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I’m fine. And that’s good enough for now.

The last few weeks have been hard. I’m not alone in saying that. When I couldn’t sleep I dug into an old toolbox and pulled out a notebook and just started writing. I didn’t intend to share this, never really thought it would see the light of day, but I’ve had a couple conversations and seen a couple posts this week that make me feel like I need to share. Maybe it’s to help others, maybe it’s to help myself. It’s hard to say. I transcribed it with minimal editing. Some of the harder parts to write were a little less legible, so some of this is my best guess. So with that, here’s this:

Mental illness is a weird thing to write about. It’s a weird thing to think about. It’s not like some other illness. It’s not “I have a bit of a cold” or “I have a really bad cold” and someone else has some degree of understanding of what you’re going through. 

It’s different for everyone. Everyone has had a cold, but with depression there’s always someone who hasn’t experienced anything like it and can’t even find a way to empathise. “It’s all in your head. You’ll get through it. Just…” “No SHIT it’s all in my head. It’s called MENTAL illness.” But on the flip side, there’s always someone who has it 100x worse. When you admit to a mental illness, there will be people who suddenly lump you in with the guy standing on a bucket downtown holding a sign and screaming about aliens. But you’re not that guy, so who are you to complain?

But if you have it, you have it. And wherever it is on the scale, it’s valid. Mild depression is still depression. Just because your experience is less visibly extreme doesn’t mean it’s not as bad. I fought it for a long time. I went to dark places. It manifested in a lot of different ways. I’ve done a lot of shit because of it that I’m not stoked about when I look back on it. 

I’ve never physically hurt someone else because of it. I’ve never physically hurt myself because of it. But there’s a reason I’ve been a vocal proponent of the yellow ribbon project and the semicolon tattoo. I never hurt myself, but I can’t begin to guess what stopped me. Dumb luck maybe.

Times are really damn hard right now. Even those who are most in denial/ignorance of their situation are having to face some reality. I’ve had to lean hard on my network, on those closest to me. I knew this was going to be hard. I reached out in advance and asked people to check in on me. Only a couple people, and only those I trusted the deepest, but to do that was a pretty huge step for me. I’m an extrovert. I need people around. I’ve learned in the last two weeks that’s even more true than I could have imagined. 

So I’ve leaned hard on my friends. I’ve leaned on friends that I know were ready to break and fall over themselves. I’ve reached out in a way that my ego has never let me do in the past. And they’ve been strong for me.

I’m Minnesotan and Norwegian. Asking for help is NOT something that we do. We’re strong. We’re stoic. We commit suicide in the winter before we burden someone else with our problems. And then sometimes the biggest issue is that we haven’t seen the sun in a couple months. This is something totally different. 

But I set all that aside – all my ego, all of my “I’m fine,” and I asked IN ADVANCE for help from a couple trusted friends. I found levels of trust that I didn’t know I was capable of to make that ask. And now, here we are, two weeks [remember I wrote this last week] into.. who knows, two more weeks?  LOL, nope. Two more months? Maybe. A year? Hard to say. In just two weeks I’ve already reached really dark places. Places I truly thought I’d never see again. I’ve fought through. I’ve continued to ask for help. I’ve come to terms with the fact that “alright” and “fine” are perfectly acceptable answers to “How are you?” When “alright” and “fine” are the best I can possibly be, why shouldn’t I be stoked about being the best I can possibly be? I don’t know if I’ve seen the worst, but I know I’ll fight like hell and I’ll get through. Because I know what I didn’t know 20 years ago. Getting through is WORTH IT. When I was at my lowest, I couldn’t have imagined the love and happiness and fulfillment that I’ve experienced in my life since getting through… let’s say 1997-2001. And I carry that faith that I can’t imagine the love and happiness and fulfillment I’ll experience after getting through this. 

But here’s the thing about mental illness. It fights DIRTY. It knows the things I think about, how I can fight it, and how I can find my way through it. Today it learned a neat new trick. The world is so full of this nasty depression and mental illness that it’s growing new powers and finding new strength. Today it realised that it can play on my feelings of guilt, of debt, of all that willingness to ask for help from other people who were fighting their own battles, who had nothing left to give for themselves, but found a way to give something more for me. In just two weeks, I’ve gotten so much help, felt so much love. But now I feel guilt. My brain is trying to tell me again that my problems aren’t valid, because they’re not as bad as someone else’s. 

