2017 Tour Divide

2017 Tour Divide
2017 Tour Divide - Tetons

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

In Search of Inspiration

Trans Iowa v.11 Checkpoint #1 - Photo Credit: Jason Boucher
I believe we all hunger for Inspiration.  My proof is Social Media.  We watch each other every day liking pictures of someone doing something we only wish we could do.  I figure this is why Instagram and Facebook are so popular.  Me, I try to find Inspiration from the individual people that touch my life.  I would say I started looking for inspirational nuggets at a very early age. 

The first time I can remember being truly inspired was when I was eight. One of the neighbor kids would fly by my house on his skateboard and from the very first time he flew by I knew I needed to learn how to skateboard just like him!  

Part of the reason I'm where I'm at today is the inspiration of many others in my life. People like Mike Dunlap RAAM Qualifier.  He inspired me to enjoy riding my bike forever, long hard controlled riding.  We would be done and Mike would always go for another 80 miles.  He does all the riding because he loves it. 

I'm sure anyone that follows JayP finds inspiration because he knows no bounds.  He has proven us as individuals have no limits, we can do anything and go anywhere.  If you ever have read any of JayP's blogs, you know you have no limits but your own mind.

Even riding with your local leisurely club, you find examples of inspiration.  The local Sioux Falls club has regular donut-run rides. The really cool part is they all meet early and ride 30 mile to have a Zebra donut from Centerville, SD.  They work together as a group down and back even though they are all of different abilities.  Watching the teamwork and patience is impressive plus they all have an amazing time!

There is nothing like the energy of a new cyclist.  When you take that new energy and put it with a work ethic that likes to push themselves to be better, you have something truly amazing.  I experience this each and every ride I do with my local race team.  They push, encourage, and support me.  They are part of my bike family.  Their energy inspires me to want to go harder and faster.

Several years ago, I was on an early spring 40 mile ride with my friends Joe Stiller and Dean Kusler.  They were both kicking my butt!  If I have to be honest, I don't like being dropped on rides, who does? :-)  I asked both Joe and Dean what they had been doing over the winter for riding.  Joe said spinning inside and riding his fat bike outside as much as possible.  Dean said he was just bike commuting to work every day. That day changed my life indefinitely.  I always took winter pretty easy thinking I needed too but they both inspired me to change how I looked training and riding my bike.  The next winter I started bike commuting to work and training outside as much as the icy conditions will allow.  I no longer look at temperature as a barrier.  I look at the temperature as an opportunity to test gear and my mental toughness.

The source of most my cycling inspiration has been my best friend Joe Stiller. Together we have done the Triple Bypass and Leadville events. Joe inspired me to do my first gravel race, snow race, winter training, ultra-racing, riding centuries, counting centuries I do in a year, ride 200+ miles and to ride my first 10,000 mile year.  Joe has done what really good friends should do; he has helped me discover my fullest potential and inner confidence.  He's still working on me even today. ;-)

Joe and I after the 2015 Leadville Silver Rush 50 - Photo Credit: Tina Stiller
Together Joe and I will compete in the 2017 Race across the Divide.  I turn 50 that year so I wanted to celebrate 50 years of life by doing something epic.  My moment of inspiration came to me three years ago while watching "Ride The Divide" a movie about the longest mountain bike route in the world traversing over 2700 miles along the Rocky Mountains from Banff, Canada to the Mexican border.  One thing to note is the thought of doing this event terrifies me but I love thinking into the future and the all the prepping I will be doing to do this amazing journey.  

Remember, we are all family, we all share things that inspire others.  I guess what I'm trying to say is surround yourself with inspirational people and feed off their drive! I always will.  

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Discovering your playground – my personal journey

Welcome to Gleaso's Playground's very first blog post!  I hope you find my thoughts helpful in your journey to discover your playground.

Growing up in Rapid City, SD I spent all my days riding my bike, wandering the open prairie and Ponderosa pine forests.  I loved wandering, discovering, being free...I guess today we would say I loved adventure!  As I've grown older, it's become easier to lose my sense of adventure, I've become more serious about my career path, rearing children, and getting so caught up in everyday life. Along the way, I forgot one of the most important things in life... ME, MYSELF, and I.

I am proud of my years finding my place in the working world, being a very involved dad, and a loving husband.  We all should be.  One thing we all need to remember is that your physical being needs to be part of the equation.  Through the years, I forgot.  I gained a lot of weight. Weighing in at 243 lbs!  I had a torn ACL that I had never repaired.  With the bad knee and all the added weight, my quality of life was starting to change, as I would discover one day in the attic of my newly built house.  In the attic, my knee buckled so I fell part way through the ceiling. Yep. Not good!  Time for some changes.

