As my time in AZ comes to a close, I’m overwhelmed with emotions of gratitude, love, humbleness and appreciation. Thank you for allowing me to grow as a man, for accepting me as a person and opening your hearts and time for me, helping absorb my failures and allowing me to expand beyond the horizons. I’ve had my greatest amount of growth and success here and a lot of that is contributed to you all. The cycling community, Ahwatukee, friends that became family, I smile and shed tears not out of sadness but that I won’t see you as often as I’d like, and that maybe I haven’t shown just what you all have meant to me. It was the first time in my life I was just me, and I met the greatest people in my life amd those people became my pillars and I hoped to further evolve, be a husband and father with the communities help, but you’ve given me more than you’ll ever know, and allowed me to accomplish all that I have. There are far too many people to list and name, but there is nothing but love, gratitude, appreciation and affection. I’ll carry each and every one of you with me in the future and hope to see y’all soon, smiling and crying, I’m excited about the future and what lies ahead and the hope and wish to see you guys soon, thank you for the friendship and love from the bottom of my heart. Good things to come!
One of the first I ever wrote, these road days and miles are winding down, time to get back to who I am, and yea, I’m a bit soft.
What if all I am is a rhythm without the lyric.
A constant melody of shifting emotion wrapped in forms of intoxicating verses. It is the sweetest sound of your name from the openings of her mouth, corners of lips curled up in the shape of a smile. Strands of hair come undone from behind her ears, and fall across her face and cover the eyes, and it is here through this transparent mask there is no use in hiding anymore.
The cool air of sunset filters in the shapes around, here the angelic bliss comes closer. The texture of a kiss lingers on the anatomy of my lips, and now I’m left holding my eyes to yours and trying to unlock words to say. And then song begins again, as I see love in the corner of your eye, and now the soul melodic structure has a verse, or at least a chorus.
I thought about you in length today in the midst of my doings of nothing, just gathering the hours and bringing it to a close. I saw you at sunrise, sleep in your eye watching the explosion of a new day. Chilled air comes through naked maples and shines brightly long skinny shadows on the frozen ground. Streaking colors of violet and tangerine skies covered your face in a wash of color, as I kissed you on the neck and held you from behind. It somehow didn’t make sense of my rude image belonging in the picture, but it is my story and that’s how I see it. To flirt through a weekend morning, trying to watch my behavior, the stems of your legs shoot through the openings of my boxers and your body shrunken in my shirt, another wave of music enters my subconscious and adds to song.
In the vapors of afternoon rain, the cycle continuing upward in natures own rhythm, I pictured you through the steam, walking from rock to rock, I felt the base line of your feet carrying the beat, careful not yet to dip into rivers water. Your arms outstretched for balance as conducting an orchestra, condensations gathers around your finger tips, and the crash of symbols and drums rumbles from behind, it gathers a force when searching for a new stone, and then crescendos down when a path appears before you. It is here I know I’m dreaming, but there is no hurry to rub my eyes.
In the imagination of love, softly knowing I’m headed towards the end. I can make out the lines around your face, and skin to my chest. Gathered in arms and lordly with feeling, I hold tightest to the knowing everyone has a song to sing. But it is here, undercover of thread count drifting in sheets, half tangled in reality and wanting, I’m comfortable in essence my arms are full and the song not yet complete. In its own music it shuffles over life and makes the words, but it is us who provide the voice.
Going to get back to more of this, loving, grounded, believing, forgiving and growing.
I have dreams of my great grandmother, and this is our conversation. She was the first woman I met of unbearable will, and also the first person I was to ever see pass away. I was twelve years old staying in Vermont when she died, visiting her and my family. She reminds me of the great, strong women I’ve let into my life, and all that comes with it.
In dashes of light. Come what might, I seek to find.
Out beyond waters edge, out past where the sidewalk ends, I’ve always felt more comfortable in the dirt.
The earth have me to bed in soft grasses that whistle, the sound water ripples, a sweet voice calling me to stay.
I feel a hand in my palm, pulling me along like a boy who’s finally found his way. This feeling I’ve felt, the last time I knelt, at the foot of your grave.
With the eyes of a child, I see you and smile, you tell me its all okay. Young in skin, I ask to see you again, you whisper, just close your eyes, and sway.
Sway with the cattails off the waters breeze, move with the lyrics, no one else can see, sway with the power you create, just remember, its not all for you. You’ll be alright come morning light, the gift to see beyond has always been your way.
My Dear boy you’ve got fight, I hope you find, that not everything is a struggle. You have a lovers soul and look to find, questions that sometimes have no answers. Let your adventures tune you to yourself, find a balance in home and health, let good people into your soul. The strength you have is not just yours, but you have always known that.
You have a poor mans will, a preachers faith, the poets guilt, and a masons grace. How you’ve risen up beyond your place, as a child you where scared and timid, not once did you shy away from the pain. To know the truth is to know agony, to feel its power and live it in the day to day.
It has served you well for the places you’ve dwelled, out on the oceans, down the divide, countless races, it has its place, but cant erase what was done. You don’t live in the then, but fight in the now, I ask you please, to allow yourself a bow, there are people who love you and more that respect you, some that are affraid of you and more that don’t get you, but its not their gift to see.
I’ll always be that voice that calls to yore, out beyond the water bringing waves to the shore, you’ve always been able to find me. I am that breeze that comes through the pines and aspens bringing a song to the air, I see you lay your head down and stare at the leaves that twirl in the autom air, I’ve seen you fight and stumble but never ask why, some answeres a mother just knows.
Sweet boy, in my arms I hold you tight, through deep water and windy night, I’ll see you forever more.
