And then this morning I read this: http://www.timesargus.com/article/20100625/NEWS/100629981. And then this: http://type2fun.wordpress.com/, his last blog entry before the race began.
I didn't know Dave, but I'm only one step removed from The Tour Divide, and -- more importantly -- I'm a father.
"Before my departure I did a lot of training. 3400 miles on the bike since January 1, plus a Canadian Ski Marathon, and plenty of other things too. I also tried my best to be there for Linnaea, soon to be 4. She will miss me in ways an adult cannot truly appreciate, and I hope that our love will not be weakened by my absence. I hope that local friends will come to play, visit, and support Lexi and Linnaea while I’m gone, so that their time without me is happy and fulfilling. In the meantime, I’ll remember a series of fun late spring adventures with Linnaea ..."
I couldn't keep it together.
Kim vocalized something last night after the show that I'd noticed but not shared: Since Kate was born, emotions are just more ... intense. Tears flow more readily. Laughter is deeper. Absence is more painful.
Endurance racing is tough on a family. I read a blog entry the other day in which Jeremy Horgan-Kobelski, the reigning National Marathon Champion, noted that he had never ridden 100 miles on his mountain bike before he raced that distance last weekend. That his training rides rarely -- if ever -- go more than 5 hours. By comparison, my rides generally start at 3, and even in Pisgah, back-to-back 6ers are normal.
But I struggle with it. Injuries and dangers aside, a full ORAMM reconnaissance ride is a 9-hour day when you factor in the driving to Old Fort and back. (At least 9 hours, given my history up there.) Even if we've stayed up late on a Friday night, my best option is to be up at 5 (or earlier), out the door by 6:15 or 6:30, on trail an hour later, and getting back home by 4. Depending on whether Kate is napping, that gives me maybe 3 hours with her before bed time. They're quality hours, but still ... just 3 hours with my little girl. Not to mention the full day that her mom has had, chasing after a rambunctious 18-month-old who seems to pine away for "da-da" in a sad voice ...
The flip side is, this is my dream. This is the only thing I've ever really wanted to do in my life, and I'm making it happen. What kind of example do I set for Kate if I don't give it my all? I recognize there's a middle ground here -- but those of you who know me, know that's not an option, at least not at this point in my life. I'm all-in, and I will do what it takes to make it happen. I don't know any other way.
Reading Dave's blog this morning was tough. Finding the balance between chasing your dreams and raising a beautiful little girl can be difficult. Both require an incredible investment, and there are more than a few times I find myself halfway up some nameless climb wondering just what the hell I'm doing there, instead of spending the day with Kim and Kate. And like Kim said, those emotions are just more intense these days.
So I try my best to be there for my little girl, just as Dave did. But I know every time I go for a ride, "she will miss me in ways an adult cannot truly appreciate." I just hope that by setting an example of what is possible, our little girls realize we are trying to teach them the greatest lesson of all.