They say the good die young.
Well whoever "they" are, they are right.
On Sunday, April 9, 2017, our dear friend Stefan Seigmann passed away following a tragic car accident in Santa Fe. There is no way to describe the feeling that has swept through each and every one of us who knew Stefan. Something like the the aftershock of a nuclear bomb is how I'm feeling. When I found out, my ears were ringing and I lost all the strength in my legs to keep myself standing. I'm numb. We are all numb.
It is hard in times like these to not just sink into your bed, cry, question any beliefs you may have, and wonder continually, "Why?" Why Stefan? He was only 29. He was planning on moving to Flagstaff in just a couple of months, he was just here last weekend. Why do things like this happen to people like Stefan, or Brian, or Nate, or Greg, or any other person who has had their life cut short for one reason or another? I've asked myself this question far too many times in the last 18 months and have never found an answer. Because there isn't one. Human life is just fragile.
But Stefan didn't live as if life were fragile. Stefan lived his life to the absolute fullest. So here's a toast to Stefan, his parents, Hubert and Lisa, and all of us who's life he touched. Here is what I would say to Stefan if I had one last chance to tell him.
I would start by saying "thank you."
Thank you, Stefan, for being such an phenomenal, remarkable human being. You are truly one of the greatest people I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. You never fail to bring a smile to my face, laughter to my belly, and a glimmer to my eyes. You light up any room you walk into, and have some extraordinary power to make everyone feel at ease and loved. The quote on my yogi tea today read, "kindness is the essence of life" and I couldn't help but think of you. You are so kind, positive, and loving. You extend an olive branch to each and every person, no matter how well you do or do not know them, no matter how they treat you. You are an inspiration. The way you live--committed to having a kick ass life, a happy and full life... You're doing it right. You care so much about your friends, family, your work, coaching.... I can't wait to have you here in Flagstaff. You are going to be such a wonderful addition to our community and you are going to have such a positive affect on all of our lives. I love you, Steffy Baby.
And if I had the chance to tell Stefan this, I would be telling him while we sat drunk in Pita Pit, at 2 am, after drinking old fashioned(s) at Rendezvous or dancing our faces off (in bad fashion) at Monsoon all night. Afterwards, we would all stumble home, sit on my couch, and shoot the shit, talking about how much we love each other and how lucky we all are to have one another.
But I know Stefan knows all of this, and I know he is hearing me say it now. Because I am a strong believer in the human soul. And to me, Stefan's soul is still, and always will be, with us. His energy will always be felt. And our memories never ever forgotten.
Hubert and Lisa, I cannot even fathom how much you are hurting right now. But I hope you two are taking solace in the fact that you raised an incredible son. A son who could have only been as incredible as he was because he came from two amazing parents. You guys are the shining light in the dark, you are what made Stefan the person he was, and he will always live on through you, and through all of us. I know we are 8 hours away, but your Flagstaff family is always here for you, and we are sending unfathomable amounts of love to you in this hard time.
I was lucky enough to see Stef just last weekend, when he came to surprise Davis for the First Annual Boz Bump Comp. That's the friend Stefan was. The one that would drive 6 hours after working in the OR all day to surprise and support his best friend. And that's how he will be remembered. The last words I had with Stefan were in the midst of a massive hug, and it was an exchange of I love you's and see you soon's. I can still feel that hug, and I'll hold onto that forever.
I've written these words in a similar fashion too many times, but with death comes lessons and growth. We are again reminded of how precious and fragile human life is, and how quickly it can be over. So hug and kiss the ones you love and make sure they know you love them, live every day with a kind heart and open arms, be gracious and non-judgmental, and never ever forget: you only have one shot, better make it the Best Life Ever.
Soul. This is a word I give a lot of thought to and that means a lot to me. We throw it around--soul-searching, soul-shredding--but what does it really mean to go soul-searching or soul-shredding? Soul, to me, is the essence of our being. My soul is what makes me, me, and what makes you, you. Soul is not our personality or attitude, it's something different, it's the embodiment of our self; it's who and what we are at the most basic, most existential level. Soul can not be argued into nature or nurture. It's something very free, it's not tangible, it's not tied to our hearts or our brains, and it's unexplainable. It's what's deep within us that makes us tick, what moves us through every moment and every day, and what influences our personalities and attitudes.
We all lose touch with our soul every once in a while. How can we not? Life is busy. We get caught up with our friends, family, jobs, hobbies, and whatever else life likes to throw at us. Any one that knows me at all knows that I love to be busy, I love to be with friends and family, I am rarely alone, and I like to cram as much as I can into every day. Obviously, this catches up to me at some point, so, to me, it's important to take time every so often to get back in touch with my soul, to get back to my most basic roots, to get back to that point where there is nothing on my mind except inexplicable happiness, gratitude, and contentedness.
