I just got myself a rowing machine. I've been wanting one for a long time. I messaged this quickly to my friend, Jo, about it...
"can only do short spurts on my rowing machine. hurts my lower spine and kidneys like mad, so i am on it 3-5 times a day instead of less times for longer durations"
She asked me,
"Do you know why it hurts your lower spine and kidneys?"
This was my response,
"yes. 'cause my body is shitty. in a way, i am not at all looking forward to triathlons again because of how much it hurts me to sit on a bike. it just gets worse and worse. even though we have brand new paved roads in my community, I put off riding this summer til next spring because it hurts too much. I'm saving riding til next year. i have to re-think the way I ride a bike and find a new one that suits how I have to ride. sitting is just so bad. rowing machine hurts in different way. as i eluded to, it gets my lower spine and kidneys. i just gotta stop whining and toughen up...and get through it bit by bit...try to keep extending sessions, you know, go a little bit further into the pain each time to where it will eventually either melt away because it is so bad, or i just stop giving a fuck. either one is inevitable."
All this is kind of a strange thing for me. I don't really like that I always have to charge straight into pain to do simple things. At the same time, it's all I know, and I like being defiant...in this case, against my pain and my body.
I separate myself from my body. There's my body and my pain within it, and then there's me...who I am. The 'who I am' part...
I love stickin' it to the man!
I love fuckery!
I am no stranger to defiance!
In my own case, my body/pain is the man, and I am in defiance of its own comfort every time I charge into the thick of shit. When my body screams at me to stop, it usually makes me want to dig in harder...shove the pain right back in its own face and kinda make fun of it.
I love being in defiance of my own self. There is something quite satisfying about that. To find that unintentional defiance, I have to wade through the sea of excruciation. That is always fun, but it is also very tiring because it is always a slug-fest all out brawl. That shit can wear a guy out.
My problem is that I am always thinking about goin' for it. It's never not on my mind. Every day! That is not going to change. My desire drives me into madness, and the only way to fend off that insanity is to dive into the pain.
As much as I have to restructure the whole realm of triathlons just to be able to do them again, and knowing how much it is going to hurt me to do so, the madness in my mind leaves me no alternative. I have to embrace what lie ahead within it all. So, I'm stuck! I have no choice but to make myself hurt more just to ease the chaos in my mind. It turns out that I am lucky that I am a defiant little fucker 'cause it makes it much easier to stick it to the hurt.
Jo-Ann is an animal. Kept chargin' through two different ankle surgeries.
This is an old bio photo they gave me way back when.
One of my favourite tunes the boys ever did was Everlasting Morning Sky. It's possibly the most quintessential Fat Cats song to me outside of Absolute Route. The start of the middle jam puts me right back in Clintons before the boys were even a year old as a band.
So, when it comes on, this jam transports me right into that room. Then, in the middle of that Morning Sky jam, when Todd starts digging in, all I can see is Jeffrey, Sebo, Lash, and all the old school kids beside me. We're all just gruuuvin', laughin' and gigglin' with huge smiles on our faces! Pure good fun with pure good people! It was such a magikal time!
I could never understate what Fat Cats gave to me, and how their music, and the scene they created from within it, enriched everything about my life. I'm good at refelcting upon the ripples of things, and the ripple that was set off from the first time I saw them on my bro's apple orchard, on an epic long July weekend in 1993, is really quite unbelievable!
Fatties will always be a real big part of who have become as person, and that notion comes so alive whenever I hear Everlasting Morning Sky and instantly see myself gruuuvin' next to those kind people.
It's funny how having fun can open the door to bring so much amazing into one's life. Finding the fun and being grateful for it is my favourite thing to do because I know how it can change everything. I learned a lotta that from my time with Fatties and the people that came with it. Some of the best times of my life, and the gifts it all left me with could never be truly quantified!
I had never heard these guys until a few days ago, at least not that I knew of. For me, if it isn't the Grateful Dead, I just don't really care. Outside of my guys, new music only comes to me somehow, whenever, but is not something I actively pursue. The music of Jerry Garcia has always been enough for me.
A couple nights ago, some video of a top 10 list of rock anthems came on because of autoplay on Youtube. This song, "Wake Up" was one of the honourable mentions in that video. The name, Arcade Fire, sounded kinda familiar, but nothing that my brain registered.
The most I could make of it was that I think I saw my friend, Chad, post something about seeing them once. (Knowing him he's seen them more than that. Chad's a smart boy. He likes his shows!) He posted that, who knows when, however long ago.
As the top ten list was playing I checked out this song because it was the one on the list that I didn't know. It turns out that it was in the movie, The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, which is an incredible film. When I read that, the familiarity of the tune rumbled into my head in an unsure way. It made me want to watch the movie again though, as I had not seen it in a long time, and it is a flick that evokes a sense of goodness within from having watched it.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ie0EJPcaeSQScreenshots from "The Secret Life of Walter Mitty" by 20th Century Fox
This tune was used in the perfect place in the film...when Sean O'Connell (Sean Penn) beckons Walter (Ben Stiller) to take a chance to bust loose and go after it in life...where the journey Walter is about to unexpectedly embark upon becomes evident and takes hold.
So, after being invigorated from the movie, I did a little digging and found this apartment version of "Wake Up" on Youtube. The immediate thought in my head was about seeing all these people of all different kinds (Guys, girls, black, white, Asian, long hairs, short hairs...) coming together to create something that's beautifully harmonious. The video, the vibe and the music embody and convey an exuding sense of a wholesome feeling, that something genuinely good is happening that is rooted in layered optimism.
Watch the video here:
While I watched and listened, it started feeling like it's this kind of thing that is desperately needed right now. People just seem to be so angry at so many things in so many ways these days. Too many people are all too busy picking sides for one thing or another, and going after the side that isn't theirs. It's almost as if we're forgetting how to just be a human free of labels we put on ourselves or others. All you have to do is turn on Facebook to see anger spewed all over the place. Yeah, there's a lotta messed up shit happening in the world, but even within all of that, I feel that we can't forget what genuine goodness is either, because if we lose that, what's the point?!
