Adventure by Bike

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In October of 2015 Brett Davidson and I took off, on mountain bikes from Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-a-Way in North Georgia. Our Mission was to scout the Georgia section of the Eastern Continental Divide route with an end goal of riding the Florida divide route and then onto Key west. On day ten, just outside of Orlando, some miscommunication on my part lead to a crash which left Brett with some ligament damage in his knee as well as some open wounds. After being advised by the doctor to not continue on into the remote sections that were ahead, our journey was cut short. We made it 800miles and vowed to come back to finish the final 600mi.Kearns-TJ-00627

Fast forward 3.5 months and we are now 24hrs away from starting our journey to complete the ride. I am beyond stoked to finally get back on the bike and finish. Daydreaming of endless miles of dirt roads/sand/singletrack and questionable dietary decisions have been common the past 2 weeks. I can say that I am a little nervous about some of the flooding that has been going on in Florida recently. Pictures of riders racing the Huracan 350 last week showed chest deep water in spots and stories of hypothermia after long days of riding in wet clothes sounded not so fun but that all part of the adventure I suppose.

Kearns-TJ-5428I am however stoked to be running some new gear on the bike for this trip. Cane Creek was kind enough to set me up with a Thudbuster ST seat post and Industry Nine came through with some of their new 29+ wheels which I am not sure I can say the name of yet. Maxxis hooked it up with some 29×3 Chronicles and I am super stoked to be representing LightHeart Gear’s amazing Tent and Rain Gear.

KrampusOverall I am feeling super positive about this trip and can’t wait to make it Mile 0 in the Keys. Weather is looking spot on and will be a nice change from the cold up here in Asheville.

Ill be updating Instagram (@timothyjamesphoto) daily with images and stories from the road. Looking forward to the adventure!

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Ramble on Vol.3

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Nomad

So its been awhile since I last wrote and it is much needed for sure. I have been very lucky over the past month to have traveled/drove across the states from Georgia to Colorado on to Arizona and California. As I close out my month on the road and prepare to fly back to the south east I am sitting here reflecting on how awesome my life is and what great friendships I have. Colorado was definitely the highlight of my journey and t I did a ton of exploring before I had to “work” for a bit. My good friend Billy lives in Montezuma Colorado and I got to spend 5 days hanging out with him and exploring the back roads around the high country of the state. We have been friends since middle school and both enjoy the outdoors and have a passion for exploring what is un known for us. The saying for the time we spent hanging out was “I don’t know where we are going but we are going somewhere”. That pretty much stay ed true the whole time. Whenever we were faced with a decision on which way to go, the question was always “Well have you been that way?” If not that’s where we headed. I guess that is the way I’ve been living my life this year. Not really set on one path but trying to explore as many different aspects of life as possible to figure what I want out of my short time spent here.

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Lately I have been in a struggle with my photography. I was all amped up earlier this year on it and seemed to be making good progress making a name for myself but as of late I just haven’t had the motivation or the creativity to do it. For me the challenging part is not producing the images. That comes easy to me. I don’t really even have to think about it anymore I just go out and shoot and come back with a fair amount of keepers. The hard part for me is getting work. Ill be the first to admit that I don’t really try that hard at finding work and most of the time it finds me but things can get interesting when, what little bills I have come in. I guess the inner control freak in me keeps me from wanting to work for others or maybe its the disdain for authority figures either way its a lose lose situation. I hat when I sound like I am bitching about it because in the grand scheme of things its not a big deal just something that is constantly on my mind except when I am on my bike.

Ah… The Bike… The place I go to forget about EVERYTHING and to also figure things out. The thing about it is that when I’m really focused on riding all the time everything else in my life is put to the side and the ride is all I think about. I recently have grown quite fond of the idea of ultra endurance riding. So much so that my first endeavor will include a ride from Atlanta,GA to Key West,FL with a good friend of mine Brett Davidson. Brett and I share a passion for bike touring and a passion for coming up with the grossest route possible. Maybe we are crazy or maybe we just like to suffer. Either way its bound to be a helluva time and we will both be documenting our antics along the way. This trip will be a good warm up for The Tour Divide next year not in the sense of the elevation gain but more in the sense of being in the saddle for 100+ miles for 10-12 days. The route we are choosing is set once we get to Florida as we will be taking the Florida Divide route that was played out by Brett’s buddy Karlos Bernhart. Getting down to the start of that in Fargo,Ga is a different story. Im sure we will be doing a fair amount of wandering the back roads of south Georgia on our journey and frankly I am looking forward to getting lost for a bit. Plan is to finish the FL divide in Flamingo,FL and then ride up through the everglades to Homestead and down to Key West to finish out our journey.KearnsT-9734

