeing my daughter, but I do remember it being awkward and unpleasant. Not how it should be on the birth day of your child. The visit ended and I was off back to school.

Graduation day came and went with nothing special to speak of. “Thank god that’s over with!”

There was an upside though! My parents gave me a free pass to be able to spend the summer months being a normal teenager. I traveled to Ohio to hang out with my good friend from junior high, playing guitar, causing a ruckus around the suburbs of Kettering, and traveling to Connecticut for a guitar camp. Still some of my best memories!

When I got back home, the summer began to fade and it was time to saddle up and find some sort of 9 to 5. I did, and I spent the next 18 months working on hardwood floors. Every other weekend was spent watching my daughter and trying my best to be some sort of parent. In my free time, I was learning and playing as much guitar as I could by taking classes at the local music conservatory. My only passion at that point in time was music and playing guitar. It kept me sane and gave me something else to focus on besides my life circumstances. In my eyes my only hope was to keep pursuing it and try to make a career out of it.

I applied to a few select schools and eventually got accepted. In the late summer of 2002, I moved out to Hollywood, the land of dreamers and lost souls! While I was there, I met some talented guys and we formed a band. We did and experienced some really amazing things together and they are will always hold a special place with me. During this time I had glimpses of hope where I could see and thought things were going to work out the way I had envisioned. “YES, thank you!” Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to see my dream through to its fullest potential. When I look back, I shouldn’t be surprised. I was never fully IN the present moment because my mind was always distracted, even if I didn’t realize it. If I was in the practice room, playing on stage, talking with a fan or just trying to be a human being, I couldn’t. There were always lingering thoughts and doubts. A dark cloud always hovering. I was a broken soul. Just a skeleton of my former self. No curiosity or desire to experience the world around me. My time in dreamland was done and I was headed back home.

**WARNING: Severe weather is entering the area. Strong winds, heavy clouds and rain are likely.**

Eva_Hoffman_SUMMER-COLD-FRONT-finalist I was never clinically diagnosed with depression. After my grandpa passed away from suicide I learned that he had struggled with depression his whole life. I’ve read that if a person has family or siblings with major depression, they are 2 to 3 times more at risk to develop depression than the average person. With this in mind, I don’t feel it’s crazy or out of place to say that I was depressed. The days that I wasted in bed with my headphones on, getting lost in the eternal abyss of my thoughts is still vivid in my mind.

Were there good days during all of this? Yeah, definitely! Did I try pulling myself out of this hole? Oh yeah, numerous times. Did I want to feel this way? Hell no! Did I like feeling this way? Hmmm….that’s a tricky one….maybe?. Overall I would say NO but there is more to it than that. I’m not sure everyone who is/has been depressed feels this way, but I feel that there is a certain beauty about depression.  For me, music had more meaning. The emotion of those sad songs was felt more deeply. Especially when you found that one song that had a line that described your life or your thoughts perfectly. The nights were more mystical. City lights were brighter and more magical. My imagination ran a little more wild.

I wouldn’t say that I’m 100% the person I once was. I’m not sure I ever will be to honest. What I do know is that I am, at this point in my life, NOT depressed. It’s been a long journey, one that I will always be on. Still, there are days that I wake up in the storm. The difference now is that I don’t stay in that state very long. I acknowledge the thought(s), ask WHY,  what it might mean and then let it pass without dwelling. I.AM.NOT.MY.THOUGHTS! I’m still learning, growing and trying to figure it out and am content with who I’ve become.

I don’t claim to be in expert but If you find yourself in the same storm I would like to tell you that it’s OK. Take your time. Be sad. Explore your emotions. Get lost in those sad songs! Know that the events that put you there happened for a reason. Learn from them. You’ll still be loved even if you are depressed and you’ll still be loved when you come out the other side. The only difference is that you’ll love yourself too!

“Your Imperfections Make You Human and Your Humanity Makes You Influential.”  

– Josh Shipp

TTFN

Some filler

Hey everyone how’s it going?! I hope your new year is going well and that you’re on track to make a breakthrough in some area in your life. As I work on my next post I thought I’d fill you on what’s been going on.

The weather has been conspiring against me.

We have had some weird weather this past month. It seems like it snows on my days off and then warms up on the days I have to work. It has made outdoor riding, for me, non existent this month. *SIGH*

The view from my trainer is getting old!

I love the convenience of the trainer and the fact that I don’t have to spend 30 minutes putting on cold weather gear just ride but man I don’t know how much longer I can stand it. Im itching for warmer weather! On the plus side, training is progressing along nicely. I started this block of training with the same fitness that I had in the middle of last summer so that is definitely encouraging. Now it’s time to start fine tuning the work to more climbing and criterium efforts…YEEHAW!

I’m on a streak.

I currently on a 25 day mediation streak and I’m stoked! My mind is calm and I’m feeling more calm and balanced in my mood and everyday life. Slowly but surely I’m pushing through the clouds and finding those blue skies!

Getting straight.

Rehab is going good. Its becoming easier for the Chiropractor to get me adjusted and I’m holding my adjustments better which is all a plus. It was said today that “Adjusting athletes is like fine tuning a violin” I thought that statement was pretty cool.

Last but not least….

A little video for you that I had not intention of making. I had some pictures and video from some of my December rides and wanted to try and make something of them. I threw them in iMovie tweaked them a bit and I decided it looked decent enough to share. There is something special about the views at this time of year that you can only get in the mountain states.

Enjoy!