Sometimes it is good to have a solid reminder of the simplicity of beautiful humanity, that of which can pull us through a spiral of chaos to give us a glimpse into the depths of hope and what that all means.
Screenshots from the video
I'm glad I found this song. It really holds something of a timeless message of unity that is rooted in the truth of real harmony. I don't know any of the words, but for some reason, I don't even find that necessary. I definitely don't have a clue as to which of these people are actually in Arcade Fire. I couldn't pick them out if my life depended on it, but the band almost becomes irrelevant here though because it's the symmetry of togetherness that is the real star of the video. It's just fantastic! Something special for sure!
Arcade Fire, whoever they are, knocked this one out to say the least! This is like the video we didn't know we needed until they dropped it on us. I know that in the years ahead, I will always look at this with a kind reverence found within the truth of goodness.
Coming into the finish of the final stage of the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic
At some point earlier this summer, I asked how Travis' legs were doing, and where he was at with everything leading up to the world's. He said he wasn't where he wanted to be.
(Trav works hard, and he is an amazingly committed family man. As intense as he trains, he doesn't let that come in the way of his priorities...the life of his family!)
While I was on my summer wanderings with my doggie, I would think about him, and his preparation towards August...especially with those thoughts in my head of him not being where he wanted to be. Charging the world championships is a huge thing, and I wanted for him to be able to go there as prepared as possible, peaking at the right time, to lay smackdown on everyone else.
I do realize it is weird saying what I want, but the truth of the matter is that I want him to win, and in order to do that, he's gotta have everything aligned perfectly. In that respect, yes, I do want him to be as prepared as possible.
At the end of July, Travis popped up on the radar again right before the first stage of the Trans Rockies Classic. I was around home a bit then, but coming and going all over the place still, so I wasn't overly accessible.
It wasn't the first pre-race post he put up that got me, it was seeing his day one results that triggered something in me. I was elated for him, but that feeling of shittiness from missing out had punched me right in the gut.
That was that, I couldn't take it anymore. I was to the point where, how can I even call him a friend if I don't get out there and go see him at some point during those six remaining stages. Immediately after seeing his post, I started looking into it all. I sunk right into the Trans Rockies website: www.transrockiesclassic.com/
Quite quickly, I took a screenshot of his results from Day 1, and posted it on his page.
After I did that, I looked at the course. Before I saw the dates for each stage, I messaged Travis to ask him if there was a rest day in the middle. There wasn't
When I was looking into it deeper, I was kinda getting a little deflated with each stage's start/finish locations because I had some casual commitments that wouldn't let me get to any of those places. Everything turned around when I got to the last final stage though! It started in Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, and finished in Fernie, BC on the Sunday. (July 28th)
"That's the one!"
Image from the Trans Rockies Classic website.
Even though I couldn't fully commit until I figured a couple things out, I instinctively knew I was going. I couldn't miss it. I'd be so upset with myself if I did, and it would eat at me. (I can be my own worst nightmare.) I messaged Travis that I was hoping to go, and in part, I wish I hadn't as I would rather have just shown up.
(I had just done that to my friend from Whistler when she was playing in a charity hockey tournament in Kelowna the previous weekend. Debbie was on the ice when she saw me, and her legit, double-take reaction of shock was worth the overnight drive!)
Yaaaay for Debbie!
I couldn't escape the thoughts of my brief 12 year history with Travis. I mean, somehow in all of that, I was standing next to him in the hospital room when Tobi was being passed Caden from their nurse shortly after he was born. (That is a hilarious story from my point-of-view that I will tell another time; but I will say that I have never felt more out of place in all my life.) I just love those guys so much, and I couldn't miss him racing this time. I felt like I'd be letting him down, even though, in his nicest guy ever language, Trav would tell me to go fuck myself for even entertaining such a notion.
So, it was settled, I knew that whatever I had to figure out would somehow work, and I'd be on my way to Crowsnest Pass for the start of the final stage...and then drive into Fernie for the finish.
I left at somewhere around 1:00AM to drive through the night. I gave myself enough time to poke along and take a break or two if I needed it.
Crowsnest Pass is right in the Rocky Mountains, hence the name of place, and is just over an hour east of Fernie. I was really tired, and my butt was super sore, so I pulled over about 30 minutes west of Fernie to take a little break. That would give me a smooth final little 90 minute coast into the small town.
I timed it so I would arrive at about 7:15AM so I could park my van, let my doggie out, and then find my way to the race area with some time before the 8:00AM start. I woke up from my little siesta with the perfect amount of time to get there, so I looked at my dog, and said,
"Sweet! We totally nailed it, Fennario!"
About ten seconds later I got reminded once again of how big of an idiot I am, and realized I forgot about the time change. It was an hour later than I thought! Our perfect arrival time of 7:15AM was actually 8:15AM...fifteen minutes after the race start, which would be perfectly the worst time to show up!
I turned back to Fennario to say,
"Well, I fucked up again! Daaaaamn! When'r you ever gonna straighten me out?!"
In a way, I wasn't totally surprised that I messed that up, and I'm betting that if you asked Travis, he'd likely concur with that notion, "Yup...big surprise there!" I was pissed off though...like, really, really mad at myself...so upset! There I was, just letting down my friend again.
Since there was nothing I could do about it, I just crawled back into the bed in my van and went to sleep again. I was too mad to be awake anyway.
Immediately upon opening my eyes, I cursed myself out several times. Apparently that seemed to be the theme of the morning.
I took my time driving the last 30 minutes into town...stopping along the way to take some photos.
When I got into town, I started looking for my friend's school bus craft shop she has parked downtown that's called, Ace Ferguson. That bit of meandering led me to the skate park. I had to get out there to poke around and take some photos.
Inevitably, I was thrust into reliving some nostalgia from when I was a little kid in the 80's charging on my skateboard. (If I wasn't all crippled like I am, I'd still have one to play on.)
I noticed there was a lotta commotion at the bike shop right across the train tracks beside the park. There were all these little kids with their bikes, and their parents signing them up for some kind of race. I had to go check that out.
