Last month -- a month ago today actually -- I was finally getting my head straight about racing and what it means to me, thanks in large part to some well-timed advice from a certain inspirational Siren. And, as with the call of the mythical Siren, the lure of The Next Great Adventure turned out to be too much to pass up.
The intervening weeks have been somewhat tumultuous, what with getting a grill (and a house to go with it!), spending a week in Vegas for the annual bike industry love-in, losing a family member, and getting ready for a large-scale invasion of Western North Carolina by family and friends taking precedence in mind and spirit. Work has been a bit zany as well, as it's wholesaler catalog season, and we're changing over all of our product for the next model year. My health hasn't been 100% either, as this thankfully mild cold I've got was preceded by a strange blackout that had me waking up on the bathroom floor when I got up from the couch too quickly!
And so riding has taken a bit of a back seat, though I've managed to get out just about every day for a least a short spin, and Kim has been more than accommodating as I've gotten my night groove back on. See, just as I was contemplating never competing again, a super-strong friend of mine named Greg asked if I'd be interested in taking on Double Dare -- Pisgah Productions' annual "Fall Gathering" and race event. It's a combination of new and old for me: It's a duo team race, taking place over 27 hours with a mandatory 6-hour break, and instead of laps it features checkpoints and wayfinding all over the Pisgah National Forest. Would I be interested? Heck yeah!
So with DD on the mind, I've gotten back on the bike, forcing myself through sheer will to work through the post-Show blahs that invariably set in. Thankfully our office is located smack-dab in the middle of some of the best riding in the country, so in addition to some great trail rides on the weekends and in the dark, I've managed to do some pretty fantastic road rides, grinding my way up the local mountains and whipping myself into some semblance of shape. I feel good, and a ride last night over Bent Creek Gap and into BC for some trail time with Greg is confirmation that a year off from night riding was exactly what I needed.
(Hard to believe it's been exactly a year since Moab, and my last night ride. What a year it's been!)
Somewhere along in there, my mind began to wander. My first few night rides have gone well -- better than expected actually -- and all of a sudden I was contemplative. What happens after Double Dare? What about 2011?
And then it hit me: Pisgah36. A 36-hour "Adventure Mountain Bike Race" in Pisgah, formerly known as "The Most Horrible Thing Ever." Part Double Dare, part lap race, all solo challenge, P36 might be one of the most difficult races I ever attempt. And it sounds like fun.
But wait! There's more!
During a fun spin on Tuesday, it came to me. I realized there may be something more. Another chance. An opportunity at glory, even if it's in my own mind. What all those expensive management books would call a BHAG: a "Big Hairy Audacious Goal." The chance to become The First Person Ever to do something -- because, let's face it, that's what's been driving me all these years.
I'm going to bat for the cycle.
What? How's that? I don't like baseball -- what the heck?
Here's the plan: I'm going to be the first person ever to attempt -- and finish -- all of the Blue Ridge Adventures and Pisgah Productions races, plus the PAS DuPont Save The Trails Challenge for good measure, in a row.
Now, ideally, I'd do them all in the same calendar year. 2011 just may be that year, and I'll start off in January with that goal in mind. But 12 months is a looong time, and with Interbike changing its dates, the on-again-off-again nature of Double Dare, and the horror that is post-trail-work Kitsuma, there's no telling if I'll get this opportunity again. In fact, P36 may be a challenge depending on trade show dates. So, since I'm already partway through the cycle, I'm going to try to go all-in:
ORAMM - Save the Trails - Pisgah Stage Race -
Double Dare -
SWANK - P36 - PMBAR
Seven races, seven challenges, seven steps on the path to something that's never been done before. I'm already partway there, with finishes at ORAMM in July, StT in August and PSR in September. DD takes place Halloween weekend, with SWANK the next (though registration was already closed when I hatched this harebrained scheme, I think I've found a transfer partner), and P36 and PMBAR are slated for next spring. So with Greg's help and a bit of luck from the Pisgah weather gods, by November 8 I'll be almost there, with a WNC winter to prepare for a day-and-a-half of adventure racing and a fun duo challenge.
I wonder what the Siren thinks of that?
(This obligatory shot of Kate being Kate brought to you by the Country Christmas Cookbook, which she likes to read before bed. Since photos of her seem to be more interesting to you, the readers, than photos of my bike, or of the mountains, I figured I'd throw this in here for your sake. Enjoy!)