I’ve spent nearly a month at my parents’ house. The house that we built, the space that saw me through high school and beyond, the gravel road that carried my feet from 1982 to beyond. Maturity was a benign word to me, perhaps, till even a couple years ago. I had to find it on my own, without the safety of parents, old friends and familiar people. Through failures and patience, the love a few damn good people, I’ve come out on the other side. I’ve always prided myself on internal honesty and honing a perspective unique to me, also knowing that said ideal could be shifted askew by the thought process of an irreverent man. But I also knew that T’s needed to be crossed and I’s dotted, that’s the maturity and vocabulary I was once missing to handle it correctly.
When I was a kid, I found solace in the quite. Our life was always full of noise, what I perceived to be hectic, white noise I didn’t know anything about. Filled by People with lots to say and no ears to listen, and I, didn’t know what or how to begin to unravel the alphabet trapped between my ears or the jumbled knots in my head, heart and gut. I was reminded of subtle beauty, sounds and getting lost in space and thought. My legs stopped what they were doing, my eyes looked towards the sky and my mind slowed to everything but listening. The axis shifted and the world once again came to me slowly, in maturation it ebbed quicker, but the feeling and sense, one and the same. Wide brimmed maple leaves sway and rub together in a melodic hymn, tops of pines leaning on each other’s shoulders, sharing a view and a story with one another looking over the mountains and river. Crickets, frogs and dogs walking upon 5/8ths minus gravel where all I heard, and I of course felt love, but a nostalgia for someone who is back in our home. I realized I’ve always listened, perhaps as a way to avoid fear, the unknown is what everyone was afraid of, and sometimes of what was inside the house. I waited to hear it coming, and instead however, I was ushered into a translucent beauty full of color, sounds and imagination.
The mornings are cast in an array of dew, spider webs spread from blackberry bushes upwards to poplars carrying weaves of water slightly drooping each filament of web. Pools gathered in the depths of leaves, captions of breath held like quotations above your head, the world was held in an aquatic chill, fog and the mystic of a new day. Baby blue sky bends to white arching across the sky patiently waiting for the sun. Soon however, it will rise from behind the mountains, tall pines and slowly burn the fog off and bring it back into the cumulous, where the cycle would repeat, or eventually come down in earnest precipitation.
The artic light of late summer throws sunlight deep into the later hands on the clock, where a man can still navigate till 10 pm, but he should be close to home. It’s here I realized, that 187th was no longer home, but a place I grew up. It’s the house we built and the structure that houses my parents, but for me, it’s an address. You’d be hard pressed to discover love as the underlying movement amongst our family, we’re fighters and workers, sometimes shameful, others gluttonous. Markedly different but we share the same stories and last name, but for me, it’s because of her I’d do anything for and our future.
Sacrifice, commitment, Love and the steady peaceful feeling internal happiness comes when you’re paired with someone that speaks on levels both seen and those we didn’t know we had, pushes you to be better and live fuller. For me, it’s the only time in my entire life I simply couldn’t get enough of somebody, or something. I wanted her near whenever possible. Worked hands become silk when brushed against porcelain skin, rugged edges become smoothed by whispers and a kiss, and madness at times fills us both, especially on her end, as my idiot endeavors have tested every boundary she’s had, and for reasons I’ll forever be grateful for, she’s here, love is indeed, the greatest feat of them all. With a look, a convoluted world makes sense when I watch her, and it wouldn’t matter if it was Chandler Arizona, or Chernobyl, I’d go right now with her.
Love, when done right is the most selfish and gratifying of any emotion and endeavor. Selfish that in the notion of purely loving someone it fills a well within, all the while filling theirs, the preverbal win/win. In adoration, I’ve become fuller. Acting true to yourself, heart and beliefs makes them love you even more as silent rhythms resonate and give new light to find further things we love about something, or, someone. In over a year and a half my introduction to this is continuing, learning new things about the emotion, fear and complete joy as a wide smile crosses my face by just a thought. It’s addicting, funny and a fact that I’ll never bore in love with her. Missing someone is the quintessential etiquette, their sound, touch and habits.
The last time I was housed here, there wasn’t any madness to love. I remember telling my friends, “why you with her if you don’t like to be with her” I, of course was a virgin and late to the party, but it still holds true. I’ve spent the greater majority of my years alone, and it’s been alright, I’ve seen and experienced the hardships and unworthiness of others. In circles spinning smaller and larger, we all come around, whole, there is a steadiness now, a foundation and core, a pact and honor. For a couple years I lost that, tangled in deceit, falseness, lost my trust in myself and others. Spending months fishing in Alaska to return, mildly homeless, I’ve always wanted a home, warm, soft and trusting. Filled with someone I cannot get enough and positivity, where any direction is alright, especially if we’re heading there together.
In the time and talks with my parents, sister and family, we’ve righted many wrongs and non-spoken words. Mended and coped with love and hope, but more importantly dedication and I’ve felt myself a changed man, closure and good endings, I’m looking forward to a lighter self, a self-imposed prisonment is over, and at the core I firmly see what I’ve always believed and the path and direction has never been clearer.
It is never too late to do the right thing, it’s never too late to be honest. Find remarkable people, give them yourself in honesty. Find a woman who inspires, trusts, loves, shapes and voices, images that will last longer than a lifetime, and pictures that make you see your life play out, acts of a husband, father, friend, lover and partner. That honor is something I’ll never bury again, the privilege of someone’s love and respect, it is beautiful. I would’ve never thought that my life, especially love life would be this overwhelming, that the long images of who I wanted to truly be all them years ago has come to fruition, that hard work pays off, but most important that love is the true barometer.
It’s shown me what I’ve achieved and learned, what I have and the gratitude, respect and honor that comes with it, but more importantly what we need to work on and improve. These are all things I’ve thought on oceans, bikes, mountains and rivers, but now they’re being played out, that the core is stronger than ever, character will always shine through and home has never looked so good. Here’s to family future and past. Who every would’ve thought maturity could feel so good.
