I used to be cool. I really did.
I grew up fifteen minutes from the Red River Gorge. I went to most of its notable overlooks and arches on my dad’s shoulders when my legs were too stubby to keep up with big-sized people.
When I was a freshman in college I dropped out so I could go back home and better get to know the Gorge. I did. When I got bored of hiking I took up whitewater kayaking. When that became too scary I took up rock climbing to force myself to better socialize. Then I became obsessed.
I lived in Slade for a long time. I rode my bike to crags. I once rode with my crashpad to Emerald City. I’ve met a lot of famous climbers. But I won’t drop names. Kauk. Anker. Brown. Smith. Freas.
When I decided to become a big boy I quit climbing, finished my degree, and moved to Colorado. Should have dropped that first one. Maybe the second too.
Oh, and I became a hard core cyclist. I sold my car and rode my bike everywhere. I’ve bagged a fourteener on my bike. I got passes for my family to the VIP corral at the USA Pro Cycling Challenge Stage 6 Golden to Boulder in 2012. I raced Lance Armstrong once. No lie. 2012 Alpine Odyssey in Crested Butte, Colorado. It was me, Lance, and 248 of our friends. Lance came in fifth. I did not come in first, second, third, or fourth.
I started a blog called From the Pavement’s Edge. Yeah, it was not famous at all. But I had a lot of readers and I began meeting them out in the real world. It was surreal. So was meeting Fat Cyclist at the 2013 Leadville Trail 100. And having him mention me on his blog. And so was finishing the Leadville 100 twenty four minutes too late to get a belt buckle. But I finished.
In late 2012 I learned the hard lesson that you should never say “never.” I hauled my family back to Kentucky and back into the same old problems we ran away from when we moved to Colorado. But we also moved back to the Red River Gorge. Back to climbing. Back to another surreal existence that is still hard to unravel into any kind of meaningful cohesive story. My mind is still swirling two and a half years (as I write this) after we moved back.
My kids have seen incredible things. They’ve climbed mountains. They’ve met famous people. They’ve seen history in the making and amazing natural wonders. They know history, geography, science, and fiction all because my wife and I decided our family needed the benefit and wealth of perspective.
These days I occupy my days as a transportation planner who daydreams about cycling and climbing. Sometimes I try to trail run, and I’d love to be an ultrarunner. I dabble in writing, and if I put my mind to it I could be a phenomenal photographer.
I get down on myself when my dreams going forward don’t pan out like I’d like. But in the grand scheme of things I could die tomorrow and say I have lived a pretty amazing life.