Posted by on Sep 6, 2010 in Bike, Races | 12 Comments

I sat lifelessly in a chair. The commotion of the aid station surrounded me. It was vexing. All the encouragement and cheerleading. And the thick positivity. I wanted everyone to be quiet. To go away. To let me suffer in my own cocoon of self pity and forlorn disappointment. Somebody stuck an orange in my face.



“You’ve got to eat.”

“I’m not eating. I’m not finishing. I’m staying right here.”

“Eat. And then go finish the race.”

“You go finish the race.”

After a few minutes of pouting I found myself watching the riders coming and going from the aid station. It was 60 miles into the race, and at the conclusion of a long, demanding and remote—by race standards—section of technical, twisted, rooted, dusty, singeltrack. It’s the section of the Point 2 Point course that I have always called the crux of the entire route. Two climbs to 9,000 feet. 2 white-knucled descents. And almost 30 miles without resupply or any sort of mental reprieve. It’s a gauntlet of difficult riding, and emotional implosion.

But while I idled in the darkness, others—equally as blinkered and worn and distraught as I was—muscled through the black pain. They pointed their wheels upward and disappeared into the thick hillside and switchbacks of the Spiro trail. I resented them, but only momentarily.

“What do they know. I should have been here an hour ago. Why should I bother finishing, if I can’t finish as fast as I wanted?”

In an instant of realization and revelation, the absurdity of such thoughts dawned on me. I felt stupid. Embarrassed. And though I never voiced those thoughts at the time, having even thought them shamed me into a submission and acceptance of what was actually happening, rather than what I believed should have been taking place.

“Grow up. Man up. Pedal. Pedal dammit!”

And so begrudgingly, I got back on my bike. The darkness that had engulfed me somewhere up above, near Shadow Lake had been eclipsed—if only somewhat—by a shadowy optimism and determination to fight through the blackness and the overwrought sense of self-ordained importance. Nobody else cared about my expectations. Not when they were fighting off their own devils and demons and dark chasms of despair. And yet, none of them were pouting petulantly, or looking for pity and sympathy. And so up the switchbacks, and the point of no return I—we—went.

I knew there was significant risk in anchoring my entire summer on one, rather difficult event. And I knew that that risk increased exponentially with every hyperbolic ambition of heroic and jaw-dropping achievement. But I also knew that I needed those delusions of grandeur. I needed the extra motivation and determination to fuel my preparation and my training. In the end, I used every bit  I had. I dug deep—deeper than ever—though not in the context or toward the result I had hoped for. Just finishing became the victory. The end. The delusion. And indeed, there were hours of black contemplation wherein I saw no possible means to that end. I wanted nothing to do with finishing. I wanted nothing to do with anything.

But, and not surprisingly, the means to that end became my fellow riders. Hard men and women that I had seen suffer and struggle and dig in the past. But never like this. Never had so much pride been stripped from so many accomplished and stubborn bike riders. Myself included. And never had I seen so many of them ignore the cold stare of the devil with such brash impunity. One after the other huffed and puffed and pedaled by me as I stood trailside again and again—hoping in vain to somehow pull out of the nosedive I found myself in. Defiant, yet visibly teetering on the edge, they rattled by. And each of them offered words of reinforcment and encouragment.

“Come on Grizzly.”

“Get back on the bike.”

“Jump on my wheel, let’s get this done.”

Damn the shattered “what ifs” or “should have beens” that slipped away suddenly and abruptly. Damn the golden windows or the “race of my life.” None of that mattered. Although, admittedly, those things still persisted in the back of my mind. And still are. But they were never more than possibilities to begin with. And only remained so for a few hours on race day. In the end, crossing the finish line was the only possibility that carried any sort of meaning or tangible understanding.

And when that became an inevitability, especially after the ferocious argument I had with myself—an argument that lasted for hours—the thoughts of what might have been gave way to different, darker thoughts of what might have been had I stayed in that chair at mile 60. In other words, I’m proud of my result. I’m proud I was able to dig my way out of the blackness and fear and angry, bitter hostility that so quickly engulfed me during the race. And I am inspired that so many others were able to do the same. That so many others found themselves conquering themselves. Going above and beyond what was thought possible.

So, yeah. I finished.*

In spite of myself.

*And just so Mark isn’t confused—I’m not whining. I’m bragging about how tough I am. And I’ll STFU when I damn well please.


  1. Rick S.
    September 6, 2010

    Nice finish Adam. That looked like hell.

  2. brad Sneed
    September 6, 2010

    Well said Griz…What a day on the bike!

  3. Dave
    September 6, 2010

    Nice work Adam. As I sat on the sidelines and watched your furious pace through Aid #1 I thought that I was witnessing “Adam 2.0”. Really, I had to look at my watch twice. In hindsight, maybe it was a fuzz too fast given the heat of the day? 🙂 It is not such a bad thing to blow up once in a while and learn where your pacing limits are. The best part is that you finished. Congrats. I see others DNF’ing because they couldnt’ throw down a specific time or stay with the lead group and that is simply lame.

  4. Kendra
    September 6, 2010

    I have to laugh as I read the first part of this blog entry. The funny part is now I read it I remember you saying something about being done, but at the time I didn’t really hear it. I did hear you not wanting to eat and me insisting you needed to eat, the other was irrelavant. As part of your support and aid station we had determined no one arriving at that point would not continue on, you had come way too far to not finish. So your comments of being done were dismissed as you may have noticed, and we prepped your bike and got you ready to go on your way. However, with that said you were one of 3 that day I was worried as you left. You had not eaten much and you were definitely in a deep, dark place that I was not sure you were going to come out of. What a relief to see you cross the finish line and surprisingly look in good spirits. Way to go overcoming the demons of the race and finishing!

    • Grizzly Adam
      September 6, 2010

      Kendra, you guys were amazing. Thanks for kicking me back out onto the trail.

  5. evilbanks
    September 6, 2010

    Hey man—-as always, great write up. Also, really nice job crossing the finish line. I can’t explain how much regret I felt the next morning for not pushing through the darkness. Good chatting with you post race as well–

  6. Jeff Higham
    September 6, 2010

    Well said. I’m sure all of the racers were thinking the same thoughts. I know I was particularly after the PC aide station. Good work finishing up strong. Your last sprint to the line looked determined.

  7. Jonnie J
    September 6, 2010

    Griz – That was a beast of a race. I had many doubts myself as I struggled toward PC. Glad the A-hole side of me came out on the descent and told me to sack up and continue on. Great write up.

  8. mark
    September 6, 2010

    Way to finish, Adam. I had my chance at an entry and turned it down because I didn’t want to pay for the privilege of the ass-kicking I knew that course would dish out.

    • Grizzly Adam
      September 7, 2010

      Thanks Mark. Sometimes a good ass-kicking is well worth the price. Sometimes.

  9. Jason M
    September 7, 2010

    Nicely done! It was great to actually meet and ride with you! You must have hammered that decent on MMT, after my mechanical that took less the 30 second to fix I gave it everything I had to catch back up, no such thing! Great work turning thing around! Impressive!

  10. Eric
    September 10, 2010

    amazing to read your story after seeing your finish time first. for as much suffering you went through you still posted a solid finish time. very nice work grizz and as usual a great write up.

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