He looks at me with an expressionless stare, then turns away and shakes his head.
“Well, I gotta train”
Those are the only words spoken. I know he’s right.
This short exchange happened an hour into my ride today. I was hurting. I’ve ridden hard all week – pushed myself through trainer sessions that I didn’t find fun (going against my golden rule of never getting on a bike unless I’m going to have fun). I even enjoyed yesterday’s hammer around the plains on road bikes – even though I was bonking and the roads were straight, the views up to the divide were phenomenal.
Today was a different story. I felt sorry for myself for no good reason. It was a Sunday morning after all, and I’d just eaten a bacon and egg sandwich. There was no reason to be feeling bad. I pedalled my monstrosity of a training bike down the road to meet Bryan and Sam, already knowing that Bryans’ proposed route severely exceeded my three hour energy limit. We headed North. It was windy. We went a little bit west. Still windy. The brief sections going east were literally a breeze, followed by some tactical bike-sailing to get around the corners.
We’d ridden for an hour on dry single-track when Sam peeled off to go ride the road – he is a soft roady after all. Bryan and I continued to the Reservoir. It was beautiful – the sun has just escaped the high cloud, and with the wind picking the milky blue water up towards us, it was creating a fantastic shimmer on the surface. The trails at the res’ are short with a few fun turns and some punchy climbs. I certainly escaped Boulder county for a couple of minutes. It was just after this section that we stopped to eat, and I said “I might just spin home”
This is where Bryan stopped and Stared. All the powers of peer pressure were channelled into that stare. He knew he didn’t need words. He knew that look would penetrate through my facade of tiredness and self pity and hit on the true facts below.
That stare said to me “CALL YOURSELF MOUNTAIN BIKER?” more eloquently than words could have managed. I responded in kind. I saddled up and shut up. Man the fuck up and pedal your bike.
Barely five minutes later, cruising down gravel paths on a meandering path south; I was smiling in the sunshine as I watched the squall of snow and wind blowing off the top of Longs Peak high above us. I was pedalling hard and eating the half stale mini kit kats which I’d found in my room earlier, and which comprised the entirety of my sugar supply left after a hard week of training. In between dog-walker slalom and gate-opening skills practice, I realised that things have to be a little tough to be worthy, and that any form of inside activity on a sunny weekend would be sacrilege to the reasons I live in Colorado.
OK, so Boulder country gravel paths aren’t an awe inspiring adventure of the greatest kind, but its where I want to be, and its also the path to where I want to be in the summer – the recurring thought in the back of my mind; I will call it the August feeling. The feeling of being so all-conqueringly fit and healthy that nothing can get in your way. You can ride your bike all day to the highest mountains and the coolest trails; you can explore from sunrise to sunset, and do it again the next day.
As it turns out, that little path goes further than its meandering 5 mile length – its goes to all the places I want to go, and all those places will lead me to my next dreams of adventure. Sometimes adventure starts in the most unlikely of places – so you better get pedalling.