Thursday, August 11, 2005

gg24 and the love of the ride

Yet again, the bike bins are being packed, hectic last minute changes made to the rig(s), a mid-day drive to Western Cycle planned, new tires priority shipped, etc, etc. There must be a 24 hour race on the horizon. This weekend's team endeavor, however, isn't for training purposes (as I've decided not to attend 24 hour of Adrenaline's World Championships due to a desire to spend quality time with Jenn) and it's not to win at any cost. With a stacked field, our goal is to enjoy the ride. Will we hammer? Of course. Don't mistake a relaxed vibe for a lack of desire to push ourselves to the limit...

This will be my third year racing the Great Glen 24 at the base of Mt Washington. In 2003, I raced with Brad, Andy and Darren for a 5th place finish in the Expert cat. We had many good times despite the heaviest rainfall i've ever encountered - 6 3/4" of rain in 20 hours - it wasn't a moonsoon, it was the great flood. Noah was trying to build an Arc in the main field, but the wood was too wet to work with - and while teams were cracking all around us, we took the elements in stride... just good dudes to ride with.

Last year we switched it up and I rode with Nathan, Rob and Andy. While we finished on the podium and got along great, it was a totally different vibe - it was all about the race, about the minutes and seconds gained or lost on the other teams. I enjoyed the race and the company very much and enjoyed the competition - it's why i train, but it's not the sole reason i ride... "the ride" is freedom, is flow, is power, is finesse, is struggle, is failure and is redemption.

At the start of this year, my focus was still the same - how can I win the Great Glen 24 hour race? How can I be on a team who can do more laps than any other competitor. Not to brag (here it comes!) I've already proven that i can beat 50% of teams at a 24 with my legs alone, now i want to prove that i can beat all teams with 4 sets of legs... Why? I don't know. That's the weird thing about competition. It's an uncontrolable desire and usually inexplicable. As the season wound-on and andy, brad and darren talked of doing the race again together, i thought about the past 2 years at GG24 - and how much I enjoyed riding with them 2003 - and begged my way back into the fold.

Brad is a racer from way back and can hold his own in any EFTA or NORBA Expert cat race, Andy is one of the only guys who scares me when he stands to sprint in the singletrack (poof, he's gone!), and Darren is just an old-school, super-strong rider, more interested in riding epics, carrying his bike up mountains, etc than any of this silly racing business. All three of these guys can ride almost any line on any mountain, what do they have to prove? Their confidence is infectious, their understanding and love of "the ride" much greater than my own. But, that is not to lessen the strength of the other personalities i've had the pleasure to train and race on team 24's with - or how much i've enjoyed their company. Rob, Harry, Jason, Nathan... I'd do a race with any of those guys anytime. Just awesome dudes. And that's the point of all this rambling. You meet great people in this scene... just as you do in the ultra-running scene. Just fantastic personalities... people who understand that life is something to be savored - and that pushing yourself to the limit makes it taste so much better.


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