Up until I was diagnosed with hip dysplasia and ligament damage, as well as facing two PAO surgeries, I thought the 2010 Ride The Rockies was the biggest goal I have ever accomplished. For seven days, about 2500 riders of all levels rode 543.5 miles across the southern Rocky Mountains in Colorado. The first two days we had terrible weather: rain, sleet, snow, and pea-sized hail. On day one, we had to take a sag wagon to get us off Colorado National Monument as one of my riding buddies started to go hypothermic. The second day we rode over Grand Mesa, a 60 mile climb with an elevation gain of 5000+ feet and a long descent of 30 miles, which was made in rain and sleet. I have never been so scared in my life, up until…Day 4: Ouray to Durango, a 90 mile ride over three mountain passes.
“I am calling to let you know I had a talk with God, and he said that after the shitty weather you have been having, he will grant you crystal clear blue skies and you will have an amazing ride in the most beautiful part of Colorado!” my friend Rick said in a voice mail to me. Rick is a seasoned cyclist of all sorts: road, mountain and cyclo-cross. I found his voice mail to be thoughtful, encouraging and it made me chuckle. I was in a good mood.
We set off at 7 a.m. There was about 90 miles to ride that day. I must preface what I am about to share is that I have an extreme phobia of heights. In fact, my palms are starting to sweat as I type! The first part of the ride, Ouray to Red Mountain Pass, has no guard rails and about 1000-1500 foot drops. Surely one false turn or a car forcing a bike to swerve off the road meant certain death. Since it was early, I didn’t care; I rode towards the double yellow line, making cars behind me insane, my breath and heart rates were probably 40% higher because of the steep drop-offs. I was constantly using self-talk to get myself through each pedal stroke. I had to do this, quitting was not an option. When I took breaks on a turn-out, I was shaking, lightheaded, simply terrified.
Well I made it. I had to dig deep that day, deeper than I ever had to for those nine hours on the bike. I felt like I moved mountains within myself; I dissolved barriers.
Fast-forward three years: I am 9 weeks out from my PAO. The ultimate goal is not Ride The Rockies, its getting in the best shape I possibly can for my left PAO on March 6. I am eating a clean diet with no alcohol, sugar or processed foods. I recommitted myself to an exercise program that will not hurt my hips. I realize it takes 100% commitment in the depths of my mind, body and spirit to not sway from this plan. There are no other options. Once I fully committed every cell in my body to this plan, I have not missed any of the indulgences (sweets, alcohol, pizza, for example) from last year.
The beginning of a new year is a time for reflection and goal setting, I think its natural. If you want to set goals and succeed, you have to get to that space in your mind and heart of wanting it more than anything and being 100% committed. For me, getting to that point of 100% commitment was the hard part, and its part of the journey. Like my ride up to Red Mountain Pass: once I began, there is no looking back.