Object Permanence

My wife recently got a tattoo, an original design celebrating her success on a thru-bike of the Colorado Trail last summer. A permanent, potent symbol of her passion for two wheels.

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Do NOT tell her it’s too big!

Hours later, she was on my phone in a panic, about how it was too big, too visible, too permanent, too…

“Badass!,” I reassured her. “I’m jealous I didn’t think of it first.”

But it occurred to me later, I couldn’t have. Bikes haven’t been the focus of my world these last couple years, as they have hers. As adventure by bike began to fill her dreams, they were leaving mine. As she was embarking on ride after ride, I was attempting to rehab my wrist, she measuring in miles, I in millimeters. My near constant state of injury had her all but convinced that we’d never explore another trail together, and month after month, I was beginning to wonder the same.

Similar patterns of panic at the thought of permanence.

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A perfect day, 16 months in the making.

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“Wow, you could not have picked a better time to be fat-biking than right now!” said Friendly Hipster Trail-Runner Guy.

‘I KNOW!” I yelped back a little too enthusiastically as we passed each other. “The trail conditions are absolutely PERFECT!”

After cringing about how I needed to tone down my enthusiasm a bit with the next trail-user I pass, it dawned on me that, quite possibly in the entire history of trail etiquette, a truer statement has never been expressed. Continue reading

“And, whenever you find yourself saying “I can’t” – I can’t afford it, I can’t spare the time, I can’t climb a hill – just try replacing the word “can’t” with “choose not to”… It is a very powerful way of getting to the bottom of whether a problem is genuine or just an excuse – I choose not to afford it, I choose not to spare the time, I choose not to climb a hill.”

-Alastair Humphreys #microadventure

The new premier.

The new premier.

A few years ago, I dragged my new girlfriend, Kammie, and two friends (none of which were cyclists) to the premier showing of Mike Dion’s Ride the Divide in downtown Denver. Bike-packing was still something of a novelty then, a new burgeoning sport yet to hit the masses, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it, but multi-day races like the Colorado Trail Race and the Tour Divide still frolicked in the realms of myth and imagination rather than my reality. I had never even truly raced a bike before, much less with pounds of gear over hundreds of miles! It was a far off place for a far off time. “Someday…”

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About to take off on my first bike-packing tour on the Colorado Trail. At a newly minted 30 years old,  it’s ready or not!

The film was everything I hoped it would be, an introduction to the kind of athletic challenge and backcountry adventure I’d been waiting for, and my dreams had been given definition.  “Those guys are beasts!”  my buddy Ron clamored, slapping me on the back as we left the theater. “Yeah they are,” I smiled quietly in agreement. Then I promised myself, “And I’m going to be one of them!”

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“Feel better Mr. Schuhmann”

  “My bike takes me places school never could,” or so says the bumper sticker on my car… As a middle school teacher, this is probably heresy, but at times I’ve found it to be true…

This is not one of those times…

Last week, one of my 7th grade students brought me a letter. Being the week before Christmas break, this was not out of the ordinary, but this one was different… There were no Starbucks gift cards, chocolate caramels, or homemade cookies. This was simply a piece of paper, folded in half as a “card,” with colorful kid scratch on the front: “Feel better Mr. Schuhmann.”

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She even spelled my name right!

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Final Days

I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a wet morning, and found my muddied coat hanging above the table where I had eaten dinner the previous evening, now a world away. I pause, pursing my lips and staring at it vacantly, before snatching it off the hook with equal disgust and relief. As I went through the motions of packing my possessions, I didn’t speak a word to my cabin mates, especially the midnight flapper, whom I had developed a considerable hatred for throughout the night. Instead, I geared up for a rehashing of last night’s endless ten mile slog over Cabin Pass. Again…

My legs have nothing for it though, and I’m forced walk many of the climbs that I easily rode yesterday. My achilles grow tighter and tighter with each step, like a wound rubber band pulled from both ends.

And rain: Over the pass. Down the pass. Beyond the pass. Another pass.

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