Last you heard from me I was doubting my fitness. You heard that right. Every athlete doubts their fitness at some point. It's what they do with that doubt that distinguishes some athletes over others. For me I craved a chance to test my effort and to get real honest with my ability. Labor Day Weekend in Park City, UT provided the full-frontal assault I desperately needed.
But let's back up just a bit. Let's take a 3 week picture journey together:
Leadville 100 Tandem
3rd Place 9:38:57
Revelations learned on course:
Modern bike geometry and innovations are NOT click-bait, sales-hype nonsense. They are REAL. 29" wheels, advanced suspension, lockouts, head tube angles, and all the rest make this sport much more enjoyable. Please, just trust me and buy a newer bike if you're on something resembling the bike below.
Two athletes on one bike does NOT equal double the power. Nope. Not true. Not how it works. This was much harder than I thought it'd be.
The truest of friends will turn themselves inside out for your goal. Rob is a true friend.
When it's all over, however, it's always worth it. Every time.
Anybody want a tandem MTB? Free to a good home...like hot tubs and pianos though, you gotta come get it.
Dawn to Dusk MTB Athletes who completed the LT100:
Everyone gets a buckle! Kevin finished his 1st LT100 in 10:27:53, Derrick his 2nd, Ryan's 1st LT100 in 7:56:54, and Shane's 2nd.
Brawn and ego help athletes take on new challenges and push limits. They also put athletes at the set table with only one option on the menu: humble pie. Mmmmm...tasted pretty good, no, nope it was bad. Yeah it was bad. But also good. Why does bad stuff taste good?
Breck Epic Coed Duo
7th Place Total Time 28 hrs 28 min
Revelations learned on course:
The greatest motto a racer, Elite or Beginner, can have: "I'm not going to quit." That simple statement got Abbe through the hardships of 5 challenging stages.
A vacation of bike racing, Normatec-chilling movie sessions, and more bike racing beats a beach, a farmer's market, or an amusement park. Every. Single. Time.
The back part of a race field is full of more grit, determination, and spirit than the front of the pack. They commit more time and energy on course and maintain an unexpected amount of positivity. Kudos to you all! I never get to see this part of the field and it was truly heart warming.
She is impressive. I'd marry her again.
But... I do love competition and thus registered for 2023 Solo Singlespeed at the awards banquet.
Dawn to Dusk MTB Athletes who competed in the Breck Epic:
Rick (Mens 60+), Harley (Mens 40-49), Chad (Open Male), & Abbe (Coed Duo)
I love adventuring with bikes. More than racing? I'm not sure I see the distinction between the two. Races are adventures and this year's Breck Epic had adventure written all over it. I shared my favorite MTB event with my favorite person. I wasn't focused on results just on the joy of the event. A damn fine week riding amazing trails at an unmatched event.
Ben's Bachelor Party Bike Weekend
MTB, Downhill, and Road
Activities to celebrate the bachelor:
FRI: An XCMTB loop of some secret stash downhill ripping in Idaho Springs. 17.69 miles 3,241' gain.
SAT AM: lift-accessed downhill MTB at Trestle, Winter Park. 16.35 miles.
SAT PM: XCMTB loop of Winter Park East. 17.76 miles 2,293' gain.
SUN AM: Community event: Biking for Blindness (70+ riders!) benefitting the Anchor Center for Blind Children with an added 35 mile start from Estes Park. 98.65 miles 3,668' gain.
Toss in roughly 8 Americanos, some Wagyu steak, and a great many hours of chatting and this weekend was bike-centric, friend-focused, and a damn good time. There were zero training hours logged however. The term "junk miles" can't be attached as the rides were simply amazing but what price did my fitness pay?
On to Labor Day Weekend:
So this is where we find ourselves. I've done hundreds of miles, I've logged 10's of thousands feet climbing, and I've twisted technical descents, and yet my fitness doubts remain. The Telluride 50 was my last real flex and that is now a month in the rearview mirror. Adding to my own mental fragility is the fact that my chief competitor at the Point2Point moved to the area in March and has been training on the race course with the goal of taking me down. The pressure!!
How does a racer overcome the mental valleys associated with the pursuit of results? For me it's simple: Push Start. I push start on the routine, the system, and the behaviors that have delivered results in the past. I set my meals, dial in my equipment, and get clear about my intentions.
