I was having my morning coffee sitting on a terra-cotta patio in Sayulita, Mexico. The sunrise was somewhat hidden behind brownish-grey skies but the temperature was warm and pleasant. I had been invited on this surf trip by Nick, fellow rider and philosopher I met on one of the local Tuesday night rides. Nick, along with a group of his friends took the chance and let me tag along. The group treated me like one of them even though what I did came nowhere close to be called surfing, but they coached me along and let me eat at their table.
And so on this overcast morning I was sitting in my damp shorts having coffee and listening to a snow bird from Canada by the name of Joe tell me about the social and political environment of this charming little town. Joe was a middle aged man with a cheerful and friendly attitude, who had spent many seasons here and for not being a true local, he seemed to know quite a lot about the place and as such spoke with significant conviction on topics like local work ethic, culture and other civil matters as well as which vendor had the best empanadas.
But all good things come to an end, and so, the soapbox Joe was standing on was rudely kicked from under his feet by my phone chirp receiving a couple of text messages. Preacher down!
The registration for the Telluride 100 was now open and local riders, Noah and Tim were eager to make sure I got in as they both had already signed up.
This news diverted my interest from Joe's formidable piece of oration, and upon noticing his loss of audience captivation, Joe switched gears and became somewhat more reflective as though the gravity of his own words were taking deep roots in the fertile ground of his own beautiful mind. I left Joe to continue the self-pollination of his mental faculties in order to focus on the matter at hand and reply to the comrades who texted me. “Boys, I am out of town but as soon as I get back I will be sure to sign up”
Well, Joe, the terra-cotta patio and I as well as the surf group eventually parted ways and soon after I found myself back home in the blizzard conditions of Telluride. It was the month of November, the air was cold and homes around the country were smashing pumpkins and killing turkeys in the name of gratefulness. This had little to no effect on me as I was preoccupied by the upcoming Telluride 100 Race. I needed to stay in shape and skate ski this winter; maybe some running and jiu jitsu as well. What else….
Oh yeah, I also needed a bike to ride. The bike I owned was a P.O.C. $400 eBay purchase that let me get around on some of the local trails and have some fun, but I mostly used it to practice my crashes. Whether lack of skill or faulty machine, I’m not the one to say, but all I knew was that the bike topic could no longer be ignored. A high caliber, epic race like the Telluride 100, deserved better and it would have been pure blasphemy for me to ride my lame mule to the starting line; a disrespectful move offensive to the race and the sport of cycling in general.
So, I weighed my options. First thought was to wash the old mule. But where is the excitement in that?
Finally picked up the phone and called master bike builder and friend Rob Rupe of Define Cycles. Rob is an old school rider, a true eccentric craftsman and quite opinionated on cycling topics. My kind of guy.
“Here’s how it will be…” said he, then continued to tell me about the latest technology in the bike industry. Most of it was Chinese to me, so I let him take the lead and I just sat back and peacefully dreamed dreams of glory.
A couple of weeks went by and with time, my excitement was eclipsed by other things, but in the deep recesses of my mind, I really looked forward to getting this bike.
A month or so passed and eventually the frame was finished and shipped to a shop in Durango. The parts needed to be ordered and the thing put together, I was told.
“Awesome! Send me some pics of the frame” I asked.
“NO” was the answer.
Okie dokie...well, not much for me to do other than enjoy playing the waiting game. I’ve been told that patience is a virtue. Virtue is good… and with that lofty goal in mind I took this one in stride…. and more strides… and more… From the beginning of March until well into the eleventh hour of July 24. It was the Friday before the Saturday race, when the call came that my bike was finally ready. Just in time because I ran out of virtue and had almost given up on this dream.
So, without further ado, I jumped in my truck and headed Durango to pick up the bike. When I arrived at the bike shop, the man in charge of the build was apologetic and in attempt of make up for the extensive timeframe, became overly thorough in explaining to me matters of removing the front wheel, aligning the fork legs when getting the wheel mounted back, tyre pressure for the specific rims, torque levels for seat post, stem and so on. I stood there under the instructional barrage of 20 years of bike technology compressed in 1.5 hours. Like the sponge I am, I nodded throughout this lecture confirming my absorption of valuable information, but upon leaving the shop with a brand-spanking new bike, I left most of it behind.
THE PREP & THE REASONING
Bike in the truck, I drove fast through the rain to arrive back in Telluride around 5pm. I received text notice that the registration and the mandatory meeting were already underway up in Mountain Village, an event I mostly missed, but luckily my wife was working the registration desk and she made up for my shortcomings. All signed up, with goodie bag in hand, I descended by gondola and went straight to the store to load up on the fuel for what I suspected was going to be an all day excursion.
· Salami, Swiss Cheese, Butter, Pita Bread (salty sandwiches)
· Coconut Butter, Almond Butter, Cacao Chips, Honey, Pita Bread (sweet sandwiches)
· Cherry Juice, Chia Seeds, Water (bottles for lap 1 & 2 starts)
· Pay Day Bars in my shorts band (sugar & salt prior to bonking)
· 6 Water Bottles
· Anti-cramp capsules
Now, this may not look like what performance athletes use as their fuel, and frankly I’m indifferent to others’ preferences, choosing to eat foods I like, high in fat and salt with sugar as a secondary, emergency supplement. I also suspected that with my longest ride of the year being around 4 hours, I was venturing pretty far out into uncharted territory.
Some of the riders that did the race last year gave me valuable feedback but at the end of the day, this was not a team event so I knew that my only companions were going to be my thoughts and the sandwiches I packed. Fair enough...
That night, I slept the dreamless sleep of the dead, with my alarm waking me up at 4am. I sprang out of bed with a level of agility that surprised even me, showered and loaded my jersey pockets with the first lap goods; mainly the aforementioned food and water. My wife and two daughters accompanied me to the starting line and upon arriving, I was surprised to the ovation I received from the local riders. Wow! Thanks guys!
This was short lived because I realized that the attention was on my new bike and not its rider. Most of these guys knew I was getting a bike made and as the months passed, they would periodically ask me how it was coming. Progress was slow, which felt like I was chasing a unicorn, but eventually I captured the mythical beast and stood astride of it that very morning; there I was, a beautiful image comprised of shaved legs, clean Telluride Cycling Club Kit and brand new bike – the ingredients of the perfect poseur. But as any unicorn would, my bike got most of the attention.
However, there was no time to split hairs on this as Tobin, the race director, was already counting down to the start.
to be continued...