Being in the parking lot of GearHub Sports was fantastic. It reminded me of the Kids of Steel events at triathlons I have done. You see all these little kids with streamers on their bikes, some dressed as super heroes, and all that fun stuff. It's so great to see. I have always loved that.
Kids Rally Registration at GearHub Sports: www.gearhub.ca/
I asked what the event was, and where it was located. They told me it was a kids rally. The Kid's Bike Rally was in its 13th year. The registration was at GearHub, but then there was a bike decoration station at the Fernie Bike Park that was right across the street from the skate park. The rest took place by the rec centre and finishing area of the Trans Rockies race.
I love that stuff so much. Seeing the young kids out to give 'er is so amazing. I'll never not love that.
One thing I realized there was that no matter what the kids event I might see, or stumble into, I always get reminded of this one little girl in the Kids of Steel triathlon in Summerland, BC years ago in 2007. (About 5 days before I met Travis and Mike) She was having trouble getting into the water for the swim. She wanted to so bad, and kept motioning herself into the water, but couldn't bring herself to do it. She was turning around in half of a panic, pleading with her parents, and crying. Even still, she wanted to do it, and we all knew it. She just needed to find that millimetre of a push within herself, and she'd be fine. Everybody on the beach got behind her. The volunteers in the water were incredible. We were all going nuts cheering for her. She finally found the strength to get in and do the little swim course. The applause that we generated for her was really something else. When she stood up at the end of her swim, she had the biggest smile on her face, and the whole place just erupted! It was awesome. I felt so fortunate to be a part of it, and I have never forgotten her. Being in the parking lot, watching all the kids registering for the bike rally, brought all of that back again.
Gotta love kids who charge!
My little bad-ass hero in the stripes!
Being at the kids registration area definitely wiped clean all the frustration I had within myself for screwing up the time change and missing Travis' start at Crowsnest Pass. (It's nice to feel not pissed off. Haha.)
I went back to get in my van to drive over to the finishing area and check it out. After being such a dipshit in the early morning, I had to make sure I had everything all set for when Trav would be coming down the finishing chute. I wasn't missing that for anything!
I scoped it out, but had lots of time before his estimated finishing time, so I found an excellent shaded area to park. Fennario and I then walked the few blocks away to Ace Ferguson to see Kate and her kick-ass bus!
We hung out with her for quite awhile, but then with about 30 minutes left til race finishing time, we strolled back to the park area. I put Fennario in the van, rolled the windows down, and put out her water for her. With my doggie all styled out, I walked over to the finishing area.
I walked around wondering where the ideal place to see the end of the race would be. The finish line was in an outdoor hockey rink. I decided that the best place to be was right where the dirt met the opening to the boards of the rink. That way I could see him pop outta the bush and he would ride right past me, only a couple feet away, and unobstructed. Perfect!
I asked one of the race officials about the estimated time that they would be arriving. I told him that Travis said it would be around (whatever time he told me), and he confirmed that. The official then said that Travis had been on fire!
I told him I had driven from Nelson just to see Travis, and also told him of my time change screw up. I welcomed him into making fun of my stupidity with me, and he happily obliged. We had fun making fun of me for a couple moments. (I earned it...might as well embrace it!)
From that moment on, I planted myself right where I was, and was not moving for anything. Not a damned chance!
I was around 20-25 minutes early, so I had some reflective time on whatever my brain wanted to wander through. I looked a bit at the summer I had been having, but really I was just thinkin' about Travis, and the bigger picture of this Trans Rockies race he was leading.
I know how hard he works for all of this, and what it really means to him. Seeing his positioning at the top of the leaders board for this grueling race made me happy, but not necessiarily for the Trans Rockies itself. I was looking at what it was all saying about his overall conditioning for the World Championships later in August.
He was never far from my mind during all my summer journeys, and until this race, the only information I had was him saying he wasn't where he wanted to be with his training earlier in the season. Leading this insane 7 Stage race that averaged 79km in distance and over 6000 feet in elevation gain each stage told all the story one needed to know about his conditioning...
I got really, really happy for him. Super, super psyched!
I looked back to that wintery dinner of us sitting at his kitchen table, when he looked me right in the eyes and said with such conviction that he wasn't going to the worlds just to compete, that he was going there to win. I stayed with that image in my mind for a bit.
I know how much he has put into it all. That idea reaches further than all the long hours he puts out on his bikes. Before I had come over for that dinner in the winter, Travis had sent me the sponsorship/media packet he put together. (He emailed it in a pdf.)
Travis has always commented on my writing, and knows I have a done a bunch of sponsorship/media for myself, and have helped other people with that if I'm ever asked as well. He'll send me stuff like that because he knows I love it, but he also asks me what I think about it. (Quite flattering!)
The kit he put together was amazing! When I saw him next, he put the hard copy in my hands, and we got into it. He worked hard on it, and you could tell. It was so well done.
From my own experience, I know first hand how much goes into putting those sponsorship/media kits together, whether that being the time, or the mental and emotional energy. They don't just happen on their own, and you cannot just whip them off. I loved seeing it. I loved that he sent it to me, and then put it directly in my hands when I saw him shortly later.
It's more than the obvious that speaks to me about Travis, it's the fine unseen details of his passionate, and fierce commitment towards what he is doing. It is infectious!
Make no mistake about it, going to the world's is a big deal to him...past the obvious to what so many others might see!
That's the stuff I was staring into when I was standing there waiting for him to come down the finishing chute. It's also why I was so pissed off at myself for missing the start of that final stage. I know how much it means to him, I know how much he has put into it, and he's someone I give a shit about; so I just found myself swimming in thoughts of happiness for him because of the way he laid it down for the Trans Rockies. Trav completely annhialated any of those apprehensions he might have had quietly swirling when he told me earlier in the summer that his training, and body, was not where he wanted to be.
I understand that kind of mental toll in this respect. I can't speak for him obviously, but I know all about the far depths of the spirit one gets submerged into when pushing into the ultimate extreme. The things one's mind can do when treading within that realm can be absolutely brutal, so I can only imagine where Trav's mind was at fighting through everything when his body wasn't where he wanted it to be after the countless hours he poured into it all.
Of course, I could be 100% wrong!
