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#45 (and some other numbers)

the Crazies on my flight back from Quebec

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.

nedward slaying the river

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!

2 Comments

  1. Awesome read. Naturally as you mentioned you made a list of your good rides I keep thinking I must do the same. It would be a really long list. But, like you, I’m not sure what I would say was my favorite ride of the year. I could probably name Justin’s top 2, but not my own.

  2. Lydia I love reading your blog. I was sitting at the dinner table reading it tonight and I couldn’t stop laughing! Its nice to have something to relate to. You’re doing your mind and body good. Remember what you said, biking is fun…and every day in the saddle (or out of the saddle) that reminds you of that is a good day!

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