It was ten years ago when my buddy asked me if I wanted to do a multi day stage race. Although I had no idea what I was agreeing to, I said yes, and that was that.
The two of us were downhill racers at the time and our fitness level was good, but designed for five minute gravity fed races. Any thing more than an hour ride was punishing and we avoided them at all costs, especially if climbing was involved.
After six months of training we were completely different cyclists and were regularly doing five and six hour rides with ease. We completed the race and did better than either of us ever imagined we would. It was a big accomplishment that made me very proud, but I decided I was done with this type of riding. Too much training, too much climbing and not enough descending; I wanted to be a downhiller again.
A couple of weeks later I realized how much I liked being fit. I could ride as long as I wanted, I could keep up with my fastest friends, I felt better in every aspect of life and even my down hill riding got faster with the added fitness. Before i knew it I was trying to squeeze in long rides again. Sundays were blocked off for big epics almost every weekend and within a year I was signed up for another multi day stage race. I started to feel like the fitness was addictive.
Once I had a taste, I had to hang onto it because missing out on long rides or epic adventures was not an option and not keeping up with my buddies was definitely out of the question.
If you’ve been reading my blurbs lately you know I just finished another seven day race. I am not as fit as i was ten years ago, but I’m feeling pretty good. Now that it’s completed and a year of training is behind me, my brain says ease off the cycling and rest for a few months, maybe the whole winter, but my heart says step on the gas, now is the time to push even harder.
I swore to myself that this was my last big race and I was adamant about the decision up to about the half way point, then I started thinking about how training just a bit more would give me a shot at a podium finish, maybe even the top step.
Last night I was telling a bunch of buddies that if they do the BC Bike Race I will travel with them for mechanical support, but even as I was saying it I was thinking I’d rather race with them than watch them.
I truly do have good intentions of slowing down and smelling the roses, but like any addict, rational thoughts don’t often prevail.
So today lets just say I am retired as a racer, but I think I’ll keep training…you know, just to be safe.
I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…