And the weird, selfish thing I need right now is to repay some of the debt that I’ve accumulated in the last two weeks. If you need something, call me. If you lose your job and you’re not sure how to make rent, if your home learning kid is driving you crazy, or if you knocked over a glass of water and that was just the last fucking straw. Call me. If you don’t have my number, ask for it. I won’t have any answers for you, but I’ll listen. I’ll be on the other end of the line, just so you know you’re not alone. Even when I’m silent, you’ll know I’m there, just there, experiencing the moment with you. It’s easy to underestimate the power of that. 

If we get enough of us leaning against each other, none of us will fall down. So ask for help, lean onto the pile. You owe it to the rest of us. 

Holy shit, I have to work from home for how long???

WFH Schedule IG

Monday was the start of something totally new and totally foreign to a huge part of our population. Most of those in the company I work for had never worked from home, at least not consistently. They may have done an odd day here or there, but those days were often to care for a sick kid or some kind of work from home mental health day. Monday was different. Monday was expected to be like any other Monday, except from home. Suddenly the kitchen table or couch that works as a desk for the random day definitely will not cut it for a long term office. What about monitors? What about a proper keyboard? WHO EVEN OWNS A PRINTER?!?

Reactions to all of those realizations were evident over the weekend, where Best Buy was sold out of monitors and selling people TVs in their place, Staples sold out of headsets, and don’t even get me started on the line at MicroCenter. (Yes, I was out shopping for the couple things I didn’t have, too. I still have no intention of owning a printer.) The things that fewer people thought about tend to be the actual fact of doing work from your home over the long term, and the special steps you have to take to be successful at both your job and your life. As someone who has worked full time remote, I tapped into the memory bank and posted some tips for my friends who were about to be headed into uncharted territory.

Here was my list:

Be purposeful about:

  1. Having a schedule
  2. Leaving the house (but social distance, people!)
  3. Turning OFF the laptop, easy to get sucked in
  4. Connecting with people. Talking out loud, hearing the voice of someone you love.
  5. Showering (seriously, this one is easy to forget)


Which I posted with a sample of my schedule for the next day:

7:00 – Wake up, shower, coffee

7:45 – Meditate

8:00 – Laptop on

12:00 – Walk around the lake

12:30 – Lunch

5:30 – Laptop off

6:00 – Work out

8:00 – Call a friend

10:00 – TV off

11:00 – Sleep

There are a couple things I’ll point out in here. I scheduled the things that are easiest to forget to do or write off for lack of time – things like going outside and working out. They are on my schedule, so now I have to choose not to do them. I scheduled the start and end to my workday. There’s also an activity scheduled immediately before and immediately after working hours. That activity is the buffer between life and work. Normally you have a commute to act as this buffer. Without that buffer, it’s easy to have work be “always on.” That’s not to say that you can’t work in the evening, but by putting in that buffer activity, now you’re making the choice to work in the evening, same as if you turned on the laptop in the evening last week. There’s no “OMG, it’s 9:00 and I forgot to quit working.” 

A couple of these things are unique to the current situation, social distancing during the time outside, for example. Normally I’d pet every dog I saw walking around the lake by my apartment, but right now that means probably being too close to a stranger (I made one exception yesterday for a dog that desperately wanted to be my best friend). Being deliberate about calling a friend every day probably isn’t as important under normal circumstances when I would go out with friends a couple nights a week, but right now is crucially important. Even if you live with your family or a significant other, it’s good to talk to people who aren’t them. It might save your relationship. 

It’s okay to be a little disjointed the first day. I spent 50% of my non-meeting time on Monday just dialing in my setup. Tuesday went a little better. Wednesday was a little rough. I’ll get back into my rhythm. You’ll find yours. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’re slow getting out of the blocks. It gets better, and getting good at working from home makes you even better when you get back to the office (Hint: It’ll be because you won’t have to be there as much to get the same work done. More on that later.).