We all know that it's easy to say "I need to change" but actually knowing how to change is hard.  I liked eating everything in sight and watching endless amounts of television.  In addition, it was easy to do as my waistline indicated.  What I needed was a plan.  I needed to find my thing.  I needed a lifestyle change. 

The Plan

Eat less, do more cardio.  Easy, right?  Atkin's - fail, Weight-Watchers - fail, Lifting weights - fail, Run - fail (had to figure with bad knee but I tried), Swimming - fail.  I was now a couple years into this with marginal success.  I was getting very frustrated.  I still needed a plan, a thing to call my own.

One day cleaning out the garage I looked up to realize I still had my old college mountain bike.  A flood of memories of riding my bike everywhere while I went at college rushed through my head.  I remembered a race I did in college called the Chequamegon 40, a 40 mile mountain bike race in Hayward, WI.  At that instance, I realized my new thing to try.  I would train to do the Chequamegon 40!  

Doing a little research I discovered the Chequamegon 40 was a lottery that filled very quickly every year so I had to send in my application to gain an entry. With app in hand, I filled it out sent it in and waited for my entry post card to arrive in the mail.  May rolls around and no post card.  I didn't get in.  It was a very emotional moment for me because I thought it was going to be my goal, my thing.  Fail.  This was a setback for me.  I actually took a few steps back in my progress.

Several months pass, I'm still lifting weights and swimming because I didn't know what else to do with myself.  In the spring it was time to try one more time, so sent my entry in but this time I had the luckiest friend I knew at the time kiss the entry envelope with red lipstick for luck.  May rolls around again, I checked the bank account to see if the check cleared and it had.  A few days later the card came in the mail - I WAS IN!!!  Complete panic rushed through my body because I hadn't actual started riding my bike yet.  I needed to learn how to mountain bike again and build enough bike endurance to finish a 40 mile race!


So the training begins.  I started riding “training” late May 2006 with a race date mid-September.  I needed to ride enough to finish 40 miles of rolling nasty off road hills.  I started riding 2-3 times a week, short rides at first.  Slowly increasing the distance and each time I did it was painful my lower back would start hurting 10 mile into the ride, every time.  By mid-July I finally could ride 23 miles non-stop so it was time to celebrate.  I was pumped.  Still a long ways from 40 off road miles but I started to believe I was going to be able to finish.  And yes I was not confident I could finish, I was terrified that I might not be able to finish.  A couple weeks before the 40 was to begin I finally rode 40 miles for the first time, it was hard but it gave me the confidence I needed to make the drive to the Birkie ski trails in the Chequamegon National forest.

Race Week

Time to do a weigh in to see if this silly goal of mine was working.  225 pounds.  Success!  Now it’s time to start planning the trip so I started asking others what do you wear in a race like this to stay comfortable.  Everyone told me that it depended on the weather.  I thought to myself….oh yeah…the weather.  Now I’m panicking.  I forgot to check the weather.  I checked the forecast and you would never guess, yes there was a chance of rain…RAIN!  Starting race temperature of 34 degrees.  RAIN and almost freezing….WHAT AM I GOING TO DO!!!  I’ve never ridden in rain, mud or the cold.  So I called a buddy of mine in Butte, MT that was a year round bike commuter to get some advice on clothing and how to ride in those conditions.  He was awesome, he told me what to get and told me to never give up.  It was all I needed to hear because I had worked way to hard to give up now.

2006 Chequamegon fat tire festival - Left to Right: 
My daughter Sawyer, my son TJ, Me, and Trevor a friend's son.

Race Day

Finally!  I get my bike to the starting and I’m ready to go.  The rain that I was worried about had cleared and the temp was hanging around 37 degrees so I was feeling a little less freaked out but just a little. Gary the race director started the traditional countdown 10…9….8… to get the race started and then I hear crack the sound of the gun and I was off.  I was racing again!  It had been years and it felt great, I felt free, relaxed.  This was the start of my Adventure!  

I was 39 weighing in at 225 lbs.  I owned a 1998 Schwinn KOM S9 mountain bike.  My Chequamegon finishing time was 3 hours 17 minutes and 22.1 seconds.  I finished 193rd out of 340 in the 35 to 39 age group and 876th out of 1677 finishers.  And when I finished I could hardly walk or talk.  I had given that race every ounce of energy I had.

My 2006 Chequamegon fat tire festival finish!