These moments, for me, are not always planned. Often times it takes me getting completely burnt out and ass-kicked before I realize I have fallen out of touch with my Self. But sometimes, I catch myself before I implode. This whole winter has been an anti-implosion measure. It's been a winter spent getting back in touch with myself, having fun, and not worrying. I didn't realize how well this had all been working until I ended up in Colorado for a week, skiing by myself. Though it was not originally planned to be a solo-mission, circumstances out of my control lead it be so. And even though trips with friends are always wonderful, I couldn't have been happier soul-shredding by myself for a week.
From the moment I got in the car and left Flagstaff for Aspen, I was happy and calm. I was on no one's schedule besides my own. No one was rushing me or slowing me down. I got up when I wanted, ate when and what I wanted, skied what I wanted, and had no one to object. There were countless moments where I found myself close to, or in tears with happiness standing alone in the woods on my skis. I felt so full of gratitude and love--for absolutely everything in my life. It's when I realized that my winter of soul-searching was working; I felt more in touch with myself than I had in a really long time.
Don't confuse what I'm saying, I'm not condoning selfishness--though a little can go a long way--but I am advocating for every one remembering to do things for themselves every once in a while. You can do this without being "selfish." It's important to remember that your mental and physical health is as important as anyone else's. I'm throwing a gentle reminder out there for everyone to remember to do things for yourself--to remember who you are, what makes you happy and whole. To take the time to really breathe and acknowledge that we can take care of ourselves, to remember that our happiness ultimately depends on no one but ourselves, to love ourselves and what we are doing. That time could be an hour of yoga a day, or a bike ride, run, skiing... whatever it is, do it. We are never too busy to take care of ourselves and our souls.
It's noon on December 31st. I've been thinking a lot about how I would write this post, about how I could write about 2016 and make it inspiring and wise and introspective. I thought about not writing this all, because I still tear up every time I really reflect on this last year. But despite all the heartbreak this year, there was a lot of laughing, smiling, and crying out of happiness too, and it's important to remind ourselves of the lessons learned during tough times.
When I look back on the year, the first words that come to mind are, "what the fuck?" Those words were repeated through sobs and tears too many times to count. 2016 was probably one of the hardest years I've been through. It was one of those years that make you ask, "how" and, "why" and make you search nonstop for the answers. 2016 made it hard for me to believe that the world wasn't spinning off it's axis. This year the world said goodbye to Brian Boyer, a man that was like a second dad to me, Greg Needell, a ski coach of mine, Murphy Roberts, a kid I ski raced with for years, and Sean Quigley, a kid I grew up with and went to school with from kindergarten on, along with others, like Fawn Cordasco, whom I didn't know well, but who touched the Flagstaff community deeply. These losses, some more than others, have been incredibly hard for me, and a lot of others, to accept. I think it's because all of these people were taken from us far too soon and at very young ages. And as if losing someone you love isn't hard enough, watching the aftermath of someones departure unfold in such an unfair way makes it even harder to deal with. Watching the good guys get beaten by the bad guys makes you question the plot of every single superhero movie that's ever been made. It's shaken my belief that good things happen to good people. Shaken, but not broken. Deep down the optimist in me lives and still believes that in the end, good wins every time, and that karma is a mean bitch when she needs to be.
Out of all of this loss, though, came a lot of love. Loss brings people together even closer. Loss makes us stronger, even when we feel our weakest. You never know how strong you are until you have to be. And I've seen a lot of that. And it refreshes my seemingly negative outlook on humanity. It reminds me that there are still a lot more good, loving, compassionate, fair people out there than mean, conniving, selfish people. It reminds me that it may seem like evil is winning, but evil will never really win, because evil has nothing tangible to hold on to, no friendships, and nothing abstract to hold on to, no love. And that is why evil will never truly win, because evil is miserable.
Loss has taught me that the small things really don't matter. It changes the prescription of your perspective glasses. You realize what really matters, and what to not get so worked up about.
Most importantly, loss has also reminded me, and so many others, to keep living. To keep doing what we love, to keep pursuing our dreams, to build strong, wonderful, enduring relationships and friendships, to look out for one another. Becuase the only things that makes the tough times easier are love, friends, family, and a life well-lived.
Of course, 2016 also brought a lot of excited and happy "What the fuck?!" moments too. Those were the moments where I was so happy, or excited, or absolutely amazed I couldn't find any other words to describe that moment. Some of those moments include:
I'm ready for 2016 to be over. This year was really hard. But the tough times make us appreciate the good days even more, and I plan on next year being full of really really good days. Skis, bikes, boats, adventure, love, laughter, friendship. Here's to the amazing journey ahead... And remember, we're not here for a long time, we're here for a good time. So have a good god damn time.
I haven't touched my bike in 49 days. And the truth is this: I don't care.