I’ve been stuck on words lately, partly, because of the mercury needle approaching the top floor of numbers, add in a pinch of mad I know I house and because I know I’ll spend some time back home this summer. Bound by streets I can retrace with a whim of memory, cloaked in green, hugging all their secrets closely and the beauty of everything on the inside. 7522 187, might as well be a tumbler code unlocking me to a world that will forever amaze and behold, teach and appreciate, I became a graduate student over time from learnings long ago, alone in the hills, rivers and trees.
Maybe too, because I’ve been reading Maclean at bedtime in what has now become one of my favorite pastimes. Although I’ve never liked my voice, especially stumbling over words I can feel but cannot speak with the cadence it needs. I read aloud with the dog vertical between us and the girl asks me what a certain section is about and then tells me to carry on, in a broken rhythm, wishing I had been better at English and Lit in school, as now it is all I think about other than bikes, a girl and adventures. Without fail, within minutes, she’s snoring and the dog has also long found my voice not worth keeping her up. Then I delve back into a slow, quite space full of music, as I mouth the words and create all I want to see and the author too, methodical twisting of words full of images, stories, painted beautifully by a master in art.
Often he speaks of a knowing when he realized his life became a story, and that at some point he must write his passage of time. I was young, and at times it was tragic, I held a confusion that I harbored and didn’t realize for a long time. Characters took shape, plots thickened, expanded, things became remarkably bright and full of color, there was evil and beauty, and always a boy and a river. We reflect a certain degree of our youths, rarely though, do we mirror it, swim in it, bleed with it and have its currents replace our blood and transcend decades and centuries to fully revel in our paths.
Water has long soothed me, the sound, feel, current and coverage. Power and grace, aged and telling. Chilled and created in the mountains with giant stones and watersheds, it spends it youth forcefully, rushing past its surroundings, falling hundreds of feet rolling softly over buried treasures, gracing banks and shade. Swaying widely and softly towards the sea, giving life by the mile, the young current becomes aged and knowing, carrying tales, boats, dreams, and lines but mostly, always, stories.
We reflect much of a river, young, ambitious, eager to leave a mark, then to roll back and fondly remember all we did, the stories we created, retold to countless others and slowly sway out to the ocean, whichever one you believe in, always though, we wished we could spend more time in the peaceful beauty of where and how we started.
Hydraulic, as stated in a dictionary is
“Denoting, relating to, or operated by a liquid moving in a confined space under pressure. “Hydraulic Fluid.”
I ask then, aren’t we all bound by hydraulics? Liquid moving in a confined space under pressure is our blood circulating in our bodies, the pressure created by lifestyles and efforts. I was young when I first remember hydraulics, it was the first encapsulating thing I felt take over my entire body, a cocoon of safety, powerful and always willing to tell me a story and of course, take mine with it. There was a fear of its strength, of what lurks beneath the pools, what came to feed off its offerings, but there was always beauty, both loud and quite. I’ve never felt more understood than knee deep in a powerful river, feeling the lower chill, the upper warmth, my feet making awkward and balancing movement over ancient stones, sheer faces and shadows of mountains in all directions, granite, pines, greens, blues, moss and sand.
There are a few lines in the Matthew Arnolds “the buried life”
“And then he thinks he knows the hills where his life rose, and the sea where it goes.” This is where I’m from, hopefully someday, these educations will lead to a fuller, brighter and better told story.
Art, I had once thought was based on the education of understanding patterns. To fully understand it, you need to reflect on what you see, and that, is the beauty of art, the impressions we all see differently looking over the same objects. It’s interpreted through your eyes, casting a wave of spells over your brain sending electrodes throughout your body, casting down through, and between your toes to rise back up again leaving the vocal chords numb of beauty and effort, words cannot do it justice, so we sit in silence and drink with our eyes.
Time however, was never our strength, always behind the eight ball making ends meet, running to events, trade shows, side jobs and family obligations. I was young and knew I was different. I wanted to stop and watch tall evergreens sway and tip each other, like there was current in the tree allowing it to bend against its will, but its constructed to do so. Thick maple leaves cast off from their homes and become inanimate objects stuck in the swirl and birds float in the wind. My day dreaming would be interrupted by my father telling me to stop being lazy and get back to work and not kill time, but my mind had gone in the breeze, tall trees swaying to frame the Cascade mountains, thick cumulous gathered at the their shoulders and ebbed towards the forest, and us.
Softness, wasn’t something we had every day. There was love, without question, but the jelly squishiness of it was over ridden by the sheer need of what had to get done. My parents started a family early, a couple years after they got their own license. I believe they didn’t get to fully find themselves without the anchor of little ones running around, but they are responsible and here we are. Of course grandparents do what they do, and that is when my world slowed down, they would take me to places and asked me what I saw and how that made me feel, down to the big city of Seattle, wharfs, Pikes Place, Museums and of course the ocean. My small world became full of old planes, flying fish, highways and storied buildings. I believe that is why I returned to them in the end of their life, to ease what I could, but age and Alzheimer’s took the majority of their best parts, leaving sections of beauty that would occasional return.
My first memory is our house in Marrysville. We had a half door leading to the back yard that led to a willow tree, I was small enough to walk under the first half of it, everyone else except my younger sister had to open the top half, I thought it was made just for me and the dog. Out to the large base of the comfy willow, there was a stream down below the bank and I would lay here for hours with our dog Boots, a large, loyal yellow lab mix, dumber than the bottom part of that door but a good hound. I remember thinking that life is grand, a soft tree, a river bank, a pillow and friend in the shape of a dog, everything was clean. I remember walking with my brother to his bus stop but didn’t understand where he had to go for hours on end.
We become reflective and educated with time. I was young and thought I was tough, but I also knew things where beautiful, and that life could mirror a poem, a baseline chord we live our days to. It was quite the contrast from my family as I wrote early poems in the tall grasses of our backyard as my brother would disappear with his friends and driver’s license, my sister the youngest would be with her friends and I was fine being alone, but I never felt alone. lost in an emotion I didn’t understand. I grew up in a greenhouse and barn, one gave life and beauty to flowers my father would inexplicable grow from pin point seeds and one that would ease pain the law deemed illegal.