This holiday trip Included a first time for our vanlife adventures: the dogs. We brought Mable, our year-and-a-half old chocolate lab, and Winston, our 2 year old golden retriever. Prior to this trip you could count on a single finger the amount of dog hairs in my van. 3 minutes after we pulled away from home...21,842 hairs. To date, my van kitchen has supported a single-minded singlespeeder and this weekend it'll feed the four of us. My morning routine of jazz, toast, and coffee will become toast, coffee, and bath-by-licks. Would I prefer it another way? Absolutely not. Let's party.
To the race already!
Fine, okay. I'm on it.
Unable to race any other way, I jumped off the front as soon as they said "Go!". The Men's Pro field and Singlespeed field beginning together with the rest of the 400 total racers following behind. The nearly 2 mile road/bike path segment meant to stretch out the field only reminded me that I've got some challenging competitors and it'll be a full-day's effort to come out on top.
And he competed. Dahn, a deserving competitor and made all the more deserving by being cucumber cool, stuck my rear wheel. And continued to stick. And finally I had him unstuck until I heard him grunt and realized he was restuck. This continued for nearly 30 miles! The two of us, wheel-to-wheel, charging up punchy steep sections, long gradual sections, tight singletrack descents, and twisty trails as we made our way through 2 of the 4 total ski resorts featured on the course. Finally, as we approached the first Aid Station and he admitted he was stopping for his bottle drop, I saw an opening. Competitive racers can stop for their bottle drop and return to course in less than 15 seconds so the opening was slight at best, but it was the little bit I needed to develop a strategy. As I entered Aid Station #1 I buried myself into an attack effort. Bypassing any assistance I took to the next few miles of trail with fervor, hoping to drop Dahn for a final time.
And there he is again. I still am not sure how he accomplishes his bridges (that's returning from behind to a former place in the field/peloton). I didn't let up pace and I didn't make any mistakes so how is he able to catch back up? This question can be kryptonite to a racer's psyche. 30 miles in and a group of the age category riders who started 2 minutes behind us had caught our wheels. The first of 4 riders passed me on a small bit of double-track and I stuck his wheel in what was another threshold effort to drop Dahn. The 3 riders behind me gave a buffer between the two of us and I charged ahead for the final time. My lead grew from seconds to a couple of minutes and the race shifted to me against the course with a side dish feeling of being hunted from behind.
Remember the speedy Aid Station stops I referenced? They are even better when your wife and friend are there holding your second Orange Mud pack and a bottle of cold water. My total race time was 7:37:04 and my riding time was 7:36:29. Mathnasium wizards, you're correct, that's a stop of only 35 seconds to change packs, swap a bottle, chug 30 oz of water and get going again. 52 miles in and now reloaded for the final push. Let's Go!
The Park City Point2Point course is a mountain biker's course. Nearly all of the miles are on singletrack. Nearly all of the singletrack goes up or down hill, no easy flat miles. The course is full of rocks, roots, steeps, and loose trail. You've gotta be a mountain biker. The next 25 miles challenged every bit of MTB prowess I've developed. By the final several miles my hands had staged a hunger-strike-eque revolt. Rendered nearly useless I clapped my floppy palms over my handlebars and held on for the rodeo. I scrolled deeper into my Wahoo computer to see if I was really, like really really, at the top of the final climb. Only when my eyes grabbed onto the Olympic torch statue did I recognize the finish line location. Not knowing Dahn's position, and knowing the finish was within site, I turned the screws on my legs and punched to the end. Cruising through that finish line provided me that confirmation I had been seeking for more than a month. I do have it. I am fit. Hell. Yes.
Here is why I write, and implore you to read and share, these stories: nobody is immune to doubt and insecurity. I've learned the solution to an emotional, or mental, challenge is rarely an emotional or mental trick. I've learned it can be much simpler than that. To overcome my doubts I leaned into that third arena, the physical. I challenged my thinking at the source. If my fitness caused doubt then I'll test the fitness. I'll put myself on the line and see if my doubts and insecurities are real or self-made. At this race, this time, they were self-made. I proved for myself, to myself, and by myself (yeah plus that sweet aid station help) my truth. There lies beauty in knowing your truth and a greater beauty in being vulnerable enough to seek that truth yourself. Cross a finish line, having put it all out there, and you'll know who you are and what you stand for. It ain't about bike racing my friends.
Park City Point2Point
1st Place Singlespeed