Before you take that out of context let me explain. It's not that I don't miss riding my bike, I DO, every day. It's not that I don't want to ride my bike, I DO, every day. I cannot wait to ride my bike again. But my world is not shattered that I can't. Why? Because there are so many other things to do. Why else? Well because, there is no point in being upset that I can't ride. It's my own damn fault anyway. But most of all, it's because I needed the break, and even though it was forced upon me, I am grateful for the downtime, and conscious of how it's helped me.
Truth be told, had I not gotten hurt, I probably wouldn't have taken any time away from my bike this fall. I would have kept up a heavy riding schedule, I would have gone to a couple more races, I would be having a blast, but I would be so unbelievable tired. Then winter would roll around, and I would find myself zipping back and forth between Sedona and Flag numerous times a week to ride. In the great state of Arizona, the fun never has to end. But fun comes with a price, right? For me that price is mental stability.
You can turn the intensity down, you can turn the mileage down, but you can't turn your mentality down. You always have to be conscious of what you're doing when you're riding, otherwise you'll find yourself ass in the dirt, hurt. Physically you can be fit and healthy, but if you're mentally burnt out, it's game over. I have a tendency to go-go-go until I reach that point of no return, the point where I find myself dragging so much there's nothing I can do except to do just that: nothing.
This often happens to me at a critical point in the year, the spring, when I should be starting to ramp things up and getting ready for the season. Instead, I'm usually avoiding all things bike and training related, all because I didn't have the wisdom and foresight to let my mind and body heal at an earlier, better, and more convenient time. Stupidly, I'm fully aware of this, and I do it anyway. Maybe it's because I have serious FOMO, and don't want to miss out on any fun times ever. Maybe it's because I think "it won't happen this year." Maybe it's because I'm competitive, and driven, and motivated, and want to succeed. Who knows.
Focus is an incredibly important part of success, but focusing on one thing too intently leaves all the periphery blurry. When you're marching straight ahead towards a goal, you miss a lot of the other wonderful things off to the side. It's a double edge sword. When you're hurt, the focus is most often pointed at recovery: recovering as quickly and as well as possible, getting back to sport and getting strong. But for me, the focus is on slowing down. I know my body will heal, I know I'm strong, I know I'll be fast on my bike again, but I'm not trying to rush it. Even though being hurt sucks, and it's far from ideal, there is a silver lining. And that is that you get the time to reset.
Even though I've been recovering from an injury, I've been feeling far more balanced than I have in a long time. Maybe it's all the time I've had for reflection, or maybe it's the fact that I've gotten back to doing exactly what I like to do: whatever I want, whenever I want (except ride, of course). Hike, run, gym, write, take pictures, read, relax... Whatever it may be, there is no stress surrounding it, no goal to be met other than achieving countless smiles and moments of gratitude.
I'll be back on my bike soon, and I have no doubt that the drive to get back to form quickly will be there. But in an effort to not get burnt out again by April, I am vowing to spend less time on my bike this winter, and more time doing my forever favorite thing: skiing. And hiking, and doing yoga, and hopefully going to a water ski camp, and maybe learning something totally new like how to box or kick box or something like that.
So here's a reminder to myself, and whomever else may feel like they need it: do things because you want to, not because you feel like you have to. Don't focus so much you become blind to everything but what's right in front of you. Take a day off, take a mental health day, switch things up often, learn new things, don't define yourself by one thing, and always make sure it fun.
I have almost written this post numerous times before, but never got around to it, probably because I got too busy doing something else. Story of our lives, right? We are always busy, we are always living in fast-forward, going from one moment to the next, and in our brief moments of downtime, we are thinking about what we are going to do next. Or maybe it's just me. But probably not; It's probably you too.
It's not that I don't enjoy living this way, because I do. I like go-go-going all the time, from one adventure to the next, no dull moments. I like being busy, and I like having things to do all the time. In fact, my last post was also about time, and how we shouldn't waste it because we don't know when it will run out. But let me be clear: I don't rush through the things I do. I like taking my time doing the things that I do--riding, hiking, writing, working out, spending time with friends and family, cooking, baking, drinking wine, eating... Ask anyone, if I enjoy it, I take my sweet ass time doing it. I just rush from one thing to another. No down time. I get too bored and there is always something I have planned, something I want to do RIGHT NOW.
The problem is that I have no fucking chill. Zero. I need to be doing something all the time. I can hardly go on a simple vacation. In fact, the last time I almost wrote this post was back in March. I was in Maui with my parents and brother, it was perfect and sunny and beautiful, and I should have been perfectly content sitting on the beach, drinking Mai Tai's and Dark and Stormy's with my parents, RELAXING. But I could only do it for so long before I just got so agro. I wanted to go ride road bikes miles and miles every morning, then go kayak or paddle board, then go snorkel, then go sit on the beach, then go to yoga... But first of all, I was there with my family, whom spending time with always takes precedence, and second, there's not enough time in the day, third, I had a sinus infection and really needed to just sit the hell down and relax and recover.