I guess the concept of these trips is what gets me hooked and I never really think about the reality of it. It literally consumes me and when its time to go its time to go whether or not I am truly prepared for it. This “By the seat of my pants” living mentality has truly lead me to some great experiences and I feel that it has helped me avoid the monotony of everyday life that I know does not work for me. I left the 9-5 world almost a year ago and it was the best thing I have done for myself.

I read an article the other day that mentioned a lot of people think that Ultra Endurance Athletes are running from something. Whether it be an abusive childhood, fear of people or not wanting to grow up. I can see this as being true and I feel like people that like to sit in the preverbal “Pain Cave” for long periods of time have been hardened mentally by some sort of long term suffering. To me the hardest part of riding for long periods of time is the mental game. Once I lose my mental game I can’t bet on the fact my physical game will falter soon. I start to worry about things/think negatively and then all of the sudden I forget to eat/drink because I was consumed/lost in my head and boom a blow up physically and spend the next couple hours suffering hard both mentally and physically. I feel like the Tour Divide will be the ultimate test of all around strength .

All out of words for the time being. For now ponder this quote by the late great Hunter S Thompson.
Freedom is something that dies unless it’s used. 

Hunter S. Thompson

Restlessness

Home

The road. A place where I have solitude and a place where I have time to think.

Earlier this year I drove a Smart car from Seattle,Wa to Scottsdale,Az and it was one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Why would I drive, what is basically an oversized go cart, 1426 miles over three days? Well a good friend of mine was moving from Vancouver,Bc to Scottsdale,Az and long story short it was cheaper for me to drive it then to ship and who doesn’t wanna have a free adventure across the western US? Anyways that isn’t the point of this rambling and to be honest I’m not sure what the point is yet but maybe there will be one in the next few paragraphs.

Anyways back to it…THE ROAD.

I have never been a fan of driving and I guess growing up in Atlanta,GA will do that to you. I mean the constant stop and go and stop and go can make you go nuts. It can take and hour to go 10 miles at 2o’clock in the afternoon on a Thursday. I mean come on, don’t you folks have jobs or something you should be at? Anyways… After I got use to the handling of the 70hp monster of a car it was relatively easy to drive although anything above 75mph required 2 hands on the wheel and the semi trucks seemed to be playing a game of “Who can make the Smart car run off the road first by getting as close as possible when passing”. I was not amused.

You see a lot of crazy/cool stuff on the road and I guess that is part of its allure. You never really know what is gonna happen. From people singing their hearts out using their phone as a “Microphone” to amazing landscapes to complete melt downs of Semi-Truck motors in the middle of Nevada. Karma’s a bitch truckers ;)!

Melt Down

Spending 10hrs a day by yourself in a tiny car gives you a lot of time to think,plan and generally reflect on life. Being surrounded by amazing scenery the entire time didn’t hurt either. There is something magical about driving through the Great Basin where there are 100+ mile stretches of no stores, no signs and nothing trying to “Sell” you useless bullshit that you don’t need. Quite peaceful indeed. This is where I found my love for the road and driving long distances while taking in the beauty of the american west.The Great Basin

These new experiences have only fueled my fire for adventure. I long for the open road. I get restless when I am in one place for more the a few days. I started a new rule this spring, after returning from this west coast tour, that involved not staying in one place for more than 10 days. For the most part I have stuck to it pretty well although I did spend almost a month at Mulberry Gap Mountain Bike Get-A-Way but that place is the exception. It is a place set in the Cohutta Wilderness area in North Georgia that caters to Mountain bikers and pretty much breeds outdoor adventures. Love that place! It is also a rad place to train for big miles on the bike i.e. Tour Divide training. I highly recommend the place and the people there are like family to me. You guys rock! More on them later for sure.Mulberry ROCKS!This brings me to the next step in my pursuit of happiness. Living out of my car. As of a few weeks ago I officially have no “home”. Still coming to terms with that but honestly I have been thinking about making the jump to car life for awhile. Im never home anyways so why not simplify thing a bit more and kick it in the car. Now its not as bad as it seems. Its not like a spend every night sleeping in the car or camping as rad as that would be but I do have spots scattered about where I can couch surf for a day or two but I try to minimize that as much as possible. I have some of the best friends a guy could ask for and I am thankful for everyone of them. Making this transition has been a little unnerving but the more I think about it the more I want it. I have had a surprising amount of support on this endeavor which makes things like replacing your rear tires prematurely  because they wore the inside edges out from carrying your life in the back of car seem a little easier to deal with but hey that’s life! Plans are to have a Sprinter van or some sort of livable vehicle by the end of the year and start traveling around the south west this winter.

