I rode laps at the 12 Hours of Sundance until I was tired. And then I sat down and watched everyone else do the same. It didn’t take long for me to wear out. I daydreamed a lot out on the trail. I thought about the mountains surrounding me, and how they seem to be almost medicinal. I always feel better about everything when I am in the mountains. Challenges are doable, life is productive, sleep overrated.
Is it the clean air or the thick trees or the endorphin rush of physical activity? I don’t know. But whatever it is, it works. Every time. And I wonder if people who have never really been a part of the mountains or the desert, or any outdoor place have anything that is similar. Does a life long city dweller have a spot or an environment that can put their anxieties at rest, that can cleanse the mind and body?
I think of the stereotypical American vacation. A cross country trip through National Park after National Park, or a weekend at a lake in a high class rented cabin. Nothing wrong with those types of vacations. But how many people are actually out in the dirt, or in the run off water, or getting tangled up in branches and stinging nettle? How many people are actually becoming a part of the outdoors, when they are ‘out doors’?
That is why I love it here. That is why the wild places help me feel civilized and alive. I remember that the world is rugged and enormous and beautiful.
Going in circles is boring. Even in a beautiful setting. Going from here to there will always be more interesting, more rewarding, than going from here to here over and over. But going in circles has its place. And frankly, endurance racing would be worse off without the lap races.
My mind wore out though as quickly as my legs. I still managed to push myself further than I wanted. I still managed to wake up Sunday with kankles and sore muscles. That is the great secret about endurance races. Everyone has a chance to go far and beyond anywhere they have ever been. Regardless of fitness, or skill, or experience. Regardless of anything, a rider can still set a new standard for themselves. And while I did not accomplish that, I watched others do so. And anyway, who says every race has to be a new personal best?
This entire summer has been a long strange trip. I look forward to being once again on that edge, that narrow place bordering burn out and insanity. That place where the next interval is craved, and the extra hour in the saddle a no-brainer. I look forward to lining up and knowing that ahead of me are umpteen miles of unsupported wilderness. But now, and today, it is simply enough to enjoy being out there. A part of the landscape. It is enough to feel the dirt on my face and the sweat down my back. It is enough to know that deep down the desire and the ability to go as fast as I can go is still there, lying dormant. Hibernating. Yes, all that, is all I need. I am satisfied. I am content.