Now, here I am, three weeks post face-first, fast-paced bicycle dismount, with a fragile collarbone, prohibited from doing most things for the next three weeks. Seriously, I am allowed to run (on flat ground), and hike. Needless to say, I am having a really hard time with the R&R. Mostly because I didn't plan it. If "chill out for 6+ weeks" was my idea, it would be fine, but my fall plans consisted of a lot of riding through perfectly gold leaves and water skiing and maybe a couple more races. Nope.
I need to stop. I need to relax. I need to heal. I know this, but it was only three days after my crash that I was out the door running (I hate running) because I was bored. I hiked 20 miles with Aksel five days after my crash just so I would have something to do all day. Speaking of hikes, why not do R2R? The little devil on my shoulder has even tried to convince me that riding my road bike would be fine (it wouldn't be). I blame this on my mother, who also cannot relax for more than an hour at a time.
Luckily just before my psychotic break a couple of days ago, my massage therapist, and wonderful friend, gently reminded me to "calm the fuck down, Alex. Just chill the hell out. I know it sucks to be hurt, but this is your body's way of telling you to take a break. Take your time and enjoy the slow down, look around, breathe a little deeper... It's good for you." And then of course I realized, yes, duh.
I may have been forced to slow my body down, but I hadn't slowed my mind down. I was still running 10 miles per hour over the speed limit when really I shouldn't be going faster than 10 miles per hour at all. My body AND mind need to recover, and they depend on one another. And though there is no great time to be injured, now is pretty ideal. My race season was pretty much over when I got hurt, and it's not ski season yet. So I'll be down here, working really hard on my chill.
I found it quite appropriate that I would sit down and write this post today, August 18th, the four year anniversary of Nate Avery's passing. This post is about time, and if there is anything I have learned, from Nate, from Brian, from Greg, and from Murphy, it is that time is our most limited resource, a thing that we are not guaranteed, a thing that no amount of money can buy.
If you have ever been to Flagstaff, or are friends with anyone from Flagstaff, then chances are you have seen one or a hundred "BLE" stickers. BLE--Best Life Ever--is the gentle reminder Nate left with us. A reminder to live your Best Life Ever, to live life to the fullest, to live with no regret, to be kind and compassionate, to help others, to waste no time, and to be happy. BLE is more than a bumper sticker here; it is a way of life.
If ever there were another person who embodied "BLE" as well as Nate did, it was Brian Boyer, another soul we lost far too soon. Dave Stilley, a near and dear friend, couldn't have said it any better, "Nate reminded us to live our Best Life Ever, and Brian taught us all how to do it--Be Like Boz." Well what does that mean? How does one "BLB"? Simple: Do what makes you happy, waste no time, regret nothing, help others, love infinitely. See the pattern here?
The last couple of months have been quite the pill to swallow with the loss of so many people. But we carry on, because we know that's what Nate and Brian would want. They want us to keep living the way they would--extraordinarily.
Time is not infinite. Time is finite. And what is scarier than that is that no one knows just how finite it is. There is no excuse not to live now and to do what makes you happy--there may not be time later. There is no need for unnecessary stress, that makes you unhappy. Work hard, play harder. Smile, A LOT. Laugh constantly. Defy the odds. Be a damn good person. Love infinitely.
Every time I see the BLE acronym, or stare down at the top cap on my steerer tube and see the words, "Do it for Boz," I'm immediately brought to another space. A space where not much other than smiling, laughing, and having a shit-kickin' good time matter. I've been doing a lot of that lately--and I'm forever grateful of every smile that's been painted on my face, every laugh that has come out of my mouth, and every ridiculous story I've been able to tell.
Today my heart is with the Avery family; Nate was an incredible human being, and I'm so glad he left you all here with us to make the world a better place. My heart is also with the Roberts family, a family I hardly know, but whose son made me laugh every time he opened his mouth.
"Holy shit." I can't tell you the number of times I said that, amongst some other more inappropriate and vulgar things that would make your ears burn, during that 6 days that were the Trans BC Enduro. Out of stoke, frustration, exhaustion, or sheer amazement. Just trust me--no matter the context, it was warranted. Last Saturday wrapped up the inaugural Trans BC Enduro, put on by Megan Rose, her incredible army of volunteers, and Stages Cycling. For those of you reading this that don't know exactly what this race was, let me break it down for you:
6 days, 31 stages, approximately 30,000' of climbing, 40,000' of descending, and somewhere around 150 miles of riding in the interior of British Columbia.
It was nothing less than EPIC and perhaps one the best run races I've been to.
Of course, it was also hard as f*ck. Maybe all but 5 of the 31 stages we raced were categorized as double blacks--take that however you wish--but I would definitely say that they all were appropriately marked. Steep, loose, fast, rough, rooty, rocky, technical, muddy, slick as snot... we literally saw all of it, sometimes all at the exact same time. And that was mind boggling.