Just over a month ago, the Trek Family lost one of its own in the most heart wrenching way. John Seiler was hit by a car while riding his bike. Today we took a break from all the “seems important” stuff to do what really is important. The bike company collectively stepped away from our computers to honor John the best way we know how, by riding our bikes with our friends, our co-workers, our #TrekFamily. Today we honored John’s memory by riding our bikes.

The day I heard about John’s accident, I had a hard time processing the news. In the end, I did two things. I rode my bike. Because I needed to exorcise that demon of bad things happening to someone on a bike. OUR someone on a bike. And I did the other thing that helps when it seems like nothing else will. I sat at my computer and hammered out words until I couldn’t see through the tears to write any more.

Usually when I write to cope I close my word processor without saving. This time, however, I put it up on my blog. My blog has been active for over five and a half years. That single post had more views in the first two days than my site had seen in total in the 5.5 years leading up to that post. It means so much to me that this was the story that could strike that chord with people. It makes coping with this kind of tragic loss easier, knowing that it’s not the world against cyclists. When the world loses a good person, everyone loses, and everyone cares.

So on the day we honored John with a ride, I want to re-share my thoughts from that first day, when Mark Joslyn had to send out what had to have been one of the hardest emails he’s ever written. Today Mark stood in front of a few hundred of the Trek Family and reiterated what it meant to be a part of that family. Trek is a special place, and I’m proud to be a part of that family.


Last night we lost one.

I can’t imagine how hard it was for Mark to write an email this morning with the subject line “Tragic Loss.” This morning we received a company wide email informing everyone that yesterday a member of the Trek Family lost his life.

John was out doing what we do. He was doing what we sell. He was doing what we love. John was out for a bike ride. Witness accounts suggest that he was riding safely, responsibly, and on a wide shoulder. He was doing everything right. Witness accounts “say that [the driver]’s car drifted onto the shoulder” before hitting our friend, our family member.

I never met John. He worked in a different part of the company from me. I got the occasional email from him, but our paths never crossed in person. From all accounts he was an amazing person, a great employee, a wonderful mentor. The kind of guy I’d want to work with, the kind of guy I’d want to ride with. The kind of guy you’d be proud to call a part of the #TrekFamily.

Last night John went out to ride his bike. He went out to experience the joy of two wheels. The joy that brought us into the sport, the joy that brought us to our career calling, the joy that is at the heart of what we do. We’re not just trying to sell bicycles at Trek. We’re trying to enable people to experience the same joy that we feel when we throw a leg over a bicycle. He never quite made it home. I don’t know how far John had to go when he was struck by a car, but right now I’m going to go finish a few of his miles for him. I’m going to take some time away from all of the work that seems so important, the to-do lists that seem so pressing, the deadlines that are imminent, and I’m going to go pedal. I’m going to wear my helmet, light up my Flare R, and ride responsibly, just like John did. And I’m probably going to shed a tear, because the #TrekFamily lost one last night.


Dear New Trek Travel Guides: 5 Things I Wish I Knew Before I Flew to France

Trek Travel recently wrapped up their New Guide Training in Solvang, CA. There is a whole new group of guides about to set off on what will be an adventure of a lifetime, excited about what’s to come, but with no real idea of what they’re about to walk into. A group of the best guides Trek Travel has to offer took those new guides through the paces, sharing their cumulative years of knowledge and experience. The experienced guides taught the new guides about picnic preparation, bike mechanics, route support, and everything else they need to know to take you on your cycling vacation of a lifetime.

With that as a preface, I have some words of advice for the new guides.

TT Bottle and Timbuk2 Bag

Dear New Trek Travel Guides,

With as much information as Jake and Tony and Rebecca and Greg and Brie and Sean and company threw at you, you might think they thought of everything. The truth is, there are a few things they don’t teach you at New Guide Training. Everything at training is so guest focused, they don’t teach you how to make the most of this incredible adventure you’re headed into. Here are 5 things I wish I had known before I guided my first trip.

