I read something on Face Book this morning that talked about the top 5 regrets of people on their death-bed.  The number one thing was that people regretted not being true to their own heart and dreams.  They lived their lives trying to be some one or something for other people.  Wether it was for parents or spouses, the top regret was not pursuing their own hopes and dreams.  I think the lesson here is;  If you’re in a job that’s not fulfilling, make changes towards something different.  If you’re in a religion that seems oppressive and contradicts your beliefs, don’t waste your time.  If you’re in a loveless relationship, work on it or make a change.  It takes a lot of guts and sometimes it feels selfish to live a truthful life.

Anybody who knows me, knows that I’m happiest when I’m outdoors, preferably outdoors and on my bike.  But it doesn’t always have to be on a bike.  Today, I really wanted to get out side but temperatures in the low 20’s kept me from pedaling my bike.

The last time I hiked up Diamond Fork the trail was a 3 ft wide sheet of ice.  This time I wore stabilizers on my running shoes, but it turns out I didn’t need them.

The trail was in perfect shape and it was great getting my dog Kymber out for some exercise.  I haven’t had her out for more than a month and a half because she broke her toe on a mountain bike ride.


It was a great day for taking photos.

Is it weird that I like it when my dog Kymber licks the top of my head?


-k

I drove up to Montana this week to visit my folks and work on the Sprinter.  My dad has lots of wood working tools and I thought it would be a good opportunity to spend a little time with my parents and try my hand at customizing the Van.

First I had to remove all the side panels.

Then I cut up pieces of foam and filled all the spaces.

In the larger spaces and on the roof, I used guerilla tape to hold the foam in place.  I wrapped the panels in a thick fabric and screwed them back in place.

I didn’t have panels for the roof so I bought  1/8 inch sheets of  mesonite and I’m cutting out pieces.  The hard part has been trying to get the screws in without getting them all tangled up in the fabric.  This is much more difficult than I thought, but Dang at custom vans in Salt Lake wanted to charge me $4500 so I guess it’s worth it.  I’m hoping to get the bed and bike storage built before I come home.

-k

 

My biking story started in 2006 when a knee injury necessitated a rest from the ravages of running.  My physical therapist recommended an alternative form of exercise.

“Why don’t you try swimming?”

“I hate swimming.”

“How about biking?”

“I hate biking.”

I was mad at my joints for betraying me.  I didn’t want to swim.  I didn’t want to bike.  I wanted to run.  But I couldn’t run and was feeling petulant.

I repeated it again, just so my PT would know how serious I was. “I hate biking.”

And I meant it.  But without other available options (no WAY was I going to try swimming), I pulled my cobweb-covered  ancient 10 speed out of the garage and took it up on the trails behind the hospital.

And fell in love.

You don’t need a super bike; you don’t need to be in the foothills of Moab; you don’t need perfect weather: all you need to do is pedal.  The trails, the mountains, the freedom of wobbling downhill with a white-knuckled grip of death and a slightly crazed grin on my face … I was hooked.

I trashed my 10 speed after three dirt rides.  Trashed.  As in completely falling apart.  And just as quickly, I bought my first real mountain bike – an old trek hardtail – for $400 on ebay.  I couldn’t believe that I had just spent that much money on a bike – how could I justify the cost?  But how could I not?  This 35 lb red and black beauty – tricked out with a rear rack, panniers, and kick stand – was worth every penny.  I just wouldn’t tell anyone how much I had spent, because it did seem a bit excessive.

I was ready to be a mountain biker and started begging people to take me biking – to show me the trails.  And finding a few bikers who didn’t mind having a newbie along, and with less than 10 rides under my belt, I found myself at Solitude being knocked around from rock to rock.

My mind: blown.

I did not know it could be like this – this rattle of chains and gears over this tumble of roots and rocks.  And I was actually doing it – getting the hang of it – laughing maniacally as I threw myself around this mountain –  a radical reduction of the world to trail, bike and body.

I am a mountain biker!!!

At the end of the ride, the boys were playing around in the parking lot.  Doing wheelies, bunny hopping obstacles, climbing concrete steps.

And now that I was a mountain biker, I was sure that I could do this too.  Hadn’t I just successfully navigated one of the most technical trails in the history of the world?

