Words to live by...

"A good teacher is like a candle - it consumes itself to light the way for others." ~Author Unknown

"A good wife is her husband's biggest fan -- no matter how crazy he is." ~Me

"May God give you.. For every storm a rainbow, for every tear a smile, for every care a promise and a blessing in each trial. For every problem life sends, a faithful friend to share, for every sigh a sweet song and an answer for each prayer." ~ Irish Blessing

Monday, August 04, 2008

Good ride cowboy, good ride

(so, blogger stopped wanting to upload pictures part way, so there will be more pictures later)

Since Monday I had been glued to my computer watching Chris's progress on the Colorado Trail Race via his SPOT tracker. 

While the race started on Monday, Chris has been training, tinkering, and planning for this race, and others like it, for a year or two now.  He's pushed his body and his cheapo bike past any perceived limits on his way to trying to the Grand Loop, the Divide, the Arizona Trail Race, and now the Colorado Trail.

When I met Chris in the spring of 2001 he was a strong, lean, college triathlete; however college, me, and other life stresses took up the time required to train for triathlons.  He struggled in the Sport category at Winter Park, sometimes even finishing long after the race director had packed up the finish line and tent.  After we returned from our honeymoon in the summer of 2004, Chris was 180 pounds and heavily into his car projects and motorcycles.  We had a lot of fun, and I harbor no regrets for that period of our lives, but I could always tell that a little something was missing from Chris. 

In  the summer of 2005, our friend Scott encouraged Chris to try to the Leadville Trail 100.  He hadn't competed on a bike in a few years, and just a summer or two prior, someone had stolen his Canondale mountain bike from outside his work at CU.  Without a bike, or training, he of course agreed to do it... on my bike.  Haha.  I remember, very well, encouraging Chris to go out and just ride a bike before Leadville.  He decided he didn't need to... he'd be fine.  So, 76 miles into the 100 mile mountain bike race, while riding my bike, our friend Scott strongly encouraged Chris to stop.  He was weaving, slurring his words, and seeing stars.  That night I thought he'd die in his sleep as I lie awake listening to his heart race and his breathing shallow. 

He was super upset that he was unable to finish Leadville.

His life took on a new purpose.  

Actually buy and ride a bike, and get revenge on the course.

He started riding.  A lot.  He got faster.  He got stronger.   He podiumed in Park City in his first solo 12 hour... on a single speed.  He was cramping, in pain, and seriously dehydrated by the time he was done. 

In the summer of 2006, he got his revenge and finished Leadville in 9 hours and change.  He looked relieved.  

I hoped he was finished.

In October 2006, he started the 24 hours of Moab and was doing well.  Then it was cancelled because of rain.  He was really bummed.

I was tired, and I hoped he was finished.

Only something happened to him along the way.  

Chris found that riding, and riding hard stuff, for long distances, appealed to him.  

He tried the 24 hours of Old Pueblo, solo, in February 2007.  His stomach stopped working and he had to quit.  He hated quitting and he was pretty bummed.

I hoped he was finished.

The training ramped up.  The big rides came.  He completed the Rim Ride in March of 2007. This ride proved to him that he could ride a hard course, for a long time, and succeed.  He liked that.  I liked watching him succeed but I missed seeing him at home.  It seemed he was hardly ever around, and when he was, I was cooking for him or putting him to bed. 

I hoped he was finished.

He kicked butt at Trans Iowa in April of 2007 on his single speed.  I worried about him constantly and hardly got any sleep.  He did really well, but had an epic journey just to get home.

I hoped he was finished

Then he completed the Kokopelli Trail in 15-some hours in May of 2007.  He was exhausted, but happy.  His confidence was growing.  He could do this.  And do it well.

I hoped he was finished.

Two weeks later, at the end of May 2007, Chris started the Grand Loop.  He carried WAY too much food.  He called me from the store in Bedrock, sounding terrible, ready to come home. His body seized to be able to process any food.  He couldn't eat.  He couldn't go on.  I drove for hours, in the middle of the night, trying to find stupid Bedrock.  By the time I got there at dawn, having left home just past dusk the previous night, I was happy to see him alive on the porch of the store.  He was upset.  He was disappointed.  The weeks that followed were really hard on both of us.  