  1. Take a moment for yourself every day. – This job is all about the guests, but don’t let that focus mean you lose yourself. Take 30 seconds while you’re sipping coffee in the morning, spend five minutes spinning solo while you’re pedaling ahead to the next group of guests, pause a moment when you’re walking back to your room after dinner. Take that time to just be you, enjoying where you are. Trek Travel will take you to some of the most beautiful places on earth, but it’s easy to get caught up in the work and lose sight of where you are.
  2. Take advantage of time between trips. Most of your guests have had to take a bunch of time off work and lay down a bunch of money for their French/Italian/Spanish/etc vacation. You don’t have to ask for that time off and you’re already in a place that many people dream of being able to take a vacation to. Go see the stuff that isn’t on your trip! You’d never pretend that someone could experience all of a place in six days. You’re doing your best to show your guests the best the area has to offer, but go see some of the other stuff. You never know what you’ll find that you can use that to improve the trip or suggest things for your guests to see if they extend their vacation a few days. You will spend a lot of time creating memories for other people, don’t forget to go create some for yourself.
  3. Find something cool to take back every time you go home. I discovered a love for wine through Trek Travel, and after a couple seasons I made a point of bringing home at least one bottle every time I flew home, stuff I knew I couldn’t find at home and stuff I knew was worth cellaring for a couple years (I wouldn’t see it anyway). Now I have an incredible wine collection from all over the world. If wine isn’t your thing, find something. It doesn’t have to be big, but someday you’ll be thankful for the reminders of your great adventures all over the world.
  4. Travel with something that represents “home.” One of the toughest parts of my first couple years of guiding for me was the loss of a sense of home. I gave up my apartment and put my stuff into storage. I didn’t have a home to go home to. It was liberating at first, but before long it became disorienting and uncomfortable. I finally went back to my storage unit, dug into the boxes marked “kitchen,” and pulled out my favorite ceramic coffee mug. That coffee mug became the routine part of my day that made wherever I was home. I used to joke that “Home is where my toothbrush is,” but really, home was where that coffee mug was.
  5. New friends are everywhere. When it comes down to it, the most valuable things you will create in this job are relationships. Your co-guides will become like a second family. You’ll count on them, you’ll laugh with them, you’ll fight with them, and you’ll be stuck with them for life. Get to know the people who work in the hotels, restaurants, and coffee shops. Having friends you get to see week after week and year after year when you’re traveling makes a new place feel like home. Stay in touch with your favorite guests. Your job is to connect a group quickly, but those connections don’t have to end when your guests get on the bus on Day 6. You’ll have favorite guests, stay in touch with the good ones. I still regularly see many of my guests, including a couple from my first Trek Travel trip in 2005. You’ll meet thousands of new people on the road, slow down enough to get to know them.

Watch Your Head

I was riding the best I’d ever ridden that particular piece of trail. I was railing it. It was an amazing day on a bike. Until my front wheel dropped off a lip a little too fast. It was a section of trail I’d ridden dozens of times without issue. This time my front wheel landed just before a rock instead of on it. I went over the bars fast and woke up with another rider standing over me and a helmet smashed to pieces. #1

Teeter-totter. No problem. Roll to the top, pause, let it slowly lower, roll off the other end. No problem. I’ve done this before. This time: roll to the top, pause, roll a little too far to the right and fall from the highest point of the teeter-totter. #2

Noon Ball. Rob and I were playing a little one on one as everyone was shooting around and waiting for enough people to show up to call “game on.” I’m on defense, Rob does a little jab step and a bump. Pretty standard for noon ball. Except this time he jab stepped onto my front foot. When he bumped me, I couldn’t pivot back to catch myself and I fell backwards, catching myself with the back of my head on the concrete. #4

Fixed gear. Pouring rain. Railroad tracks. When I woke up the ambulance was there. #6

As best I can count, I’m at six concussions. Concussions have mixed me up a little bit, but big picture, I’ve been pretty lucky so far. I know people who haven’t been so lucky. I know I have to be extremely careful. The next one will come easier with harsher consequences. And it doesn’t get better from there.

I’m pretty sensitive to the stories about concussions. I’ve been personally affected by concussions and people who are very close to me have been affected even worse.

