This morning I saw a blog share on the Book of Face by the Sheltowee Trace Association about Matt Hoyes, a Bardstown teacher and cross country/track coach who started out yesterday to run the Sheltowee Trace from north to south. Then, buried in the blog post was this tidbit:
"In 2000 he was the first person to complete the Trace on a mountain bike."
The account of that ride can be found HERE.
Okay, I am just going to come out with it. For the past six months I’ve been planning to thru-bike the Sheltowee Trace myself, hoping to claim the first such ride, but knowing that most likely someone else had already completed it on a bike. Now I know. That doesn’t change my scheme. It just ups the ante a bit. Speed. I’ll be looking for a record when I get to the point where I’m ready to make an attempt. Matt is looking to set/break a record on foot this week. I’ll be looking to set/break a record on the wheel.
The second part of my scheme involved running the Sheltowee after the MTB traverse. I’m not an ultra-trail runner just yet, but I know I have it in me to do this. I was looking at least a year or two out, and I’m still okay with that timeline. The MTB attempt was to be my next goal after Leadville, with me allowing a comfortable amount of time to lapse after getting my belt buckle.
I know there are too many stronger, faster men and women out there who could crush this, and that’s why I had basically been keeping it to myself. I’m thinking now that there’s really no reason to suppress this idea. If someone else goes for a speed record before I get a chance to do it that just means I have a number to shoot for.
I’m not fit enough for this right now. With a little over a month out 'til Leadville I don’t feel like I’m fit enough for it either. But I think I’m burned out on the Leadville idea. It’s a bugaboo hovering over my head. Three years I’ve been obsessing over this with little relief. One failed attempt and now I’m stymied in my training by a lack of vertical relief…my lack of fitness is rooted in a growing apathy for the goal. I feel like those Tour Divide riders that get into Colorado and struggle to find a reason to go on. They’re become numbed by the grandeur they pass through. It becomes old hat and overwhelmingly boring. Their souls have been crushed by the scale of it all.
The internal and external pressure to succeed has been grinding away at me. And come August 10th I’ll either succeed or I won’t. Then I’ll be done with Leadville. Believe me, I want that buckle bad. I intend to fully embrace the “Leadville or Bust!” mantra when I strike out for Columbine Mine that morning. But no matter the outcome, on August 11, 2013 the Leadville MTB Trail 100 will be behind me for good. I need to move on.
The Sheltowee Trace is local for me. It’s my backyard now. I’ve been hiking and biking on it for years. If it takes me five years to achieve my goal then so be it. I don’t have to enter a lottery, or do a qualifier, or pay an entry fee. I’ve just got to put in the miles and make my attempt. That I can do. It’s cleaner, more pure, and I think in the long run will be a more satisfying accomplishment for me. And I think it will be a greater motivation for me to get into and stay in better shape than the Leadville 100 has been. That might seem strange, but it's beginning to make more and more sense. There shouldn’t be as much stress in this non-obsession for me as in doing some organized mountain bike race. It’s only personal.
While I would love to give it a solid effort this fall…I’m not going to. I need some time. My family needs some time. And patience will pay off. I’ll be prepared. I’ll be fit and ready to tackle this challenge when I stand at the southern terminus and started pedaling north, gaining momentum, the landscape blurring by as I run for mountain biking nirvana. This will come in its time. And that time won’t be so far off. I have confidence in that. A year maybe...
Once I’ve ridden the Trace I’ll reassess and see if an attempt on foot is feasible for me. Running is beginning to appeal more and more to me. The other morning I was out running up the road from my house and I felt really, really good. The simplicity of running—the fact that I can run in any conditions and in any place—truly appeals to me on a deeper level than cycling even. And why running over hiking? Running (trail running) incorporates some of the things I really love about mountain biking too: covering a great distance in less time, the need to strategize and plan, the feeling of accomplishment after an all-out effort…all those things are common between the two disciplines.
I’m not saying I’m going to give up mountain biking. I’m just saying that running might just fit better into my lifestyle going forward, and when I can’t ride as much as I want to stay in shape, I will be able to go out and run and keep fit. I’m beginning to enjoy running again, so it doesn’t seem the chore it used to.
Now, for all you strong, fast, ambitious MTBers…forget you read this post.