As I roll up to the park where Jess is waiting to shuttle me home, I simply say to her, “meet me by the river,” and keep pedaling by. I can ride to river access in less time than she’ll drive there.
I’ve just rolled back onto pavement in Telluride after a torturous ride. It’s 72 degrees and sunny, almost fall, I usually reserve a dip in 40 degree water for the unbearable heat of summer. I submerge myself anyway. It’s amazing how quickly a Colorado stream can re-energize your system. Gotta get out now!
I am so over this ride. But why? It’s not a huge ride. Respectable, but far from epic. A couple thousand feet of climbing, six to seven mile traverse, then finishing with a descent that would make the purest XC rider wish for 6 inches of travel and larger disc rotors. The weather is perfect. Not hot, just comfortable. Short sleeves, shorts, pleasant in the sun and shade. Across the valley you get views of 14ers Mt. Wilson and Wilson Peak. Gorgeous.
However, I find myself pushing my bike up 2 miles of direct fall. I’m happy to be out in the woods, but wishing my legs could power my pedals around the crank. I heard this was a good ride. I was told it was a popular ride. I’m thinking it’s a nice hike.
I’m not out of shape. The first 1,000 feet passed pleasantly. Then a mellow singletrack loop. At the trailhead I split from the group to find the trail we missed on our first lap as they head back to prepare for a wedding I don’t have to attend. As soon as I’m riding on my own I seem to find I can’t keep up with my own pace. I ride till my legs are toast. Then I get off, and instead of taking a break, I push. The trail is steep, very steep. Could I ride it? I remount, pedal twice, nothing left. Push. I take a break, then continue on. Ninety seconds of rest for 2 hours of riding? Push.
The social aspect of riding, skiing and many outdoor pursuits fits me. Some say I like to talk to much, but the thing is, that’s my rest time. I need to see someone else stopped, whether I’m just catching up, or they are. Then I remember. Stop. Rest.
Some might think I’m just a masochist. But those people don’t know me . I have never been accused of sandbagging anyone. Some might wonder why I don’t stop and enjoy the views when I’m out there alone? Believe me, I do enjoy them, while I’m moving. Self-reflection, pondering, spiritual-renewall I do all of that in motion. Stopping seems a waste on solo missions. I do this same thing skiing at the resort. Endless bumps, stopping when my pants reach my knees, or my quads just give out. I last half as long skiing solo than skiing with friends. Relax, think, observe from the lift. Ajax top-to-bottom. Non-stop. Push. Just a little more. Rest on the drive home.
Back in Telluride, top of the final descent. Push. Off. I was going to rest, but it is all downhill from here. I’m so worked I’m lucky I can hold on to the handle bar, let alone squeeze the brakes. Just a little further though. Push. I have visions of the river. It’s down there. Just gotta push through.
(Guest blogger profile: Dave Downing and his wife Jessica live in Carbondale, Colorado, where Dave is a freelance designer and owner of Ovid Nine Graphics Lab. Dave’s ski career began due to a lack of quality skiing video games for NES.)