Monday, September 2, 2019

Fear Farming

Mentioning vulnerability in all its rawness can make it seem like a nefarious beast. A monster, out to expose you to those naysayers allowing them the opportunity to point and laugh while you wilt with shame.

Or perhaps vulnerability can be the farmer's field, plowed, naked and striped of its protection from the elements. Barren yes, budding with life potential, growth, lush and wonderful growth.

2019 presented itself as an open plot of land. Abundant with possibility, not the nefarious monster. So there's that and there's turning 40 this year. Shiny, new, scary, the good kind of scary, like first date kind of scary, that's what I wanted. And what's scarier than races with the word Epic in them?

So here I sit, post Epic race #1 and now #2 because I'm a procrastinator leaving my blog in draft for two months. Two events that took me over the river, through the woods, up mountains, bouncing on boulders (legit boulders) down steep embankments, through meadows, balancing atop bridges for five and later six days in a row. And then I did some other shit in between those Epic bookends mentioned briefly below.

My first foray into the Epic-ness of mountain bike stage racing was the TranSylvania Epic in Potlicker Flats, PA (no shit, that's the name of the area - at least that's the name my weather app used) is a wild, lush, rugged, rocky, rooty, mossy, gravely, climby part of the country where I never thought I'd leave with more than I came with, skin excluded. Never did I believe myself capable or did I have a desire to ride boulders or take descents which necessitated the need for a dropper post. But I did it. By the end of the week I was doing it well.

As my husband the "Punk Monk" so zen-like put it, you can choose to fight the rock that's been in the ground for hundreds of years or you can work with it. Be like water, find the path of least resistance through the rocks and take it. That last part was me.....the water part. But you get my point. Fighting it will only impede progress, growth, change. Day one and day two were me fighting the rocks. Bouncing off sharp edges, falling victim to stealthy snipers in the weeds (probably just more rocks) and generally riding like it was my first day without training wheels. Days three through five were amaze-balls. I rode with a smile, I approached obstacles with confidence and I thoroughly enjoyed the pedal. Al and I walked away from that race as the last place coed duo....that was humbling. But when you race pros (unbeknownst to us) you typically come in last place....when you yourself are not a pro.

I decided to throw in a 100 mile mountain bike race through the Chequamegon (it's taken me months to learn how to spell that fuckin' word) National Forest. That was a long day in the saddle. Not a ton of elevation but punchy climb after punchy climb. My one disappointment during this event was that I didn't get to see a bear. A rider finishing behind my little bike party of three saw a bear. Super jelly. My victory was completing this race after scratching a few years back.

A last minute addition to my schedule was the 24hours of Wausau in Wisco in which Al and teamed up for the coed 12 hour division. The loop was 13 ish miles and we each did five loops clenching first by twice as many laps as the 2nd place team. Boom!

Then I dialed up the Epic meter taking on the mack-daddy, BreckEpic. Breck, ahhh, what can I say about Breck? The vastness of the Rocky Mountains, my motherland - I was born and raised in your bosom - before you judge me for leaving Colorado for flatso Illinois, know that I harbor the same one eyebrow lift, head cocked to the side sentiment with myself. I'm an idiot. But Breck, you sit nestled at '9,500 with your quaint mountain-town vibe. You're so cool Breck. You're that kind of "dude cool." Other towns wish they were as cool as you. Just uttering the name Breck (over Breckenridge) lends a certain legitimacy, or a level of familiarity that not everyone can attain. I mean, it's Breck man. You have my heart. But I digress......

Stage 1 Pennsylvania Creek. Stage 2 Colorado Trail. Stage 3 Guyot. Stage 4 Aqueduct. Stage 5 Wheeler. Stage 6 Gold Dust. I witnessed the bluest of bluebird skies, buttery single track that most will never ever get to ride, rowdy descents, meadows exploding with wildflowers, babbling brooks, long forgotten mountain mines, ancient pine forests, lush Aspen groves, log structures built by the hands of adventurers long ago dead, mountain goats who paid no mind to my two wheels as I rode through their afternoon snack-town, a single speeder wedding at '12,500, also, bacon and skittles at the same elevation. The speed at which I took descents was based upon life and death - pretty basic stuff ya know? Life for six days was pretty simple. Wake, eat, poop, dress, ride, eat, clean bike, eat, clean body, eat, meeting, eat, sleep repeat. In total we logged 210 ish miles and 40k of climbing. Not all in the saddle. Pushing my bike or slinging it on my back for miles (yep, miles) of hike-a-bike into the Colorado back-country.

Al and I raced in the duo coed category and placed 4th in a field of 8-10. I say 8-10 cuz day one there were 10 teams and by day six there weren't. Riding every day with your husband might sound absurd to some, but I don't know, I like Al. I like to challenge our relationship - safely, like through sport. We work really well together, yeah sure occasionally there's a domestic outburst but 90 percent of the time it's my fault cuz I'm hangry or tired and fail to see how those two elements can really hinder biking a technical descent. But whatevs, we kiss and makeup. So, we earned that infamous BreckEpic belt buckle. I even bought a belt for it but it's kinda big....and sparkly . . . the best part of this belt buckle is the inscription on the backside. It reads "Bad Mother Fucker." I love it. So nasty!!

So the seeds were planted, things grew, harvesting was done and now I reap the rewards of doing Epic shit!

I'm waiting on a new MacBook, so no piccys on this entry. Hope my words are able to evoke beautiful images in your brainium!