Friday, May 29, 2009


when I have stunning new experiences, they take a bit of time to sink in. they gain quick access to heart and soul, but the mind tends to need to steep in them for a while before they become part of who I am.
I begin this way to explain why I went out of town last weekend, had an incredible bike ride, and haven't been able to write a word about it yet.
I think I may be able to today, 6 days post-ride, thus I am attempting it.

the Iron Horse Classic has been around for a mere third of the life of the Durango to Silverton railroad run, and neither were part of my world until last january, when bill said those famous words: hey, I'm signing up for this, it's a great ride, you should think about doing it too.
yep, that was a gauntlet.
and I will cheat here because the Iron Horse website tells the story better than I can, so here is a brief history in their words:

The Iron Horse Bicycle Classic was the brain child of Tom Mayer and his older brother Jim. Jim worked as a brakeman on the D & R G W railroad which had run the steam powered locomotive between Durango and Silverton since the 1880's. Tom was a young bicycle enthusiast who grew up alongside the tracks to Silverton. Tom challenged Jim to a race to Silverton. As the train came by the house, the steam whistle screamed and Tom climbed on his trusty steel framed 10 speed and pedaled up over the rim of the old volcano and descended into the caldera to the mining town of Silverton. The train takes a shorter and easier route, but with limited speed, so it is truly a race between man and machine. When Tom became strong enough to win, the bragging rights were his, and the whole town knew it.

the ride elevation is the graphic above, and yes, I was able to see this before I rode: roads and climbs on paper seem so much easier than they do in real life . . .

I'm still assimilating the experience a bit, knowing that I will write more about it as the days go by. it was stunningly beautiful, much greener and steeper and snowier than I'd envisioned. some of my thoughts on the way up (and I mean up) Coal Bank Pass were I am never doing this again and why did I think I could do this and oh, I want to get off my bike and I am an idiot.
other than that, I enjoyed the ride.
at times.
like when the road was flat or heading downhill.

it was a humbling experience, because about 1200 other people signed up to do this same ride: I am absolutely nothing special. there were riders who represented every decade of life from the teens to the seventies, and the incredibly fit as well as the not-so-fit.
there were people panting as loudly as I was.
there were people who finished long before me, and people who finished long after me.
there were people who had to get off their bikes and walk for bits of the steep uphill.
there were people cruising past me, and people I cruised past, or at least hobbled past.

and at every rest stop the overlying feeling was joyful, with laughter bubbling above the orange rinds and banana peels and cookie crumbs.

there's much more to be said, but apparently there's a little more absorption to be had as well. look for part II down (or perhaps up) the road . . .

1 comment:

Hugs said...

Well, Susan may not do this particular ride again, but she'll do many more rides and many more difficult rides. You see, she is divinely humble (as well as divinely peaceful). She often focuses on the muscle burning pain, slow churning process, and continuous seemingly unending twists to our uphill adventures. And those are real and they are tough, just like the many challenges all of us face each day. And she reminds us of her ordinaryness so that we can relate on an ordinary level. And each time she confronts a 6500 foot climb and tells herself she can do it, she revels in the churning with a confidence that is borne of faith that she will beat that hill and overcome today's challenge. And she know's today's work will bring strength for the next bigger mountain pass in her future. So do as Susan does, churn through today's challenge with the faith that it will be met with your own form of toughness that she exemplifies for all who are blessed to know her. Because as you break through today's challenge it will reveal an incredible (if currently unknown) reward. No doubt, your reward will be similar to our Ironhorse reward on the descent from the top of Molas Pass (el 10910, 35 degrees with occasional flurries!). Awesome! On carless road, we brazenly whipped around tight mountain corners stealing glimpes of Silverton far below. Ahh, how we earned this speed, and the adrenaline and the exhiliration. But the special reward was when Susan passed me at over 45 mph, and I witnessed the essence of her motivation. She can fly! So thank you Susan for being supposedly ordinary, helping us relate to our daily tribulations, sharing your tools to slog up the hills, and thank you for so poetically reminding us of the glorious special rewards that surround us everyday.