My fear going into this race was not my skill as a rider, rather it was my fitness--physical and mental. The end of May and whole month of June were absolutely some of the hardest days I've had. I lost one of the nearest, dearest, most loved people in my life, Brian, a ski coach, Greg, and a few other family friends. I rode my bike 5 times in June. I was exhausted, and sad, and completely unmotivated to do anything involving a bicycle.
Well turns out my fitness wasn't an issue really. It was my skill. Which I shouldn't have been so surprised about, but I was absolutely shell-shocked more than a few times over the course of the week.
"You'll love the interior! It's so dry there. You'll feel right at home." Rightttttt. As Mommy Nature would have it, the rain followed me from Flagstaff up to Kelowna, then south to Penticton, then Southeast to Rossland, before making a turn north to Nelson. Literally it rained every single day.
"Who cares about some rain? It'll be perfect." was my thought on the first day of racing in Vernon. And it was the truth. It sprinkled lightly most of the day before clearing up in time for us to dip in Kalamalka Lake post-race. The first day of racing was a very polite introduction to what we would all be seeing throughout the rest of the week: a challenge. I wasted no time introducing my face to the flora and fauna of Vernon, going OTB in a sharp, soft corner towards the bottom of stage 1, and again twice more on stage 2. By stage 3 I had pulled my head out of my ass and stayed on my bike the rest of the day and finished the day feeling much more comfortable on my bike than I did at the beginning.
Day two took us south to Penticton, where it once again rained pretty much all day. This was probably one of my favorite days--maybe because I was the most comfortable here..? The riding in Penticton was wicked fun, with lots of fast and flowy stuff mixed with lots of chunder, techy rock moves, rolls, and drops. Aside from ass skating across one large slab of rock on my left butt cheek, I had a pretty kickass day.
Day three started with a 4 hour ride to Rossland, tucked up in the Monashee Mountains. To get the legs warm we pedaled up the Seven Summits and descended something like 2,000' feet through the high alpine and into the dense, wet woods. Again, angry skies brought us more rain, but it made for some incredible scenery. The rest of the day went swimmingly, until.... The last stage was an old DH track descending from the top of Red Mountain, and was pretty much just straight down. Silly desert girl Alex didn't realize that riding in the rain for three days would wear out her brake pads extra quick and she came off of a drop, couldn't slow down enough to hit the catch berm, went flying mach-chicken through the woods, and off a near-vertical 12' drop-to-flat straight to her dome. Dane Cronin saw it all and I'm pretty sure he thought I was going to be dead. I miraculously came out totally fine, just scared shitless (thank you Smith for always saving my head). I coasted down the rest of the way after that. A hot tub and some whiskey made me feel all better.
We stayed in Rossland for day 4, and surprise, surprise, it was pissing rain. Learning from my near-disaster the day before, I switched both sets of brake pads (which were essentially gone upon examination), and had a rip-roarin', shit-kickin', good time. MOSTLY. Megan gave us a warning about stage 4 of the day--a trail called Flume--saying, "it's uh, pretty technical, but you should be worried if it rains because that will really kick it up a notch." Well she was right. It scared me. In the dry, it wouldn't have been a problem, it would have been like any other stupid, loose, steep trail. But instead it was all of those things and it was laced with soaking wet roots. Flume was really my first experience riding something like that. "How the f*ck do I ride these f*cking things?!" was what I was shouting the whole way down. That trail ate me alive. Chewed me up, spit me out, fed me to the dog, and I was pooped out at the finish line. To say I had no idea what I was doing was an understatement. I was so frustrated by the end I wanted to throw my bike. BUT I didn't, I got over it and had all the fun on the next two stages. "Tomorrow will surely be better" I thought.
The next morning the racers and the rain were off to Nelson. Our first stage was a trail called Power Slave. Yeah, sounds epic right? It was. Because it was so wet and saturated with water it was more like a slip-n-slide than a trail. Megan had to make the call to shorten our transfer so we didn't get to race all of Power Slave, but it was enough for me. Though I didn't struggle as much as I did on Flume the day before, I was still flailing like an idiot--but a smiling idiot. The next stage was drastically different--a trail called Placenta Descenta--that somehow didn't get rained on? It was so much fun. Until the transfer when it just rained and rained and rained. Even though I had my rain jacket on, myself, and everyone else, was sopping wet and covered head to toe in mud, and I was not amused anymore. I was freezing and I just wanted to sit in the gypsy van and not race anymore. Alas, I got my ass out of the van and continued to parade my shit show down stage 3, where I face planted once really hard (thank god I decided to wear my full face). Then it was stage 4, which was better because it was more rocks than roots, and then stage 5, which started off really well, but by the bottom I more closely resembled a 2x4 trying to ride a bike than I did an actual cyclist.