I almost felt a sense of elation when I was standing there waiting for him. Despite the 7 days of hard pounding on his exhausted body, it had to be some sort of big release to crush down the Trans Rockies the way he did! Good bye apprehensions, hello world championships!
If I'm being completely honest, I gotta say, I was getting a bit emotional. I was glad that I came to see my friend finish this epic race that was the big springboard testing ground towards the world's. (That is a fabricated thought within my mind, he has never implied such a thing to me.) Outside of being able to go to Quebec itself, if there was one race to come out to see him finish, it was this one.
There was a little comedy yet to come...
An elderly couple walked up and stood beside me. We started talking right away. They were super sweet. The lady was firing off all the questions. She asked me if I was from Fernie. I told them that I had driven overnight from west of Nelson to see my friend Travis finish the final stage. I then had to explain the deal with it being the final stage, and what that meant. They were pretty blown away by the scope of the race, and also were pretty psyched that I would drive that far just to see my friend wizz past us for all of 15 seconds.
The comedy played out when they both asked where the racers came out from to the finish area. I pointed down to the brush with the cone markers along the ground. She then asked if they would know where they were going. I told her that I have done a bunch of these kinds of races, and that I have never looked at a map, and never had a problem as courses are always marked. I then said, "These guys race all over the place, they know what they're doing!"
The couple were diggin' it, and stayed hangin' out til the boys came charging through. Well, seems she was right, because when the boys popped outta the bush, all three of them went the wrong way...they took a right instead of going straight.
All three of us started laughing. She totally called it! I turned to her and said, "Well, you totally nailed that one, huh?!"
It was most excellent!
Back on track to bring it home!
The three of them got quickly back on course and blew past us into the finishing chute in the hockey rink. Trav was out front, and in his words, "I couldn't resist," pulled a huge wheelie on his bike into the finish line.
It was great!
Once he was finished, he had to give interviews for their media and such. He had cameras right in his face. I loved watching it. Lil' bad-ass!
I walked to a different spot on the outside of the rink to take some photos while he was doing all of that. When I saw it winding down, I went back to where I originally was by the entrance that they biked into as it was also the way they came out. That's when I got to see him and talk to him finally.
For some reason, I was kinda at a loss for words. I wasn't even sure of the last time I saw him, and even considering everything, I still didn't have much to say. I remember thinking about the way I get whenever I have finished triathlons, and I think I let that get in the way of any conversation with Trav.
My races are a spectacle for exact opposite reasons of Travis, but I get swarmed by people at the finish line. It totally overwhelms me, and really I just wanna unwind, chill out, and much to my friend, Shelby's, dismay, eat ice cream. Talking to people is the last thing on my mind. End even when I see close friends at races, I don't have too much to say to them either. I know for sure, that got in the way of any kind of proper conversing with him on my end. I was also aware of the grind he put himself through, so figured he might be a tad bit tired.
We small talked for a bit, but made plans for me to come over for dinner before he left for the world's in Quebec. With that, I took off straight for the ice cream stand...The Happy Cow!
I talked to that lady for a bit. She was selling these amazing home made ice cream sandwiches. The ice cream was bookended by two fatty, fresh baked cookies. Daaaamn, they were good.
I saw Travis walking by somewhere when I had just gotten mine, so I yelled over to him to see if he wanted one.
(Also, much to the dismay of Shelby. In a small, little way, I kinda offered it to Trav in total defiance of Shelby... The story behind this is that Shelby is a naturopathic doctor, and really close friend I have known for over 30 years. She doesn't have a damned thing against ice cream, but said it is the last thing your body wants/needs after doing something like a triathlon, or in Travis' case, a grinding mountain bike race. Well, stick it to the man...haha, Shelby!)
Travis was all over the offer, so I grabbed a second one to give to him. We indulged together. I got some guy to take a photo of us cheers-ing our sandwiches, but for who knows what reason, he didn't know how to push a simple button on a camera to take a photo, and screwed it up. I was bummed when I discovered that at home.
We talked for a minute or two more while shoving ice cream in our faces, and with that, I was on my way.
Before we parted ways, without him knowing, I took a photo of his shoes, and his skinny little calves. I always love looking at his legs because they're so gawd damned savage! Whenever you see photos of him on the podium, he's always the tiniest guy up there.
I come from the triathlon world, and even though it is extreme endurance, I am used to tree trunk legs, so I have always found it most excellent looking at Travis' little legs. Those lil' fuckers are like unassuming assassins! Don't mess with them 'cause they will whup your ass all up over the place!
Even though I messed up getting to see Travis off at the start of the stage, I was really happy about having been there. I never saw the whole getting emotional part coming, but I embraced it because I love the guy and was just so psyched for him.
I let Fennario help me with the last of my ice cream when I got back to my van. Then we walked back over to say good bye to Kate before we left town.
A few last post race photos!
Keep chargin' Trav! I was glad to see you race for 15 seconds!
I must begin with the 2019 Trans Rockies Classic, and bounce around from there...
I had been intermittently following Travis' race during the last week of July. He was competing in the Trans Rockies Classic. It is a pretty gnarly mountain bike race in the Canadian Rockies. Consisting of seven stages over seven days through the rugged mountains with crazy elevation gains and descents, it's not for the faint of heart!
Being into triathlon the way I used to be, it was always inevitable my world would collide with Travis. For the first several years of my racing, I knew who he was, but that was about it. It wasn't until I was flying to Ontario to do a duathlon in my hometown of Wasaga Beach in September, 2007 that I really met him though.
Out on course along the beach.
Coming down the finishing chute and talking to a reporter after the race...
As per usual, I was the last one through the gate at our airport, and they gave me a tongue-lashing for it. (Nothing has changed...that happened when I went to Chicago this past June.) I was told I was lucky to get my bike on the plane because there was less than usual luggage that day, otherwise I'd be screwed.
I went into the waiting area, and sat down pretty much right beside Travis. He was flying to Las Vegas with Mike Seniuk for some kinda conference-y something.
I barely had my ass on the seat before Travis was lookin' at me with a huge fat grin, and saying something about my bike in the box, at which point we fell into conversation about racing.
At our layover in Calgary, the three of us had lunch, and carried on like we'd already known each other for quite some time. (Mike's cousin, Jackie, had been a really good friend of mine for years at that point, so we were instantly comfortable with each other.)
That was all it took! Just like that, Travis and I were instant great friends.
So, fast forward to this summer, 12 years later...
I had still yet to see Travis race in all that time. Yes, there is the thought that he mostly races far away, but even though I would consciously think about it, that was still never a good enough excuse for me to miss out on his bad-ass-ery!
In a kind of overreacting way, I had a mini little meltdown, and sorta snapped at myself for only being reduced to seeing his photos with written race updates and conclusions over the years. If I am being truthful, I actually started feeling like a pretty shitty friend for never having seen him race, especially considering how supportive he has been of me in all my triathlon endeavors for so many years. There are two instances that I take note of the most...
-The first was when he got sponsored to do the La Ruta race in Costa Rica in October, 2011. It was a crazy, crazy 4 day stage race. (Like the mini Tour de France of mountain biking.) While he was down charging that course, I was in Portland, Oregon for a half marathon, and then going to try for some sponsorship at the Adidas North American HQ. We were both messaging each other in total support...taking away from what each of us was doing to cheer on the other. (By the way...he grabbed the leader's jersey, and podium'd overall.)
-The second time that stands out was in late summer/early fall of 2015 when I did 31 triathlons under pretty grueling conditions. (All told, I bailed hard once, battled severe hypothermia in our freezing lake with no wetsuit for the back half, had many injuries, and then got hit by a car on my second last day.) On my final day, Travis came out with Caden (his two year old son) to watch me during my last swim. He was yelling at me out in the water from the park. If that wasn't enough, they got in his truck to follow me on my bike course...honking his horn and yelling and screaming out his window.
You see, Travis is the most solid of guys! I've even put it into writing before that, "it's almost sickening how good of a guy he is...just be at least a bit of a prick to give the rest of us a chance." (Haha...Something like that.)
As far as the triathlon meat grinder I have repeatedly thrown myself into, and all the crazy stuff I think up within that world, regardless if I am successful or not, Travis has always been 1000% supportive of me...quite actively and verbally. In a way, it kind of trips me out when he says what he has about me because he is a legit bad-ass.
Me, glued together with wraps and tape before the 2007 Nelson Triathlon.
Photo by Phil Best: www.bestphotos.ca/
Travis is definitely a local legend around here, and the racing circuit he charges on. It would be quite a fitting nickname if one were to call him, "Mr. Podium!"
He charges insane races year after year, and after all of them, you see podium photos and stories pop up on his Facebook account. Then there is me, "Mr. Last Place, Nowhere Near the Leaders Guy," who Travis supports without restraint. (I mean, I'm not just last place, I'm last as fuck!) The two of us have always seemed to have a circular connection of mutual inspiration. We have both been quite vocal about it, to each other, and outward to the world.
Personally, I have never felt like I have earned, nor deserved that for myself, but with him, it is beyond undeniable how incredible he is. Plainly stated,
"Travis is a mountain shredding mutherfucker!"
I hang off the stuff he does. I love talking to him about all the different facets of what high level racing entails. (There's more to it than one would think.)
Truthfully, I feel very humbled in his presence, and all this stuff never leaves me when I'm in thought about him.
(He inevitably floats through my mind when I am out charging through unbearable pain, and those thoughts actually give me strength to transcend anything a course, or my broken body might throw at me.)
There's sooo many great things about the guy, but no matter what, I'm always dialed into Trav's racing life. Even if we are talking about things completely irrelevant to that, it is still automatic as something lingering on my mind! I'm never unaware of the levity of being around Mr. Podium!
(I don't own rights to any of these photos, so if you see this and one is yours, shoot me a message so I can happily give you credit.)
I'm not too sure when I started realizing this, (It has been for awhile now.), but every time I see more of his racing stories, photos, and results online, or talking with him about them in person, I've started to increasingly feel kind of shitty that he is always out to support me, but I had never been out to see him goin' for it. (Except when he would pass by my last-place-ass on the bike portion of the old Nelson triathlon many years ago.)
I haven't liked that feeling, and it has eaten at me somewhat. I've always kept that to myself, but it is there, and it is real that I have started feeling kinda shitty around him because of it.
(I can only imagine him reading this right now. Haha...suck on it Trav! Your impact is real!)
I had been on my own adventures all over the place this summer, so I had not seen him in quite awhile. Since he won the National Championships last summer, and was committed to going to the World's this summer, I had never lost sight of his journey. There's no way I could. He was always close to my thoughts!
I was at Travis and Tobi's place for dinner sometime either side of the Christmas holidays. He and I got carried away talking about the world's. When we were deep into that conversation, with the most conviction I have ever heard him speak, Travis leaned forward to look me right in the eye, and told me that he isn't going there to just race, he is going there to win.
"I WANT TO WIN!"
A total a freakin' bad-ass! What more can you really say?!
I am writing this holed up in a dive hotel in southern Wyoming in the midst of a three week road trip with my doggie. It is basically an agenda of simply being on the road to wherever, whenever. The only thing on the agenda was to go to Colorado to see an old friend I haven't seen since July 9, 1995. The date is easy to remember as it is the day of the final Grateful Dead show in Chicago.
Since I was going to be in the area, I got tickets to the final two shows of the Dead & Company tour that was finishing in Boulder, Colorado. In quite often typical road trip fashion though, I have had some crazy break down stories on the mountain passes east of Vail. They definitely put a huge fork in the road for the journey I have been on. There is no doubt about that.
I missed the first of the two shows because of it all, but was able to get in for the final one last night. It was an incredible concert, but that is a story all of its own. What I will say about it is that while I was swimming through the height of bliss for that string of hours in that stadium, thoughts of seeing The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam!
Dead & Company - Boulder, Colorado - July 6, 2019
Starbelly is a festival back home in Crawford Bay on the East Shore of Kootenay Lake, BC on July 19. This is their 20th year!
Last night, the festival, and The Wild Turkeys, had both found their way into the stream of all my thoughts of what The Grateful Dead has meant to my life: Everything it has given me, and especially all the people it has brought my way!
