Monday, August 24, 2009

path of the warrior

okay, I'm joking when I call myself a warrior.
joking slightly less when I call myself a princess warrior.
being most honest when I call myself a barely-survived-it-almost-a-warrior-but-still-a-wannabe.
all right, I'm a warrior, but just by the skin of my teeth.
[an aside: I just looked up the origin of that phrase, which is biblical, and it's actually with the skin of my teeth, and we just take it to mean avoiding disaster/catastrophe/devastation by the very narrowest of margins. I know you knew that, but I was curious.]

it was a ride.
full of climbing up and sailing down, climbing back up and sailing (and braking) down, a bit of just over, more climbing, and then just grinding away at speeds close to zero, using just about every last ounce of stamina I had left in my salt covered body.
I was not a pretty sight by the end. and I didn't really care.

this is what gets me. I ride a lot. I ride hard rides. I've ridden a 206-mile course twice. I've climbed 10,000 feet during a 100-mile ride before, probably a handful of times or more. and at least two other times I have had to face a grueling 6-mile climb after riding over 100 miles.
so why was this thing so darn hard?
I don't know.
but I had to stop, two separate times, on that 6-mile climb up little cottonwood canyon. both times I knew I would continue, but I just needed to stop. both times I watched my heart rate drop a mere 30 beats and just sit there, refusing to budge off that shelf and settle lower.
I was not alone.
john describes it as carnage on the side of the road: cyclists stopped, standing, sitting, throwing up, walking their bikes, displaying pure misery with every facial muscle.
I am laughing as I type this, as I reflect on what drives us to do this to ourselves.

little cottonwood is a canyon I choose not to ride up very often. in fact, once a year is what I've done the past two years. this year I've already done it twice, and the experiences were so very different as to have happened to two different people. that's the difference between reaching the base with 15 miles under your belt in 63 degree weather, and arriving at the base after 90 significant miles in 95 degree weather.
that climb beat me up.

however, I now have an exclusive, personalized cycling cap to prove I did it (they sneakily handed them out at the end of the ride . . . ), and I will always wear a little internal patch that says "warrior", right next to my amazingly resilient heart.

kudos to everyone else who finished that ride, and to everyone who rode as long as they could, whether they pedaled their bike all the way to snowbird or not.
nothing ventured, nothing gained: every movement forward is a move in the right direction.

and in the words of the famous rick bennett, tour organizer,

No comments: