The morning sun rises above the mountain peaks.
It ignites a fire of fall colors on the mountain sides—
A cold, clear, beautiful morning.
Fuel up for the race,
Bike and gear loaded, all suited up.
At the start line, my mind starts to ponder—
“Did I train enough for the altitude? Did I ride too hard the last two days?”
Then, the starting gun rattles the morning air, and the thoughts are gone.
It’s go time.
Time to grind, up, up—
Up the closed roads of the city of Park, already standing against the steepness.
Alas, the pavement turns to dirt fire road, and then—
The single track in the trees, up the mountain side begins.
7,000 feet, more up—
Through the trees, colors changing, leaves falling,
The climb continues,
Over the dark dirt, still damp from the week’s earlier rains,
And covered with bright red and yellow leaves, up, up—
8,000 feet, still more up—
Standing, grinding, falling, cussing, laughing, walking, sweating and sucking for air,
Working hard to stay focused, with no air,
9,000 feet, more up—
The brief downhill only means more climbing when we reach the bottom.
There. Is. No. Air.
Beautiful views, as the trees start to thin out,
The single track turns back into fire road,
Then back on the pavement,
Still climbing—9,200 feet.
Rounding the bend, and there it is–-the finish line.
One last major effort, and success—
Finish line, friends and the beer you carried to the top.
All pain is forgotten.
Now, the high speed downhill,
On the pavement to the after party—
Beer, food, music and celebration,
Then home, to the jacuzzi—the body says, “Thanks.”
And more than ready for sleep.
It was an awesome day.
You are unaware, what you don’t know—
From morning, through the race, until the day ends,
You are there!
You. Are. There.