Goodbye, Adios, Adieu

clementine ending

I’m afraid this is the end of SteepClimbs as a regular blog.

With all this injury history over the last couple of years, I’ve contemplated pulling the plug many times. The only reason I haven’t is because, surprisingly enough, people still visit. Traffic has dropped slightly from where it was when I was riding and posting regularly, but not as much as I expected. Most of the people are reading the Climbs section, Rides, or Routes. Why stop something that many people find useful?

The answer is that I’m not. That information is going to remain up, but there will be no new posts and I will not be actively maintaining the site. At some point it will become outdated, but it should be useful information for many.

The reason is because I’ve finally come to terms with the fact that this part of my life is over. The injury to my hip went way beyond my worst expectations. Even now, more than a year later, I am facing the possibility of getting a resurfacing or replacement sometime this year. As much as I appreciate positive thoughts and encouragement, that’s not something I want to blog about. When I do get better and am able to ride, and someday I will, it will not be close to the level that I was at two years ago. Cycling will always be part of my life, but never like it was. I’ll probably go slowly, mix it up with other weight bearing activities, and most likely will never be the climber I was before. That might sound fatalist, but after 2.5 years fighting an injury, I’m fine with that. In fact, I am completely happy with this decision, and have found other activities to occupy my time.

Through this website, I’ve met countless friends, truly great people, far too many to mention. I can tell you one thing, that aside from a bad apple here and there, cyclists are people of incredible character. People forget that it is a social activity. Many have helped me by taking a pull when I’m tired, and I’ve done the same for others. That’s just what you do. Because of this website, probably more people than usual would be aware of this injury process. I’ve received some valuable advice that I have used. The fact that the injury has persisted has nothing to do with anything I’ve done or any of the advice I’ve been given. It’s simply a rough injury.

Many of you I already have met, and some have connected through email, social media and elsewhere. I’ll probably talk some about my progress on my personal Facebook. If you would like a friend request, feel free to drop me a note at the SteepClimbs page. Or you can find me through normal search channels. I’m not that hard to find.

You are welcome to join our 30 Day Fitness Challenges. If you have a Google Plus account, just drop me a note here and I’ll get you an invite.

Thank you for following along this journey.

(Edit: Posted this to Facebook as a response to all the kind words)

Last word: when I pressed the ‘publish’ button this morning, I intended to walk away and not look back. I’ve been injured awhile and didn’t expect many people to notice. The outpouring of support, thanks, well wishes and encouragement has been unexpected and overwhelming.

I never expected to build something that would be interesting, helpful, or inspiring to people. A lot of people have said thanks. I would say “you’re welcome,” but “asante kushukuru” would be a better response. If you look it up in the Swahili-English dictionary, it translates as “you’re welcome” but that isn’t accurate. They don’t have a matching phrase in the language. The literal translation is “thank you for thanking me.” So, thank you for thanking me, because even though I’ve put in a lot of work, blood and sweat, it has been a true pleasure.

55 responses to “Goodbye, Adios, Adieu

  • bgddyjim

    I am truly sorry to hear about you setback brother. If it’s all the same, I’ll hang onto your number so we can do a lunch-ride one of these years whilst I’m down on vacation. The bright side is, because you’ll be taking it easier, maybe our wives will be able to come along and we can go out for dinner and catch a movie afterwards. If the lunch ride doesn’t pan out, dinner and a movie will be just as good.

    Heal fast my friend.

    • aaronwest

      What’s funny is that my wife has mentioned on numerous occasions that she misses my little cycling retreats because she used to come along and see some cool places. We’ll still be seeing a lot of those places. Please do give me a shout or drop me a note when you firm up plans. Even if I’m not riding (and I might be by then), we’ll be glad to make an excuse to come up there. I think you and I have plenty of common interests outside of cycling.

  • Bike Noob

    Sorry to see the end of an era,Aaron. I enjoyed following your blog when you were tackling new climbing challenges, and I agonized with it when you became injured. Thank you for your continued interest in my blog. I wish you the best as you recover and resume biking some day.

