Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Ketchup

It's been awhile since I've put anything up on here but the past year has been busy. I was given the opportunity to travel to New Zealand over the summer to work on a Ski Patrol Exchange so I only got in some minimal bike racing, but I did manage to squeeze some in between my 3 consecutive winter seasons. Don't get me wrong, I love skiing but at heart I am still a summer kid who would choose rallying bikes over skiing but one does not turn down the opportunity to work in NZ when it's on the table. So, think of this as an update in visual form.


Spring time means bike racing, pure and simple


Suffer face




Sunrise at the Remarkables while running Avalanche routes. 


Camping on the Southern Coast of NZ

video

Proper NZ sketchy rope swing. 


Sunrise from the top of Coronet Peak


NZ Billygoating


Grand Couloir from the top of the Alta Chutes at the Remarkables 


Skiing the Grand Couloir


More Road Tripping


Milford Sound


Trail Running NZ style


I came back to CO just in time to enjoy fall and get plenty of riding in


Nothing beats ripping trails as the Aspens change!


But, eventually the snow fell and I headed back to work. 


However, work isn't too bad



I'll take the skiing when I can but I'm counting down the days until riding season starts!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Without a doubt this past summer was one for the record books which in some ways left me hollowed out and bare. However, after the Divide I discovered a new fondness for mountain running and slowly my goal list for the next year is filling up with hair-brained ideas that are not solely cycling related. When I discovered backcountry skiing it opened up a whole new world of possibilities and as with mountain running I am able to explore places that a bike simply can not take you.  I had a goal of running a trail marathon before work started but for once I actually made the smart call and realized that my body was still limping along after the summer, so I tucked that goal in my back pocket and now it's winter motivation.



Waking up at 4:30 AM after multiple 55+ hour work weeks outside and then promptly plunging yourself right back into windchills that would make a polar bear shiver isn't easy, but the views and grin inducing skiing make it all worth it.   


Up high in the mountains with the wind whipping away at any exposed skin is where I find pure happiness. Sure, I crave a warm bed as my little headlamp bounces along only exposing the next few steps, but who can deny the power of exploring with only your legs to propel you. 


The sensation of having your breath become rhythmic, your heart start to pound harder and harder, and your legs burn up the skintrack causing your thoughts to narrow to only the next steps or the next ridge line can be incredible. However tunnel vision can lead to tunnel thoughts and since I prefer the natural world to the gym I must remember to look around and relax my thoughts.


At times I let my wandering mind get the best of me and I start to spiral down rabbit holes in my own brain, but if I let the wind and cold air narrow my focus to only the path directly ahead of me and the sensation of being in an incredible environment my mind clears and I realize that in that moment I am as happy as I can be.

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Tour Divide: Ups and Downs

Looking through the lens of the 5 months since my Tour Divide attempt this summer it's easy to omit some parts such as shivering in the cold, yelling into the wind, and sleeping in the snow but what remains is a pretty cool adventure that for some reason I have put off writing about.

In Banff at the start line I was bursting with anticipation and nervous energy over the adventure ahead. I have wanted to toe the line for a good number of years and this year the stars had aligned and I was actually there.


Leaving the Banff I knew I was sitting on some pretty decent fitness however there was no way to escape the fact that I hadn't ridden a bike all winter. Living at 9,000 feet and working at a ski resort doesn't provide a whole lot of opportunity for riding in the winter. However, I ski toured my brains out all winter and crossed my fingers that come spring when I suddenly rode 30 hours a week my legs would remember how to pedal. 


After a spring in Grand Junction I felt I was as ready as I could be and my bags were packed. 


Although the Divide is something you can never really feel fully prepared for. You just do what you can and then one day it's time to start. 


The first few days of the race went well and I was feeling strong. I was also aware that I had a long road ahead and I was pacing myself pretty conservatively knowing that a slower start could yield big dividends down the road.


There was some amazing country in the Canadian Rockies and I was fortunate enough to see plenty of wildlife and amazing views. 


For no particular reason I often found myself riding alone which affords plenty of reflection time and self talk. 


