Here’s an email I sent two friends Monday evening after climbing Mount St. Helens on two wheels.
74 miles, 6,590′, 4,562 cals, 17.2avg, 4:18:32. The only thing that would have made it better would have been watching the two of you pull away from me somewhere along the way. I can’t imagine better conditions, perfectly clear, 60’s, light wind. Large group, 18 I think. A group of 10 went first, then a group of 8 about 15m later. I was in the first group and we stayed together for 15-16 miles when I ATTACKED. Those capitals were meant to be a joke because I went from 8 mph to 10, but did pull away. I felt badly for the first two miles, dipping into Zone-OppsIwent toohardandnowtheresnowayIcanmaintainthis, but I did create separation and after two miles managed to find a sustainable rhythm. My advantage was having ridden 50 miles Friday-Sunday versus 200+ for alot of the maniacs in the group (J, G, R, J, KD, B, M, a few others). I glanced back on occasion and saw two people at a couple hundred meters and then no one. KD caught me somewhere around 25 in and we worked together downhill and at the start of the steep stuff near the top. I was losing a little touch, 20m, when my seat bag came undone. Took a minute to fix and that was it. She probably put another minute into me from there. So I won the men’s division and finished second overall. J and R were next, D, R, M shortly thereafter, in less than 15m, so I probably got 5th. J and M were further back, not sure why. Silly to think in terms of place, it was just nice to be alive and healthy in nature.
The last sentence is my attempt to snap out of my western, hyper-competitive frame of mind. I’m 47, riding with friends on a beautiful Memorial day and I’m thinking more like a 27 or 37 year old in the Giro d’Italia. I want to adopt a more eastern, process oriented approach to competition, but I feel captive to my gender, peers, and history.
Great to have you back, R. Eastern competitive philosophy? You should read the Curious Case of Sidd Finch.
Nice to see you writing again. NICE shot of you on the bike. Enjoy the Nature…..
We’ve got these weapons, glimmering and sharpened, that we could wield to great effect. Is it a throwback to our hunting and gathering days when survival was honed against a bleak existence and pushed the spears surging through air and into some beast crashing through the trees? To eat in a way meant: I have conquered. And to the one who brought prey to its knees often went the lion’s share of the spoils. So, just because civilization has tamed us somewhat doesn’t
mean these weapons don’t still lie inside us waiting to be picked up and made alive, used.
There was great satisfaction for me watching the French Open today and seeing Roger Federer climb out from the deep-deep cave he’d dug for himself down two sets to love to Tommy Haas and still being able to clinch it. But I leave it there where it belongs in that particular arena, these days, and I move on with my life—at least I am learning to.
I think for some people life has become in itself a giant grinding machine that churns out newly minted versions of selves and spits losers down storm drains. Everything is about being better than somebody else. I think it gets tiring ultimately, that sort of thing, the strength it must take for those arms to continuously pull up onto a higher rung—and all just because there’s a crowd to witness it all, and applaud.
Sometimes when I am starting a new undertaking and want to see if it is truly important to me, I ask myself, Would this really matter if there were no body else in the world to see it and say aaah?
Just some thoughts.