A strange thing, mountain biking.  Amazing how it completely short-circuits your common sense.

I pedaled my bike towards a parking curb, because THAT’S HOW WE ROLL AT SOLITUDE, BABY!

Aiming my front wheel towards this immobile object – a wheel that I had absolutely no ability to lift even a fraction of an inch off the ground – I built up speed.

Because I could not stop my bike, it kindly stopped for me.

There’s an endless silence as you’re flying over your handlebars. You wish it would never end.

Trust me on this.

I slipped the surly bonds of earth, but ultimately became reacquainted with Terra Firma as I developed a major case of sliding across the pavement without my bike.

I layed there bonelessly for a bit, eyes shut, face down on the concrete, feeling the growing heat that comes from the Leaden Orb of Pain dropping into my newly broken jaw.

My flesh was scored.  My courage was rent.  But somehow despite this less-than-auspicious beginning, I managed to measure my human sorrows and needs against the mountain trails, then grip my courage and my handlebars, and continue biking.

I love biking.  No, I mean, really LOVE biking.

But I have spent the last five years fixated on a fear of uphill obstacles.  The entire universe has been neatly divided into things to a) ride my bike on, b) ride my bike down, and c) get off and walk my bike up.   Like that large boulder on the trail ahead of me … and by “boulder” I mean “small rock,” roughly the size of a of a rubix cube…

But I have also discovered, the more you are denied something, the more you want it.  Goaded by inexplicable hopes and dreams, I have recently been unsettled by the gnawing sense of wanting something more – something … up.

I am not sure how I can get my groove back if I never had my groove in the first place.  But this will not stop me from trying.  For I have a vision – a vision of me going UP.

My mortal heart was filled with shivering – the hair standing up on the back of my neck – when Kenny and I rolled into Guacamole last weekend with the sole purpose of getting me pedaling up things on my bike.  It is extremely difficult to not get hypnotized by the constant monologue inside my head- the one that says that I am a terrible biker, I will never be able to do these up moves, and this whole ride is a very bad idea.  But I wanted to gain some confidence, I wanted to feel assured in ascension, secure in the scramble, good in going up.

And Guacamole is as good as it gets on a bike.  Undulating slickrock singletrack, full of majestic views, with some optional advanced techy sections for riders looking to hone their biking skills.  Riding this trail, you’ll enter a Zen-like state – well, at least a Guacamole-like state – where bike, body and trail all meet on a higher plain.

I wanted to try it all.

I was terrified as I started riding.  Every single move was preceded by a feeling of dread.  I tried and failed, and regaining sphincter control, I turned it around and tried again.  Safe in the knowledge that Kenny was spotting me, I practiced lifting my front tire onto rocks; practiced hopping my back tire onto rocks.  I practiced the timing, the unweighting, the balance.  Practiced until the more I tried, the more I did.  Until I was feeling no impulse to doubt myself or falter.

Teetering on the brink of something unspeakable, I biked UP.  UP!  Great day for UP!

And then we were done.  And I was feeling excited and strong.  Biking back to the car, I had finally found my confidence.

About a mile from the trailhead, I saw another obstacle ready for my supreme ascendancy – a two-foot rock sticking straight out of the ground.  An unrollable, must-lift, vertical slope so obviously dangerous that even mountain goats would only try it roped together.

Well, mountain goats and Kenny – which arguably may be the same thing.  Kenny gracefully floated his bike up onto this stony behemoth, then turned around to watch me have a go.

I picked up speed.  And two things occurred to me – one, was that I was on a high-speed projectile machine heading straight for that large rock.

The second was gravity.

You know how sometimes you remember a really bad experience, and you are you dreading doing it again, and then you do it again, and it wasn’t as bad as you remember?

This wasn’t one of those times.

Combining all the qualities of something not good at staying on a bike with something not good at landing on the ground, I hurled head first into the rock and felt the rock gods smite me with an almighty sledgehammer directly to my face, driving my left front tooth and left lateral tooth backwards with a sickening crunch.

I sprawled there gasping on the ground. It took me a moment to realize that the whimpering noise I heard was actually coming from my own mouth.