(The vast, vast majority of people in my life are due to the trickling effect of that band. It is doubtful I would even be living out in BC without it.)
It made me smile when the Turkeys came into mind while I was gruuuvin' in that stadium. I love the Wild Turkeys! I haven't seen them too many times, but that's mostly because I don't get out much. It is a band of local guys who all share a passion for the band I love so much, The Grateful Dead. They just have fun covering their tunes, and only play shows around our area.
**I wrote something about them last year.
As far as I am concerned, The Wild Turkeys are quite synonymous with the Starbelly Jam festival as they have played there many times over the years, dating back to the first year the festival was held. That was in July of 1999...the same year I had moved to the area.
I moved to the West Kootenay on May 1, 1999. It is no secret that I live and breathe all things Grateful Dead related, so my impending collision with the Turkeys was inevitable, and the first time I saw them was only weeks after my arrival to the area. They were playing at The Royal on Baker Street in Nelson. It was the simple 'Steal Your Face' image on their poster that grabbed my attention, and drove me to going to their show, of which my mind had been to before it had even happened.
Timmy was the first one of the boys I met in the band. That was when a bunch of us were all crammed into the little band room downstairs after the Fat Cats show at The Civic on Vernon Street in town. (Renamed, "Finley's Bar & Grill" by great new owners since around 2003.) He and I were sitting at the same tiny table, and were immersed in all the fun with everyone else.
**It turns out that some of the guys are tied heavily with the Fat Cats, which naturally extended a further branch towards them as The Fatties are really good friends of mine.
The Wild Turkeys - Some fantastic West Kootenay boys!
As for Starbelly Jam itself...
Phot0 by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
I have very vivid memories of Starbelly, but they are not from me being there as I have never been!
I lived with Christa in Queens Bay for the first three years I lived here: July 99 to April 2002. (Q.B. is five minutes from the ferry to the festival, but on the opposite side of Kootenay Lake.)
My tiny little 14 foot cabin on Christa's property in Queens Bay, BC
Back then, Christa had an ice cream truck, and she hit the festival circuit hard! Her traveling partner was her daughter, Hazel, was only 7 months old then. I'd always see them preparing for, or returning from, whatever festival.
It could get quite comical looking out the window of my little cabin to see Christa up and down the ramp carrying all her stuff in and out of the truck because Hazel would be at her feet the whole time. Mostly she just wanted to help her mama, but she was a baby, so it was like walking through a moving mine field for Christa.
Her arriving home from festivals was one of my favourite ways to hang out with Christa. I would come and play with Hazel, and kinda run some interference so Christa could get stuff done. I'd just be hangin' out talking to both of them...mama and baby. It was fantastic. I love those two so, so much!
Top: Christa and Hazel during 1999/2000.
Bottom: Christa, Hazel and I skating on the pond at the Balfour Golf Course - December 31, 1999
(These are the only photos I have of the two of them.)
I had heard great things about Starbelly right from the beginning. Each year I lived in Queens Bay, I house sat for Christa while the festival was on, so I did not attend. Her stories of it, upon coming home from the first one, added to the whole picture of the West Kootenay region for me.
In the years since the beginning days of the festival, other things have also kept me away as well. After I left Queens Bay, I moved deep in the bush, up the mountain, west of Nelson. All told, it was about an hour and fifteen minutes away (When factoring my gnarly driveway.), so it was no longer just a short pop down to the ferry kinda thing to get to.
Even back then, I had many friends who had Starbelly marked on their calendar as an annual event they were not missing. There was always great music, and lots of other things to do for everyone. It was equally great for the individual, as well as families and their kids. The tales coming out of that festival every year grew and grew.
Above three photos by Louis Bockner - www.facebook.com/lbockner
Aside from the housesitting for those who would be attending, my body's epic journey of pain was a big contributing factor on my missing out on Starbelly!
My body first fell apart in 1993, but in June of 2002 stuff happened that I could never express into words...the worst it has ever been. (I'm not getting into the depth of that here.) I have never been the same since.
Despite all the craziness in my body, I dug into dragging my banged up self through triathlons. I was hooked right away from the first race I did! I didn't care how much it hurt to do them, I just found them liberating and invigorating. (Just as with my body, my triathlon life is a massive story of its own for another time as well.
Fundraiser at Save-On-Foods with Tiyenna (She totally bailed me out to help me pull this off.)
I got so much from the triathlon world, that I wanted to start giving back to it somehow, so in 2007 I did my first ever fundraiser at Save-On-Foods. I wanted to raise some bucks to buy a trophy to donate to our local triathlon. (It was for the athlete who overcomes adversity to race.) The date given to me by the grocery store was the Saturday of the weekend of Starbelly Jam. I missed another one!
Even though they beat the living hell out of me, triathlon had taken over my life during my summers for some years, so festivals were not a thing on my radar. There was also another massive life turn that came when I got beat down by an animal on June 30, 2009. That set off a chain of events where I ended up losing about five and a half of the next six years of my life. It also left me with more permanent changes within my body as with my 2002 breakdown.
It just seemed to be that something was always keeping me away from the festival, but the stories from those who went never ceased to keep rolling in!
I have always been intrigued by Starbelly, and even with never having been, I have grown an attachment to it in my own way. This will be their 20th anniversary of the event, so it seems like the perfect year for me to attend for my first time.
(It was on hiatus for one summer a few years ago, and even never having been, it left me a bit sad to know it would not be happening. I was delighted to hear it would be returning when it did.)
Timmy showing me his new amplifier last month.
I went to Timmy's house a couple weeks before I left on this road trip down to Colorado (and the ensuing wandering). He's such a great guy. He was showing me his new amplifier he had just gotten, and was super psyched on. He invited me to come to their jam sessions leading up to the festival, but unfortunately I'm unable to attend because of my road trip in the States. (There could be a likelihood that I roll into the festival straight from the USA.)
This road trip I am on has seemed to add to the nature of attending Starbelly Jam to see the Wild Turkeys. I have been some gorgeous places on my trip, but back home in the West Kootenay is really a special place! It is so damned beautiful and full of so many incredible people...and it's home!
