A year is a long time to be working towards a goal - espcially when there’s so many individual milestones to be met along the way. In 2018, ...

Feb 15, 2018

Look Up

I almost didn't ride outside today. So many things swirling around in my head and riding was the least of the issues I wanted to tackle. Between the wind and semi-mucky trails on my run yesterday, I was feeling hermitish. Add in the deep fatigue I've been struggling with over the last two weeks and the heaviness in my legs whenever I tried to run or ride hard, I really didn't want to tackle anything resembling intervals. I didn't want to face the numbers and once again not have a good reason as to why I couldn't reach my target numbers. The trainer seemed like the best idea and at least then if I was feeling unmotivated, I would be able to quit really easily. And even that mentality was annoying me - not the mindset I've been trying to build up over the years - and making the motivation to ride even less.

Then Nick texted after his ride in Ute, proclaiming how awesome it was. I was starting to slowly get organized for my ride and his text made me rethink the trainer. Who cared if I did intervals or if I just rode? It was sunny, the winds currently calm and I'd been hiding inside all morning. I needed to get outside. Even if the intervals didn't happen, the fresh air would do me good. So I quickly shifted gears and started pedaling. I had no clue really what I was going to do for the hard part of the ride - the thought of struggling through another set of climbs up the Chutes was really not appealing. I would think of something else. Something away from the people who frequent the main parking lot. And so I settled on Arroy Eight - It's not the longest climb, but it's got some good power management problems so it's a good representation of actual race. And there's a fun descent to return to the starting point.

I was feeling better mentally as I climbed up past the high school. There wasn't the heaviness I was expecting with the initial climb. Maybe it would be a good ride after all. The muddy spots from yesterday were all dried and the wind was minimal in the trees. I did four laps on Arroy Eight, focusing on even power with the climbing and smooth descending. With the empty trails, I was able to push the pace descending and not feel guilty. Being away from the main lot helped as well to allow me to open it up a little. But finally - being able to put aside the tumult in the mind and focus on riding. Not even the numbers of riding, but the act of pedaling. The tiny weight shifts to keep traction on the rear wheel in the scree, the power stroke to pop the front tire over the water bars and roots. Digging as the trail tipped up and then holding the effort on the gradual flats. Letting the bike flow on the descent, using my legs to absorb the shock as I hopped over roots and worked on smooth landings. Back to raw effort of riding, for me and me alone. Which made me thing about all the ideas and emotions I'd been struggling with over the last few days.

Sometimes, just stop and look up. There is detail the camera does not see and time that shouldn't be measured

We spend too much time absorbed in the artificial world of numbers and social media. There's comparisons around every corner and everything we do is designed to suck us into those comparisons. Every ride, uploaded and analyzed for times on Strava even when the legs are tired and the mind heavy. Facebook is the highlight reel of 100s of people that we don't even really "know" making it hard to feel comfortable in our own skins. The bots argue over everything on Twitter, sucking any positive interactions from that platform. Even Instagram is carefully posed, artfully edited reflections of a glimmer in time, hash-tagged ad nauseum to attract the attention of strangers. And in doing so, we neglect and ignore what is closest to us. We make enemies of strangers and fester division in daily life. The consequences of the artificial lives we have crafted are far reaching - and I don't think we will ever really understand the dramatic shift that has happened in the last 20 years.

Who do you really need to impress? Your family? Loved ones? Or do we really need to impress people at all. Perhaps the best reward isn't the kudos or the likes, it's the respect of those who matter most. So I challenge you - instead of trying to impress the strangers 1000s of miles away, look inward. Strive to become a better person - more attentive, more helpful, less selfish, more community or family oriented, whatever works for you - and then pay it forward. That smile and hello to a total stranger on the trail might be just what they needed at that moment.