There really is something about riding bikes. I love the freedom I feel while riding, it's always worth the effort. Even more than just riding, I love racing . I appreciate the challenge, and the fact that I will push myself harder during a race. The Breck Epic was a true challenge and test for me. In all honesty, I was ill for most of the race. I chalk this up to bad luck on my part and am not too upset about the outcome. It could have been worse and I am lucky to be out there giving it my all and just riding my bike.
I know many folks questioned my sanity while I pushed on to finish this race despite being sick. It's not like I was anywhere close to the lead, and I could have given up. In the end, it's just a bike race and most people don't know who I am, nor do they care whether I finish. For some reason, I did care and it meant something to me that I at least tried. I have never done anything like this race before, and it taught me a lot about myself and my ego. Yesterday's stage was a beautiful one with fun trails and, once again, spectacular views. How could I not give it a try?
I started the stage thinking that I would be stronger on the day. As soon as I started up the first steep climb, my stomach turned and all I could do was tell myself to not throw up while spinning as easy as possible. A gentleman behind me sensed my obvious distress. He stayed with me the entire climb talking and encouraging me through. I don't know who he was, but I'm so thankful for him. This was the basic theme of my day. I took one hill/corner/road/trail at a time and eventually finished.
With that final stage I finished the Breck Epic. This was not my best performance, but I'm still proud of my efforts. I am taking home three major lessons from this experience. First, I always have a lot more in my legs than I think I do. Even starting a ride feeling depleted, my legs still got me up the enormous hills. Second, I am more competent on technical ascents and descents than I thought. Instead of getting off the bike and being afraid of some of the obstacles, I rode them with style. I definitely wasn't the fastest, but I didn't wreck and surprised myself daily. I have come so far during this week in terms of skill, I couldn't be happier. Third, I have a long way to go. I'm not a bad cyclist, in fact for my experience level I'd submit I'm a good cyclist. It's just that I still need to keep working hard if I want to go somewhere in this sport. This race made me want to work even more, to train with more focus and intensity, to be a better cyclist.
At the start of this adventure, many friends and family asked me if I was ready to take on a six day epic mountain bike race. My answer was always, "I'm as ready as I'll be." I still think this was true. I got to the start line every day, took what I had on that day and rode my best. Sometimes my best on the day is not what I would like, but it was still my best, and for that I am grateful. I could not, and most likely would not have completed this epic race if not for the Amy D Foundation. I am continually thankful for the opportunity that they gave me, for the chance they took in sponsoring me.
In the end, I optimistic for my racing future. If I can still suffer with joy despite the disappointment that I fought this week, I still won something. I learned a lot, hurt a lot, and smiled even more. This was one of the best experiences of my cycling career, and I wouldn't change a thing.
Once again, a special thanks to the Amy D Foundation for taking a chance on this developing cyclist, and to Michael Engleman for putting me in touch with the foundation. Also, a huge thanks to Jim Capra for helping me prepare for this epic beast of a race, I would not have been able to complete it without his training and encouragement. To Brad Huff and Lauren Hall for all their ongoing encouragement and advice, it means the world to me. And, to my man, Ben Carelock, for letting me pursue my dreams.