When I was riding that train of bliss in the Dead & Company show last night, and having the image float into my mind of being at Starbelly watching the Turkeys play gave me a nice feeling of my home...one of rippling warmth. It made me smile more, and painted more happiness into being there gruuuvin' hard in Boulder last night!
The Wild Turkeys at Starbelly Jam is in eleven days, and I can't wait!
Starbelly Jam Society
Box 15 Crawford Bay, BC
West Coast Grill at The Prestige Lakeside Resort
No photos as I had not intended to write about my meal here because I only went to meet with a friend who was staying there. It was so terrible all around that I couldn't let it go though.
The easy thing I will start with is my friend. He ordered french toast with bananas, but they brought him kiwis instead. He was visibly upset about this as he picked them off and was kinda cursing out each piece as he did, and saying something along the lines of how can they mess up a kiwi with a banana?! They also charged him for two teas when he only had one.
Of the two of us, he was the one who got the good service...
I ordered a very simple classic breakfast: over easy eggs, bacon, sourdough toast, hash browns.
The food didn't take long, but as soon as it was put in front of me I zeroed in on the eggs. Those things were...how do I put it? The only way they could possibly have been more overcooked is if they were charcoal black and crispy. The yolks were hard, like, can't even cut up with a fork kind of hard! That totally defeats the whole purpose of an over-easy egg, as the whole point of those is to dip your toast in the oozing yolk.
I was immediately put-off by it as I have always felt that if you're in a building called the Prestige then your food better be prestigious.
My friend used to be a cook for many years, so he knows what's up with good and bad food, and he didn't even hesitate saying that he was gonna get me new food. I told him no, that I don't send food back unless it has a hair in it, or it makes me sick immediately. (As an example...spoiled cream or the like!) Then I explained that if I send it back, that they're just gonna throw it out and I am not OK with that. I'm kid of the 80's who saw countless times a day on TV the little kids in Ethiopia with bloated stomachs and flies flying around them from desperate starvation; as cliché as it might sound at times, I am very aware of people around the world who don't have food, and would do almost anything for those shitty eggs. For me to have them thrown out is not acceptable. My friend said they need to be held accountable. I told him they will be, and quickly refreshed his memory that I write about food.
(A lesser reason I do not send food back because of quality is because I have known many, many cooks over the years, and have heard too many nightmare kitchen stories of what can happen to sent back dishes, so I don't trust round two of rejected food for a second.)
I wasn't really eating the food too much. I was more in disbelief of how terrible it was while trying to break up parts of the egg with my fork. I ate a hash brown here and there and talked with my friend about the garbage quality. That kind of took over the theme of our conversation.
When I had only eaten one slice of toast, a few hash browns, and a bit of one egg, without asking if I was done, the server just showed up and took my food away. My friend and I both said I wasn't done with it. He didn't hear us I guess, which was quite impressive as we both said it clear and loud enough for anyone standing only two feet from our table to hear. He then dropped my fork on the ground, picked it up, and put it on the plate as we both repeated ourselves that I wasn't finished. This time he heard us and started handing me my plate back with the fork that had just fallen on the floor sitting right in the food.
In my mind, I was like, "Seriously?! You're really gonna give a plate of food that has a utensil in it that you just dropped on the floor?!"
His hand was outstretched with the plate, but I wasn't gonna say anything until it got to the table to see if he would actually give it back to me. Thankfully he retracted his arm and realized what he had just done. He hesitated for a moment pondering what to do, and then apologized, and said he would get me some more food.
When he was gone back to the kitchen I looked at my friend and said, "I kinda just wanna leave." That was when my friend was looking at his bill seeing that he had just been charged for two teas instead of one.
The food didn't take long, but I wish it took a little bit longer because this time the eggs were well under cooked. They were disgusting...like eating snot. When my server asked me if there was anything else I needed I told him a fork would be great because I didn’t have any utensils.
By this time, my friend had to leave for a meeting, so I just sat there by myself eating gross snotty eggs. While I was doing that, my server had walked by and taken the cloth napkins off the table. I was thinking to myself at that point, “I’m not freakin’ done yet.” He then realized I was not done, so he put down my friend’s used napkin for me. He then stood there confused as to which one was which and picked up my friend’s and put mine back down, but to me, all I saw was his hands all over it, and I more impressed that he just kept finding ways to take bad and make it worse. It was quite impressive, especially knowing that he had been a server there for many years.
It was a huge mistake to eat that second round of eggs because now I feel terrible. There is this sludgy, slimy film from my mouth right down to my stomach, and my belly feels like I just ate some rocks.
That was quite possibly the worst meal/service combination I have ever had. Needless to say, when my friend is in town again, we won't be eating there again. It's really too bad because it is such a nice location, especially the patio on the water, but it's just not worth it. The disappointment is paramount to virtually every dining experience in that place.
When I left the restaurant, I walked straight over to the Front Desk to ask if I could borrow a pen. The lady said, "Of course." I just wanted to write down 'kiwi instead of banana' so I would remember that mistake with my friend's dish. I didn't finish writing 'instead' because I was kind of distracted talking to the woman at the desk. She asked me how I was doing. I said, "Terrible, now!" With some alarm and definite concern in her voice she asked me why. I told her that I just had a terrible meal and service at in the restaurant. It kind of stopped her in her tracks, but she did ask me if I wanted the manager's card. I told her no...that I know who he is. I thanked her for the pen and then walked off and went about my day.
The very first meal I ever had that The Prestige in 2000 I remember looking at my friend I was with then and saying, "This is not very Prestigious." After so many failed attempts at meals there, I gotta say that I am done with it. I won't waste my time or money going for a meal at The Prestige Lakeside Resort in Nelson, BC. The rooms are great, but the food is just one let down after another, and the lesson has been learned.
I clicked on Brittany's Facebook page to message her about playing some tennis. When I saw her profile photo it punched me right in the face with some imagery that I couldn't really make sense of. I can't really grasp the words because it speaks of so many things that are beautiful about life, but I still put down some words in a vain effort to try to capture what this image spoke of...
