Full time Information Technology jobs can make for an overly homogenized life. Lots of sitting in front of the computer, tapping away writing programs and investigating problems. Lots of sameness, physical safety, fluorescent lighting, and completely man-made environment and experience. The life of the IT Geek is just about as man-made as you get.
I've been craving intensity. Raw life experience. I have been riding quite a bit, having some great days in the mountains. But it has not been enough.
And then there's the Vapor Trail 125; my haunting nemesis. For half a decade it's been a big part of my life, coming along every late summer. I've ridden in 3 of them. The only one I finished was the one where a huge weather event forced us to move the start back and trim the most intense parts off the course.
Every year as the summer wears on, I'm confronted with the question: Will I throw myself at another attempt?
This year I came up with a new plan. Individual Time Trial. Take on the course on my own terms. Start when I want, no concern about making cut-off times. Choose the day based on my own needs and good timing with regard to current weather conditions. All the resources and motivation come from me. No help from aid station volunteers, no cookies provided with a strong dose of encouragement. No EMTs on course in case I break myself.
Because of our busy back-to-school season in July and August at work, we have a moratorium on taking vacation. July and August are really the prime months for doing an around-the-clock bike ride in the Colorado mountains. Early September is the time when the official event happens, but that's because Absolute Bikes is too busy to deal with anything other than business through the summer. Has to be after Labor Day.
For my ITT, I wanted to go during July or August. Mid-summer. About a week ago I had the experience that we have every summer at some point; the realization that there were only so many weekends left in the summer. What am I waiting for? I decided that it should be this weekend. Was I ready? Are you ever ready for something like this?
The only way I saw to do this thing inside a weekend, when I was expected to be at work on Monday at 8 AM, would be to get home from work Friday, pack my pack, and roll before nightfall. The official event starts at 10. But at my speed, which is well documented after 3 official attempts, a 10 PM start doesn't necessarily allow enough time for me to finish before nightfall the following day. So I would leave earlier. Between and 7 and 8 PM.
Working all day then leaving for a 24 hour bike ride that begins by riding through the night, 2 hours after getting home from work, is not an ideal plan. But doing it starting Saturday night would mean finishing Sunday night and having less than 24 hours to rebound before arriving at my desk Monday morning. How about sleeping then leaving early Saturday morning? That would put me up in the super high country starting when the afternoon storms are pounding away up there.
So I got home, rushed around getting packed up and ready, ate a very light meal, and left the house a little after 7:30 riding west into overcast twilight.
I could have invited a number of people to ride with me. Several friends had heard me say that I wanted to ITT the Vapor Trail 125 course, and expressed interest in coming with me. But I felt reluctant to bring somebody into my flawed plan. What if I got slammed down with exhaustion around midnight and had to bail? I came off a 40 hour week, and often I find myself fairly comatose on Saturday mornings. On a certain level, my plan was stupid. I didn't want to bring somebody else into my goofy experience.
And it was a vision quest for me. I wanted to not only finish the Vapor Trail 125, but I wanted to finish it based on my own motivation, my own strength. I did not want to need somebody to support me. And on the flip side, if I decided I wanted to bail I wanted to be able to do it without negotiation.
So there's the set up. Story to follow. After I take a little nap...