    • aaronwest

      Hey Noob, you’re one of the people that inspired me to start a blog in the first place, so I have to thank you. I’m still subscribed and still reading, plus I have a rooting interest in Don’s recovery.

  • bgddyjim

    Reblogged this on Fit Recovery and commented:
    The Cycling Blog World is losing a good one. Aaron and I have been in touch on and off for years. He suffered a hip injury a couple of years ago and it’s simply not healing well so he’s throwing in the towel on his blog.

    For the cycling community, should you desire a climbing vacation in the southern US (Tennessee, the Carolinas etc) be sure to check out his posts, they’re a gold mine of ideas.

  • Thomas Clayton

    Aaron, we will always be in touch. Yes we all should remember life is full of so many different activities and adventures. That is awesome that you now have the degree and passion. This Spring I plan to get back into, yes, gardening πŸ™‚ Both flowers and veggies! Whoda thought!

    • aaronwest

      Hey Tom, we will definitely be in touch. It does not surprise me that you’d be into gardening because I know how much you love the beauty of nature. I’ve actually thought about heading up there for some hiking this summer and maybe you could join me for a jaunt up Table Rock. It’s been too long.

  • doug

    Very sorry to hear things did not work out but it’s nice to see you’re rolling with life, whatever it may bring, instead of against it. Doug

  • John Michos

    Aaron–sorry to hear the news, but I’m glad you have a lot of other really neat interests. I hope your hip recovers. I’ll check out your movie site, but my wife hates cerebral movies. I try to sneak them in once i a while. Thanks for your help with last year Blue Ridge trip and all your posts. Bye for now. John Michos

    • aaronwest

      Hey John. Coincidentally, you were with me on one of my last big rides. I’ll always be glad to help if needed. If your wife hates cerebral movies, then she (and maybe you) would hate my movie site. And that’s fine. It is cerebral and a bit academic, but it is something I enjoy.

      • John Michos

        I enjoy the cerebral movies, but usually the older/classic ones–that’s why I try to sneak them in!! I’ll check out your site. Good luck with your endeavors!

      • aaronwest

        In that case you’ll probably find some that you like .. thanks again and likewise!

  • Sandra

    Sorry to hear you’re leaving the cycling blog world, but I understand your reason. Congratulations on the History and Film degree (this is my other blog, where I don’t actually post: I look forward to following your film blog. I actually teach a course about Western History through film πŸ™‚
    Best wishes on your healing–I am also not the athlete I used to be either and am coming to terms with it. Your shift just came too early. I’m so sorry about that.

    • aaronwest

      It’s amazing what you don’t know about the people you encounter. That is so cool that we have that in common. Nice blog! I’d probably love to take your course, but I’d also be the annoying ‘know it all’ student. πŸ˜‰

      Would be curious what that syllabus looks like actually.

      Thanks for all the encouragement!

      • Sandra

        I love *know it all* students. πŸ™‚ My faves.

        Maybe some day I’ll blog about it, but I used to play college softball, everyone called me “Steady Eddie” because I never missed anything in the outfield. Then I got moved to first base, so I took up golf and played softball until no one asked anymore. Luckily (?), I had to start care-taking for my Dad who developed Alzheimer’s so I didn’t really have time to mourn losing the only sport I was ever good at. That is a *really* hard thing, so I totally get that. At least I got to quit on my own terms, and at least you can still cycle, eventually. I cannot play ball by myself 😦

        So I took up triathlon at 46 and will never ever beat anyone. I was never a runner, swimmer, and only a once-a-month slow city trails cyclist. I love it, but wow, reordering goals and priorities is fucking hard. Sorry, but it is. Demoralizing. Depressing. Nothing anyone says makes it better.

        So, I just do it for me. Triathlon is a lonely sport–mostly because I cannot keep up with all the younger people around me who have been runners/cyclists, so group rides turn into, “Hey, go ahead, I’ll just catch up when I can”, but never do. So I quit the group rides. It’s not that I cannot push myself, they’re all 20 years younger and 40-70 pounds lighter. Cannot compete with that.

