July of 2014 and a few of my stronger teammates from Thump cycling had traveled to Bend, OR to race in the Cascade Cycling classic. I had thought about going there with them in a supporting role, but I had a few things that were keeping me close to home. We had a somewhat local race here in Salida, CO (2 1/2 hour drive from Denver), that I decided I would go and race the TT and crit the following day. The road race didn’t really suit my strengths, so I figured that would be a good chance to skip out and go play somewhere else while I was down there. Another teammate of mine, Aaron, was just recovering from a crash a few weeks previous and said he’d come down and race those two events with me. I was planning the trip for the two of us when another mutual friend, Larsen, said he wanted to join us as well. Not to race, but just to ride and to support his friends. How awesome! What was going to be 5-6 days in a van by myself, turned into an adventure with some friends that I had never really spent any time off the bike with.
I’m a pretty easy guy to get along with, a lot of times I can just go with the flow. Aaron is a better guy than bike rider, and he’s one of the strongest guys I’ve ridden with. Larsen was maybe the only wildcard for me. I had only ridden a few times with him, but had always had a great time so there was no real reason for me to think this trip wouldn’t be incredible.
We all met at my place, loaded up the Sprintervan, and headed for the mountain town of Salida.
The three of us pulled into town with just enough time to get in a quick spin and check out the TT course before we raced it the next day. We quickly got changed and headed out to the open roads. What an amazing place! Quiet roads and an unencumbered view of the collegiate peaks.
As we rode along the barbed wire fence lined roads, the serenity of my surroundings were brought to a violent end as Larsen attacked out of nowhere. I didn’t need to follow him and probably shouldn’t have, but we all know how fun it is to chase your buddy down or at least try.
Larsen and I went back and forth a few times trading pulls and making each other hurt. I was wondering who was going to give up first. I decided to throw in the towel citing that I needed to save some for my time trial. Larsen is also a very strong dude, but has chosen to take a break from racing as he has a very busy work schedule that doesn’t allow him the time he needs to train. It’s great to be able to have friends like him in my life. He can be competitive if he wants to, but does’t need to turn every ride into a race.
The whole time we were messing around, Aaron stayed true to his pre race routine and didn’t allow himself to be distracted. This is probably why he is a better racer than I am. Don’t get me wrong, I’m very disciplined when it comes to my training, but I can get sucked into “showing people how strong I am”. In 2015, that’s something I’m working on more than anything else. As Aaron finished his last interval and was cooling down, Lars and I caught on to the back of his wheel and we rolled back to the van.
“What an awesome ride”! I was taken a back in the beauty of this place. I knew that I was going to have to come back here again and explore these roads and the incredible mountain biking that Salida has to offer. Always playing the roll of the den mother, when we got back to the van, I told the guys to make sure they stretched before we loaded up and looked for a place to camp for the night. I was discovering that these guys had really easy personalities to get along with so I suggested that we take a photo “for the ladies”. This is what we came up with. Good thing Aaron and I are already married, Lars, good luck buddy.