The next 25 miles were nothing but fire road and head wind. I felt ok but began to see the letters again. DNF. “Fuck….do you wanna do this shit all day and STILL DNF?”
I stopped. I’d start pedaling again but with a little less gusto. I got out a map and tried to get my bearings. I knew Lake City was close and Gunnison was close. Which was closer though? I stopped to talk to a rancher. I was about halfway between the 2. I already had about 30 miles in for the day. DNF.
I tried to rationalize things. Screw the CTR. I convinced myself that this year was different than last year. Last year I was forced to quit. This year it was completely my decision. Suddenly I was ok with that. I sat there for a while and thought about things. Part of me was fine with turning around and heading to Gunny and part of me wasn’t. I don’t need to tell you which part won.
Within a few hours I was in Gunny and cleaning up at the bathroom in the park. I looked like absolute shit. My eyes were puffy. My left wrist was swollen and extremely sore. Then I went for food at a café. I figured I’d just sit in town and eat until Heather came to get me. I looked at pics on the camera. I drank coffee. I watched people walk by. Some would look at my bike. The look on their faces was one of, “Who in the hell would ride that thing with all that crap on there?”
The ride back into Gunnison was a heck of a lot longer than I thought it was going to be but it was pretty with plenty of bighorns to be seen.
Last year a bearing on my rear hub gave out and I was forced to quit. This year I was beaten down mentally. I just never recovered from Sargents Mesa. Obviously my ignorance to nutrition is to blame. When I get de-hydrated and don’t eat right, I get emotional. The CTR is not for the weak-minded. I have spent the last 24 months working to get into better bike shape but that’s not what kept me from getting to Durango this year. It was poor nutrition. It was my head. I’ve always had people tell me how mentally tough I am. I’m not as tough as I thought. I’ve not looked at a map or added up the mileage on that last day to see where I would have been if I hadn’t turned around until yesterday after talking with Marshal.
When pushed, the body starts to go through these cycles of ups and downs. The highs are really sweet and the lows are gut wrenching but….they don’t last and that’s what I learned this year. The lows DO end. Ya just gotta ride through them. When I got home, I said I wouldn’t be back again next year. It’s still too early to tell yet but I do know that I will not spend so much time riding 8 and 10 hours on the road this coming year. I wanna do more backpacking and playing with nutrition. I wanna do more things that bring me to edge of mental breakdown. I wanna do more mountain biking. I wanna do a lot more overnighters with my mountain bike and my fly rod. I can put in a 16 hour day but I can’t finish that trail and enjoy it until I get some nutritional things squared away. With the help of new friends like Dave Harris, Chris Plesko, and Marshal Bird, I have learned a ton since getting back home. Thank you so much for the help guys. This weekend I’ll be doing a 70 mile ride through the desert. It’ll have about 15,000’ of climbing. I’ve put more thought into what foods I’ll be eating for this one day ride than I did for the entire CTR.
After much thought, I don’t buy that I’m not cut out for this race. I don’t buy that I’m too skinny. I definitely need to figure out my body. I need to know how to bounce back when I’m already too far over the edge. That’s what this year will be all about.
I need to thank my wife for supporting this obsession for the last 2 years. I need to apologize to her for having to possibly deal with it for another year. Thanks to my friends for all the encouragement. I love you all. To be continued (most likely) AGAIN.