        Yipes, anyway. I love teaching πŸ™‚ Some of the films I use are:
        Mystery of Chaco Canyon (or Those Who Came Before)
        Cabeza de Vaca
        Black Robe
        Treasure of the Sierra Madre (as a conversation about treasure seeking)
        Stagecoach (not because it’s good, but because it was one of the first–good conversation about poor representation of native peoples)
        Little Big Man (of course)
        High Noon (original)
        The Man Who Shot Liberty Vallance (duh!–awesome film about shift from territory/statehood, ranchers/farmers,etc)
        I froget what else, but there’s one about Railroads
        One of the Little House on the Prairie shows
        and a few others that get into the 20th century

        Awesomesauce. Would love to hear more suggestions πŸ™‚

      • aaronwest

        Starting being fit at our age isn’t easy, but I had been following your adventures for awhile. With this injury, I sort of stopped reading most other athletic blogs, so no offense.

        So you’re a big John Ford fan then. In case you didn’t notice, the headline graphic of this post is from My Darling Clementine 1946. I’m also a fan of Ford and Classic Hollywood, but I like everything, whether old, new, American, or foreign.

        If you ever do blog about it, let me know.

        Sorry about your dad. I’ve had friends that have had to deal with Alz and it is very difficult and tragic to see the mind go like that.

  • Easel Roberts

    I’m not a long time reader but have appreciated the frankness and honesty of how you’ve faced into and dealt with your challenge. Just a thought. I came back to cycling after the orthopede “threw me” off the soccer pitch. After a 10 year playing stint and a 15 year officiating career he said I could walk in my retirement or not. The choice was mine. It took a couple of years and a determined friend but I found cycling 15 years ago. There is something else out there. Choose to enjoy the journey.

    • Kelli

      Hi Aaron, It has been, and will continue to be great to follow your adventures no matter where they take you. Our ride up Mt Evans will always be one of my favorites, even though the decent was terrifying as I thought I might slide right into a giant pothole! It’s even more fun seeing all you and your wife do together. Amazing couple and life! Take care my friend, and I’ll see you on FB. Kelli Jennings

    • aaronwest

      Thank you, Easel (what a cool name!). This isn’t the end because I have age on my side, but it is going to be an extended hiatus. Thank you for the encouragement. Hopefully I’ll have some of the same good luck that you did.

  • Kelli

    Hi Aaron, It has been, and will continue to be great to follow your adventures no matter where they take you. Our ride up Mt Evans will always be one of my favorites, even though the descent was terrifying as I thought I might slide right into a giant pothole! It’s even more fun seeing all you and your wife do together. Amazing couple and life! Take care my friend, and I’ll see you on FB. Kelli Jennings
    (Also, accidently entered this already under Easel’s comment – and I can’t remove it! Sorry, I was on my phone) πŸ™‚

    • aaronwest

      LOL, no problem, Kelli, and I doubt Easel was offended.

      That ride up Evans was a BLAST! One of my favorite times on the bike even if my fitness was zapped by the elevation. Believe it or not, that was probably my peak fitness, but riding in Colorado is a different story entirely.

      You’ve been an immense help to me and I have a feeling that isn’t over. It’s been fun watching your (and your family’s) growth through the years.

  • john k

    Hi Aaron,

    If its a hip replacement you need then dont hesitate any further. I had mine replaced which got me back in the saddle. The only question you will have after surgery is why you waited so long. Thanks for all you’ve done to promote cycling.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, John. We’re not positive yet whether a replacement is necessary, and there are other underlying issues that could complicate it. This process could be long. If it requires a new hip, then I’m all for that. A number of friends have had replacements and I’ve heard hardly any complaints from them. That might be my solution, and if it works, maybe down the road I’ll start blogging some adventures again. Thanks for reading, John.

  • tuckamoredew

    Sorry to see you go, and my best wishes in the fullest recovery possible from your injury. If you can resume cycling at some point, you may still find pleasure in slower, moderate riding even if it doesn’t lead to the Haute Route.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, and that is one of my main intentions for closing the blog. While it’s nice to have built something that people appreciate, it shouldn’t be out there as a motivator for me to go at higher intensity than my body can handle. I won’t say that I’ll never re-launch this blog, but it’ll be once I am fully healthy and without risk. Will keep following yours.