And then it was day 6. The last day. I know I don't need to say it, but it was raining. We were shuttled way up into the Selkirk Mountains, and climbed all the way to Baldface Lodge where we were greeted with warm coffee, dryers, and heaters before having to push another half hour to the top of Cherry Bowl (?). On top of it being wet, rooty, and steep, there was also snow. By this point I had just accepted my fate and slipped and slid all the way down, sometimes on my bike, sometimes on my ass, sometimes on my feet. Then it was on to stage two--aptly named Swamp Donkey. Pretty much this is where it really just went to shit. Right off the bat I caught something in a muddy puddle, crashed, and ripped my shifter off my bars. Of course, this stage had a lot of pedaling and punchy uphills. So I rode what I could I ran what I couldn't. The aid station was at the bottom of stage two and with the help of Nick Simcik and Colin Meagher, we got my shifter taped and zip-tied back on to my bars--though I couldn't really shift. Stage three, Shannon Pass, was the longest stage, and was much of the same: awesome descending followed by a short, punchy uphill that I would run. By the time I finally crossed the last finish line I felt like I had myotonia in my hands and braking fingers, but I was so happy and amazed I finished I couldn't have cared less about my mechanical or my result. I finished TBC in one piece, tired, but so proud.
So I didn't have the results I wanted in BC, but really, what was I expecting? There were absolutely many many moments that I rode very very well, and there were many moments that were reminiscent of my first races as an elite ski racer--where I ran at the back, in the last seed, and I had no tactics other than trying to get down the mountain without DNFing. Slowly over time I learned how to ski the ruts that had been carved into the ice, I learned how ski in challenging and new conditions, and I learned to trust my skills, my skis, and have faith in my ability as an athlete. That was what was missing for me in BC. I didn't trust myself, my bike, or the conditions. But hey, that's how you learn. I realized in BC I haven't been seriously challenged on my bike in a long time, meaning that I haven't really grown as a cyclist in a long time. Though finding weaknesses is frustrating, it also gives you a good outline of goals to work towards. Which is exactly what I will be doing. Going to find steep, wet mud and roots. But before that I think I'll go to Aspen for the EWS and revel in the dry, good dirt of the southwest.
Thank you Megan and crew, and everyone else involved in this race, for working so tirelessly to put on the best race ever. All of us appreciate it so so much and we can't wait to sign up for next year. And a big thank you to all of the lovely racers, especially all my lady shredders, that kept me laughing, smiling, and believing. Lastly, thanks to my lovely parents, who traveled to BC with me and made sure I was always okay and taken care of.
Brian "Boz" Boyer: December 13, 1957-June 7, 2016.
How are you?
I've hated asking you that question the last several days because I knew the answer. Today, I don't hate asking you that because I know the answer is, "better." Today, you are not in pain, you are peaceful and happy, able to do all the things you love to do with grace and ease, Today you got to see C.O. and Winnie, and Nate, and all of your other friends and family you've missed so dearly. Though your wife and kids lost their husband and father, and hundreds of us lost our best friend, we are all finding comfort in the fact that you're resting easy now--give everyone up there a kiss for us.
I know the last 7 months have been a fucking whirlwind--life got flipped upside down and shaken like an 8.0 magnitude earthquake hit. I don't know why or how it had to happen to you, it's the most unfair thing in the world, and it makes me so angry. But I know I shouldn't spend my time being angry, you would tell me that it's a waste of energy and to go do something that makes me happy instead--so tonight we spent time reminiscing on all the good times, on our fondest memories, and we began to celebrate your beautiful life... turns out it's going to take a lot of celebrating.
I know you always said, "I'm not here for a long time, I'm here for a good time!" but I so badly wish that by some miracle you were here with us, the happy, healthy, wonderful Boz that you were. In a world filled with marginal people, you were a giant, a hero. You were the life of every party and the king of the world. You left a gaping hole in our hearts, but it will be filled with amazing memories.
I cherish every single moment I have ever spent with you, especially those I've spent with you in the last 7 months. Even those bad days when all I could do was give you a squeeze of the hand and a kiss on the cheek. Every smile and laugh is engrained in my memory. B, thank you. Thank you for those laughs and smiles and kisses and hugs. Thank you for loving me, supporting me, pushing me, teaching me, and raising me. Thank you for showing all of us how to live an exceptional life. Thank you, Brian and Beth, for raising the wonderful children I call my best friends. Your impact on this earth is massive and will never ever be forgotten or disregarded.
I want so badly to sit in that sketchy office chair in the living room for the next few days and not move and take this all in. But instead I'm going to do what I think you would want me to do--which is go have a kickass time doing what I love. Tomorrow I'm going to drive to Angel Fire, I'm going to race my bike, and I'm going to have a great time. I'm going to ride my heart out for you, Boz.
The hard part is over for you. You fought your fight, and you were so strong. Now you need to send that strength of yours back home, to 1500 N. Kittredge, to your wife and kids. Send them love, and peace, and assurance that you are always with them. Those of us down here will do the same.
May the road rise to meet you, may the wind be ever at your back. . . . and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.
I love you Brian, and I miss you so much. Raise some hell up there.
