The Human Experience?

Posted by on Apr 26, 2007 in Uncategorized | No Comments

Behind me the TV is on. Some talking head on ESPN is trying hard to sound intelligent about some NFL prospect. The NFL draft is looming, and ESPN devotes far, FAR to much time to it. It’s teams picking players. Picking teams. Remember when you were a kid on the playground, and teams were picked? That’s getting a week of TV coverage now.

Apparently the above mentioned prospect is 30lbs heavier than Peyton Manning.

And now I read Dave’s latest thoughts, as his evolution in the sport continues:

“Because its me and the course and it’s as simple as that. It’s pure. The only external influence on my actions is the wind, sun, trail. To me, this is the essence of athleticism – or dare I say the human experience.”

I hear that siren call of the solo mission. The lonely dark, the wide open spaces. Life is much to short to worry about going in laps (all the time) and certainly much to short to pontificate about how far this NFL prospect will slip because he doesn’t have the smarts of Tom Brady.

(I’m not making this stuff up, it’s on behind me…it’s awful.)

As I progress in this world of endurance racing, I am realizing how small it can make the rest of the world feel. After the KTR last year, I lined up at a local XC race. It felt…insignificant. I raced, and had fun, but at no point did I ever have to go anywhere near that spot I found on Troy’s Loop, sitting in the pseudo shade, eyes blurry, feet numb, and mind foggy. At that point everything was significant. Every forward movement, each pedal stroke, each rock and boulder and passing minute meant something.

I think that is what we are all trying to duplicate. Dave’s world seemed to change with that race. Mine did to. For the first time the “human experience” was as clear as it’s ever been. At least the athletic part of it. I’d be cheating my experience if I said that bike riding only, closed the gaps that family and religion fill.

But there is something about truly mind numbing physical exertion that brings people to their knees.

I won’t pretend that this only happens in bike rides. It must happen for runners and climbers and…football players? Do big time athletes have these epiphanies? Or are they to busy negotiating contracts, drive by shootings, snorting drugs and hangin’ with a posse to even notice?

Vision quest.

The Heroes journey.

That journey ultimately ends with the innocent and naive becoming the wise and learned. It is the discovery of the powerful self. Of knowing just how deep you can dig, when digging is all you have left.

ESPN doesn’t want to know about that though. They are to busy reporting about the arm strength and eating habits of college footballers to know that the real stories are taking place high in the mountains, or deep in the desert.

Rose Garden Hill, Kokopelli’s Trail


  1. Jill
    April 27, 2007

    Yesterday my boyfriend and I were talking about Dave’s post when we got to the subject of Mike Curiak, and then John Stamstad. And he said, “What is it about Endurance Cycling that can’t contain its biggest players?”

    I think you just hit on it.

  2. Mike
    April 27, 2007

    While I agree with most of your article, I really do not agree with your anger at football players. 95% of the pro football players have the same passion we have for our sport. They train hard, they live for their dream. They push their bodies to the point of exertion. They too get epiphanies and missions. Some have hard time retiring.

    Now 5% are bad apples maybe more but surly not most. Do you not think we have bad apples too? Do you really think our sport is dope free? We just do not get the media coverage because there is not the same money in it that football has. Trust me if Ultra Endurance Mountain Biking had $10 million dollar signing bonuses and was some how TV friendly Mel Kiper would be talking about leg strength and the ability to climb a specific hill so many times in 1 hour and other exercises that show the potential of an athlete to go to a team.

    Either way there are still people that are realizing dreams. We are more similar then different IMO. We all push our bodies to extremes and enjoy doing so.

  3. Jason
    April 27, 2007

    I’m in agreement. I use to love sports like football. Then I just liked College football. Now I can’t watch ANY of it.

    To much emphasis put on acting or looking like a bad ass. Yeah, there are guys who go about their biz, do their thing etc., but the media blitzs (pun intended) us with the Terrel Owens’ of the sport and the contract crap.

    What makes someone like myself go and line up for a race like the Mohican 100, up against some of the biggest names of our sport with about a .0001% chance of placing in the top 10?

    It’s just pure love up accomplishment and pushing myself and paying for the pleasure.

    Maybe if ESPN dedicated shows about the players love of the “sport”, or their training efforts rather than just the continuous contract pissing contests that most pro athletes take part in I would watch more.

    Sadly I think ratings would drop. For I believe that 80% of the US wants to just sit on the couch eat their Doritos and play “fantasy” football.

    For me getting out and DOING the sport is the fantasy. Am I’m living it. You’re living it and most of the folks that check your blog are living it.

    Enjoy the ride.

    Sorry for the rant.


  4. Ed
    April 27, 2007

    Keep it pure. It’s you and the bike, and the trail is your guide through nature and all the beauty it contains.

    The distractions of big time sports create a very difficult environment for a person to keep it pure – very few succeed. Examples? Walter Payton maybe…

    Heading to Fruita, I’ll be thinking of your post on our ride tonight and tomorrow morning.


  5. Adam Lisonbee
    April 28, 2007

    All interesting thoughts. Thanks for chiming in.

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