I had a really good endurance mountain bike season in 2013. I got as fit as I've been in 6 or 7 years, and it was better than other years because (I think) I now have a more demanding job, but one that leaves time for being active.
So I got good fitness, but I was too busy to overtrain as I have done in years past. At least that's my theory. It is the theory that I have, and what it is too.
I had two goals for the year: 1) Finish Durango Dirty Century, 2) Finish Vapor Trail 125. I achieved them both.
And then I just kept going. Two weeks after I completed my ITT of the Vapor Trail 125 I went to Steamboat Springs to compete in the Stinger, a tough 50-miler. Then one week later I entered the 24 Hours in the Sage as solo. And I crashed on my first night lap. Hard. Best diagnosis of my injury was a bone bruise on the point of my pelvis at my left side lower back.
And that was it, I was off the bike. In too much pain to ride. And just burned out and kind of over it.
Then came the events to help run. First the 2013 Vapor Trail 125. Then the resurrection of the Banana Belt Loop Race. Then there was a trail work day last weekend for National Public Lands Day.
But most importantly, I was just feeling kind of lost. Crazy enthusiasm about bicycles has been a constant in my life since the 80s. I've gotten a little tired near the end of the season a few times, but I'm talking October/November. This year, I skipped riding the entire last month of summer, some because of pain but more because of Who Cares?
Some of it is about being tired and spending maybe too many long days just grinding away at the pedals. But some of it is really straight from the crash. I was dead on riding through The Notch at Hartman where I crashed all day long. Five laps. Perfect, never a dab or a bobble. Then I came into it on my first night lap and my eyes saw something that wasn't there. I saw a line that was smooth but it actually was not. My vision--my night vision--failed me. Night riding has been fuel for my passion for over a decade. Is it over for me? Can I safely trust my ability in the dark? I think it's kind of like nearly drowning when you think you're a strong swimmer.
I bought a dirt bike several weeks ago. It's been fun, but I'm such a complete newbie I have to be really careful. Elk season is a couple weeks away, and I've been using the bike to get up into the hills so I can scout.
But I've been lazy. And the weather and other distractions haven't helped--being super busy, then finally getting a free day and watching it start raining before you can finish your morning coffee, kind of takes the wind out of your sails.
So there was a kind of lousy month there. Colorless and odorless.
But Sunday I think it turned. Sunday I rode up the Marshall Pass Road then the Droz Creek jeep road on my Suzuki DRZ-400. I hid it in the woods and hiked up onto a high ridge leading to the northern shoulder of Mt Ouray.
My physical condition has definitely degraded in that month off the bike. But I was able to summon some energy for a hard bushwhack up through an endless aspen slope, and then down into the dark timber of a north-facing slope. I saw a little elk sign, found a couple game trails that are being used a little, but nothing compelling. Saw three does, what appeared to be a bighorn ewe, but no elk.
But it was the most successful of the three scouting trips I've taken so far. I was able to find a bushwhack route that is passable, and more importantly I had the energy to really stay out there and make my legs burn.
Monday after work, feeling sore from a full day of trail work (Saturday) and then a fairly big-for-me hike, instead of cracking a beer and settling onto the couch as has been my pattern during these doldrums, I hiked up into the Arkansas Hills Trail System for an hour. Need to toughen up my hiking muscles.
But most importantly, I need to get off my ass. I know the passion for cycling will come back, in some form. But right now I have a cow elk permit that starts in less than 20 days, and then a buck permit in early November. It's a mission. Scout for elk, hunt elk, scout for deer, hunt deer.
The fire in me isn't yet burning hot, but I think it just needs some stoking. So I'm working on getting stoked.