Monday, June 18, 2018

207 Miles and Out of My Mind in the Black Hills

“Who’s the idiot that draws up these course profiles?!?!” 

Seemingly, in my out of mind state, every damn uphill had been twice as long and the downhills that I longed for, that my legs and soul ached for, were always late, if at all in their arrival.

“Screw it. I’m done looking at the damn thing. Only a fool would continue to play a part in this joke.”

Somewhere, behind a computer screen sat behind all too long, in a cubicle that slowly, almost imperceptibly, sucked the life out of it's inhabitant, a revolt had occurred.

The task for the day was to layout the elevation profile for Perry Jewett’s Gold Rush Gravel Grinder. A 207 mile test, dubbed “The Motherlode”. Spearfish South Dakota was the start, and the finish. In between lay the trial and travails within the Black Hills.

Navigation tools included detailed cue sheets making out the distance and direction of each road section. “Mile 28, Left onto Mini Grand Canyon Road. Watch out for the cows.”

For those more electronically savvy, gpx files were also provided. These could be downloaded into a Garmin device or the like and one could simply follow the blue line start to finish, or more appropriately in my current state, cradle to grave. And finally, so that all would have a sense of the ups and downs of it all, the course profile.

It is the mind, always the mind that falters first. In endurance events...and I would argue in any endeavor. Here, to the outside observer, were they to be dropped into this place, it would be idyllic. 

A wide open valley, home to free ranging cattle who passed the day tending to calves, chewing succulent green grasses and paying little attention to passerby cyclists. Aqua blue skies with just a hint of green that reminded one of a pristine high Country lake dotted with only the occasional whispy cloud allowed the sunlight to caress all below.

Much, if not all, at that moment, was lost on me. Of only one thing was I certain. That months, perhaps years earlier, in a “I’m gonna stick it to the man” moment, a person who’s job it was to lay out the course profile, decided, with a heart that longed so much more to be on the course than to plot the course, had decided to make all the climbs appear shorter in distance and interject random hills that in actuality didn’t exist.

I bear this person no ill will. I can even see the humor in it. The relief it would provide one, filled with a wanderlust unable to quench. There was a certain diabolical genius to it actually.

I however was now done being comedic fodder.

Howling to no one in particular...raging more if said programmer were looking down at all of us taking the challenge...”To hell with YOU! I am NOT playing your game anymore. I know what your up to!!!”

Not enough miles behind, still too many ahead...the mind was beginning to falter. I was reminded of an Indian quote I’d read not long ago. “Whichever animal is fed, wins”. Which I took to mean, positive thoughts or negative matter their sanity...whichever gets fed, wins.

I had allowed the negative to enter the buffet line and with each return visit, plate more full than the last, appetite increasing, it's strength grew. Unabated, it would win and all excuses on why a DNF “did not finish”, would be justified.

(To be continued)

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