Life lessons

Our house

We were able to buy a house in Glide and close this week.  We closed Monday and moved Tuesday and Wednesday.  We have half an acre and a lot of yard work ahead of us, but we are very thankful for this blessing.

This is the breezeway between our garage and house.  We are very excited for meals and relaxing outside.

We have a “studio” that will be our exercise room, with a storage area for the lawn mower and yard tools, and a covered area for the wood.

This is from the backyard overlooking our garden area.

The horseshoe pit needs some work, but we are excited to entertain since everyone I talk to loves playing horseshoes.

The loft needs some work, but Jaxon thinks it will be his man cave.  We are very excited that we found this house in Glide.  It’s close to the school, our favorite blackberry patch and the North Umpqua River.  It has everything we need and many of the things we wanted.

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Goodbye 2013

As I was reflecting on 2013 over the last few weeks, difficulty and pain seemed to be the overriding theme. Today I made a list of highs and lows, and I was surprised what i found.

Lows:
Skin cancer
Major surgery for suspected cancer
Mattressland closing
Being sick so much
Money problems

Highs:
Tough Mudder with my brothers
No cancer
Donating platelets
Ward Christmas program
Temple Square
Temple with Raven and Sidnee
Century Ride
Riding Sundance with Ryan, Reed and Kevin
Catching Fire with Raven
DeLana taking the kids to Canada
Girls Camp
Christmas experience
Getting Bay
Riding 650 miles on my mountain bike
Making the Tough Mudder book
Using a lathe for the first time
Erick & Tami Hull visiting unexpectedly
Attitude shift

The financial struggles and potential cancer weighed pretty heavy on me, so that seemed to linger in my mind, but there were clearly many good things that happened this year. I am confident that 2014 is going to be a better year for us, because things are going to finally work out financially, and I have chosen to look for the beauty in things. My struggles do not define me. I define me.

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Mountain bike lesson #14- I want to be on that trail

I thought I was done with this until I was riding this morning. We had 3-4″ of snow on Saturday, but it melted off and some trails are dry. I rode the single track again with Max and I noticed another trail about 20-30 feet away. I didn’t stop, but when I found a faint trail that looked like it might connect to the new trail I took it. It quickly became evident that this was not the trail I was looking for, so I got back to my trail and pushed forward. I quickly came to the section that I had noticed and realized I was looking at my trail. There was no other trail for me. It was my trail all along. It’s easy to see other people’s lives and wish we were them, or had what they had, or that things were different for us, but we are on the path that God established for us. If we are patient we will eventually come to the place where we long to be.

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Mountain bike lesson #13- trails

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This is overlooking Horsethief Bench on the Kokopelli trail system in Fruita, Colorado. I took this picture on our trip in October 2012. I love this trail.  I wish I could ride it every weekend.

The fire road I have been riding all winter is a mess.  Trucks have torn up the road and left big ruts that make riding slow at times.  While I would prefer to ride something like Horsethief Bench, Amassa Back or Ridge 157, at least I can get out and ride.  Riding a fire road is better than staying home.  I need to do a better job of keeping a good perspective in my life.  I haven’t enjoyed my fire roads as much as I should have.  I have to fight off negativity when things aren’t going the way I would like, and the longer the trial the more I have to fight.

I recently watched Hungry For Change, and that changed the way I see food.  One point they made is that the more we decide we can’t have something, the more we want it.  When we change our thinking and decide that we can have it but we don’t want it, we control how we react to food.  I love dessert and junk food, so changing how I see vegetables and junk food has been a change.  I’m trying to apply that change to other aspects of my life.  I don’t want anyone else’s life.  I want my life.  I want the people I have around me.  I want my challenges and my pending success.  I want my fire roads and single tracks.

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Mountain bike lesson #12- downhill

There is a section south of Flintstone that Mike and I used to ride before Flintstone was developed with the bike park.  This section used to seem impassible to us until Mike saw someone roll it, so he tried and he lived.  He showed me and I tried it and lived.  We don’t even think about that section anymore when we ride that trail.  Sometimes we get hung up on our perception of something and we can’t move forward.  Mike Both is glorious

I love to ride downhill sections because it is a challenge.  You have to pay attention on a trail like Flintstone or the jumps and drops will bust you up.  Flintstone is a great ride because I ride several miles to get to the other side of the ridge and ride up the back to the trailhead.  It’s a good climb and I feel like I earn the downhill.  I think of the climb as work and the downhill as play, but it’s more than that.  Riding downhill is not always easy.  Downhill sections can be fast and challenging.  There are times when I feel invincible and everything is clicking, and I ride hard on those days.  Then there are times when my balance or timing are off.  I usually don’t jump on those days.  That’s how my life has been over the last three years.  I’ve had times when I felt really strong during struggles, and times when I felt like I couldn’t take anymore.  But I’m still “riding” as it were, and looking for the beauty in the ride.