  • Thomas Clayton

    Hiking, that will be great! Of course (you know me πŸ™‚ ), I have hiked all the trails in Paris Mtn, Caesars Head, Jones Gap, Table Rock, Dupont, and lots in the Pisgah!

  • Gerry

    Aaron, I’ll be sorry to see you go, but I know you’ll be back in the saddle and then that ‘creative outlet’ will spark up again. Keep the site for that inevitable rainy day. A bientΓ΄t mon ami.

    • aaronwest

      Thanks, Gerry. Probably one day I’ll be back. I’ll live those steep climbs through you in the meantime. I’ll definitely be in southern France some day. The question is whether for a film festival or bike race.

  • gr8smokieszeke

    Happy Trails, my friend! I’ve enjoyed your writing immensely! I won’t say good bye – just “until later!”

  • Paul Nowicki

    thanks for your very good and informative web site, your love of cycling is inspiring, as is your tenacity, positive attitude, and strength of character. I hope things work out well for you, wish you the best, sorry for your tough injury. good luck , god speed!

    • aaronwest

      Thank you Paul for the kind words. I just edited the original post as a response to all the thanks and well wishes, and I think it is a fitting way to respond to yours. “Thank you for thanking me.”

  • Tom Maier

    Hi Aaron, I’ve enjoyed your blog tremendously for the past four years and I still check in randomly to see how your recovery is going. I just read the news I didn’t want to hear, but I’m glad that you have found peace with your decision. My wife and I participated in many of the same rides as you back in 2011/12 when we were living in Asheville. I never had the chance to officially meet you in person, though I did show up in a couple of your event photos. Thank you for sharing your cycling passion with cyclists from all over the world. We still carry your passion for steep climbs. Tom in Calgary, Alberta, Canada.

    • aaronwest

      Tom, too bad we weren’t aware of each other to meet. I kept the blog quiet on rides unless someone became part of the experience and would be blogged about. That said, I did get a lot of “Are you the steep climbs guy?” and I did enjoy that.

      Again, thanks for the kind words and enjoy the beautiful Canadian country.

  • Jim Brennan

    A thank you in Swahili, you are truly amazing. You show such range and grace that even though ending SteepClimbs, you will comtinue to attract followers. Wishing you good health and success in all that you do, Aaron, and I look forward to your film reviews.

    • aaronwest

      Funny that you say that, as I did gain new followers through this whole ordeal. Not going to be much to follow here. πŸ™‚
      At least not for awhile until I get a lot better.

      I appreciate your support and inspiration here and everywhere.

  • Jen

    I hope that you have many more adventures as grand as this one has been waiting on the road in front of you. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself with us.

    • aaronwest

      Jen, life is full of adventures and I’ll have plenty. Even if I don’t have the physical ability to do what you do, I’ll live vicariously through you and others. Thanks for the kind words!

  • Karen Rakestraw

    Sorry to see you go, but understand completely, since my own injuries have certainly changed how I relate to cycling. To be honest, I am quite happy that you have other creative outlets. Life changes and we have to (get to) change with it, sometimes it’s hard to let go of one thing to grasp even tighter to the next thing, but in a way this seems more natural than standing in one place. I sure have appreciated your hard work, and now appreciate your honesty. Best of luck to you!

  • kevinmayne

    I am glad to know that the cycling blogging community is small enough that we can get to know something of the personalities, the hopes, fears and travails of our fellows. It is such a shame to see someone drop out, especially under these circumstances.

    So even though I am only an occasional visitor I am pleased to have followed the great rides before the injury and of course your determination to keep progressing.

    Good luck with everything.


  • dwb

    You mentioned getting a replacement hip. I had my first replaced hip in 2004. Getting my second one in about a week. I began rode biking in 2008. Last year I rode 6,500 miles, including some big climbing challenges. No one knows about my replaced hip unless I tell them. If you go that route, keep in mind that cycling does not have to be a thing of the past.

