Today Jack, Brian and I rode the Grand Tour double century. The triple was one year ago? Wow. I thought a lot about why I am interested in ultra-endurance cycling (and running? Or endurance events in general…). Others write about accomplishment and reaching goals, etc as motivation. This, along with language that talks about achievement or ‘hard work’ or ‘for the challenge’, has never appealed to me. It is very similar to the language used by high school guidance counselors to funnel students into college and/or an ‘important career’. And it is often used as a justification for fucking people over in business (‘Starbucks is so successful because they worked hard and achieved their goals of shutting down all other coffee shops. What a great achievement.’).
Then why do I ride these? It may, for good or for bad, be very simple. It is a great way to spend the day. It gets me up in the morning and out to see a lot of the world. Also, I especially enjoy the emotional ups and downs. The lows can be so low, that everything I’ve ever cared about comes into question. Once on a ride I almost convinced myself that I was not going to do another one ever again. When it is going well I think about how with a little more training I could probably win an iron-distance triathlon (ha!) or how much I love my friends and family. I’ve made phone calls immediately after finishing to tell someone I was thinking about them. Maybe for some people their range of emotions is increased by being in difficult environments (this probably relates to my interest in going to places like Chiapas, Palestine, etc).
But where does it end? A solo 508? Race Across America? I don’t know, really. The appeal of things (riding or otherwise) seems to come and go without reason. Right now I am stoked on these rides and even more excited to have friends to ride them with. I’ll take it day by day for now and be sure not to get ahead of myself.
Brian and Jack forgot to eat and drink enough and the near 100 degree heat in the valley made this slightly problematic. I got them through the hot part of the day and then I struggled to hold on for the last 50 miles when they were both back to their normal fast selves. I’m not sure what our time was. Jack or Brian? If you know, post it. This may the oldest double in the world, but I imagine the route was much nicer 40 years ago when there were about one million less cars on the road. A lot of California may be bike friendly, but the other 95% would probably rather see us dead.