The recent recognition of the seriousness of concussions in sport, especially the higher impact sports like football and hockey, is a step in the right direction. There’s finally been enough research to force these leagues to take concussions seriously, and that’s encouraging to me. Even fans are beginning to realize that players who miss several games, even entire seasons, due to concussions, aren’t being “wusses.” That fan recognition is forcing action on the part of the governing bodies of sports, from the high school level to the professional level, to take action.

That progress is why two separate articles that I read today are particularly troubling.

The first was “Do Concussions Lead to Suicide?” on FiveThirtyEight. I’m generally a pretty big fan of the content on FiveThirtyEight, but the conclusions suggested in this article are troubling to me, primarily because they aren’t really conclusions. Granted, it’s hard to draw conclusions from a bunch of random, disconnected anecdotes that research different things and try to answer different questions. By the end of the article, the author doesn’t seem to remember what she was getting at in the first place. The absolute most disconcerting sentence in the article, though, was this:

“In recent years, the NFL has struggled with a significant public relations problem around the issue of concussions.”

A PUBLIC RELATIONS PROBLEM?!?! Concussions are not a PR problem! Concussions are a legitimate, long-term health problem. True, football does not cause suicide. To try to make that connection would be irresponsible, but to ignore the health risks, and spin concussions as a PR problem rather than a legitimate health concern is even more irresponsible.

The second article came from SBNation. In “Chris Conte said some dangerous things about playing with concussions,” author Rodger Sherman understands that risk. Conte says:

“I’d rather have the experience of playing in the NFL and die 10 to 15 years earlier than not play in the NFL and have a long life.”

Sherman addresses the underlying problems with that idea and the danger in that misconception. This article sums up the current conception of concussions and sport exceptionally well (articles on SBNation are generally good like that). I commend Sherman on offering a simple and concise explanation of the importance of making sure everyone is educated on the long term risk of repeated concussions, and the responsibility of the leagues to the safety and long term well being of their players.

Concussions are not a PR problem. Concussions are a very real health problem. Research has proven the long term damage that can come from repeated concussions. I’m happy to see a better understanding of the issue, and I’m happier to see mainstream news outlets call people out when they say stupid, dangerous things about concussions. For now, if your favorite player is sitting out because of a concussion, be happy they’re sitting, and not risking bigger problems down the road. If your kids are playing sports, make sure they’re wearing the best protective gear you can buy, and if you suspect they’ve had a concussion, get them checked out.

Be smart. Care for others. And watch your head.

Don’t call it a comeback…

… or call it a comeback. I don’t really care either way.

This post is to serve as a warning. I’m going to take another run at this site.

I have ideas, and I’m arrogant enough to think they’re worth sharing.

Unfortunately I have a lot of ideas not worth sharing, too, and if you’re going to stick through this with me to find the ideas worth sharing, you’re probably going to have to sit through a lot of trash.

I’m a little out of practice writing, so I’ll start out like a landlubber on his first day at sea.

Refining my writing is one of my goals in getting back into this, but it might be a little rough to start.

I have a couple years worth of ideas that haven’t been properly expressed, so this thing is about to go all over the place.



The Internet.




All fair game.

I might even get around to posting the end result of the project that was the subject of my last post.

If you’re with me, hang on tight, this is about to get fun.

Tell Me About Your True Love

Moab Mud

Do you have a Trek? Do you love your Trek? Yeah, me too, more than once over in fact. I’m working on a little project, and I’d love your help. If you have a Trek you love, tell me about it! Tell me why you love it, what it inspires you to do, whatever. Send me a photo, leave me a voicemail, Tweet at me, make me a YouTube video, post about it on my Facebook wall, post it on my Google Plus page, post about it on LinkedIn and tag me. Even a few words, I just want to hear about it!

Minneapolis: Why I love it here

Image“Wait, so you travel from April to November, and then come back to Minneapolis for the winter? Summer in Minnesota is the reason people tolerate winter here!” I get that response a lot when I describe my job, especially when I actually spent long stretches of winter at home. I travel a ton, obviously, but through all of that travel, I’ve been proud to call Minneapolis home. I spend a lot of time extolling the virtues of this great city, but here are some numbers to back it up.

