It is hard to know just exactly how to describe my experience at the VT125. I felt strong throughout the race, and really tried to push the pace. But underneath the typical “race” stuff, was a fantastic day of riding in a setting that left me both exhausted and awe-inspired.
What stands out right now about the day was the rich variety of experiences….
The traverse across the Colorado Trail was terrifying, and yet so much fun that despite riding it sloppy and clumsily, I was smiling through it all.
While climbing up to Hancock Townsite, I was repeatedly taking a closer look at the white tipped pines, over and over convinced that the white tips were actually snow. Of course it wasn’t snow, but the cold morning and the frost on the ground wanted me to believe otherwise.
As I climbed, my feet froze, and my beard became slushy. But as I rose in altitude, so did the sun. In front of me a red light blinked, and behind me a white one bobbed. Other riders, making their way up the mountain. The sky turned from black, to a deep purple, and then, almost suddenly, it was light. I climbed the Alpine Tunnel rail grade, picking my way over the rotted rail ties and through the puddles of summer run off, and as I did so, I simply felt alive.
I felt incredible going up the Alpine grade. All my senses were being assaulted with the beauty that surrounded me. The fresh mountain air filled my lungs, so cold it almost quenched my thirst. The sun, creeping over the surrounding peaks, the trail, doing it’s best to pull me back down the mountain… it was surreal, and thrilling.
Eventually I was faced with a hard choice. Continue on, or turn back and end the day.
I stood trailside, on the Monarch Crest, a storm rolling in rapidly, and waffled back and forth. Eventually my indecision gave way to decision, and I made the conservative choice. I turned back, and returned to the aid station a few miles back. It was clear that to finish the beast was going to take much, much longer than I had anticipated. And it was probably going to keep volunteers on the course longer than needed.
So I turned around.
I would have loved to have been able to finish the race. But I had an incredible day in the saddle regardless. I pushed my body and mind to new places, I saw and experienced things I had yet to see and experience. It was the highlight of my season, and a ride I will not soon forget.