As can sometimes happen when you're alone, a tad cold, tired, and in foreign places at night, demons can sneak in. 


I have always felt that if a person has demons to contend with they will surface in a long bike race. Everything from 24 hour races, to tours, to multi-day races are fertile grounds for those negative thoughts to creep in and take over.


I managed them pretty well and was really enjoying my time out there seeing new landscapes and sleeping in completely random places under the stars. 


A friend once told me: "all that matters is that at the end of the day your desire to go forward is greater than your desire to go back" and I really did want to continue each and every day. 


 As the days ticked by I could feel my body start to adapt and push out some of the fatigue.


My already fairly dialed system was getting more efficient every day. 


Even when I slept in a Forest Service bathroom lean to in the rain and snow I was pretty happy, which proves the point that all you really need is some food and a roof over your head. 


Some days the wind was my greatest enemy and left me miles from anybody else, screaming into the wind gusts that repeatedly tried to rip my sail of a bike off the road and blow my jacket into the next state every time I tried to put it on or take it off.


However, after every negative or tough moment something would happen to snap me out of a negative head space. It could be meeting a random hunter on a 4 wheeler who couldn't believe people rode bikes where I was and then promptly offering me a swig of the whiskey in his pocket or a sudden tailwind blowing me down the road or a stunning sunset that left my jaw on the ground. 

 
The road ahead of me was still long, but the miles were starting to add up and with all the love and support I had received from those closest to me both leading up to the trip as well as in care packages that followed me along the route I was really out chasing a goal I have dreamed of for so long.  


 Whenever I started to feel down I would simply need to glance down at a pin on my handlebars that said "LOVE".


I loved being out there, I loved chasing the horizon, I loved pushing myself and seeing things and feeling things that few will ever understand. 


 I promised myself that I would not return the same person that started in Banff and even though my eyes were often tired, my belly was often hungry, and my body was fatigued a change was happening.


 However, my journey was cut short by a sudden illness that essentially stopped me in my tracks.


Not long after snapping the picture above I went from riding along to being curled up in my sleeping bag along the side of the road puking my guts out. Complete body shutdown. Thankfully I was able to thumb a ride out from a local jeeper and then was able to make contact with a pretty girl who I had met a month or so prior to arrange a ride back to civilization. I was nursed back to health by pedialite and it would take a few days before I could stomach a real meal. 

My adventure was over so suddenly and without warning which is perhaps why I have put off writing about it. Will I return to race the spine of the continent again?  I don't know. For several months I didn't think so, however thoughts of giving it another shot have started to creep back into my head. The Divide really is one of those things that gets under your skin. It's an experience that one can never understand until you're out there in it. As I become more and more removed from the uncomfortable parts of the race what remains are memories of such magnitude that no pretty picture or flowery words can begin to convey. 

So thank you to everyone who both helped me prepare and who gave me encouraging words and thoughts while I was out there.  It really was an adventure of a lifetime and what matters in the end is the person who gets spit out the other end.


Sunday, May 12, 2013

Divide Dreams

This story begins 7 years ago on a cross country bike trip with my brother. We departed from the left coast with no real set route and essentially headed east every day for 7 weeks. It was pure and simple magic. After passing through Yellowstone National Park we hung a right and headed South into Grand Teton Park. In a effort to skirt paying for camping in the park, we headed down a gravel road through a thick cloud of mosquitoes in search of a camping spot a ranger had told us about earlier that day. Before long as we were cruising down washboards on road bikes with trailers we crossed paths with a fine French fella on a mountain bike who told us he was touring the Great Divide Route. Our two routes literally only overlapped for a mile or two so it was dumb luck that we even saw each other. However, it was the first time I had heard of the route and instantly I wanted to tour it. We didn't talk long due to an obscene amount of especially vicious mosquitoes, however the seed had been planted.

Not long after, I heard of the race that was held on the route and being a bike racer of the endurance persuasion I instantly wanted to race it. Each fall since then my thoughts would wander to touring and each fall I played with the idea of racing the divide. However, I knew that I didn't have the mental tenacity to keep it together for nearly 3 weeks of long and most likely solo days. Maybe it was an excuse I came up with inside my own head, maybe not. Regardless, last fall when my thoughts drifted to racing the divide as they typically did, something was different. The stars had aligned and I knew it was time to saddle up and give it a shot.



