Back in the Saddle

I’ve been off of the bike for almost two months now. I took it out for a spin recently and my legs ached, my lungs burned, and I could barely last thirty miles. 

Despite all of this I had the time of my life, and I couldn’t stop smiling. It’s good to be back in the saddle.

/farmerrobbie

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spilled coffeeI have the same ritual every morning. I wake, use the bathroom, start my coffee, start my oatmeal, eat, wash dishes, shower, and dress. Each morning I find comfort in the familiarity.

Some mornings don’t go so smoothly though. I hit the snooze button too many times. I spill my coffee. My oatmeal boils out of the pot. I take too long eating. I take too long showering. It’s a rude awakening. A bad way to start any day.

Maybe I’m going soft with my age, but bad mornings affect me more. Being five minutes late stresses me out. I curse and speed all the way to work, trying to make up time. More negativity.

Luckily along with age I’ve been blessed with more self awareness. I know when I’m in a bad mood, I know how I affect others, I know how futile my negative thoughts are.

So I try.

I try to calm myself. I reaffirm who I am. I’m not only five minutes late, I’m a lot more. I try to keep things in perspective. My spilled coffee didn’t hurt anyone, so why let it anger me? I try to forgive myself. I’ve been forgiven from a lot more. Learn from this, and move on.

It is me and my thoughts that make a morning bad, and they, my thoughts, either build me up, or tear me down. They’re always moving; but thankfully I have control over them, and even spilled coffee is still coffee.

/farmerrobbie

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Two Cups of Coffee Tuesday

Pour OverI’m a regular consumer of coffee. It’s how I start my day. To me there is something therapeutic about taking the time in the morning to slow down and properly prepare a good cup of coffee.

But I loosely limit myself to one cup a day. It’s more a practice of discipline than a staunch law.

Recently I’ve felt compelled to indulge in more coffee, mostly because I enjoy its taste, but the extra caffeine boost doesn’t hurt. So to celebrate coffee in all its goodness I’ve designated Tuesdays as the day for brewing a second cup (and heck, why not a third and fourth if I’m up to it).

So here’s to coffee, a true gift to humanity. Go grind those beans, brew that elixir, and enjoy the taste.

BEANZ/farmerrobbie

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To The Bottom

IMG_1309“Hey dude. Scratch Fremont. I’m going to grnd canyon with matt & katelyn. Wanna come? We leave tomorrow at 4 and get back sunday night. Camping the whole time”

-Tyler, text message

10 hours later I found myself parked outside of Matt’s house with a tent, sleeping bag, sleeping pad, and a duffle bag. As I walked up the driveway Tyler came out with his backpacking backpack slung over one shoulder.

“Are we going to the bottom?”                                                                                             “Yeah,” Tyler said                                                                                                           “Seriously?! I need to go back home and get more stuff, I just thought we’d camp and drive around.”

I borrowed one of Matt’s backpacks and swung by my house to grab my boots and a few extra layers. We then headed south on the 101 as I counted my granola bars. I had three, the only food I had on this trip.

By 10 AM we stood outside of a gas station just east of the California – Arizona border. We went inside to grab some snacks and relieve ourselves. As I stood in line for the restroom the guy in front of me noticed my Field Notes notebook and asked me about it. I casually told him it’s where I store ideas, quotes, and just general thoughts.                   He asked me “does it say Obama sucks in there?”                                                             “No.”                                                                                                                                          “Well, you should write ‘Obama Sucks’ in there.”

I wrote down, “Obama Sucks.”

On the road again we made it to the Grand Canyon with about an hour until sundown. It had been well over a decade since I was last at the Grand Canyon, the perfect amount of time for me to forget what constitutes a GRAND CANYON. As we approached the edge I couldn’t help but laugh in excitement at how TRULY GRAND THIS CANYON IS. I tip my hat to the naming committee.

IMG_1315IMG_1328We explored the rim for a few more minutes then drove around until we found a campsite. As the last rays of sun poked through trees we pitched our tent and got a fire started. Eventually the flames dimmed to embers and it was time to call it a night. The temperature had to be in the high 20s, we were sure to have a long night ahead of us.

The next morning came quickly and the cold had set in. As Matt breathed some life into the fire, Tyler, Katelyn, and I busied ourselves to keep warm.

IMG_1331The fire took shape, bagels were toasted, and our breakfast was consumed.

We broke camp and caught a bus to the trailhead that would take us seven miles straight down to the bottom of the Canyon. Looking out at the tourists from the back of the bus we realized that nobody else here was going to the bottom, and most seemed as if they were just there to soak in the views from the rim.

We made it to the trailhead and past a sign cautioning ice sheets and recommending crampons. I wasn’t prepared for this.

IMG_1350We started the trek with a hop in our steps. We’d pass families on the trail and they’d ask us if we were going to the bottom and we’d answer with a resounding “yes.”