**Photo by Natasha Thaesler
"The Radiance She Shines"
She smiles with a radiance
It is penetrating
A beautiful being
On a forested road
Language of her body
Speaks of a loving soul
Free with passion
Embracing life in essence
Emittance in substance
Of a light touch
In a light sense
Caught in stillness
In a moment of happiness
Suffused in wonderment
Infused in astonishment
Symbolizing everything right
In a simple expression
She gives purpose to gratitude
The gratitude of hope
Hopeful in its depths
Dispelling chaotic notion
With beauty in simplicity
The simple notion of optimism
That is elated in contentment
Thoughts stripped down
To their purest formative meaning
Like eternity bottled in rhyme
Her image in this time
Symmetry of perception
In the gratitude of hope
Luminously found within
The radiance she shines
I saw this photo of Kimberley about 20 minutes after she posted it with these words:
*insert inspirational song lyrics here*
I wrote this in about 5 minutes. The words fell out quite easily...
"A Girl Named Kimberley"
She is a girl
As kind as they come
With her smile
She lifts you up
Softening hard rock stone
Comforting hurting souls
With an essence of beauty
Inviting in her kindness
Embracing in her warmth
She makes you remember
Everything that is good
Forgetting everything that ails
Living in such a way
To see freedom in oneself
Illuminating a path within
Through the way that she walks
In strides made up of balance
Written in the pages of harmony
Penned in the ink of her heart
The beautiful words of life
That make everyone remember
And everyone to see
The natural wonders
Such rippling kindness can hold
Effortless in giving
In doing nothing
Just from being
Her beautiful self
A self of warmth
A self of radiance
A self of worth
Given unto us
The lucky ones
Fortunate to have known
A girl of this magnitude
A girl of this kind
A girl named Kimberley
A girl so kind
Winter really held on in the back end of the season this year. It sure took its time saying good bye for another year to say the least. After some hit and miss days towards the end of April, it finally seems like we are in the clear for the warmer weather to stay upon us here in the west.
(The east sure might have some disagreeing thoughts about that as they are still getting hammered by mama nature. Haha...suckers!)
It's an early start to today, and as I look out the window I can see it is a gorgeous day in the making. I have time to spare, so I decide to take my curiosity up to the rooftop patio that is advertised here at The Savoy Hotel in downtown Nelson, BC.
There are 12 rooms in their boutique hotel. I had the Junior Suite
I leave my room and make my short way to the stairs at the back end of the beautiful guest common area on the floor hotel floor. Nobody is stirring in the hotel yet, so everything is nicely quiet. It makes me feel special, like I am the king with a whole floor to myself.
One of the nice things about The Savoy Hotel is that it is completely dog friendly in all their rooms, otherwise I would not be here because my doggie comes with me everywhere I go.
When you open the door, this is what you see...
The two of us head up the stairs to the roof. I could say I simply opened the door, but really I opened my expectations, because as soon as the door swung wide it revealed a gorgeous first sight for my doggie and I. She led the way, and I followed her outside.
The patio is much bigger than I had pictured in my mind. It is very spacious, but feels intimate at the same time. A nice balance! The views all around are spectacular. They kind of just hit you right upside the head and force their way into your mind, taking over all your thoughts.
My timing was perfect too as the sun had just crested over the mountain ridge sitting behind the top end of town. Clouds were non-existent, so the crystal clear blue sky was wide open. A blank canvass for another day of possibility!
As I walked around looking at everything, and taking it all in, the early morning air was filled with songs from the birds of spring. The springtime birds sing the best songs because it just seems like so long since they have been soundtracks of the day. Their voices were quite predominant too as the town was still barely waking up, and without the real traffic sounds to start the day. It was all too peaceful. What a great setting to start the day! I was like a king on top of the world in my own little utopia.
I went to look at their hot tub in the corner that faces west. The railings are made of nice planked wood on two sides of the patio, but they had they good foresight to make the railings out of glass for the hot tub area so as to not obstruct the view...and what a view!
Knowing Nelson as well as I do, the hot tub is in the perfect location for the end of day sunset down the valley above the river. Just absolutely sensational!
Thinking about that, one might assume I am on the wrong end of the day for that experience, and although true as far as the sinking sun, and the way it will colour the sky, seeing the sun crest over the ridge on the other side in the quiet morning is equally spectacular.
There are changing areas and showers at the bottom of the stairs in the back end of the common guest area, but they also have a washroom/changing room right off to the side in the hot tub space. There is a water fountain too for those moments you might be a tad bit thirsty from soaking in the hot water. It is a total gem of little spot for sure.
(The water in the fountain is all on the same building system that has a high end water filter for all the water in the rooms, restaurants, as well as down in the Bloom Nightclub. All of it!
**As a side note, off of the guest common area there is a beautiful sauna as well. It is the traditional kind as far as being able to pour water over the hot rocks to let off steam rather than an electric sauna. I love those kinds infinitely more than the electric ones.
There is also a BBQ up here on the patio that is good to go for any guests who wish to give 'er on that and Q up a feast!
Their tables and benches are all hand milled wood from their farm down at the Salmo River Ranch about 50 minutes south of Nelson. (The ranch is also home to their Shambhala Music Festival, which is coming up on its 22nd year this coming August.)
Grains of wood on the handmade tables
The patio is only open and available to the guests of the hotel, so it really embraces that intimacy for its guests. They have pretty good hours too as it is open from 6:00am until 10:00pm. I believe they made the opening hours to benefit skiers in the winter time so they can have time for a nice little soak before they head up to Whitewater to catch first chair on the fat powder days, and pound some fluffy white pillows of winter bliss. (Shhhh...keep it a secret!)
All in all, just from the sunset hot tubbing alone, there is no place like this rooftop patio in all of Nelson. They really crushed it on this for sure! I'm glad I came up here to start my day. Such a beautiful way to ease into the world for another go at it!
Back down to the common area, and on with my day...
198 Baker Street
Nelson, BC, Canada
Stuff Writin' About Kinda Guy
I am a simple guy who likes to dream of the impossible and go after it. I have found fun in writing about my journey as well as other things that inspire me too.