Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Thankful

There are many things and people I am thankful for in my personal pursuits. There are so many people that if I start naming more than a handful I will begin hurting feelings. It's not that I don't remember and feel thankful for everyone, it's just one person would get left off some written list on a blog, and be hurt. I totally understand that, so please understand why this post has a small number of people.

I'll start with the one person that would perfectly fine if I left her off, and will probably get mad when this goes public. She really has no desire to be in any spotlight, but I have to tell you what a wonderful girl I found when I was 16 years old. That's right - our first date was the day I turned 17, and we have been together ever since. That was almost 33 years ago as of this writing, and we've been married 27 years of that. Marriage is not for the faint of heart. Too many people take it lightly these days. And sometimes it just falls apart. I get it. We're not special or immune to the difficulties of marriage, and Lord knows I've been the cause of most of the hardest parts.

But Geneath, (affectionately called Neath by just about everyone close to her - it started with kids that couldn't pronounce her name) has been supportive of all my life pursuits, and this one might be the most difficult of all. She has been very patient so far with all of this even though I am gone and in the middle of the woods alone - she worries with me riding alone, but its hard to find someone that likes to go spend a full day or even two days on a bike. Anyway, she makes our household tick, and I admire her selfless way she tries to impact family and friends life in some positive way with running errands or cooking meals or just being around. She also likes to mow, bushhog, use her 12" bar Stihl chainsaw, and looking after our small herd of cows. I think I'll keep her. She is wonderful, and I love her.

Secondly, both of us are only children, and not spoiled a bit. OK, everyone says I'm spoiled but they don't say it about her. Hunter is our only child, and he has been a blessing his whole life. He and I have always been close, and from the time he was 12 to 20, as a family we were running all over the country racing dirt bikes. He was a national pro for a couple of years and loves it. Still does. But that is not why we are so proud of him. He has always been able to talk to people of all ages, since he was very young. At age 20 he bought his own trash disposal business, and with great natural marketing, customer service, and social media skills. And that is not why we are proud of him. We are proud of him because he is a responsible, productive, caring, relationship-building young man. We all tell each other we love each other on a regular basis, and that's good enough for me.

So that's it except for saying it is a short post, but there are literally dozens if not hundreds of people I could tell you about that have provided love, friendship, support, caring, and so on in our extended family. Good friends, good church friends, people I work with, and the dirty bunch of people I ride with and hang out with at Bear Creek Bikes and other places. Most of them don't smell good are not good-looking, but clean up OK about once a week. Hey, we're Appalachian Americans, and proud of it!

Happy trails! Honcho

Thursday, June 2, 2016

An unholy roller...

Of all the thanks I owe to being able to do this sport I love, there is none greater than Jesus Christ.

Uh oh, some say, a holy roller (get it? - pun intended). I am far from holy. I was born a sinner, was forgiven by Christ for my sins, as a sinner, and will remain a sinner until the day I am promoted out of this life on earth. I am no better than anyone reading this. I will never claim to be. The only claim that I make is that Jesus Christ is real and personal, and I am forgiven.

I have the same struggles in life as anyone else - balancing the demands of this life with those of eternity. I feel humbled and honored to lean on the things I believe to be true.

I get that some people reading this will go "right on", others will be skeptical, and maybe some have never even thought about it. Here's what I won't do: I won't argue God with anyone. To me it is a pointless exercise. If you are interested we can talk about it. If not, we'll talk about riding bicycles. What I will do is pray for your safety as we embark on adventures together, seek His will, and keep pedaling.

Some of you might stop reading right here. That's your choice, and not mine, to make. I might reference my Christianity from time to time, but I will never judge anyone. And it won't be the theme of my blog, though it is my guiding belief system. I know that I am no better than anyone on this earth. I respect your opinions and beliefs even if I don't agree with them, and expect the same in return. As Old Crow Medicine Show sings, "we're all in this together". If I can help anyone in some way, I will.

Happy trails!

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Inspiration - Barnabas Froystad

I hesitate before writing this, because in no way want to dishonor the memory of a fellow endurance MTB'er lost this weekend. But part of my blog, before it goes "live", was to talk about a few people that have inspired me in this adventure called endurance mountain bike racing, or bikepacking, or adventure bike racing. See, we are such a small subset, of a small subset, of a small subset, of anyone that rides bikes, that we really don't have an official name of our group really. Some people call that large group cyclists. In other words this is a pretty small group of people, and with today's technology, it is easier to stay caught up on people from literally around the globe. The unfortunate part of that is that we are not necessarily tight friends with people, or take the time to call, or even message.

So I feel close to a lot of people I have only spoken to casually a few times, especially if we share a common passion. And I was crushed yesterday to hear of the passing of Barnabas Froystad. BJ as some called him, always had a smile and a kind or supportive word for fellow bikers. I talked to him a few times before or after, or during TNGA, a grueling race across north Georgia. In fact, one time he had finished WAAYY ahead of me and was cleaned up and refreshed back at Bear Creek Bikes as I had about 18 hours to go. Had to be because he was 20 years younger, right? Could not have been preparation. Nah, he was better prepared and had youth on his side.

Anyway, Barnabas was one of my inspirations. He was all the time doing crazy big rides in Pisgah just for fun, and I loved to see his pictures and comments. I am sure he loved every minute of it. I wish I knew him better - he impacted many many people in such a positive way. You rarely know what someone is going through unless you are close, and you can recognize pain and hurt. Keep your friends, even Facebook or casual friends, in your thoughts and prayers. Pedal on in Glory Barnabas.

Monday, May 2, 2016

OK everyone this is my first attempt at blogging, so hang in there, it has to get better from here.

The first order of business is to introduce myself. My name is Mike Honcho. I was born somewhere in Jeff Williams' brain, with the help of a good friend and fellow adventurer Brent "State Farm" Nelson. We were in the middle of a two day training ride - I think in the Blue Ridge WMA near the Tellico River, and I needed a name as the 2013 TNGA roving reporter. If you know where the name came from, fantastic. If not, well, that's a story for another day. From that point on Mike Honcho became a way for me to stare long hours in the saddle, thinking up new creative ways, and hopefully humorous, to take away some of the mental and physical numbness.

Since then it has taken on a life of its own, with several hashtags and sayings that are somewhat inside jokes. I guess the hands-down winner has been #honchoup. A loose definition of that term means when the going gets tough, strap your shoes tight, take the slack out of your overalls, quit whining, and put your head down because there is work to do.

How did I get into endurance mountain biking? In 2012, I had no idea this craziness existed. Then on an evening ride with friends on a hot August night, we met a guy named Ryan Sigsby at the top of Horn Mountain on the Snake. He looked rough as a cob. We asked what he was doing and he told us the story of starting his ride at the SC/GA border. Holy cow. I was intrigued on the spot. And well, that was the beginning.

Fellow MTB'ers ask why I do this. People that don't MTB think I am a special kind of crazy. I even had one friend tell me "Hell, I don't hate myself that much." I guess it is the self-challenge, the self-dependency, and somewhat the adrenaline rush facing the unknown. Every ride is different, with special challenges and interesting people, locations, and scenery. There is something primal about being out in a sparsely populated area, pretty much alone with little modern communications and human interaction. It's hard to put it into words unless you are some type of adventurer.

I love being outside at night. I've been doing that since I was a kid. There is something magical about it to me. And I am overly concerned by nothing in the Appalachians except two-legged critters, and only a small portion of those.

So here we go. Another year of TNGA training, with a plan coming together for Tour Divide in 2017. Hopefully my ramblings can be of some help to someone out there.

Happy trails, Honcho