Zen On Dirt

Making Each Ride Count

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Scott and I got into talking the other day about what we would do differently if we knew we only had a short amount of time to live. While the shorter time periods inevitably involved (especially for me) nothing related to making money and survival, and mostly focused on traveling, seeing people, and being reckless, there gets to be a time when ‘real’ life does have to factor in. A year to live? Maybe you could outrun the debt collectors and ride in the Alps, Africa, Australia. Eat sushi in Japan. Crepes in Paris. Chocolate in Switzerland. Five years to live? Probably have to work, but minimally. Ten? Now most people would think about settling into some sort of work routine, financial stability, and then maybe screw off for the last year.

I feel like summer in Durango was like giving me five months to live and telling me to squeeze every last drop of life out of it that I could. At the same time, I know there’s bike riding and racing beyond the five months here, so it’s probably not the best idea to blow myself to pieces at every opportunity I get.

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And so I find a balance, by mixing training with singletrack. Mixing recovery days working and sitting in the river with unexpected nine hour rides on 600 calories with some four minute intervals up Wildcat canyon on skinny tires and a Powertap to show LW that I’m not completely screwing off.

The best days are when I mix a legitimate ‘training’ ride with a ‘fun’ ride. The days when we can point at a map and say ‘that looks like the perfect hill for a workout, and just look at how much new trail that we’ve never ridden we get to descend! Days that involve cranking out an hour and a half of tempo up steep dirt roads (you can gain a whole lot of vertical in 90 minutes!) to the top of Haflins and then get scared silly while dropping 3,000 feet on steep trail.

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Each day here has been the opportunity for more exploration. ¬†Each ride has been designed to see as much new trail as possible. There’s something to be said for knowing that our time here is limited. If I thought I had an infinite amount of time here to explore everything, would I have gone up a random dirt road to Haflins, hoping that it worked out for training? Probably not. If I wanted that guarantee, I would have pedaled skinny tires up 550.

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That road WAY down there – that’s where we’re going.

The part I like about this is: Had I come to Durango this May thinking that I really only had five more months to live, or five more months to ride (they really are sort of the same thing, aren’t they?), then up to now, I really wouldn’t have done anything differently. Well, I maybe would have skipped the 2.5 minute all-out intervals, those were pretty terrible for the soul, and the knee thing has been a little bit of a bummer, but I’ve seen more trail here than I ever thought possible, and gotten strong(er) while doing it.

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Maybe that’s the beauty of the vagabond lifestyle, the acknowledgement that nothing is permanent and each moment should be savored, while still planning on surviving for a relatively extended period of time.

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