It must be 11 AM already. The clouds are rolling in thick, dark and breezy and I’m huffing my bike up the last 500 feet to the top of A Basin questioning my sanity. The guys (Drew, Tom and Ryan) crank towards the crest and I can tell the four of us are relishing the climb being over soon. Ryan looks back at me, taunting, “Are you having fun yet?” and despite the desire to conserve all my energy, I break out laughing.
We’re all guilty of these days much too often. You know, like the time you ran a marathon up two 12,000 foot peaks or decided a summit push with a 90 pound pack sounded like a good idea. Then again, maybe it was as simple as a two hour hot yoga class or a mountain bike ride with a long, techy climb- all while sweat drips down your face and you wonder why you thought this fell into the category of fun. Good question.
It comes down to an art that is only mastered (in my experience), through many, many moments of transcendence (AKA spirit crushing)- in order to justify an accomplishment. An integral part of being a mountain lover (or endurance sports lover, or a great many other things for that matter), you typically find yourself in the midst of it, cursing the idea to do something rad or get some place out of the way with some ego stoke attached. It starts off simply enough in most cases. A friend calls and asks if you’d be interested in riding Lenawee, climbing in Clear Creek Canyon when there’s only a 10% chance of thunderstorms, or skinning up to a few fun lines off Berthoud Pass. Images of of you, super climber/biker/skier flood your synapses and YES! OF COURSE you’d love to go. What time are we starting? Fast forward to twelve hours later and those aspirational thoughts have scurried away and are hiding under a rock somewhere. It’s suffer time and you’re in it, trying (again) to push through the pain. Well that’s where you’ll find me at least, gritting my teeth for the countless time to perfect this “Art” and transform into the athlete that lives in my dreams. Of course, I know once I get through this it’ll feel good. Right?
Sucking up my reserves I hop back on my bike and pedal up the last rocky road section of the climb. I’m sweaty and out of breath but in a cathedral of peaks in the Colorado Rockies, it’s not a bad place to be. We all take a second to re-group and the guys try and gauge my mood. “I’m alright,” I say mustering an artificial smile,”let’s just keep going.”
As we drop over the backside of A Basin’s East Wall and look out into the alpine cirque that awaits us, Tom points out a solitary line of singletrack. “That’s our track,” he says gazing at the line, and we all marvel in the aesthetics and simplicity of it for a moment. We get ready to clip in and take off and Tom continues,”Oh and most of this first section is a no fall zone. There’s some danger cliffs you probably don’t want to come off of below you, so don’t fall.” Of course I think, like I expected the rest of this to be easy. I shake my head laughing as the guys clip in, unfazed and ready for adventure. Here goes nothing.
Rachel is a bike riding, boot packing suffer machine and heads up Marketing for the crew at Kate’s. She can often be seen smiling through pain in order to get to the top of a mountain or to an epic downhill. Most recently from Colorado, she’s been lucky enough to power through missions in places like Utah, Wyoming, Costa Rica and Alaska. You can currently find her wielding a summer dress and drooling over lines in the Tetons from the town of Jackson.