What came first the race or the ride? I often consider this puzzle and never do I land on a clear answer. Every time I race and have a poor result or a great result, I always am more motivated than ever to get out and train hard to improve. That leads me to going out on bigger rides and exploring new trails that leave me with the unique experiences I crave. At the same time the number of races I do, although a lot, quell in comparison to the number rides that I go on and come back thinking, “Holy Crap this is awesome!” Without all those rides I never would have the fitness or the confidence to go out and through down with all I have at the bucket full of races I do each year. Not sure how it all gets explained out, but I do know I like eating both chickens and eggs.
The season is here for big mountain rides. The snow is gone from the high terrain and the days are long. Just yesterday I went on a ride that I usually consider a weekend treat; instead it was a Monday after 9 hours at work. I raged on the bike until I was nearly sick with exhaustion, it felt good, it was an end in itself. The season is also here for ripping the legs of your fellow competitors. I did not ride over 10 hours in the last three days to be out smelling the roses, I want to be ready to come across the finish line ahead of somebody.
Tomorrow the Ascent Cycling Series moves to Palmer Park, and what I believe to be the premier trail network on the Front Range. For me racing at Palmer Park is so much more than just race number two of the Sand Creek Series, it is an Ode to Palmer Park. For all the great rides I have had there and all the amazing memories of those rides, the pain of racing a one hour cross country race says, “thank you very much, I realize you are boss.”
I remember finding the “Backdoor trail” for the first time and being so amped on adrenalin that I could not sleep that night. I remember a Thanksgiving ride where Beers were shared at 9AM and then sketchy drops were launched, not always with blood free landings. I remember turning laps late into the night with Nick Thelen and Daniel Matheny prepping for 24 hour Nationals. I remember well Daniel and I riding a flawless 24 hours to claim the Duo National Championship. I remember my riding buddy Nick Ramey and I literally laughing our way across all of Templeton trail as we wrecked on and then cleaned sections of trail that would make 99.99% of people say, “that is impossible to ride a bike across.” It is for all these memories that I absolutely have to race, I have to say thank you to Palmer Park, and the only way I know how to do that and truly mean it is to race the ever loving shit out of me and my bike.
I bet I am not alone, I bet in some unspecified way there are many others in Colorado Springs that feel the exact same way as I do. Who cares if it all does not fit in a nice tidy box of logic, who cares if you get second to last in your class, Palmer Park has earned your effort, give’r everything you have. The course for Wednesday’s race promises to be another Palmer Park classic so put to use that huge weekend of riding that you have under your belt and make your way to start line. It is going to be a great ride, See you there.