The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what we share with someone else when we’re uncool.
The epigraph above is a quote attributed to the great rock critic Lester Bangs in Cameron Crowe’s masterpiece Almost Famous. The line was on my mind this afternoon as our entourage ate dinner in Panguitch. I was something other than cool today. I and a few other riders opted to skip the first 30 miles of today’s ride and just do the final 50. My concern was giving my shoulder a chance to relax and avoid some nerve pain. I’ve nothing to prove.
Nancy LaRocque, pictured above, is the Specialized employee who organized this ride. She handled an incredible array of logistics, right down to getting everyone to the start. We rode together today, learning just how small the world is; turns out she and I were at UMASS Amherst at the same time. We’ve got mutual friends.
What we shared today isn’t the point; it’s that we shared. Anyone with any sort of eye on the news has been inundated with reminders of the tragedy that occurred 10 years ago. What happened in New York, Pennsylvania and Washington D.C. are horrors too enormous to contemplate in full and too tragic to heal person-to-person. I heard someone say that 9/11 is our generation’s Kennedy assassination. Everyone remembers where they were and what they were doing.
When I think of those lives that were lost, my mind goes to the hole their absences have left in the lives of others and what the survivors have done in the years since. How does one spend a life?
Some years ago I had to have a difficult conversation with my parents. I was making a big change in my life and I needed to explain to them why. It wasn’t easy and their disapproval was apparent. Finally, out of exasperation, I told them, “Look, I’m on this planet once that I know of. I want to try to get this right.”
The bonds I’ve forged with riders are second only to those I share with my family. When the world seems most empty, most devoid of meaning, I turn to cycling and those friends.
I bonded today and in that, I lived as much as I ever have.
This is a day to honor those who can’t share anymore. Go for a ride.
Go for a ride with a friend.
They told me where we were. I could see it on a map. It still didn’t help. It was the most nowhere I’ve been in a while. We seemed to be the only tourists passing through. Hard to say why; it’s beautiful country.
Strava tells me my suffer score for today’s 74-mile ride was a measly 89. I’d buy that if we’d been riding at sea level. But we weren’t. Not by a shot. The whole day was above 5000 feet, which meant that any time I needed to make a surge, I had a quarter of the pedal strokes available before redlining, compared to what I can do back home.
Highlight of the day: talking bike tech with Chris D’Alusio for two hours. I’m shelled, because to talk to him meant taking pulls just as long as his, but it was beyond worth it. His insight into geometry, handling, bike design and how stiffness can both contribute to a bike’s performance or detract from it was nothing short of a revelation. I’ve heard from others he’s a genius, but what he shared with me today was worth taking notes on.
We saw clouds doing things that gave our riding an extra skitch of urgency.
You can follow the ride on Strava.
It’s been a long day and the Interwebs here at our Best Western are anemic, so I’m going to keep this short. Even though I didn’t finish today’s ride (more on that in a sec) it was an exceptionally hard day. One of the hardest I’ve had this year.
I’m not sure how many miles I spent in a paceline with the front group; it felt like hours. Initially organization was spotty, but we got the thing rolling nicely. Helping drive the pace were Ben Kapron of the National Interscholastic Cycling Association (and former Specialized guy), road product manager for Specialized Chris D’Alusio and recent Leadville victor Rebecca Rusch. It was a very strong group.
We started the ride at roughly 4500 feet. By the time the sag van reached me high on Mt. Nebo, I was at 8200 and wondering what my name was; the altitude zapped me terribly. I did what I could to keep my heartrate down and what I didn’t know was when the van catches you in the afternoon, you get in. D’oh.