I was wandering the Saturday morning farmers’ market the few days ago with a friend, catching up on all the things that had happened since our last coffee get together nearly a year and a half ago. We were talking about me leaving Crested Butte and everything that went along with that, and she said something along the lines of: One of the things that you’re good at is making a logical decision and then fully believing in it.
And generally, that’s a very true statement. When something isn’t working for me, I feel like I’m really good at laying out the facts and deciding if the issues can be remedied or compromised on, or if it’s time to walk away.
Thus far, I don’t regret any of the things I’ve walked away from.
But I’m struggling with walking away from racing.
On one hand, I really have accomplished everything I set out to accomplish, and more, tons more.
On the other hand, I had to walk away not on my own terms. After this summer, I’m thinking with a fair amount of certainty, my health issues from last fall had little to do with the actual act of racing long distances. Having it be not entirely not my decision has haunted me at times.
Scott and I spent a good bit of time on the CDT talking about racing. I fluctuated wildly between ‘I’m done racing. I’ve checked enough boxes. There’s nothing left that really inspires me to train’ to ‘Maybe I’ll train for a run at the Kokopelli’ or
‘someone needs to do the Triple Crown gracefully’ or, most recently, ‘If Justin did his CO 14’ers duathlon in 34.5 days, I wonder how fast I could do it.’
On the CDT, I’d spend days making lists of pros and cons of each idea (we pedaled a lot, there was a lot of time to think). Training for Koko would be a devoted winter of training for short stuff, which would kill ‘fun’ riding, but it sure would be fun to get skinny and fast again, and I’ve yet to have a clean run on that route, but the route pretty much is terrible and it’s really not bikepacking. Triple Crown…I’ve seen it all, but the challenge would be to see how fast sustainable would be, could I keep my head together riding routes all summer that I already knew? Would my body hold up? But it would kill the entire summer and most likely most of the rest of the calendar year and there’s not much in terms of exploration going on there.
I’d love the idea of doing the events, but the leadup and recovery from each squashed any real ambition before we got anywhere near Waterton.
And then the 14’ers challenge. Combine bikepacking with mountain climbing. I’d have to learn new skills, like, umm, running downhill. I’d have to get over my fear of exposure to do Capitol and the Bells. Little Bear sounds downright sketch as do the traverses between Crestone and Crestone Needle. But it’d be new terrain, I’d spend the summer climbing mountains instead of riding bikes every day. I have this romantic image of running free across ridgelines…probably the same way that people who race the Divide have an image of being swept down smooth dirt roads with the wind at their back.
But I’d be forced to learn new skills. I’d be forced to stretch personal comfort zones. I’d see new places. And committing to a project like that is the best way to make sure goals like that are achieved.
But it would be a month+ of solid effort. It would be 2+ months of recover. It would be a lot of dirt road riding and climbing 14’ers with hoards of people, neither of which I like. So why am I drawn to it?
Can’t I just go find long ridgelines to run and not be in a hurry and take pictures?
Sometimes I feel like I need to just say: I’m done racing. Put it out there on the Internets to make it official. Make going back not even an option. Accept that I’ve squeezed every last ounce of personal growth and challenge out of racing my bike and that it’s time to move on. Time to find a new form of art.
As Jefe put it: Maybe it’s time to stop racing through life and time to slow down and enjoy it. (I’m paraphrasing on that one.)
And I decide I’m going to declare done…but then I see Jill’s report on the Tor de Geants and think, Gee whiz…that looks neat. I wonder if I could hike 200 miles?
In the end, I find my complete indecision about what to do fascinating and I’m pretty stoked that I don’t actually have to make a decision about any of it tonight.