The Clash of My Outdoor Loves

Like any outdoor adventurer, the feeling of being out in the middle of the wilderness and interacting with it is exhilarating. It is as debilitating as it is enabling, and somehow I find the balance–most of the time. And this is all dependent on how I am engaging with it.

Phil's World, CO: It was 98 degrees out in this picture. We drove into town and ended up riding midday. This is the overlook near the trailhead before Ribs.
Phil’s World, CO: It was 98 degrees out in this picture. We drove into town and ended up riding midday. This is the overlook near the trailhead before Ribs.

Recently, I spend more time mountain biking than anything else. My love is divided between mountain biking and climbing, but most of my friends are into cycling as opposed to climbing. With that said, I am falling more and more in love with cycling. Sure I commute a lot, and I ride in town quite a bit, but my true passion falls into the mountain biking category.

I went from 3 – 6 mile rides to 10 – 15. I now enjoy riding longer. With every ride comes a new threshold that I ambitiously embrace.

This epiphany came when I went to a trail expo in Del Norte, CO (pronounced ‘Del Nort’ by the locals). This was near the end of June. We rode Phil’s World again Sunday but in the middle of the day, 98 degrees fahrenheit (yuck), so we only took one order of ribs.

It was off to Del Norte for some exciting riding.

We were among the first groups to ride the trail at Penitente Canyon, led by the designer himself. The expo is part of a bigger movement to keep tourism up in Del Norte and bring a wider variety of people to the area. The trail was a little shoddy at first, only because the weeds were growing back.

It was beautiful.

The trail wrapped around the hills dropping down into the ravines and back out again. Some intense rocky climbs and after a breathtaking view, we dropped down some rock trails. The trail weaved in and out, around, up over, and down some large boulders. It switched into a more smooth, rolling singletrack near the bottom and then back up the road to the cars.

That description doesn’t do the trail justice. It was 17 miles of scenic riding. The trail definitely caters to intermediate to expert. We sessioned some daring B-lines, but every intense drop had its own re-route so you didn’t have to take it if you didn’t want to. But I did.

My semi-smile entering the rock garden section of Pentetinte Canyon out side of Del Norte, CO.
My semi-smile entering the rock garden section of Penitente Canyon out side of Del Norte, CO.

We didn’t hit the trail until close to 10 in the morning, which left us riding in the heat of the day. Not hotter than Burque though.

Even at 8,000′ I still felt good. The trail bounced around between 8 and 9000′. And afterwards, I slept for two hours. Yikes.

But after the ride, I realized I was a lot stronger than I thought, as a rider. I think that came in part from the different group dynamic. In previous groups, the riding was not a style I enjoyed.

I eternalized that feeling and apply it to my rides now. This is also taken from a page in Climbing, the magazine when the author talks about remember past feats in moments of insecurity and uncertainty. The moral of the tale was that you need to believe in yourself, know your strengths and limits, and with limits comes pushing them. All too often I am comfortable with where I am in my zone. Improvement doesn’t come from repetition, though.

I logged one of my longer inner city rides this week, in part due to the new found realization that I can ride more than I think. I will stop short of rambling about all of my rides and conclude on this semi-cliche thought, that perhaps you really are only as strong as you believe you are. Of course there is a finite amount of strength that everyone has, but I think it is fair to say we each know our limits– and I challenge you to push them this week.

Until next time,

-M

“There is nothing more dangerous than the moment you become a hostage to yesterday’s comfort zone.” –Rob Thompson

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