I really hoped he was finished.

He wanted to try the Colorado Trail Race at the end of July 2007, but in the post-GLR disappointment, he couldn't bring himself to try it.  While it was going on, he watched the internet for race updates and stories, and it threw him even deeper into a pile of self-doubt.  He wanted to be out there doing the Colorado Trail, but he didn't think he could succeed.  He was doing awesome in the shorter distance Winter Park cross country series, but it wasn't the same.  He could podium, on a single speed, racing experts, and it didn't hold the satisfaction that he was after.  Something was still missing.  

I really hoped he wasn't finished.  

He had something to prove to himself, and I wanted to see that happen. 

We worked together to work out a good training schedule for Chris.  One that would allow him to get his training in, but still be around when I needed him.  Somehow his training stepped up, he was riding more, but somehow I was also seeing him more.  

In October of 2007 he completed the 24 hours of Moab... solo.  All 24 hours.  He did awesome, I didn't think I could be more proud.  He was excited.  He spent the rest of the winter racing a small winter racing series in Leadville, often winning the overall placing on his Pugsley.

I hoped he wasn't finished.

In 2008, he has completed the Rim Ride (again), Kokopelli (again), and lots of shorter races. He was packed, psyched, and ready for the Arizona Trail in April, but due to the car accident wasn't able to participate.  In June he started an individual time trial of the Great Divide route from Banff, despite the fact that doing this would mean he wouldn't have a chance to get his much needed revenge on the Grand Loop course.  

Despite pulling the plug early, when I picked him up from the bottom of Montana, he was surprisingly upbeat.  His body held up great.  His gear was good.  He just had too much downtime to think.  He wasn't racing it hard enough to make himself happy.  I remember mentioning to him on the way home, something to this extent:  "The good thing about stopping now, is you should be in good shape to do the Colorado Trail at the end of July."  His eyes lit up.  "Really?  Hmmm.  We'll see" was the response.  

A spark was lit.

Soon after we got home, the planning, plotting, scheming, and packing began.  

He still had unfinished business with himself, and the Colorado Trail has intrigued him for a few years.  

I hoped he would finish.

Before we knew it, we were at the starting line, rushing around, barely getting in one last kiss before go-time.  As I watched him pull away, he shouted from the front "See you in Durango!"

I knew he'd finish.

5 days and 6 hours later, I got the call that made me cry like a little girl while I drove over Wolf Creek Pass in the most beautiful sunset I have ever seen.

He was done.  

Even over the phone I could hear the relief.  A contentment that I haven't heard in his voice in many years.  

He gave it a try.  Gave his best.  Raced hard.  Finished 3rd!  On his rigid single speed.  He pushed through hard times, and despite his awesome time, there were many.  He had physical, mechanical, and emotional road blocks that he had to push through on his way to finishing this.  
But pushed he did. 

He's worked hard for this.  He's had success in his biking career.  Not to diminish the accomplishments that he's had on a bike...in fact he's finished (really well) some of the hardest bike races in the country... but this one was different. 

I've never been so proud of him, and I think he feels the same way.

We both worked hard for this one.  It's been years in the making.  And now that it's done, we are soaking in every relaxing minute of his recovery.  

He's a different guy than I left at the Waterton Canyon trail head.  Sure, he's puffed up, swollen, and skinnier than before.  But something is there that has been missing from his confidence. He'll never be the first to brag about his accomplishment, in fact I had to force him to make his own 'I'm finished' blog.  

But I have no shame.  I've bragged about him to every stranger I've met along the way this past week.  Workers at Starbucks, gas stations, Qdoba... are all now aware of who I am married to.

I'm so proud of him.

I hope, and happily know, he's not finished.  

As Garth Brooks aptly said in one of his songs:  
We sang Life's a Highway
There's only one way you're gonna get through it
When she starts to twist, be more like Chris...
Good ride cowboy, good ride



cynthia said...


that is about the sweetest thing i ever read.

Chris said...

Thanks lover, you're the best. Happy anniversary.

John In Colorado said...

this is a really cool write up. i'm going to start braggin on him, too after reading this. haha