Almost a year later to the day (off by only one week) I wrestled again with the spectre of Jekyll and Hyde to produce the confidence builder I needed. Where Rollins beat me back shy of the summit I managed to push through all on Saturday and smote down his ghost. Oh, I didn't close my loop. I know that. I called SAG. Some might say I failed. I could say I failed. If it hadn't been so ridiculously hot (like my Kingston Peak attempt on July 21 last year) I think I'd have ridden a full 200km back to my porch. I'm sure of it.
The fear is gone. My doubt is gone. The only factor left which may cause any hesitation is the unknown effects of altitude when I return to the thin air again in two weeks. Nothing else will sway me now. And even the altitude is a known quantity. I felt fine last year. I just need to reacclimate as best as I can. When we lived in Colorado I was typically good up to 12,000' and then it was a crap shoot. Sometimes I suffered; sometimes I felt glorious.
Saturday was full of sinister and sublime. I enjoyed the journey. I enjoyed working through the trials and making more progress toward a retreating goal. I suffered long. Unexpected climbs kept hitting me. I gave up over and over, but I was too committed to be bailed out. I wrote a huge check knowing the funds were going to come up short. I just didn't know how short.
Looking back though...if I'd not been worried about getting home to my family in a reasonable amount of time I could have hung out in that Dairy Queen until I was ready to push on all the way home. Later in the afternoon it would have cooled. I could have gotten home before dark if I'd napped for an hour in the shade somewhere.
Obviously that kind of effort would not have reflected a Leadville pace, but...I know I'm capable of much more than a mere century.
Including, and since, Leadville 2012 I have ridden 3 full centuries, 1 metric (the Alpine Odyssey) and 3 heavy metric centuries, and 3 half centuries. I've ridden only 1,538 total miles this year (since January 1).
Prior to the 2012 Running of the Fools I had only ridden 1 full century, 1 metric and 2 heavy metric centuries, and 1 heavy half (almost a metric) century. While I had countless 9-12 mile rides and lots of 20-30 mile rides last year I've definitely pulled down twice as many bigger rides this past year.
I'm faster now too. Strava don't lie...except when it collides with space junk.
There is no dread. I'm thankful now for this upcoming opportunity. Three years of dreaming, planning, and scheming and that belt buckle is almost mine.