IMG_1404About midway down we took a break to eat a little and shed some layers. The temperature rose the deeper we went. As I took a few steps without my backpack I realized the beating my knees were taking. Aches had found their way deep into my knees and showed no signs of giving up.

IMG_1361Packs on we continued, one foot in front of the other, slowly. We passed the time telling tales and discussing the importance of grace. Shortly the Colorado River was in view. A milestone. Our pace increased a little, and eventually we found ourselves on a bridge about 40 feet over the mighty river. From there we found a campsite, and spent a few minutes apologizing to a ranger for not getting a permit. Ranger Della took pity on us and said that she wouldn’t give us a fine if we paid the $30 permit fee on our way out. The importance of grace. Thanks Della.

IMG_1441IMG_1426That night was spent eating cuts of salami and sipping hot chocolate at the tiny restaurant at Bright Angel. Sleep came easier this night.

I awoke to Matt and Tyler doing their best to finish off the salami and cheese. Nobody wanted to carry any extra weight up the same trail. Katelyn had hit the trail about 20 minutes before I awoke, and took along some breakfast, snacks, and plenty of water in hopes of beating us to the top. Matt left shortly after breaking camp, and Tyler and I dilly-dallied around until we were completely ready. We took some last pictures and started our trek.

IMG_1455After about an hour we deduced that going up was a lot easier than down. Tyler and I made the halfway mark in about three hours and despite our tired legs, the look on the faces of tourists when we told them we had come from the bottom helped keep us moving.

It would be about six hours before Tyler and I made it to the top and saw Matt and Katelyn. The day had been good to us all, and we stood triumphantly on the south rim of the Grand Canyon.

The drive back was long. Our tired legs did not do well crammed in a car. But between naps and a much-needed In N Out stop we made good time. The sun set and we still had hours to drive. By 10 pm, Tyler was doing his best to finish the last leg of driving, imagining the car in front of us was the white whale and he Ahab.

“YAW! YAW!” he’d yell as we swept through turns. He yaw-yawed us all the way home. About 4 AM Monday morning, 72 hours after we left, we parked Matt’s car back in his driveway, unloaded gear, shook hands, and separated.

I made it home and buried myself in a tomb of blankets, exhausted, but victorious. I had conquered the Grand Canyon.

IMG_1464 /farmerrobbie

Posted in Adventure, Friends, Life, Photos, Travels | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

2013: Greatest Discovery

I’m always late to the party, both literally and metaphorically.

With that in mind I considered making a list of my “Top ____(movie/music/youtube video/recipe) of 2013,” but I realized that the things I liked the most this year weren’t from this year (but do check out Lorde and Dustin Kensrue’s albums, and see Gravity, Rush, and American Hustle…also, pumpkin waffles).

A lot has happened to me this year, but as I sat back and thought about 2013, the one thing that stuck out was my greatest discovery of 2013.

And with that I present to you my Greatest Discovery of 2013: ELECTRIC BLANKETS.

I don’t remember if I’ve ever used an electric blanket before this year, but I finally used one in 2013, and it was quite the treat. Since my discovery I’ve been using the electric blanket almost every night.

Apparently the first electric blanket was invented in 1912, but like I said, I’m late to the party.

/farmerrobbie

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Around Mile 30

Time at Night

After years and thousands of miles of pedaling my bicycle I’ve come to learn that around mile 30 is where you reach bliss. By this point both your muscles and lungs have warmed up and your body moves in almost involuntary motions as you spin the pedals. Around mile 30, hills become easier. You float over them rather than grind your way up and over. Around mile 30 you shift through your gears, sip your water bottle, and nibble your granola bar without thinking about it. Everything begins to fade away and it is just you and the road. It’s bliss; it’s what athletes refer to as “the zone.”

But getting to this place of bliss takes more than 30 miles. It takes months of conditioning. Building up your muscles to endure long days in the saddle. Expanding your lungs to take in more air. Getting your fingers used to the shifters. You don’t merely hop on your bike and hit the zone at mile 30.

I am beginning to see this model mirrored in other places. I see it in work, in relationships and in life. I see it takes time and energy. It takes devotion. Lasting friendships aren’t made in a day. Careers aren’t established in a few hours. Life cannot be crammed into a month. You have to be willing to put in the time to get the rewards.

Seven years ago, when I first got into road cycling, it took all that was within me to even finish a 30-mile ride. I was awkward on the bike and my spandex shorts itched. I’ve come along way on the bike, but there’s still more room for improvement…a lot more room.

I’m 24 years old now. I’ve come along way, there’s still more room for improvement; but man, when you hit those moments of bliss…it’s exciting.

/farmerrobbie

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Yellowstone

It’s been about 16 years since I was last in Yellowstone. After watching this, I think it’s time to go back.

/farmerrobbie

Posted in Films, Travels | Tagged , , | 1 Comment