A sign of things to come for the young Carney brothers?

It's a tradition for divide racers to craft a letter of intent as part of their entry into the race, so here is my promise to myself as I attempt to ride the spine of the continent next month as fast as my body and mind will allow. I promise to take it all in. I promise to ride hard each day and smile as much as humanly possible. I promise to not spend my time looking at the glass half full or half empty, but rather take in all the little things, the big views, the big miles, the new places and new people until my glass overflows.  I promise to live solely in the moment and to let absolutely everything soak in, the good weather, the bad weather, the sunrises and sunsets, the new places, the aches and pains, the places I'll go inside my own head, and all the magic and lessons that spending 2,700 miles living on a bike has to offer.


The campsite where the idea started. 

I promise to not come back the same person that started in Banff. After all, if I accomplish my goals on the route, how could I? Each day is a opportunity to either improve yourself as a human or to stagnate. There is no staying the same if you pay attention to life. So, here's to big miles, big smiles, and what I'm positive will be one hell of an adventure!

Excited does not even begin to capture how I'm feeling! 


Sunday, April 28, 2013

Little things

It's pretty amazing how the smallest things can make you smile in the middle of a big ride. A big view, a terrible song stuck in your head, gummy sharks, a random memory, a bad joke, a funny looking rock, or even just the simple joy of churning out mile after mile. 


So, here's to paying attention to the little things that cause big dumb smiles to creep across your face even when you're alone!  

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Buying the Ticket


Back in my Triathlon days I would often sign up for a early spring marathon or running race to force myself out of my comfort zone of cycling throughout the dark winter months. I bought the ticket so to speak and used that commitment as motivation.




I've always struggled with announcing my intentions in sport too loudly. In an ideal world I would rather show than tell. People who year after year, say they are going to do this or that and year after year find a excuse to sidestep their stated goal get under my skin. Say it to yourself rather, say it until it hurts, say it until you know it in your bones. Talk without action is nothing.



Afterall, if you don't believe in your own goal so deeply that it hurts to not attain it will you have the resolve to put in the work needed to change yourself to meet it?  Goals are great, they are the building blocks of growth, but goals without action are useless. 

So make plans, make goals, make your intentions known to yourself first, however then do something about them, chase them, conquer them, attain them, crush them.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Uncertainty

Every since I can remember I have been drawn to exploring outdoors. Maybe it was the time my brother and I bet our Mother that we wouldn't watch TV for a year and all the time outside that started it all (in retrospect I would have bet more than $50 but that was a lot of money as a kid). Maybe it was growing up next to a river, all the days spent wandering around in the woods, or all the trips we took as a family when I was young.  I always want to see what's around the next corner, and then the corner after that. I crave new things for my eyes to gaze upon. New ridgelines, new drainages, new perspectives, new experiences.


I like turning blank spots on my mental map of the world into known territory. 


Personally human powered exploration has always been my chosen mode. The rhythmic trance that pedaling, hiking, climbing, skinning, or climbing produces is a feeling that no motorized transport can ever provide.  Doing the same thing over and over again produces the same outcome day after day. However, introducing some uncertainty means I have no idea how the day will turn out. Maybe I'll get to ski a sweet line off of a peak I've never stood atop of, maybe I'll be forced to turn around and retreat. Either way, I'll spend the day doing something different than the day prior and fill in a few blank spots on my mental map.


So, why not break into song while skinning up a lonely drainage, because in the words of my buddy Kameel today 5 hours into our tour, "Today is a damn good day to be alive".


Of all the places in the mountains, apline ridgelines are my favorite. They are a direct line to the summit, often rather harsh places and only by walking the fine line on the ridge proper can you see both sides dropping away. I like the wind whipping away at me, I let it strip away everything except the feeling of being in that exact spot at that exact moment, and in that moment that's all I need, because today IS a damn good day to be alive.



Red from AMC on Vimeo.