“And, whenever you find yourself saying “I can’t” – I can’t afford it, I can’t spare the time, I can’t climb a hill – just try replacing the word “can’t” with “choose not to”… It is a very powerful way of getting to the bottom of whether a problem is genuine or just an excuse – I choose not to afford it, I choose not to spare the time, I choose not to climb a hill.”
-Alastair Humphreys #microadventure
A few years ago, I dragged my new girlfriend, Kammie, and two friends (none of which were cyclists) to the premier showing of Mike Dion’s Ride the Divide in downtown Denver. Bike-packing was still something of a novelty then, a new burgeoning sport yet to hit the masses, and I desperately wanted to be a part of it, but multi-day races like the Colorado Trail Race and the Tour Divide still frolicked in the realms of myth and imagination rather than my reality. I had never even truly raced a bike before, much less with pounds of gear over hundreds of miles! It was a far off place for a far off time. “Someday…”
About to take off on my first bike-packing tour on the Colorado Trail. At a newly minted 30 years old, it’s ready or not!
The film was everything I hoped it would be, an introduction to the kind of athletic challenge and backcountry adventure I’d been waiting for, and my dreams had been given definition. “Those guys are beasts!” my buddy Ron clamored, slapping me on the back as we left the theater. “Yeah they are,” I smiled quietly in agreement. Then I promised myself, “And I’m going to be one of them!”
“My bike takes me places school never could,” or so says the bumper sticker on my car… As a middle school teacher, this is probably heresy, but at times I’ve found it to be true…
This is not one of those times…
Last week, one of my 7th grade students brought me a letter. Being the week before Christmas break, this was not out of the ordinary, but this one was different… There were no Starbucks gift cards, chocolate caramels, or homemade cookies, often a sign of Mom’s influence more than the student’s. (Don’t get me wrong, it’s still very much appreciated, but it just doesn’t have the same “magic” as when you know it comes solely from the student themselves.) This was simply a piece of paper, folded in half as a “card”, with colorful kid scratch on the front: “Feel better Mr. Schuhmann.”
She even spelled my name right!.
I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to a wet morning, and found my muddied coat hanging above the table where I had eaten dinner the previous evening, now a world away. I pause, pursing my lips and staring at it vacantly, before snatching it off the hook with equal disgust and relief. As I went through the motions of packing my possessions, I didn’t speak a word to my cabin mates, especially the midnight flapper, whom I had developed a considerable hatred for throughout the night. Instead, I geared up for a rehashing of last night’s endless ten mile slog over Cabin Pass. Again…
My legs have nothing for it though, and I’m forced walk many of the climbs that I easily rode yesterday. My achilles grow tighter and tighter with each step, like a wound rubber band pulled from both ends.
And rain: Over the pass. Down the pass. Beyond the pass. Another pass.
It’s amazing how quickly fortunes can change on the Tour Divide. One minute, the sun is shining and life is beautiful, and the next the clouds in your own head are darker than the ones threatening above…
(Continued from Canada you’re alright! And I think I’m getting the hang of this!)
Redesigned my stickers a bit today, and I love the new look! If you’d like one, send me a line and I’ll send you one! Also, I’ll be down in Crested Butte for Vinnetok with them over the Sept 20th weekend.
Of course, the wife wanted a pink one…