Two gutter connected greenhouses stretched towards our barn and equaled work, I took a young cucumber plant under my wing and it grew to give us a nice yield, till one day I saw bugs around it and knowing my father used a spay to kill them, I picked up a green spray paint can, and begun to kill the bugs, my plant as well as paint the plastic walls of the greenhouse. It was one of the only times I fucked up that he laughed at it, I was sad I killed the plant and thought for sure my dad’s skilled and callused hands could certainly fix it, but he took the plant out of the pot, tossed it into the compost, inspected the soil and recycled it to another pot, the circle of life. Pigs, chickens, flighty horses and cows. They’re all beautiful to watch and move, their strength and fears, trust and tempers, sitting on half eaten wooden fencing my world bent around the edges of alders and huckleberry bushes, the burn pit and tractor.
We always respected strength, fighting strength, lifting strength and effort. I was young and small and didn’t have much but I never quit, my father used to forcefully stop my brother and I from doing sit-ups, he thought anything over two hundred we could hurt ourselves. I began to realize in our mobile home that my strength was in the foresight, knowing beauty and the totality doesn’t belong to the wealthy, that art is all around and it’s given to those who can see and feel what is created. I was stuck recently by a passage from a lost mentor.
“But that is the way it was for me-a young romantic beginning an involvement and commitment to life and writing which-when it reached its most enlarged and present state-rests on the basic belief that what seems most beautiful in all I see about me is what men and women can create with their hands, issuing from their hearts and heads.”
We were beautifully rough, hands that created things from raw material, hands that protected our last name and sister. My father probably doesn’t think he’s an artist and that too is the beauty of him, and I believe that is my role within this bunch, to be a mirror for them to see themselves as I do. The fisherman, how lucky was I to experience years with him on a boat built by artisans in 1929, built and tailored for punishment, effort, work, payment and family. Allowing souls to experience the meaning of dedication, belief and power of currents, mountains and of course, wind. He too an artist of life, in the knowing there is no ceiling, and we can be whoever we choose.
Creating things with your hands, issuing from the hearts and heads. Eventually someday I hope to be a good story teller, that in some way my life will bend to allow the grandeur, defeat and effort of all I see and have done. That I can do justice in the beauty of the place I was raised, in the silent pride of our family, that my spelling and punctuation will someday match the staccato and rhyme in my head and I too will issue it from my heart and head and create something beautiful with my hands in a different way than I was once taught
Life is segmented by memories, they make up the DNA of our years and mark chapters of who we are and what and where we have been. Towards the end we all converge, like a notch in a mountain, a watershed ravine that spills to a river that swaddles and wonders towards a bigger ending, both a berth and a death.
I read, the pointed truths of those before me, with more education and a greater knowledge of vocabulary vernacular, but story tellers all are wishers and wonderers, all lovers of rivers and all with an internal twist for expression.
I recall a memory often of mine, maybe because it was full of fear, full of unknown and full of loneliness, defiance, effort and it marks my family perfectly.
I rode the Tour Divide in 2011, I started with a young man who I wish would’ve let me persuade him to who he is, but we all have destinations and disappointments, and those lesson he’s learned many lifelong assentation’s from. Now it’s a footnote to a long list of accomplishments, and for that, I’m deeply proud of the individual he’s become. Every failure is a window to future success.
I rode 90 percent alone, some 2,915 miles and 217,00 feet of climbing once Taylor sought a different path, I had some mechanical issues that needed time and that too left me trailing most. I wanted to ride in truth the ethos of the event, little help, little hotels and isolation. I read a lot of Norman MacLean, his family had a summer cabin in Seeley Lake Montana. The days leading up to that spot on the map where filled with cold nights, snow hikes, chilly rain and bears, a lot of bears.
On the run in towards Seeley Lake I encountered a typical Montana rain storm that I knew from growing up in the Pacific Northwest, I was experiencing the mild humbling’s of hypothermia to only find a laundry mat/restaurant at 5 a.m. My buddy stopped early, I walked in Snow for hours upon hours to the idea of Sasquatch, hunger and death. I really had no idea the true distance, nor did I want to, the idea of the next town was fuel, and my large imagination ran rampant on the idea of soft chairs, strong drinks and food.
You go through many epiphany’s in doing such an effort, you become manic in moods, they are marked on either end of the truest high, and the lowest low. My night in the Rockies of Montana, the closest I’d been to home where lonely and frightful, I saw well over 30 bears on my ride through the Forrest service road towards Owl Creek and the outskirts of Seeley Lake.
I had been awake and moving since Whitefish Montana and the massive rain storm, lying in a simple gor-tex bivvy I laid under a property sign hoping for some coverage, the tall summer grass laid over me and blanketed me in wetness, the bivy sunk from the pools of water and sat in my mouth attempting to suffocate me. I was once Closter phobic but, commercial fishing cured me of such nonsense, I pulled my shit together and rode to a gas station in town, stripped naked and blasted the hand harmer all over my frozen hands and man parts, life wasn’t good.
Waterproof maps soaked through and ruined, batteries corroded over, spirits where sunk and absolutely nothing was dry. I spent half the morning with everything in the dryer, then pushed off into the wilderness, off towards a destinations I’ve always wanted to see. The miles where long, with little stops but cute little churches, tiny A framed buildings of faith I knew people needed in this country, all painted white and coming to a cross over the doors.
A late afternoon sun broke through and shone on the green mountain next to me as I covered easy flat miles, it reminded me of home and the hills and roads I grew up in, my mood changed. A little gas station a ways off the track then the road to Seeley Lake, I had caught up to the South Africans, Luke and Meriam, really nice people doing it right. Somewhere during the miles we spit up in the long steady climb up. I had an old shitty blackberry phone and reception sucked, so I never had constant service or communication on who’s in front or behind, or little rest stops that others could search for.