Love always and forever,
Alex, and everyone else.
Sometime last year TGR put out an article called The Three (And a Half) Types of Fun, Explained. Since you probably are not going to follow the link I provided, I'll give you a blow by version here.
Type I fun: Always awesome, all the time. You could do what you're doing all day and it would never suck.
Type 1.5 fun: Mostly awesome, most of the time, except when it sucks.
Type II fun: Mostly shitty, most of the time. BUT you get to brag about it and 'cause, you know, the experience is everything.
Type III fun: Never ever fun because you're afraid you won't make it back alive.
Let me preface just a little more. At the end of last season, BME put out a survey and asked what we, the racers, would like to see this season. My answer was something like "no more chairlifts." I'm sure I'm not the only one that gave that answer either. It's not that lift-accessed riding isn't awesome, because it definitely is, but when it comes to racing in bike parks, it just doesn't have the same appeal as a huge day out in the backcountry. To steal a line from Ed Masters, the spirit of enduro, for me, is based in good 'ol backcountry single track that takes some time and effort to get to. Just like hiking to the bottom of the Canyon would be a lot less spiritual for me if they built a gondola to phantom ranch, taking a chairlift to the top of a trail has the same affect. Don't get me wrong though, I still love doing endless laps in Winter Park, or Angel Fire, or Keystone. I still grin like an idiot when I look out from the top of a mountain--even if I took a chairlift to the top--I love bike park dirt just the same, and the Grand Canyon would still be a beautiful place if they put in a tram--just a little less fulfilling.
Now that you know the three and a half types of fun and I've stood on my soap box, we can talk about the opening round of the Big Mountain Enduro series in Santa Fe this last weekend. It was epic, perhaps too epic for some, but that's just the way the cookie crumbles sometimes. In our one day of racing we covered 4 stages, 35 miles, 7,500 feet of climbing, and 10+ hours on the bike. That's no small feat. I'm happy to report that I made it out alive and almost unscathed (I only shoulder checked one tree), and managed to finish 3rd. Needless to say, I'm pretty happy about it. The riding at Gloreita had me feeling very at home, with a lot of dry dirt, pine trees, rocks, and big drops. Though I was definitely feeling pretty flat by the time the pro women dropped on stages 3 and 4, I felt WAY better than I thought I would after 6,500', and then 7,500' of climbing and hiking--after a 7,200' day the week before I was feeling at least mentally prepared for SF, but I didn't think I'd feel as physically prepared as I was. Squats paid off I guess...
I would classify Santa Fe as type 1.5 fun, though many others would probably say type II, and some may even say type III. Regardless, I'm pretty sure that at the end of the day most everyone had a kickass time. Kudos to you BME, THAT was a race, and kudos to my ladies and everyone else that survived. You are awesome. It's off to Angel Fire for the second stop of the Enduro Cup in a couple of weeks, and I'm really looking forward to some sweet backcountry riding... and some chairlifts ;)
Race report and gallery from Eddie Clark/Mountain Flyer Magazine
WOW. The last week has been a whirlwind of non-stop talking, hugs and kisses and congratulations, endless parties, a lot eating and drinking, and ton of really bad dancing. Last Wednesday I finished the last final of my undergraduate career, Friday (the 13th appropriately) I graduated with my BS in biomedical science and chemistry, I'm a nationally registered EMT, I graduated with many of my life-long best friends, I got to accept flowers and give my mom a hug on stage upon receiving my diploma in front of the other 1,500 College of Engineering, Forestry and Natural Sciences students--I'd like to tell you that my graduation was better than yours but I don't want to rub it in.
Here we are a week later, and even though the weekend's festivities should be a reminder that I graduated from college, I just feel like it's a normal summer break. I'm sure it will set in come the last Thursday in August when I don't saunter down the pedway of north campus towards BIO room 265. Now, in case you were wondering, "what's next," or "what are you going to do?" here's the answer: I am going to race my bike. I am going to travel. I am going to continue working at the hospital for my wonderful boss. I am not going to medical school (right now). I am not going to grad school (right now). I will indeed be returning to the system of higher education, but not for at least a year. Why? Because I have no idea what I want to do besides ride my bike and have a shit ton of fun. And I'm pretty sure you can't go to medical school and not be 100% sure you want to be there.
I never changed my major in college. I declared biomed and chemistry my freshman year and never looked back. I enjoyed it thoroughly, I was interested in almost all of my classes, and until the end of my junior year I was damn sure I was going to medical school. Then I took an ecology class and thought maybe I could do a masters in environmental science or something, then I took some really interesting polysci classes and thought that maybe I should do a masters in IR and polysci, or take my Bar, then I thought maybe I should get my MBA. All of those sounded fun and appealing to me and that's when I realized I have no idea what I want to do. And I don't think we are supposed to know exactly what we want to do with the rest of our lives when we graduate from college--after all, most of us are in our EARLY twenties, we are naive, and we still think we are all meant to do great things and change the world...
