To climb, to reach, to strive valiantly…to come up short again and again…to push yourself to your limit and hold it there, balancing on the precipice of sanity and cruelty, to exercise your demons and blast away your fears of death and challenge the almighty to take you if now be the time, to go into the void of your soul and find a way to keep pushing when nothing in you wants to continue. To give everything that you have, and watch as others dance by and take the prize from you without effort or toil. Then the next to find you have the grace, the gift, the favor to be the one at the front, setting the pace, driving the machine toward the summit and able to respond and then push back on your limits again and again to a place beyond your mind and fly with the Angels toward the heavens and taste the heat of the sun as Icarus did…and yet not be burned…to fly, to be free of the chains of this devilish coil and taste the sweet refreshing dew of the high and hallowed mountains, having bent them to your might and courage and resolve as you scaled heroically the peaks on your life on a bicycle.
Hmmm, I get kinda emotional when I think about climbing, what it really means to me. I just finished our first night of Hill Climbing boot camp and I am reminded that I was fortunate to start my riding career in Steamboat Springs, where climbing was what you did on a bike. When you live in the mountains, you learn how to climb. I remember my first time getting to the top of Rabbit Ears pass, I felt like I had found a new world, the summit meadows of freshly melted of snow, the quiet deer grazing and still little ponds of pure mountain water, it changed my soul and MAN do I miss it!
I usually make the climb from the Crystal turn where we park up to Sunrise or Chinook or both, but for me Chinook is the best climb between here and Colorado.
We just finished our annual pilgramage to the best riding in the state of Washington, Lake Chelan. You could argue that the Mount Rainier area has the most epic climbs up beasts like Chinook and Sunrise, but you can’t swim there. You could suggest that Orcas island or any of the other San Juan islands are the best, but the roads are narrow and the only good climb is Mt. Constitution. Bellingham and Olympia have their magic, as does Seattle and Tacoma, but true cycling paradise is east of the mountains where the air is dry, the roads are smooth and the traffic is light.
Here are my reasons why I love our Chelan camp:
1. Warm dry weather, some days I feel like I am in Mexico.
2. Wide shoulders and light traffic.
3. The road quality is nice, often smooth.
Do you remember when cycling was exciting and new? When you got that little rush of excitement when you were gearing up and heading out to tackle a ride? Getting stoked on cycling is as easy as trying something new, and these days there is no shortage of new stuff to get excited about. The gear, the clothing, the electronics, the disc brakes, the fat bikes, the gravel. There are hundreds of splinter-cell cool things going on in cycling right now besides the traditional Road, Mountain, Cyclocross and Track, so pick one and get after it! You don’t have to race, you can just try out something new.
You have to be stoked and a little “in love” with the whole thing or it won’t keep you working. That is what keeps me coming back and finding fresh excitement for something I have done non-stop since 1985. I have been through 3 year obsessive phases in road racing, mountain bike racing and cyclocross racing, and that only got me to 1997. If you are starting off this season and not feeling the “Stoke” then you need to mix it up. Show up to a new ride, sign up for a new event, or try a different kind of cycling to keep it fresh and challenging. The cool thing is that when you come back to what you first loved, in my case Road cycling, it is fresh once again years later like returning from a long around the world trip to your home. Get out there and get stoked!!! – Check out Meet Up to find new things, here is our page to get you started that lists all our rides and clinics for the summer: Meet Up-Find cool groups or events to try near you
The thing that most new cyclists don’t know, is that they won’t die. They can push harder than they can imagine, and when I started racing I remember it was my biggest hurtle, learning how to suffer more, because that is where all the big gains are. The more I pushed myself, the more I was able to push myself, the stronger I got, the more I enjoyed riding. It helps if you get a little angry or remember when someone was mean to you, fuel for the effort. Your not going to fall off the bike even if you are near exhaustion, your already sitting down!
The focus and willingness to work hard…
by Craig Undem
This time of year when we are all thinking of getting a good start to our training and keeping our dreams in focus it is nice to look at what motivates us. We coach people every day, and we are always asking them WHY they want to achieve certain goals. What is it that will motivate them to lose ______ lbs, train ________ hours per week, spend _______ on a new bike, or go out riding when the weather is _________ and anyone in their right mind is at home. Do you know why you ride? Do you know what the PAYOFF is for doing what you want to do?
When we ask someone to set their goals for the year, we ask them WHY they want what they want, and we ask it without mercy. We believe that the person with the biggest reason (the biggest ‘Why?’) will accomplish the toughest goal. If you “would like” to be in shape for the ride, that is nice. If you “MUST!” be in shape for the big ride, then it changes what you will do to achieve your goal. It changes the priorities of your day, week, and month. It gets you connected to what you will get if you stay on-target and work toward what you have decided you really want.
Many people look at us totally lost at first. “What do you mean WHY do I ride, I love it!” or “I have never really thought about it…my friend was riding and I began to ride with her and now I just want to go on this tour.” To get your training at the top of your “to do” list, think about the little things you will get out of being in better shape…things like the example you will set. The idea that if you are physically stronger and more vibrant that you will enjoy life more, have more energy for what you love and be able to make a bigger difference. Things like that…let you mind stay with the question…the answers sometimes take considerable reflection.
The winner is the one who can answer the question the best… for themselves. What motivates you? What gets you out of bed in the morning to do the early ride? What keeps you up late cleaning your chain the night before? What keeps you watching your calories, choosing broccoli instead of burgers, and brown rice instead of bacon? What works for you? What will you get? Why must you do it? Only you can provide your answer, and realize all that you can be.