There are no words here.  It was a sound before words.  If there was any meaning at all in that lament, it was,

“Well, that’s the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked.”

I wrinkled my forehead, working hard to formulate a coherent thought. I was feeling the need for lalochezia to help me think clearerer.

Hmm. Am pretty sure have never used the word “lalochezia” before. Weird moment of clarity.  All of a sudden I feel 42 percent more articulate.  The Ig isotype is defined by constant region sequences that are invariable and downstream of the VDJ recombination.

And then the cake, accordion, and dwarf simultaneously explode.

Kenny’s face appears over me.  My eyes are squinting with the effort of getting all three remaining brain cells  lined up.   Either his face or my vision is smeary – I hope it’s his face, but I have my doubts.

He asks me if I’m okay.  I’m not sure what to say.  I need time to just lie here and not move.  I need to think about what just happened.  And I need to NEVER think about this again.

And I could really, really use a shot of morphine.

A deep, long intake of breath.  I tremble.  And remember.  Remember the parking curb.  Remember the broken jaw.  Feel the wobbly broken teeth with my tongue, and remember the fear.  Always, the fear.

It seems that we, those of small talent but with considerable love of our bicycles, share a common derangement. We tend to envision ourselves as profoundly competent with little regard for the truth. The fear that I have had for the past 5 years deserved to be there.  I should be afraid.  Even if I don’t want to be.  Even if I still want to try this again.

But how can I regain that confidence now?   How can I ever try this again?

On the bright side, however, my next year’s Halloween costume is in the bag.

And I have an idea…

-h

About 4 years ago, I bought some photo equipment in Montana.  My neighbor who owns a large chain of clothing stores offered to loan me his sprinter van to pick up and haul the machine back to Utah.  I was amazed at how well it handled and how good of gas mileage it got.  Ever since then, I’ve been obsessed with sprinters.  For me, they are the perfect biking adventure vehicle.  I’ve been pricing them for years, dreaming about how I would customize MY van.  They’re tall enough that I could put the bikes under a bed in the back and there would still be room for a bench seat and a small kitchenette with burners, a sink and a fridge.

Two months ago, my dreams became reality as I entered the market to purchase a van.  I kept a search going for vans in my price range, and I would get 2 or 3 new listings each day.  Most were located on the east coast and all were older with lots of miles.  Although the Mercedes diesel motors are said to last for 3ook plus miles, it’s hard to find older vans that won’t be prone to lots of additional expenses.  Three weeks ago, an 07 van with under 9000 miles came up in my search emails.  It was priced the same as vans that I was looking at with 90,000 miles.  I called that day and put money down.  Heather and I got tickets and flew to San Luis Obisbo the very next day and drove it home.

sprinter

It’s a 144″ wheelbase cargo.

We packed an air mattress on the plane and slept in it on the way home.  We’ve only had it for a few weeks, and we’ve already camped in it 6 or 7 nights.  I put a futon in the back and strapped an old counter from my store to the side, and we have an instant camper van.  It easily made it to the gooseberry, little creek and guacamole trail heads… twice.

Here is what I’ve done to it so far.

Side windows so I won’t be mistaken for a child molester.

a back up camera

a rearview stereo

and a tattoo.

-k

So, I’ve decided to start a blog.  I’m not sure why? Maybe…because all my friends have blogs and I’m just following suit.  But, for whatever the reason, it seems like the perfect platform to post my pictures and journal my life. I would like it to be a place where my friends and family can see what I’m up to.  My life has changed drastically in the past two years and will be changing and evolving even more in the next few months.  These changes have been, for the most part, conscious and necessary for my happiness.  The theme of this blog will be, “Life is short. Find what makes you happy.”

My name is Kenny Jones.  I’m divorced and pushing 50. I will be posting mostly about the things that bring me happiness.  Expect to see lots and lots of pictures and stories about Mountain biking, racing bikes, bikes in general, Sprintervan camping, converting my van to an RV, moving to Southern Utah with my girlfriend Heather and building our dream house (casazen).

Hopefully, Heather will join me writing here and together we can create something enjoyable and entertaining.

Juniperus scopulorum

I love pictures of old trees.  This is the oldest known tree in Utah.

-k

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.