I rode on, alone towards town some 75 miles away, I came to a clearing after seeing the most bears I’ve ever seen, including Alaska. The Montana Rocky Mountains laid over my right shoulder, it was nearly 10 pm but still light out, snow shouldered their slopes and gave a hint of white to the dark blue and grey mountains, the light was soft and the hue of some daylight hung in the air. I heckled at bears like you would cows, “hey bear”, “hey bear” ushering them out of your line, they were fat from a good spring, and my contraption was odd and they slowly meandered off the road. I rode in the dusk towards midnight, I had slept maybe three hours the day before and was done. At this point I still had my jet boil so I made some tea, romin and tried to calm myself about sleeping in the valley of bears. I found a random campsite and took that as an omen, it was complete with a built shitter, a water spigot and two picnic tables, one I slept under, life was good.
I woke up in the pre-dawn hours, looking over at eye level frosted grass I saw three bears no more than 20 yards away. I rolled my head back over, back to the down and synthetic warmth of safety and closed my eyes wishing they would see something different. I again turned to my right and saw three bears loaming about, I waited a second, noticed the bent forms of heavy bladed grass cursed with the weight of frost, I still had some of last night’s food in my mouth and gathered a plan. I moved and the crinkle of the bivvy and frost caused them to look at me, I stared at them in my most evil, don’t fuck with me alpha male look/please don’t eat me. They rambled off at the odd animal under a table and a pile of gear on top of it, occasionally all of us would look at each other, gauging, judging what we should do, I loaded up my gear on the bike, pedaled off and starred at bears.
I made my way to the outskirts of Seeley Lake, from gravel to pavement where the dirt road shot up mud till I reached pavement. I saw a long row of US flags at a cemetery and swerved my bike across, a list of those gone but not forgotten proudly remembered. The town had grown from what I had read about it, but those where the 20-30’s and in his last book, “young men and fire”. I found the first diner I could, rolled my bike up and fiddled with equipment as the waitress brought hot food an drinks, it was here I found that my camera charger could charge my ipod and for the first time during my ride I could have tunes. My spirits began to sore, I had a belly of food, a plan of action to Lincoln Montana, and beyond. The South Africans joined me on my last round, and as well all reveled in our experience I paid my tab, saw my music device fully charged and was stoked to cover miles.
It is a process to load up your bike and gear stash, and I was still a rookie at this point. In gathering my things and making my way to the door I saw a twin to my brother, we locked eyes and he began to make his way to me. It took me awhile to realize that it indeed was my brother, it had been nearly five years since I had seen him, my dad had joked that he would find me when I “ride my bike” at the time telling them of the trip it didn’t really sink in till we started, then they realized the scope of what we were doing.
Josh came up to me and said we’ve been trying to find you for days, you had some shit weather. He said Dad was across the street, I hadn’t seen my father since I moved to Arizona. I walked outsided, past my loaded up bike and looking north across the street was a grey haired man looking to leap frog through traffic. He came up to me and for a second there was a brief awkwardness of side hug or full hug. I waited till he was done looking at my bike so we were shoulder to shoulder for a good solid hug. The last couple of days where the most trying mentally and physically for me, and for the first time in a long time I felt the security of having your father there, even if it was for a moment, the security, the piece of mind, it righted me for the rest of the trip.
He didn’t have a smart phone, so he was in contact with my mom back in Snohomish about where I was and how to find me, distant GPS signals and no name towns and then, boom, a reunion. We had a brief conversation, I needed to make use of the sunlight and good roads, we had agreed to meet in Lincoln. It was 80 or so miles to meet back up, I had tunes in my ears and The head and the heart played as I left the nostalgia of seeing my dad in half a decade, my brother was healthy and present, I rode along a swollen river to see them again, through a couple small towns and asked them to stay open for the South Africans, through fields being irrigated by rolling sprinklers leaving a mist that laid at the foot of the mountains, past the big Blackfoot river where MacLean fly fished and I stopped and took a pic of tombstones rising up like shark fins in the flooded waters, his staccato matched my cadence and gave further song to the ride.
The last little bit of ride to Lincoln is pavement, alongside it was a creek cut deep into the earth, a beautiful sunny ride, my first in Montana, I rolled into town and heard “PETTIT”, “HEY, PETTIT”, “JONNYP” and there as promised sat my dad and brother, hanging out waiting for my meandering ass. I had to do laundry again from the muddy roads, we ate together and then I wanted to push off, but he waitress had other plans, she showed us the dumpster out back where a bear had shoved it open, a grizzly to be exact. So instead of covering ground I stayed with my family and we talked for hours, and to some to not see each other for years is odd, for me and us, its normal. We got caught up as big mosquitos bumped my a bear totem pole outside the hotel, the late night air was much lighter than the day before, here, with my dad and brother I was awash in safety and familiarity.
In the morning we had breakfast, we shared a room and they both snore beyond control, a large part of me wanted solidarity, to experience the divide as it comes, but I knew these days are few and rare. I stayed longer than I should at breakfast and enjoyed them for who they are, I knew a long lonely day awaited me and maybe we would meet up again, but here, in Lincoln, we were perfect, and together, a beautiful sunrise had greeted us, there was no, “you should call more” just love. Love for me being me, love for them being them, I had a 20-30 mile climb ahead of me and at the top, surrounded by myself, I stopped at the beauty of all that was around, in the snow and wind, with the pines and dirt, it was the only time I cried on the entire trip.
