This is probably a good time to wax philosophical about the “why” part of what I am doing with my biking this next year.Why am I going to ride Leadville? Why am I doing all of the stuff that is going along with it?
It started out very simple. I wanted to do something new and something hard. I had read Fatty’s ride reports from Leadville. Then I watched Race Across the Sky (remember when Lance was just Lance? Sad…) There were grown men crying (and some puking). There was ambiance. The race was a legend. I wanted to do it. And so, with some hard work and a spot of luck, I managed to get myself signed up.
Did it start as a “mid-life crisis” as I often joke about? Maybe. There certainly was a piece of I need to do these things while I can aspect. I spent 40(ish) years as a sort of non athletic geeky guy. I had changed since I had started biking and there was a newness to being athletic. I had a sense of urgency to make up for lost time. There was a sense of wanting to know how good I could be before I started to slide physically. I both chuckle and relate to those commercials for exercise programs where the guy says “I am 50 and in the best shape of my life”. OK, you’ve been a slug all of your life. You finally got off your ass and now you are not. No kidding you are in the best shape of your life. For me there is also some sadness in that. I do not to regret my path. I have a great family and friends. I love my job (most of the time). And I love where I live. If I had made different choices where would I be instead. Its really not worth spending time worrying about. But there is that lingering nagging voice that asks “how good could you have been?” It probably would not have ever been pro anything sporty. But still I wonder.
My time last summer volunteering for Leadville was awesome. Yes the race has become corporate and is no longer one of those very cool grass roots events. But the people and the atmosphere and the location are still there. The course itself is still epic.
And so this trip to Leadville has, as these things do, become much more complex. It has shifted from “I want to do something hard before I cannot” to “I want to be the best I can be.” I am working through the regret/curiosity about 20 year old Doug. He is gone, made choices, and is here where he is right now. That’s what I can control. Leadville has become my stake in the ground. The verb tense has become present. (Did you notice the verb tense change? It was both past and future.) How good can I be NOW. Am I good enough to finish something that most people wouldn’t even think about starting? Am I good enough to do better than just finish? Leadville now is now more than just a day in August next summer. Its more than a bike ride. Leadville is a journey. Leadville is my measuring stick this year. At THIS point in my life.