Wednesday, August 15

The Leadville Saga: Riding In My Mind

When I gave up with 13 miles to go I resisted the urge to wallow in self-pity. I made mistakes, I didn't dig deep enough, and I failed. Sometimes you have to fail to learn the right way of it. It's hard to go back to the beginning and start all over again after so much work. That's a long, long ride back with your cycling cap in your hands.

I listened to second timers that had failed their first year and came back. Silently I swore that wouldn't be me. Humbling, looking back...

I replay those moments on the side of the road when I gave up. I leap from this moment to that one as a spectre and whisper in that person's ear and say in desperation: "Do it! Get back on the bike and suffer through it!" He doesn't listen. There's no changing that moment, only reliving it...

It's easy for me now to say I coulda, shoulda, woulda. I don't feel now like I felt at that moment. My mind had shut down and had ceased to recognize my true strength.

I threw out regret on the side of Turquoise Lake Road. I had to accept the consequences of my choice even as I was making the choice. Looking back...muttering coulda, shoulda, woulda...I keep stomping down on the regret, refusing to dwell. I made the mistake of looking at the terrain map of inbound St Kevin's yesterday. It doesn't look so bad. I had 2 hours and 20 minutes left to cover those 13 miles. I could have crawled dragging my bike through a snowstorm that far. But alas...

I feel like a different person. I feel stronger, faster, better. And I didn't even have to spend $6,000,000. Despite not reaching my goal, hitting my mark, I feel powerful. I feel more confident. It's no fluke.

I can't afford to wallow. If I let myself I could have stayed in the bottom of that hole I dug for myself coming down from Powerline. I could still be there, reticent, morose, depressed. But I didn't go to Leadville to come home matter the outcome.

I've been looking forward ever since. So what had been a two year journey has become three. Job had patience. I am a stone.

A quick aside: the kids returned to Colorado on Thursday with Mandy's folks. They all came up to Leadville first thing Friday morning, so the kids didn't even get unpacked. When we got back home on Sunday Mandy was going through their stuff unpacking and came across a book one of my parents had put in Bean's luggage. The book is entitled (ironically) Real Winners Don't Quit! and was written by our friend from Kentucky Joe Bowen. It chronicles his 1967 14,000 bicycle tour across America and his record breaking 3,000+ mile stilt walk across the country back in the '80s. Look for my review soon.

Next year will be better. The experience will be sweeter. Crossing that finish line will mean more. That buckle will represent 187 miles, and not just 100. Actually, it will carry the extra 13 too; those 13 I didn't ride...those 13 I ride in my mind every day.

The Alpine Odyssey is in 30 days.


  1. I know that's what happened. I think the underlying problem was my poor fueling the entire week before. I mean, I was eating well, I just didn't load enogh carbs and my energy levels were still too high. I rode to and from work on Monday and Tuesday and I did that Powerline ride on Thursday. If the PL ride was all I'd done, but I'd truly been carb loading I think I would have been fine.

    And then Friday was so crazy I just didn't eat enough.

    On the bike I should have forced myself to eat some of the other things.

    Yes, and next year there will be beds!

  2. Thank you for all your posts and for your honesty. It's been really great following your experiences to Leadville. I'm certain you'll finish next time. You now know what not to do and what to do differently. If there was perfect success every time we tried a tough challenge, we'd never learn anything.

  3. That's a great point CG! And I totally agree. I've realized that by failing once, the future success will mean so much more.