My dad has since had some health issues, and my brother is dealing with issues that I don’t know how to speak of, but I know he’s more than what he has been, and certainly more than who he is right now. I sit in the sun and he sits somewhere remarkably different, past failures are a window to success, we don’t have to be limited to our past and we have to have the imagination and integrity to become what we imagine, all I really know is, when I was the most scared and lonely, my family was there, and approaching the 40 mark I should probably let them know more often, they’ve always laid a path for me to get where ever I’ve ever wanted, and that, is beautiful. I rode than damn long stretch of trail, I saw them again and it brought us back together.
As should bikes, effort and forever seeking limits and truth should.
I was coerced recently into a conversation spun by a magician of mankind. Before I had realized what had happened I was pried open as he was licking his fingers searching for the cliff notes to some of the worst and greatest chapters to date. His monologue was remarkable clear, honest and truthful. And for some goddamn reason I can’t let it out of my thoughts.
An educated man I proudly suffer for, and still can’t believe our paths had crossed to the depths they have, it’s a relationship I would’ve thought impossible years ago. Back then we’d be two curious anomalies sniffing each other out all the while thinking that’s how the other half lives, they’re more fucked up than me.
Wealth, was an unknown to me until I had finished high school. Although my experiences and pride in what and where I’ve been had usually left me with enough brass to allow me to hang in any situation. It took me over thirty years to realize more importantly wealth isn’t just a comma in bank accounts but structure of family, relationships and bonds. Those had always alluded me, the only true bond I knew was a love of bikes, being outside and seeing remarkable things and the kind that kept my ass out of jail. We all see in perfect view our past, and most feel the need to insulate themselves in moving forward. I’ve always prefered to feel the burn or chill , feel the effort exerted from my body and watch veins of effort rise and collapse.
What he’d seen in a couple years and hours spent stuck to my wheel was the most concise advice I had heard. “Let all that go” he said a few times, and while he doesn’t know everything he knows enough and mixed with a gifted brain and time to think, I already knew he was right. “You have to allow yourself to be proud of who you’ve become, what you’ve done and allow yourself that confidence”
Hearing a man that I hold in such high regard say that to me brought a wave of emotion that crested behind my eyes. He isn’t perfect, nor his family or some beliefs, but he’s human. His body has been riddled with ailments that would kill 99% of cockroaches but he’s still here, busy as ever, pouring miles into his legs and riding with his boys, I feel the same crescendo of emotion knowing that I’ve become one of “his” boys as I did when he actually spent earnest time thinking of me.
I’m lucky to have had three remarkable men of all different walks of life lend me parts of them. Oceans, fathers, patriarchs and of course bikes, but more importantly personalities. I had countlessly given myself to people not deserving of my loyalty, compensation and time. I allowed all the things that don’t matter come before those that do, and sometimes it takes the smartest guy you know to remember to smell the flowers and allow gratitude and time to look around.
I was fractured when I came here. I had a half broken cross bike, a couple dollars in my hand and an idea that I knew that I was more than my years, that the internal drive was grinding on plates and a new range was going to be formed out of sheer effort and time like those backbones of mountains I love so much.
A 16 penny galvanized nail held a shimano ultegra shifter together, bent down towards the bottom of the hood causing a caules to form and blood to drip while sprinting or climbing, or just riding the shitty asphalt and gravel I began the reclamation on. I was really never even that good back then, I was a creature of places and experience, my friends put in honest hours and time and where a ways a head of me, but I was free, I was alive and I saw tons more than they did in their suffocating state of anarobia. I rode myself from 210 to 200, 200 to 190 and hovered there for a year. Then morphed another 5 pounds and now average around 178-185 depending on habits and miles. My shoulders no longer look like a man who uses his body as a fulcrum, but I’m also not a T-Rex cyclist build either. We are defined by our lifestyles, our individual human condition and some combustible drive we can both describe but cannot define, however through our efforts and the collection of people we attempt to put words and images to it.
We all need structure, we are creatures of habit, integrity and influences. A collidiscope of images, experiences and people. I have learned to be loved, to allow a few good quality people into my life, to be soft and rounded. We all have acts in life and if we’re lucky the number climbs with age and we become muses and thespians, characters and friends. A bike and a drive brought me these people, a four hundred dollar two wheeled machine allowed me to stretch my legs and shed a skin I hated and never felt like myself in, that two wheeled machine allowed me to tramp down the divide, a couple podiums, pondered life in the aspens and thin air, but more importantly brought a wave of souls to me that I’m inspired by, encouraged, defeated by and laugh with, and days and nights are not lonely or misplaced now.
Some of the biggest pillars of my life have died, I feel a solace that I helped in some way, and that I was helped by a worn out bike that allowed me to leave death beds for mountains, unattended funerals to rivers and given the time to realize in effort of pedals turning over days to months. As a kid anxiously waking his tired father before day break on the only day he didn’t work, I’d make coffee, have the truck loaded and warmed up to becoming a balding, grey spattered bearded man reaching towards forty the thing my latest mentor and I agree on is the start line. There is no substitute for miles, for effort, for saddle time, for heart, lungs and soul. That the economics end to some degree on that damned line, you can look like a million bucks, but effort brings out the nature of who and what we are, I was surprised that him and I where dead on in that regard. He sat at the end of the table and waved a finger at me and said, “That’s exactly right JP” We both know you can’t fake it forever. That those with minimal hallways lead to the shortest corridors of perspective and places, those who seek gratification over gratitude.
