Wednesday, February 12, 2014


This winter's weather has kept many (myself included) inside far more days than we would wish. All that time inside has left me with too much time to think about being on the bike instead of thinking while on the bike. The question of "why" has been most common in my mind. Specifically, I want to know why I would want to do the Almanzo 100. Here are my thoughts now, I'm interested to see what they look like after the event.

I ride - more specifically I train - for the Almanzo because it is impossible. It is effectively impossible right now for me to go out and complete the 100 hilly miles of the Almanzo. Even if I could slug it out through hills and headwinds, it would be an experience so miserable in prospect that I would be unlikely to even begin.

Before 2012, I had a pretty no-growth view of myself. I had not been involved in an athletics in school, and my attempts at running had led to completing a very frustrating and humiliating 5k in 2011. When RAGBRAI came through in 2012, I fed off the motivation that comes for training for such a public event. Despite my training that summer, I have never completed a ride that left me so beaten. But the ride did plant in my mind the notion that "I can" or at least "I could if I trained." That was new, that was an idea that opened up the possibility of more rides, of longer distances and of harder courses.

2013 was rather quiet in the early part of the year, I did some shorter rides, but RAGBRAI plans fell through. After RAGBRAI, training picked up in preparation for my first century. That ride went quite well, surprisingly well, in spite of some nasty weather.

A few months after the century ride, I participated in a 7 mile run on the grounds of the Living History Farms in Urbandale (Des Moines) Iowa. This is a very hilly cross country run that includes several creek crossings where you will get wet. It was also the week before Thanksgiving, and about 18 F. Not being naturally inclined towards running (I was generally one of the slowest runners in my class) I was surprised that I could train for, and actually enjoy an event like this.

So now Almanzo. By virtue of its length and topography, I fully expect this ride to push me harder than anything I've ever done.

In the end, I believe the answer to the question "why?" is "because I can." Which sounds shallow and dumb, but it was that realization that I could train myself to become capable of rides like this that in turn enabled me to dream about doing something that was formally impossible. It is that desire to enable and enjoy my potential that gets me up and out when the weather is absolutely against me.

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