Last Tuesday, after a long mountain bike ride, I noticed that my rear tire was aged and worn. I pedaled to the nearest bike shop and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they stocked the exact same tire and could slap it on in less than fifteen minutes. They offered me a seat in the shop so I could chat with the mechanics while they did the work.
The guy doing the transfer was fifteen years old and asked, “How was your ride today and where did you go?”
I replied, “I rode Chocolate Gulch and it was nice. As I get older, I sure find myself being cautious and walking around danger. I used to ride the entire loop, but those days are long gone. Yesterday’s thrill now appears as a future date with my orthopedic surgeon.”
He laughed and said, “I am at the complete opposite end of the spectrum. I just started riding two years ago and cannot find enough technical challenges.”
With the new tire installed, I rode a few miles to my rented condo. It gave me some time to reflect on the many turning points I have encountered throughout my life.
I began mountain biking about twelve years ago. Over that time, I have become intimately familiar with the vast majority of the trails in The Wood River Valley. There is one endurance ride that pushes me every year and I use it as a gauge. This grinder of a ride is 24-mile loop that creeps up Cold Springs, crosses the top of Bald Mountain, and descends down Warm Springs. I test myself once a season.
I woke on Wednesday and decided to slay the mountain. The trip to the base was a five mile glide along a greenbelt that passes through a beautiful mountain town. It was a gradual slope in my favor. In my biking youth, I wasted excess energy by racing through town. On that day, I consciously conserved energy and spent my time enjoying the blue sky, the pine scents, and hearing the water rage down the Wood River. The grind begins with a right hand turn about 1/4 of a mile before the hospital. The next six miles began at 6000′ and summits at 9,000′. The winding trail surface was comprised of packed dirt, bedded pine needles, sand, tree roots, and rocky shale. The grade of the ascent changes but it never becomes a descent until the top.
I was feeling pretty good for the first half of the climb. After a slow and steady three miles, I took a nice break to enjoy an apple and a peanut butter mojo bar. My body did not have its normal response to rest and fuel. As I resumed the climb, fatigue set in like never before. I rode another half mile and began to question if the summit was in the cards on this day. The next half mile answered that question and it was a quite obvious that I had hit the proverbial wall. The turnaround reminded me of one favorite anonymous quote that says, “A bad day for the ego is a great day for the soul.”
A few days later I shared this tale with a dear friend of mine. She walked all 500 miles on the Camino in her late seventies. With a coy grin she said, “Looks like you ran into the LAW. Life Always Wins!”