In the morning we woke up around five, loaded up bikes and hit the shootout in Tucson, and he did what he does best. Boast of the hogs in front, playing on the feelings and emotions of those in the group and saying “I don’t know who those boys are” to saying yea, “That one is my turbo diesel, and that one’s my boy” I could hear pride and happiness in his voice, he too was alive, healthy and surrounded by people he’s always wanted, again, a person I would’ve thought I would never have anything in common with, the doctor and a mason, a masters and a laborer, but we’re the same on two wheels, pride went through my body and I cranked on the pedals with a smile, knowing I’ve reached a spot in life I’ve always wanted, and these situations and people where brought on by effort, bikes and honesty. A chain, some gears, a couple tires and something to slow you down, we can be as big or as little as we want to be in life. Even my relationship with my parents has greatly improved by realizing who we all are, that nothing will change that last name, but we can change the history and live out loud
It’s been over a year since I’ve seen my folks and the gravel roads that brought me to and from school then back again. The routs had changed, grown over by the rain and sunlight covering two lanes of simple asphalt, photosynthesis has a power in the Northwest. It created a canopy that once was just a mild envelope attempting to drown out light, now however the darken lanes split with a ribbon of yellow seemed a different route that I used to take home, the distances between turns was shorter and rives not so deep.
Everything I knew and grew up around was callused. Shoulders, knees, hands, knuckles and fingers that shed like a Gardner snake, handling tons of wood, steel, rebar and sheeting that constructed the exuberance of imagination. Even the towns grew up rough and rowdy and they too seemed to find a mellower way to make ends meet. Those with money could expand blueprints, those with capability could build. The dichotomy always struck out to me, the beauty and the beast, the needs and the haves it’s a dance of interpretation that’s been honed over centuries
There is something soothing about my father’s presence now, pragmatic, sensible, understanding and still a youth of wandering and wondering. 50 years of work will do that to you I suppose. Your parents grace, coffee, small talk, and differences, they wiped your ass and fed you and soon the tables will turn.
We all have our own faults and transmissions, how we relate to ourselves and the world. My skin has turned and wrinkles begin to appear, grey and lack of growth of hair transcend my body. My hands sometimes don’t look like my own, they’ve become aged and bent, morphed by years and work. The idea of cultivation seems too long gone, planting seeds, ideas and thoughts we can harvest for future use but yet we’ve become a now, all knowing, and now people.
Legacy, fate and facebook post we all tell a story. A twang of harmonica and twisted strings help me find mine, blended with soft hops and bourbon whiskey I’ll recite a rhyme, never cast light where none needs to be, allow the curvature of earth and natural beams come to you on their own. Apps have transplanted color and texture, but now a hashtag will describe a situation and feeling.
In fits of sleep I can smell the raw gas burning from a 350 engine and carburetor that’s in need of a tune along with plenty of exhaust leaks. Low grade unleaded and the pull and drag of manual steering and the sounds of chunky rubber breaking loose over gravel as your forearms and triceps attempt to steer the steel beast. With my arm out the window and actual music telling a story coming through the stereo we gain speed down those old two lane back roads, cylinders fire off in rhythm as we are in search of a river, mountains, girls in bikinis and trails to ride bikes.
I was given an AM radio from our friends who owned horses, Id earned it from cleaning stalls and I remember waiting till my parents picked me up so I can have control over the dial and hear voices I never had before. I think I was 8 and up on the top bunk of a room I shared with my brother I had my first alone nostalgic music experience when Bonnie Raitt came across two shitty tiny speakers with angles from Montgomery, I turned knobs to hear it better and play with imaginary antennas, my world came to a complete stop and I closed my eyes and tried to understand what John Prine was trying to write and describe, but her fingers on the guitar and soul in her voice I was in love, I had and still to do have complete paralyze when she sings. The next song was Merle Haggard momma tried then Tina Turner, those where the first three songs I’d heard alone and was allowed the time and thought to process my ten acres and single wide world I knew just expanded tenfold by people, a little black chunk of plastic with two speakers and an antenna could transport me, at night I could actually tune into delta blues music, as I began to play in band, my soul was blues, honest, sad and love, truth music and described a feeling all I could think about was more as I twisted the knobs and asked questions to those how knew. I didn’t know how to, I asked people who knew, my uncle Jim told me how I could find muddy waters on AM radio over the crackle and shitty reception came to me in star war sheets and I was a skinny 40 pound pre-pubescent child who knew what a slide guitar was, I thought I had an edge.
My mother and grandma could play anything and my uncle Jim was a musician. My dad’s father was equally amazing and gave a vast spread of offspring. My dad however knew three cords and zero rhythm but he knew what a song meant, growing up in England and Seattle the beetles where his go to, but when Bob Dylan always played on large vinyl in the house especially Reuben Carter the hurricane came on he would dance around shadow boxing me telling me to put my arms up and fight, it was his go to that we are against everyone, nothing was given and we need to fight and earn everything
Or it could be taken away from us, never back down, and do what you can.
To this day, I can feel my hands on the throttle of an old John Deere three ’48 wheel tractor, a large steel green lever just behind the steering wheel, tempting you with the slow rumble of the engine. Although I wasn’t allowed nor strong enough to drive, I tried. I sat in that springer steel seat and watched my dad and brother operate their feet to guide the green mass and thought I for sure could handle it, I broke many fences with that and the three wheeler, eventually though I became a good hand, after many frustrations and “learning” experiences.
I now awake in the early slatted blinded light of sunrise in a sub division looking out towards the pool with my girl by my side and the dog who had to get on the bed between 2 and 4 am. It takes me a minute to grab my bearings and figure out a path towards the coffee, blinking between dreams and reality then towards bikes and a lab top. That song by Bonnie Raitt is still in my ears, the first notes dragged along wood and bended steel along with numerous people who’ve guided me, my parents, grandparents, Aaron, Rice’s, Norb, the list is long but all their niches and catch phrases never leave me alone, and I know they’ve served me well in my desperate need of companionship and fortitude. Even now approaching forty I don’t own the vocabulary to express what they all mean to me.
Now the thought of soft pines and cool breezes fantasies my lobes as I ride in triple digit heat, motivation and gratitude wane in the atmospheric rise of temperature that turns mere metal objects into branding objects. I reduce polyester and Cotton and take a plunge into the pool, for a quite aquatic moment the imagination is awash of water that could be from anywhere, my imagination always goes to the Snohomish river and fingers of the the pilchuck, teanaway, and Yakima rivers. I pretend the air rising up is from the salt water of the pacific and maybe I’m with Aaron back in Alaska, or anywhere along the inside passage. I come to the surface as oxygen runs low and carbon dioxide high, then the imaginary balloon is popped and I’m indeed back where I started, but I bless the thought and brief reprieve.