This is me on Holy Cross in Grand Junction last October.  I felt so good on that ride.  I rode in to this section, slowed down to pick my line, and rode it like a boss.  That was a fantastic road trip with Mike and Tim.
Steve rolling Gunny Loop obstacle

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Mountain bike lesson #11- hills

There are a few hills by my house that are challenging and test my fitness level. One we call Goiter. It takes about 16 minutes to climb when I’m in good shape. It’s a grinder. Another is the hill with the tower. It doesn’t look bad, but it takes longer to climb that you realize. The third has a name I won’t mention, thanks to MB. It’s shorter than the Goiter, but more difficult because it is steeper and rockier. I usually have to take a break on that beast because it’s so hard to ride on my downhill bike, but sometimes I make it up in one shot. Sometimes I feel like I am in great shape to climb the hills in my life, and other times I feel like the hills won’t end. I love to push myself and climb hills on my bike, but I don’t like it so much in life. I somehow expect that life is going to be easier, but it’s not. I think I am stronger now than I was three years ago. I hope I am. The hill continues to rise in the distance, but I’m hopeful that the view will be worth it.

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Mountain bike lesson #10- crashes

This is what happens sometimes when you crash.  The jump that kicked me in the face was one I had done 10 minutes prior to this crash.  It’s a tight trail with a turn turn a few feet before the jump.  This time my back wheel felt like it had stopped, throwing me forward on my face.  That was a few years ago, and I took it like a boss last year.August crash

I took this jump for the first time last year. I think the first time was Halloween. I landed it five times before I crashed. I think I landed it, but lost control and crashed about 10 feet later, breaking my derailleur hanger. I can’t wait to hit it this spring.
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Like mountain biking, we sometimes crash in life. It can be caused by a lack of focus, mechanical issues, or because we are trying something new. It can make us a little nervous, but conquering that thing that beats us is a great feeling, even if it takes a few years.

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Mountain bike lesson #9- Max

Merry Christmas Max = PC sucksThis is Max when he was a puppy.  He is our first family dog, and he grew to be my riding companion.  I think I started to take him with me when he was about two.  We had some rough patches when he would take off and sniff other dogs and ignore me, but he eventually learned to listen to me and ignore them.  I took him out this morning for a cold nine mile ride, and he doesn’t care that it’s cold.  If he sees me get my mountain bike clothes and turns into a tornado.  He gets mad if I ever leave him home, so I take him as much as I can.  One thing I love about mountain biking is I can go alone or with other people.  It’s mostly alone these days, so it’s nice to have Max along.  It’s entertaining to watch him chase rabbits knowing that he will never catch one.

Overall I could go faster if I left him home, but it’s nice to have the company.  Max beats me on the climbs and I beat him on the downhill.  He is much more obedient and calm after a ride.  He needs the exercise and he loves being outside, so ride time is good for him.  Life is a lot more enjoyable when you have people to share it with.  Sometimes it’s a best friend, a spouse, or a child.  Like my rides with Max, sometimes I have to adjust things, especially if I am doing something with my kids, but it’s nice to spend the time together.  They make me laugh, and hopefully I am teaching them something along the way.  The ride is mutually beneficial, just like my rides with Max.

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Mountain bike lesson #8- Camelbak

camelbak_muleWhen I started to mountain bike in 1994 I realized that it would be a good idea to carry an extra tube and a few tools, so I bought a Mountainsmith lumbar bag at REI.  I added a few things like an emergency blanket, that I almost had to use in Briones one evening.  Those were the days of drinking warm water from a muddy water bottle.  When I moved to Utah I went to Gorilla Bikes and the girl was quitting, so she sold me a Camelbak MULE for $55.  That changed everything.  It kept my water cold, and I could carry a windbreaker and other gear.  I have since passed that MULE on to my son and bought this orange MULE, which has a bigger storage area.  It also doubles as a spine protector during crashes.  Bonus.  I carry a tube, CO2 inflator and cartridges, emergency bag, signal mirror, duct tape and a few zip ties.

I read an article in the last year or two that suggested only carrying enough water for your ride to help lower the weight of the Camelbak.  I think that is a stupid idea.  First of all, I might change my mind during a ride and go further than I intended when I left.  Secondly, it’s only a few pounds.  You are better served by losing the body weight than your water supply weight.  Thirdly, I know a guy named Royce that crashed and broke his neck on a ride.  He was partially paralyzed and couldn’t walk or ride home.  All he could do was drink from his Camelbak for four hours until his friends came to find him.  Carry plenty of water.

The Camelbak is a symbol of preparedness.  It is important to be prepared for as many unforeseen circumstances as possible.  Four years ago I was stuck in my car for four hours because of snow and high winds.  All the roads in Utah County were shut down.  I realized I was not prepared to walk away from my car and make it home in dress clothes.  I packed a bag with warm clothes the next day.  Sometimes we only have the resources to prepare on a small scale, but that is better than nothing.  Being prepared gives you a sense of control and safety that can help us stay calm during trying situations.  It’s all about the gear.

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Mountain bike lesson #7- the 220 drop in

220

This is the 220 drop in at the Eagle Mountain bike park. To the left of the picture is a pretty sharp berm, which actually scared me more than the drop in the first time I did it. I was afraid I would have too much speed from the drop in and miss the turn, flying down the hill. I did the drop and locked up my brakes and stopped before hitting the turn, and I’ve been hitting the drop and riding the 220 trail ever since. The scary part about the drop is that you can’t see the landing until your front tire is rolling off the wood ramp, so it gets your heart racing if you haven’t done it for a while. You have to commit to the drop or risk injury trying to avoid it. I’ve seen people ride up to the edge and stop, nearly falling off the ramp. Too many people only put forth partial effort, and that rarely yields any meaningful results. Mountain biking, like life, requires you to go all in when you face an obstacle. Failure to do so can lead to painful results.

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