When I first got back to Bozeman, a friend asked me what my favorite ride of the year had been. I was shocked to find I had no immediate answer- apparently 7000 miles on the road, 15,000 miles in the air, 130+ hours in my car, four countries, seven states, and six days a week of training for thirty-two weeks straight had done nothing to create a single memorable ride. So I kinda hemmed and hawed, and the topic was eventually dropped. But I kept hashing it through my head. That’s when I realized how many truly incredible days I’ve had this year- too many, it seems, to quickly choose the best.
So, like all mildly type-A folks tend to do, I made a list. A ride list including only the really good days on my bike. It turns out there were forty-four of them. Forty-four truly epic days- how many people are lucky enough to fit that much radness into a year?
And the best part is that it just keeps comin’.
Though after worlds I’ll confess that my bike spent an entire week in its box. I didn’t so much as crack ‘er open to see what TSA had vandalized- I just dragged the whole rig into the garage and went into instant recovery mode, which for me includes many cold beverages, any deserts I can find, and absolutely no physical activity of any kind.
It sounds great, right? I was finally getting to be a normal college kid after eight months immersed in bike land, and its true that for the first 24 hours or so it was totally great. I kept telling myself what a luxury it was to be able to focus on school but, like a panda removed from its natural habitat, I soon began to (and this is the zoological term) freak the F out.
For example, day three in captivity was spent baking. I made banana muffins and rice pudding; one of which went horribly wrong, but both of which I consumed entirely. Day four marked my descent into lethargy; I spent my usual block of training time just laying, awake and unmoving, in bed. My night was spent in a similar fashion. On day five I started hydrating immediately after class at around 4pm. Needless to say, there was nothing to blog about.
I had started thinking about unpacking, but the prospect of handling bike tools made me cringe, so I dismissed it from my mind. I was going to recover, damn it, even if it killed me! But I cracked on day seven. Or rather, the bike box did. Noon saw me riding up Sypes canyon with some pals, wearing a retro costume and feeling better than I’d felt about pedaling all year. I camped with some folks up Hyalite that night, and on Sunday I ticked off my forty-fifth awesome ride.
Maybe it was the fact that the day began with campfire-fried pancakes and brats. Or maybe it was the cloudless blue skies. Maybe it was the company or lack of timing equipment- regardless of who’s to blame, it was a great day.
We set out with the goal of riding as far up Blackmore peak as the snow would allow, but after a few hours spent (mostly) hiking through steep-ass rootballs and greasy mud, we ditched the bikes in a tree and kept going. The trail turned into an ice-packed track, then opened into a nice big basin with a gorgeous view. We broke out some highly caloric snacks, threw some snowballs and enjoyed the high-altitude sunshine.
I have no idea what my heart rate was. Intervals and watts never crossed my mind. I spent tons of time talking with other hikers, hanging out on the side of the trail, and watching the clouds. It’s quite possible that I even pushed more than I pedaled- but none of it mattered at all. There was no where else I would rather have been.
And the ride down justified every mile of traveling this season. It was gnarly, nonstop, and it demanded good lines and guts; kind of like several miles of euro descents rolled into one. I was a little concerned going into it- like maybe we’d hiked up something we wouldn’t be able to ride down- but I found myself feeling right at home, if not outright calm in the midst of a pretty hostile trail. Things started to really flow, and I’m pretty sure I was riding faster than I’ve ridden all year, shoulder injuries completely forgotten.
Best of all, instead of drinking recovery mix, putting my legs up, and going into hermit mode afterwards, I got to hang out with my friends in a parking lot by a lake and be obnoxious. Maybe this offseason thing won’t be so bad after all. So here’s to the forty sixth, and forty-seventh and however many more great days this season has to offer!