The Triple Crown
Many people told me that the Colorado Trail Race was going to be brutal. I think they meant physically because I had just completed the Tour Divide two week prior. Having never been on any of the Colorado Trail I really didn’t know what to expect, so I expected to worst. I imagined an entire trail that was barely rideable, with hundreds of miles of HAB, spending the afternoons dodging lightning bolts and getting pounded by hail and rain. I had heard the stories, but how bad could it be?
I looked on the positive side of things, at least there wasn’t a giant canyon in the middle of the damn ride right? The pain and suffering from the Arizona Trail was awesome looking back on it, and in a way I miss it, but I have been there, done that so its time for a new challenge, something harder.
There was certainly a mental progression, some sort of adaptation I went through after each race, no return to reality or the easy day to day grind, I stayed in full go mode. Instead of each ride becoming increasingly difficult due to the lack of recovery it became easier. By the time the Colorado Trail came around nothing would even phase me, the rough trail, endless climbs, calf muscle destruction, soreness, blisters or exhaustion. I’m not saying that I didn’t feel pain, I’m saying that I didn’t feel as though I suffered like I normally would have, or almost at all. In fact, the harder things became the more it fueled me, I wanted to suffer, I wanted to break myself down mentally, to reach a new level, but I couldn’t get there for some reason. It was the first time that I had ever experienced pure enjoyment out of feeling completely zonked. To force myself to push it I sent my entire sleeping kit home in Leadville. It would force me to only take a little nap here and there and to push almost 44 hours strait at the end and to be cold and miserable at times with no outlet of going to bed in a warm sleeping bag, but it’s what I wanted, to push my limits just a little bit further and to suffer.
One feeling accompanied by the increase in mental fortitude was my lack of emotion. There were very few euphoric moments, no intense feelings of happiness, and no feeling closure at the end of the race, “what is next, really?”. Maybe this is something that every other experienced ultra racer has experienced just from putting in the time? It was not as though this lack of emotion absorbed any enjoyment from my experience; I just enjoyed the experience in a different way. Instead of having those awesome moments where the weather is beautiful, riding excellent single track or watching an amazing sunset while riding I had my favorite moments when it was pouring rain, when I was at my worst, when I was suffering.
I feel as though I have just exhausted the sport and burned myself out. I need something more intense. Sure I can just go do more bikepacking races but to me it seems like its the same experience just different scenery. I think it’s time I go discover something else and come back to cycling when I miss it, time for a break.
I could go on and on about how bored I am now that I am back and what not, but if there is one thing I learned during the Triple Crown, most notably during the CTR, it’s that I can accomplish anything I set my mind to, it has given me the confidence I need to do literally “anything”. I’ve also found what truly makes me happy.
Anyways, I’m not doing a real trip report but I did have a great time and it was great to make some new friends out there. Checking out from the bike for awhile, everyone take care. I did post some pictures from the CTR though. They’re below.