Van Life

Frigid air conditioning blasted me in the face and zapped the outdoor heat from my skin. I felt a wave of depression wash over me as I pushed my bike up the stairs of our office building, back my desk. It was a beautiful day outside, yet I had only ridden for 30 minutes instead of the planned two-hour-long ride. I was at the breaking point. For months I’d been stagnant: unable to train at any real capacity, unable to enjoy life, and in a constant state of depression. Adelaide, who works (worked) approximately two feet from me at the facing desk, saw how upset I was when I came back from yet another failed ride attempt and already had a message waiting for me on g-chat by the time I sat down:

Want to quit today?

I immediately replied:


We’d been talking about leaving for over a month but had been planning to hold out until next February. It was a great job but unsustainable with our current mindsets. June is pretty close to February. Close enough.

Neither of us have recovered from the crash last October. I think at this point Adelaide has recovered more than me actually. One of the issues is that there has been no break in our lives to restart, or whatever you want to call it. There hasn’t been enough time to mentally recover. We both jumped back into regular life with full time jobs and me trying to train and race full time as well. That, of course, left almost zero room for Adelaide’s surgeon and dentist appointments, therapy, phone calls with our lawyer, and more importantly it didn’t give us the time to rest and recuperate. (Not to mention a vacation sitting on a beach somewhere).

We’d been discussing what could be taken out of our schedule to remedy this lack of mental health days. The only things we have going on are:

1) sleep
2) work
3) training
4) racing/travel
5) down time
6) time with friends

Decreasing time with friends wouldn’t add up to anything, taking out down time would screw us up even more than we currently are since it’s down time that we need more of, I’ve already drastically decreased time spent bike racing and traveling, not training anymore isn’t even an option. Same goes for sleep. That leaves us with work. Bills be damned.

We gave our two weeks notice that day, with plans on a three-week-long road trip out to Oregon and California to kick start what would become known as van life. The following week we began moving out of our apartment since our lease was ending in mid July and by then we’d already be gone on the trip. The condo we bought this winter, which we’ve been renting out ever since, has a detached garage that ended up easily holding all of our belongings.

The trip so far has included seeing my old teammate Sam Johnson on our way through Boise, visiting my parents in Oregon for three days in Corvallis, and camping in Guerneville, California, where I “raced” Vineman 70.3. The race was a last-minute decision and one that I ended up regretting quite a bit.

IMG_0621IMG_0618My dad, Adelaide and I rode in Mac Forest on trails that my dad helped establish 30+ years ago.

11143505_1064130120264184_7415316933932449416_nMy mom, Adelaide, and I tried paddle boarding. I highly recommend it for a workout and/or mega chi points for relaxation.

11227639_1064130123597517_2075642251520130207_nWhile a Speedo is preferable, a drag suit will suffice. I didn’t lose any tan lines by the way. They seem to be burned into me permanently.

IMG_0628 A highly caffeinated and sugared Adelaide makes a happy and alert Adelaide while driving. Gas station cappuccino stops are a necessity on long road trips.

IMG_0643 Down camping in Guerneville, I was unable to sleep for roughly three days.

photo 1The Hound on Hound duty.

On to the race, which was last Sunday the 12th:

The long days of travel, the stress of moving out of our apartment and quitting our jobs right before the trip, and an ear infection coupled with antibiotics all paled in importance to not being able to sleep the nights leading up to the race. Despite feeling pretty shitty during my recent training, I was confident that I could get into the top eight. One of my only weaknesses, aside from my incredible degree of modesty, is being a super finicky sleeper. I hadn’t been sleeping well at the campsite in Guerneville so Adelaide and I crashed my former teammate Nick Bax’s hotel room the night before the race. Somehow that was even worse for me and I was only able to sleep for 45 minutes that night. The 4:30AM wake up call came way too soon. By the time I lined up to start the swim at Vineman I had already lost.

40 ounces of coffee and a 100mg caffeine gel were barely holding my eyes open when the gun went off. I was dropped instantly and even passed by the lead group of women just after the half way point. Swimming is by far my weakest sport but this was just plain pitiful. I struggled on at a sluggish pace, barely even moving, for the last few hundred meters. By then I had resigned to pull out of the race and skip town. All the other male pros’ bikes were long gone from transition before I trudged my tired bones out of the river in shame. Finishing wasn’t even worth it. I decided I might as well save my legs the 10 days it takes me to recover from a triathlon, sleep if off, and start training for the next one.

photo 1 (1)Contemplating whether or not it was even worth it to start. I was that tired. (It’s always worth at least starting).

At times, it irks me to read (and write) a race report that tells a tale of a race gone wrong but strays from the truth at the end to leave the reader with an uplifting note of positivity–something the author took away from the difficult experience. You know what, sometimes you don’t learn anything from failure. Sometimes you just fucking fail.

Adelaide helped console me as we packed my gear in the van by proclaiming that she’d taken a desperate dump behind someone’s car. For Adelaide, when shit happens, shit happens NOW. We left Guerneville with my tail tucked between my legs, eyes glazed in fatigue while Adelaide drove us to Nevada City to stay with my uncle for a night and let the Hound run free in the woods surrounding his cabin.

Okay I’ll buckle a tiny bit here. I don’t want it to sound like I’m utterly crushed from the DNF. The fact is that we aren’t out here for me to race. My 70.3 was thrown in as an afterthought at most. We came to see my family, get out of Boulder, mentally recharge, and for Adelaide to race the Full Vineman, which is in a week and a half. She’s been training for it since last winter and this whole trip has just been tacked onto it. So other than my race being a fiasco, we’ve been having a blast. Now we’re staying south of Sacramento with my cousin Chris, swimming against the river current every morning, and running or riding in the heat of the afternoon. I’ll post an update in a week or two.