The epic trip that was a year in the making is a good reason to carve out some time to write again! There is way more that I want to store in my memories about this week (I just have to transcribe each day of my travel diary to this blog) but writing down this generic one before I leave that world too far behind and before I forget too much.
How do I even begin to put down on paper my feelings & thoughts after an epic tour such as the Glacier to Yellowstone Bike Tour with The Cycling House? Do I describe the miles every day, the climbs, the scenery, the journey of riding multiple days, or the multitude of … oh so many many different emotions!
I think I’ll start with the experience of a non-cyclist doing a multi-day bike tour with The Cycling House.
Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.
Our tour idea started when Barbara put forth the suggestion a year ago as we were all coming to the realization that Covid wasn’t a 2 week or a 2-month thing. I signed up out of FOMO but still had a lot of reservations – I am not a cyclist, I’ve never ‘fallen in love’ with the bike even when I was pulling in 100-120 miles/week during my months of training for Augusta 70.3. What was I getting myself into for thinking I could ride an entire week!!!!
Every adventure needs a bit of excitement and nervousness. And I’ve always enjoyed the ride only if I throw myself into it 120% without half ar$ing it! We trained indoors, we trained outdoors, we even went on a “Johnston Mountain” adventure.
Going into the tour without any expectations other than a wish to complete and without any restrictions of time limitations, gave me the freedom to try something I’ve never done before in the company of friends. I loved being a tourist on the bike and taking in the scenery and my thoughts way more than I could do from a car.
After saying never for the past 6-7 years, the Universe opened me up to the possibility of loving cycling.
During our Alaska vacation earlier in the year, my family joked that I would be treated to a vacation where all I would have to do was show up – they’d take care of everything, including my packing. “Joked” being the keyword of this pipe dream. As with almost every mom, even on a vacation, I’m trying to do it all – constantly thinking of activities to do, things to see, and what to eat, and how to keep everyone from ripping each other’s heads off.
This tour, however, was a TRUE vacation for me. Yes, we added on miles and elevation every single day. But the rest of it was absolute bliss. Everything was taken care of … to the point that I started feeling embarrassed about a grown ar$e person like me just sitting around doing nothing and plates of food magically appearing/cleared away!
Never in my adult life had I been taken care of and pampered so much. And for a brief moment, I forgot that I had a real life to go back to.
It’s no use going back to yesterday, because I was a different person then.Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland
Day 1’s shake-out ride was hot, miserable, and honestly a little scary thinking of days ahead. I had a mini temper tantrum that evening.
Day 2 brought a wonderful climb on Going to the Sun Road up to Logan Pass to cheering from cars trailing behind me and it all seemed like a dream. I was elated!
On Day 3 of the tour, I had a fatigued and uninspiring first 25 miles and I thought about pulling the plug on the ride midway. That evening I wrote – “Have you ever felt the exact moment that you had a mental mind-shift? The 2nd half of this 55-mile ride was my moment. Andrew didn’t let me think of stopping because I was having so much fun and I finished on the most incredible high and mentally I felt the shift in me from nervous “can I do it” to a matter of fact “why not, I will do it”.”
And this on the day of Beartooth Pass ride (Day 6) – “That moment where you see what you just did and realize what you are capable of and how much more you are than what you think. I didn’t think I’d be able to climb Beartooth. But I did. I never knew what I was capable of. And it still surprises me.”
A challenge, a plan, the hard work training over a year, the friends, a lot of soul searching “my why”, a mental mind-shift, and discovering strength within, all leading to an incredible experience finding out how much more I am capable of than what I think.
How can I not look back on that and not feel like a badass ready to take on anything the world/work throws at me?
I rode the miles.
I did it!
A lot of “I” in those sentences, but I did it with friends!
“When the wind stands fair and the night is perfect. When you least expect it but always when you need it the most. There is a song”The Twelfth Doctor
Ok, that’s a bit dramatic but that’s how inspiration strikes – when you least expect it but always when you need it. (And this diehard Whovian loves that quote! But, I digress …)
Inspiration in art, music, life, anything,… for me it was food.
I’ve always loved to cook good food but of late I have become very blasé about food. The crazy speed of kids & activities, work & life often leaves me throwing things together and treating food as something my body needs to survive vs something to enjoy & nourish my body. Not to mention that Mr. FauxRunner who tends to just want the good food vs. having to deal with waiting for me to cook it and then clean it up; and hence we end up with a lot of take outs.
The week riding from Glacier to Yellowstone and hearing Chef Steven’s nightly dinner talk reminded me of what it was to love each ingredient that went into the food and how food can be a time for quiet reflection instead of my usual go-go-go. The speed of my everyday life cannot slow down, but I am inspired to give myself some cooking time, to appreciate what the earth gives us, to understand how my body responds, and to remember to pass on memories to my kids.
“The BA-BAs” (Bada$$ BoatAnchors doing Cool Shit)
“Take the Bump”
“Your Burrito will Follow You”
There is something special about sharing miles and pains of the road/trail that makes more than mere acquaintances of us all (Of course, I also rarely meet a stranger who’s not a friend – only during endurance events, mind you, otherwise you couldn’t tempt with all the icecream in the world to open my mouth!)
I renewed friendships with people I’d known before and hopefully made new friends. I laughed, I blushed, I giggled. I laughed some more. I may even have shed a tear or two.
The best part of anything I undertake (the quest for World Marathon Majors, the Ragnar Relay, my 70.3 in Augusta, this Bike Tour, …) is always the people I meet. I retain some of these friendships for life and some fizzle out due to time & distance. But memories of these once-strangers always burn strong.
I leave behind a small part of my heart in Montana (and the mountains of Wyoming), carefully wrapping up the tour in my memories, to talk and draw on it for days to come, and, I never thought I’d say this ever, for the next time I go on a cycling adventure like this.
“Success is not final; failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.”Winston Churchill