  • Kevin Pearl

    Aaron, very sorry to hear this news … Thanks for including me in the AOMM blog a few years ago, that ride transformed my cycling lifestyle. I now find more joy in grand climbing rides than any others, the views and feelings I experience en route to glorious summits are how I imagine heaven will feel! Also thanks for keeping the site up because you’re right, it is very useful info and inspiring. Keep in touch, I look forward to another ride with you one day friend.

  • Ben Foxworth

    I can’t believe I am so late finding this. Read it with deep dismay, but I have no criticism of your decision, and wish nothing but the best in all life endeavors. Beautiful spring!

  • Bucky

    We will miss your blog.
    Even though I ride a motorcycle instead of a pedal bike, I have used your reports to find and ride some interesting places. Just today, I visited Brasstown Bald, in fact. My legs did not burn on the way up, however, for some reason. LOL.

  • busydadcycling

    Big shout out to you Aaron. Thank you so much for the wealth of info on your blog, about so many climbs, rides, routes, etc that I have just begun to discover. Your site has been a reference and an inspiration for me. Life is always changing … successful people adapt and rebound. You are strong and will do well – many prayers to you in your new adventures!

    • aaronwest

      Appreciate the nice comments. I’m glad I left the site up and running as it still is used as a resource for a lot of people, like yourself.

      Yes, I will adapt and rebound. There has been some progress since I made this last post, but there’s still a wait. I’m optimistic that I’ll be steep climbing again someday.

      • Ben Foxworth

        Progress is what matters, even if it is slow. Great quality of life in the meantime! And know that so many of your postings on these great climbs have a timeless quality, like the climbs themselves.

        Best to you, good friend.

      • aaronwest

        Thanks, Ben. Since this site has been shut down, I’ll give you guys the latest. I’m currently on a 6-8 month wait for a new hip. It’s taking awhile for a couple reasons. The medicine world moves slow, but also I was referred to an expert and a procedure that should allow me plenty of athletic ability. It’ll take time to regain fitness and I may never get to where I was, but I will be back. For right now I’m just waiting it out and enduring. And as always, I’m still staying positive.

  • busydadcycling

    Reblogged this on busydadcycling and commented:
    Respect to the man of who has inspired me to climb higher and ride further than I ever thought possible…

  • reanimated

    Please add another voice of sincere appreciation that you have left this site up — it has been incredibly useful, and I suspect it will be for a long time!

    Really sorry to read about your hip. I used to ride bikes many years ago and then for various reasons I “retired” and moved on to other things. Now, just when I started doing pretty well as a trail runner, a hip injury put a complete stop to my running and I have spent the last year starting to ride bikes again, of all things.

    I am really interested in the Blue Ridge Breakaway and Pisgah Monster Cross, but I am unsure. Twenty years ago I did rides like Pilot mountain, B2B, and mountains-of-misery using a 39/25. But now the best I can come up with for my current bike is a 39/27 and I don’t know if that is reasonable anymore for rides like BRB? Also, I am terrified of the descents now as the only road bike I have is a little twitchy and that last descent in NRN looks like of sketchy looking at google maps….

    Thanks for all the great information!

    • aaronwest

      Hey there, thank you very much for incredibly kind comment. I am glad that people find the site useful. Eventually it will return in full form once my hip is replaced (on a waiting list currently).

      As for BRB, I can tell you that it is a tremendously well organized ride. The early climbs have some steep sections. The later, bigger climbs are longer and not as steep. Did I say long? They are long. I think one is 10 miles and the other 8. The second is a Parkway climb which means 8% the entire way up.

      The descents are glorious. The parkway descents are just fun and not very scary at all. You’ll still enjoy them even if you decide not to bomb down the hill. There’s something to be said for taking in the scenery. The final descent to Maggie Valley has some steep hills and a little bit of traffic. It is mostly straight so if you are scared, you could take it at a moderate pace.

      If you are worried about the century, I hear the metric is a lot of fun and still a good challenge.

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