I love my life, home and more importantly the woman who stands beside me and those friends that continue to surround me, together we’re and impenetrable force. Learning how to gauge my fight has been the longest learning curve, but its and all-encompassing effort, I still have a chip and carry a cut I feel my family has, but instead I turn it to gratitude, but I want the best out of myself and know I’m capable of having the things we didn’t early on. The conversations now with my parents are much different, my father and I both wanting the best out of each other, and sometimes we talk about the past, but we all have to know where we came from, and senior is alright, the struggles are now worth our relationship.
The old twist and bends from honest tunes, efforts and love now lead my life. Sometimes I fail, sometimes I reach into the stratosphere but always I’m in in the middle, back home hearing vinyl, skidding on a gravel roads, hand me down shorts and no shirt asking the world to bring what it has, cause I’ve got a couple knowing hands and a solid chin and a do or die effort inside, we live how we chose and these days dictate our lives, and nobody can take that away.
Anything is everything.
Exclusivity, I had once thought was the right reserved to the upper crust. Manicured golf courses, valet parking, homes with top to bottom trim designed by an affluent home owner and architect. New cars, expensive skis and bikes ridden in places I’d only seen in glossy magazine pictures. Exclusivity usually meant a membership into some known or private club with secret handshakes backed with old money and free to do as they pleased.
Team and club sports with matching kits, fancy shoes and gear bags. Everybody moved as one and they used strength in numbers to achieve goals and ambitions, I however was never invited, nor did I let myself become involved in such bullshit.
I had grown up in a single wide mobile home on ten acres, exclusivity wasn’t a word that was in our vocabulary. I watched our neighbors build houses, have big machines cut into the ground for foundations, knocking down trees and clearing pastures, and we stayed idle with our humble tin can and barn. My father made attempts to short cut the process of building our house that my parents had blueprints for, that resulted in another learning experience and dealing with adversity while others condone and look down upon you, but we built our house and took the knocks on the chin, we never knelt to anyone.
I was athletic in high school and I knew it. Skinny and small I wasn’t built for much yet, but I was equally as strong as bigger guys with twice the endurance. By my junior year I was steadily riding my bike to school, 18-25 miles round trip. What started out as a show of defiance by getting kicked off the school bus turned into an experience to this day I still practice.
When you grow up rough, your confidence is most affected. I was shy and had a hard time looking people in the eye while talking to them, and even now occasionally I catch myself doing it. The need to please others before myself has put me in awkward and unrewarding situations.
I played soccer, ran cross-country but it was more to show people I could do it, and that I was just as good as they were but I wasn’t happy, I was competing against myself for than anything, for some justification that I was indeed good enough, that out running or out playing them gave me confidence. Now I see it as a shallow way to build myself up, that ego is an evil and is usually the head of those exclusive pricks I hated so much. We were fighters down to the nail full of pride, vengeful and sometimes misused our strength.
I raced my first handful of mountain bike races in hi-tech hiking boots, soccer socks, tighty whities, soccer shorts and some kind of shirt. I had graduated bikes up to a Kona hot, a sweet steel frame designed by Joe Murray, 3×7, thumb shifters and fully rigid. The introvert had found a release of an inner being that before stayed dormant and repressed. I was in the mountains with other strays and outcast, wildly athletic people charging up ski hills and bouncing down them. We would battle then afterwards reflect on what and who had just punished us, grievances aside the warriors had their fight and now we were all friends again, I had found a calling.
My personalities and competitive nature had for the first time a positive place to go. I raced on cheap bikes with washing machine parts spray painted by me and my dad dueling out with kids on high end aluminum and this new thing called carbon fiber in muddy cross races. I didn’t put in the time some of them did, nor was I a fan of NORBA cross-country races that only lasted an hour and a half, I liked big loops and carrying back country tools to fix any ailment, otherwise it felt like a team sport where you could rely on others instead of the singular effort of you against nature and the balance between the two.
Most of the time I ride alone now, especially on the mountain bike. I enjoy the wholeness of the effort and always have, from not having much for most of my life to now steadily building and acquiring, I’m in a place that’s sometimes foreign to me, but I know I’m deserving of it. Knowing where I came from to where I am now, the different paths, jobs, houses and states, everything is different, but the current is 100 percent the same.
Enjoying a lazy rainy summer day in Bartonville Texas at the home of my girlfriends parents, I perused the magazine isle at barns and noble finding the history of mountain biking magazine. Realizing my generation was at the boom of the sport, and now we ride towards our 40’s fit greying, balding and covered in scars. Enjoying what we’ve accomplished and the ability to ride steeds we once could only touch in shops, it’s amazing to look around and feel the pulse that we’ve created. That longevity, creativeness that we’ve sprung and be a part of it all. We try to segregate ourselves, to find an individual niche that makes people take notice of us, what we do and what we like to ride. We point and mock, and try to establish some sort of exclusive grouping of likeminded people, when truth be told we are all just looking for the same ending result. Mountain bikers have longed not gave a fuck about groups or clubs, if you liked to ride bikes-cool, if not do your thing and I’ll do mine.
We should take pride in the different endeavors that bikes bring to us, and allow our minds to expand at all the possibilities. Without a handful of wingnuts who just wanted to ride down mountains a lot of us would be years behind all the fun we’ve already had. It’s a beautiful thing the beast and machine, the lines of mountains match the lines on my face, maps and stories of where we’ve been. A bike raised me in my youth and has raised me to be a better human, it is my greatest ally, deepest confidant and pursuer of things left unseen and mountains to climb, there is nothing exclusive about that.