It’s a crystal clear, calm spring morning. The air is clean and fresh, the sun is starting to warm up your body and the sky is blue. Like most mornings you are out on your bike. You have been riding for maybe an hour, but you are not exactly sure. On a day like today, who is counting the minutes anyways? You are headed towards the top of the highest mountain on today’s ride. Your body is responding well to the requirements of the climb and your mind is calm and clear. You are focused. You are not drifting away today, like you do on some days, you find a sort of inner peace. Just you, the bike and the road leading up to the top. No thinking about the bills that need to be paid, the yard-work you have been putting off for the last 2 weeks or how your toughest competitors will do this season.
At this moment, you wouldn’t want to be anywhere else, or do anything else. As you work your way up along the narrow, winding road, you are constantly looking for that next “nature experience”. You know this is deer and moose country. Last fall you hiked up the side of this mountain many times, hunting the “king of the forest”. When you plan training rides, you always try to find areas rich in wildlife. What if you can see a big bull, or a maybe a doe with her fawn? As you turn the corner and the forest opens up into an open alpine bog, you see them! The doe is gracing at the edge of the forest, the fawn is running around, playing. He seems to be enjoying the day as much as you are. They haven’t seen you yet. You slow down and watch them for a little while before the doe notices you and with a graceful jump she is gone, into the forest. It’s almost as if the trees swallowed her and the little one.
You increase the pace again, returning to your efficient pedal candence. The adrenaline is rushing through your body, this short encounter revitalized you, it gave you an extra boost of energy. As you reach the top of the climb, the area surrounding the mountain lays beneath you. You can see the city down there, with the commuters stuck in rush traffic. Moments like that makes you appreciate your life. That you are given the opportunity, time and resources to do this! On days like today you understand how privileged you are. Cycling is so much more than just races, victories and losses. The feeling of being in top shape, that you have the energy and strength to ride your bike 150 miles, run for hours or ski across the mountain, that is what’s all about.
I am a full-time endurance athlete, working towards the 2012 London Olympics. I maintain a blog, describing my ups and downs of training / racing.