In the last months of my undergrad I cried to my mom numerous times because I was tired, and stressed, and pissed off I didn't have enough time to ride and workout as much as I wanted. I was freaking out because I was graduating from college and I felt like I had 30 days to grow all the way up and become a "real" adult. I was frustrated because I felt like I missed something along the way because I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. And my mom, who is the most badass, put together, motivated woman I have ever known, looked at me and told me this: you don't have to come out of school knowing what you're doing with the rest of your life. College is supposed to further your education, spark your interests, and prepare you for the rest of life. It's supposed to teach you time management, how to juggle life, how to handle stress, and solve problems. Those were welcome words to hear from my mom.
Needless to say, college did teach me all of the aforementioned lessons, plus many more. Upon finishing our pathology final, Kierstan and I promptly walked to Criollo and began consuming celebratory margs and discussing everything we have learned in the last four years. I'll spare you all the ones that are not appropriate for your sensitive ears... here they are in no particular order.
1. Go to as many concerts as you can. Even if you have shit due the next day. Go. You'll still pass genetics, and immunology, and physics.
2. "Shit ton" is a metric unit--typically used when measuring amounts of dangerous chemicals.
3. People don't get smarter just because they are in college, or because they made it to a 400 level class, or because they are your professor.
4. You can definitely write a kickass capstone paper in 24 hours. If you don't sleep.
5. It takes a lot more effort to fail a class than it does to pass with a B.
6. Unless you only go 8 times in a semester and lost 10% for attendance. Then you get a C.
7. Online classes always seem like a good idea and like they will be easy--but remember that you hate discussion boards and don't care about art history up to 1200 BC.
8. Sleep and exercise are way more important than your homework.
9. It's amazing that amount of material you can learn in the 6 hours before the test.
10. If you actually want to learn things and not be distracted during class, don't take classes with your best friend, don't bring your computer and don't look at Pinkbike and Buzzfeed the whole time. PRINT THE POWERPOINT AND BRING IT TO CLASS.
11. Be careful who you answer the door for in your underwear. You think it's just your girlfriend, but it turns out she brought two random guys with her.
12. A chocolate milk and Tiger's Milk can get you home from Phoenix at any time of the night.
13. The Rendezvous makes their whiskey chai strong at all hours of the day. Don't drink one and then go meet with your lab TA.
14. Wine is very good for the soul.
15. Wine is very bad for your motivation and decision-making capabilities.
16. The whole "study for 3 hours for every credit hour a class is worth" thing is BS.
17. The people that act like know-it-alls spend way too much time studying and not enough time having fun.
18. Don't waste your time with shitty people. Don't waste your time on something you're not interested in.
19. Walk around with your chin up and your eyes forward.
20. The only person you need to impress is yourself.
21. Be classy. Respect yourself.
23. Be nice. Try not to judge too much. Give the guy on the corner a gift card or your leftovers or some spare cash or some dog food. Donate money to something you believe in.
24. Very few people are good at dancing so let your freak flag fly. Whiskey or tequila helps.
25. Your parents are the best people to cry to when you're freaking out.
26. Eat well. Fuel yourself well. Don't eat shit, literally or figuratively. It's really not that hard or expensive. Learn to cook.
27. You'll have your heart broken, and then you'll look back and wonder, "WTF was I thinking?" Because you're tough, and you deserve the best.
28. Make memories. Take a lot of pictures.
29. Make traditions. Have a "family dinner" once a week. Have a breakfast once a week. Have a drink night.
30. Find something you are passionate about and dive head first.
To this point, all of these have been pretty silly, but not unimportant, lessons. Here are the 5 most important things I've learned.
1. I graduated with my best friends. I took almost every single class with my very best friend. I had friends and parents that supported me the whole time. If you're as lucky as I am, realize it and appreciate it every single day.
2. Change is inevitable. One day, your friends will decide that they are moving to Europe, or Montana, or Seattle, and it's going to break your heart and you'll want to do everything you can to stop them--but you won't because you want them to go do what they love and explore the world and life. You will miss them every single day, but they'll come back to visit and nothing will be different.
3. You can fucking do it. I managed to ski race and live in Colorado my freshman year of college. Then I picked up a totally new sport and raced bikes professionally throughout college, I traveled and did well and missed a lot of school. I managed my time, I got everything done, I was nice to my professors, and I graduated with a 3.7 GPA.
4. It's okay to have no idea what you want to do. Most of the people that think they know exactly what they want to do with the rest of their lives probably don't really know, and the few that truly do are special. Don't be afraid to fail, to make mistakes, or to change your mind. You gotta learn somehow.
5. Time flies. It's the most cliche thing I've written but it's the truth. The last four years seem like they went faster than any of the previous years. We are all getting older and we don't know how long we have. Do what makes you happy and make sure the people you love know it.
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!