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“Nothing is more damaging to the adventurous spirit within a man than a secure future. The very basic core of a man’s living spirit is his passion for adventure. The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.”
― Jon Krakauer

The first time is just awkward…..

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……Where to start…. 29, Photographer, Cyclist, Adventurer, Musician… blah blah blah you know the drill. I guess this blog is some what of a journal or an additional outlet for me or maybe I just like to read my thought. Feel free to comment and give feedback.  Ive never done this before and the first time is always awkward….

2014 was quite the whirlwind of ups and downs consisting of moves from Georgia to North Carolina twice, Relationship ending, jobs coming and going and last but not least broken bones. As much as it seems like they were all negatives I did have quite a few positive things happen and met some incredible people. Adventures were had in abundance and some of my best images were captured this year. I have had some incredible people come into my life and have had some poisonous ones leave. I have seen the highest of highs and definitely the lowest of lows but most importantly this year has shown me what is most important to me, TO BE HAPPY.

Life, to me, is not about money, careers, materialistic bullshit. Life is about adventure, sharing moments with your friends, helping people, learning(never stop learning), exploration and new experiences. I feel like a lot of people get lost in society’s rat race to achieve material success. You know the “I have to work 65/70/80hrs a week to afford a 5 bedroom house, that my wife works tirelessly to keep clean, just so I can come home, eat dinner, go to sleep and repeat all to wake up one day when I am 50 wondering where has my life gone?”. You always hear about people close to death saying they wished they worked less and lived more and Im determined to do the latter of the two options. Its not that I am lazy or that I don’t wanna work, I just don’t feel the need to spend a majority of my time chasing someone else’s dream. I have decided to live my life on my own terms and see where the adventure takes me.

So what better way to do that than combine my two passions in life, riding my bike and photography. I have been riding bikes since I was 2 and mountain biking since I was 9. To say I have an addiction is a massive understatement. Photography, on the other hand, is relatively new in my life as I started about 3 years ago now and have progressed rather quickly by devoting much of my free time to it. I feel like combining these two passions will take me places and lead me to experiences that I will never forget as well as allowing me to chase my dream at the same time. I know the road will not be easy but I like a good challenge and pushing myself is about the only way to keep the demons at bay.

I was talking with a friend, about doing some bike packing this summer, when the topic of the TDR(Tour Divide Race) came up. I had watched the movie, that was produced in 2010 on the race, and it had peaked my interest but at the time I was heavy into riding fast and hard with no desire to ride more then 50miles much less the 2745 miles and over 200,000 feet of climbing that is the TDR. Derek, hailing from the great state of Virginia, said he had always wanted to ride the Virginia Mountain Bike Trail, a route that consist’s of 480 miles, 65,000 feet of climbing and is 56% single track. I was instantly on board with this plan and I suggested we do it as a group. He lit up like a fat kid that had just found a piece of candy in his pocket. His enthusiasm was infectious and I was glad to have a like minded person to plan this adventure with.

So we started planning for the VMBR, as well as some massive nerding out on what bikes/gear we were going to build for this adventure, but In the back of my head I knew I wanted something bigger, something grander, something I could really get lost and immersed in. The Tour Divide Race. Just the thought of being out in the middle of nowhere immersed in beauty of the american west for a month straight gave me goose bumps. I love that feeling. Its like laying in bed at night, after a big ride in Pisgah, reliving that moment when you cleaned the right side of The Devil’s Staircase on the Bennett Gap trail or narrowly missed balling it up at mach chicken down Black Mountain. I live for those moments and cannot wait to live the moments I have dreamed about on the Tour Divide.That is all for now and hopefully ill be inspired to write again soon.

Catch Ya on the Flip Side,

TJ