Our airport is #1 in the nation. I seldom connect through it, but I give myself a little more time before my flight here than I do in most cities, because it is an awfully nice place to hang out. When I land here, I make a beeline for the door, because I can’t wait to get out and enjoy the rest of what Minneapolis has to offer.

Minneapolis-Saint Paul is the healthiest, fittest metro area in the US.

Probably in part because it’s a pretty good place to ride a bike

And it’s pretty good for running, too.

Which adds up to Minnesota being the 5th Healthiest State

The Twin Cities have some of the most intelligent and most attractive people in the US.

Minneapolis is the least stressful city in the US.

Possibly related, Minnesota is the least miserable state.

We have the second best music scene (or #5, depending upon how you read it), thanks to the best radio station (that one’s just my opinion, they haven’t gotten that crown yet).

We have two of the top 50 breweries in the world, a number that is threatening to grow as our beer scene explodes.

Travel and Leisure loves us, giving us the number one spot in America for Best Summer, #1 on Cleanliness, Most Intelligent, Best Public Parks and Outdoor Areas.

And while we have that great summer, we make the best of winter, too, with National Geographic’s #4 best winter carnival in the world.

People are starting to notice how nice it is here. Lonely Planet named the Twin Cities one of the Top 10 US Travel Destinations for 2013.

Even our suburbs don’t suck. Allegedly. I’ll have to take their word for it, I don’t go to the suburbs.

If you’re still not convinced, how about 50 reasons that Minnesota is the best state.

And our future looks awfully bright, too.

And that, my friends, is why I love it here, and why I keep coming back here, no matter how dang cold it gets in the winter.

What do you talk about after ten years?

A couple weeks ago Trek Travel held its year end meetings in Santa Barbara. At the close of our tenth year in business, nearly thirty guides and office staff gathered to recap the year, examine our processes, celebrate our successes, and brainstorm ways to further improve our product and our company as we move forward.

I have participated in our year-end meetings in each of the eight years I’ve guided with Trek Travel, and I will admit that some years are more productive than others. While I still believe that the 2011 meetings were the best we’ve ever had, this year’s meetings were great for a couple big reasons.

This is the first year that we have taken a really big picture approach to the meetings. Everything that was discussed was looked at from an overarching department level and how that affected the company on the whole. Gone was the bickering over the wording the reports we have to fill out at the end of the trip, replaced with discussions of changes we have made or have to make and how they relate to the culture and vision of the company for the future. For those of us who have been around for a while, it was a great reminder of what we’re trying to provide, and for those hired in the last year or two, it was an opportunity to understand the culture and goals of the company and how the decisions made by the office and the president of the company fit into that vision.

In stark contrast to 2011, when we had barely a dozen people at the meetings, this year we had better than half of the company in attendance at the meetings. It’s a pretty rare occasion that we all have the opportunity to get together in one place. Usually when we do it’s at a really busy time with a really packed schedule, either at return guide training in the spring or at the Tour de France. Even in those places, we don’t often all get together. Our fall meetings were an opportunity to get together, talk a little business, talk a little personal life, go for a ride, cook together, go to the beach, go out to dinner together, have a dance party, drink some beer (margaritas, wine, whiskey), and generally enjoy each other’s company. We had new guides in attendance, and we celebrated the guides who have been along for the ride for every one of our ten years. It was a great reminder that we work with an amazing and fun group of people. We all work for the same company, and we interact all year long, but our paths seldom intersect en masse.

This year’s meetings were an awesome reminder of the great group of people we have working together toward a goal of providing cycling vacations of a lifetime. Our smaller size over the years has allowed us to be much more selective about who we hire to work for Trek Travel, and this gathering was an amazing demonstration of the top notch group of people we’ve managed to hire – and more importantly retain. With this group we can continue to put forth a great product that we can all be excited about and proud of, but never truly satisfied with, as we’re all driven to make our product better than the day it was before.

It’s been fun to be a part of this company for the last eight years, and as we celebrate our first ten years in business, I look forward to what we can do in the next ten.