Tucson, Arizona

I’m writing from a overpriced cheap hotel room near the Interstate.  I’m likely to have  several grammar and punctuation errors, so bear with me. 

Last week, Johnny and I left for an adventure on the Arizona trail. We’ve been riding the southern section— starting at Parker canyon lake and moseying north through the Canelos, Santa Rita’s and now we’re in Tucson. We cruised all the way across town last night and woke this morning to ride a bunch of trails in Tucson Mountain Park (TMP). TMP was really where I began to learn how to mountain bike. Kelsey would take me out for rides and I would be so worked. She was the first person who taught me how to session things— ride a feature over and over until you clean the line. I just couldn’t help but work myself into a tears eyed emotional upheaval.

It’s a few things. We’re getting ready for an individual time trial race southbound on the AZT. There is a group start race for this ride in the fall each year, but I think spring is the best time for the lower 300 mile section. And I think it should include trail on Mount Lemmon. And definitely should end at Parker Canyon Lake as I don’t think the miles to the border matter much for the 300– it’s dirt road and trail that’s nothing too crazy to write home about. Last year, we did the potato sack race — I convinced my besties to race individual time trials with potato pseudonyms. I decided each spring I want to have an ITT race with a theme so we can assume characters for a race. It’s fun and this year was “The Rat Race” picking mouse/rat names. But only Johnny wanted to race me so there’s only two of us. 

I wanted to write some words and intentions here. 

I mean. The azt is already sacred to me. I’ve completed the actual 300 (Parker Canyon Lake to Picketpost) 3 times and toured it’s length in chunks another few times, having also completed the entire trail (800) nearly twice. It was just last fall I was setting out to lose my mind during the grand depart when I had a bad fall and sprained my ankle to the point of not being able to walk a week before the race. I was debating on not showing up, but felt an insane pull to go. A lot of my mental health was resting on that 800 mile traverse. I knew I wouldn’t win. I knew I would be slow. But I’d rather crawl on a trail than spend another day wishing I was out there somewhere. And though I was racing, I was being chased by a fella. 

I’d known him from that year Carrie and he had ridden some miles of the divide with me. And that time on the Colorado trail. But this time. We rode like 13 of the 15 days we were out there together. We had gas station dates and endless laughs. I ended up falling madly in love with this amazing human. 

And this morning, I took him to my secret trails (not so secret anymore! signs and lots of people which is great) and we climbed trails I’d always hiked my bike up and he said. “Babe— you’re such a good technical rider” and I wanted to cry. Because that was where I started and I swear he could see how much I’ve grown. 

The Azt brought me to the love of my life— I mean. Did anyone think I could meet someone anywhere other than the trail? 

I’m setting out on this Azt, in this practice of prayer and intention as a celebration. I brought all the simple things I need for ceremony. I’ve been doing these races as tests, sometimes as punishment by showing up unprepared. But this time. I’ve been putting in the work, and I’m happy. I’m grateful to have found a partner who wants to simply disappear into the woods and mountains for weeks on end with me, a partner who chases me, a partner who races me up hills. A partner who also loves ultra racing. 

I’m feeling more like myself again, and it’s heartbreaking to look back and see how much of myself died in my last relationship. I thought I would never come back and everything in my spirit was dead. I miss him still, in ways I can’t explain. But he broke my whole heart so badly I thought I would never be able to feel whole again. 

And just when I chose to show up to a race when I knew I was not going to win, I was rewarded. I’m doing these races for the right reason to me— for the love of the trail.  

Now, with my ankle braced (still healing up) and a super full heart, I set out to pedal as fast as I can from Picketpost Mountain to Parker Canyon lake, riding down the Lemmondrop. 

http://trackleaders.com/aztrspring22

Yeehaw

Here’s photos from our recent travels. 

8 Comments Add yours

  1. Mothy Groves says:

    What an effervescent spirit you are, Alex! I am delighted to hear of your adventures — with all their triumphs and pitfalls — in this grand world. I would wish you much peace and joy but I see those things are already yours.

    Like

  2. Ralph Karsten says:

    Sweet! Life only occurs in the present, huh?

    Like

  3. Kay & Neil Deupree says:

    Happy trip, Alex. It’s good to hear from you again. And blessings on your “partnership” ! Kay & Neil

    Like

  4. cgfranzone says:

    So great to hear you are happy & out on the trail! Your smile says it all. …I like your advice for improving bike skills. I seriously need to work on my right hand turns for single track. Repeat, repeat, repeat! Maybe I’m not too old to learn new tricks!

    Like

  5. mujozen says:

    So good to see a post from you and that you are healing in mind, body and spirit. Peace. Jo

    Like

  6. Finn says:

    I’ve followed you for years, and I’m glad to see that biking is still able to heal you. Biking has saved my life over and over. You’re a huge inspiration to me ❤️

    Like

  7. houchinc says:

    Thank you for this one too 

    Like

  8. Troy Boone in Santa Cruz, CA says:

    Hello,

    Love your adventures and I’m always inspired. In fact, last year I completed the AZT 300 and this year the Stagecoach 400 in part, thanks to reading articles about you, seeing you, and relating to your story. I’m of Nansemond/Mattaponi ancestry (Southeastern Virginia) and have a long love affair with singlespeeds as well.

    Question: It would be nice to see a photo of your gear loadout for trips like the AZT. So, can you do please make this info available in a future post? I seem to take less and less every trip an have crossed that over into my life as well.

    Anyway, thank you for your efforts, openness, and indomitable spirt!

    Like

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