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Lessons.

I'm still in a post-ride haze: 141 miles with, 8,400' of climbing, and 130 pounds in tow through the mountains of Colorado with one of my favorite, most inspirational guys.



There's a lot to process from last week. It was wonderful and HARD and life-changing. My Big Bike Adventure with Hank. All of it is too long to ever share in a single post, or ever probably, but I'll try to give you some snippets as I recount our ride together.

For now, I'll share some lessons I've learned in no order of importance.

Lesson #1: There will always be lessons. The thing I love about events (and life) is that you're constantly learning. Something will always come up. The goal should be to figure it out, overcome it, write that shit down and remember it next time.

Lesson #2: Check your shit. Hank got a special bike to ride with me because he was my pusher in this. The HUGE upside was that he was able to train on it getting him comfortable in it for our adventure. The downside was that I didn't train with it or fit it to my bike. The stupid side was waiting until three days before we were supposed to roll to make it all fit.

Lucky me, I have some awesome resources and found an innovative mechanic who refused to say no and made Hank's rig work. The guys at House of Spin in Boulder not only made the attachment work on my thru-axle thanks to some drilling of an adapter piece but also helped deal with damage to Hank's bike from shipping. They made it work and saved our ride. In the end, I was thanking them for their help and how grateful I was to them that I didn't have to tell an 18-year-old kid we were a no go. The response? "Oh. That never would have happened. It was just a question of getting it figured out before the close of business today or meeting tomorrow morning at McGucken's (a local hardware store)." THOSE are good people. And my new mechanics.




Lesson #3: A good support crew is invaluable. We keep it small around here. Just a couple of cars and a few friends/family and everyone plays an important part. From mechanics to side-of-the-road sandwich making to making THE BEST PLAYLIST EVER to literally pushing us when gravel is too loose for a road bike...they're what make it possible. The rule of thumb for this ride is to see a support vehicle every couple of miles (or 1/4 mile if we're climbing) for two reasons:

1. if we need something
2. peace of mind, encouragement, etc. <-- that one is the kicker

I've had two years of kickass support and couldn't have made it without them all.



Lesson #4: When you're convinced you'll fail, try anyway. Tuesday night, before the hardest day which was up and over Kebler Pass on the 3rd day, I realized that it was over. That there was no way I'd physically be able to pull up a gravel mountain pass on a road bike with tired legs.

I had honestly accepted that it was going to my day to finally face the fact that I'd taken on too much.

Turns out, my teammate fucking rocks and within the first half-mile of Kebler, after a few pushes of the pedal from Hank, I knew we'd be OK. That leads me to...

Lesson #5: Never underestimate the power of teamwork (and stubbornness). One of the things that I believe makes my bond with Hank so special is that we're kindred spirits: we like a good time and stubbornness seems to innate. The latter is what I'm convinced got us over Kebler that third day. He pushed when I needed him. I pulled when I didn't think I could turn another pedal over. We smiled when the hill leveled out a bit. We stopped to take pics. We looked around at the beauty of that place. We got it done because we both had something to prove to the other. We got to the top TOGETHER. There was no other way it could have been done.

Lesson #6: Face those fears. I've pretty much spent the last 3.5 years of my life in a state of facing fears and stepping outside of comfort zones and sometimes it's just exhausting. Easy would be nice every now and then, right? But, Oh! the joy of accomplishing something that makes you want to vomit before you started! Knowing the route this year caused a lot of anxiety in this already anxiety-ridden gal. It was terrifying and I did what I do best: got in my own head. But then I did the other thing I've learned to do well: DO THE THING ANYWAY. And as it turns out, that pays off tenfold.



I'm a little stronger. A lot tougher. And have less to prove to myself after last week with Hank. I have no idea what happens next because for the first time in 2 years I have nothing official planned. So. It's time to process, ride the bike for some fun, and enjoy the moments experienced and lessons learned.

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