Monday, July 27, 2009

Becoming One of Those Crazy People

Part of the reason I'm feeling so bionic these days is that I'm in the best physical shape of my life. Yesterday, my husband and I clipped into our road bikes and climbed eighteen grueling miles from our mountain town of Evergreen over Squaw Pass to Echo Lake at the base of Mt. Evans. We gained nearly 4,000 feet in elevation, putting us close to 11,000 feet when we reached the summit.

The ride was breath-taking in its grandeur: forests of pine and aspen opening to vistas of the Continental Divide and peaks upon peaks of tree-studded mountains. As we peddled, I couldn't help thinking, "People spend thousands of dollars to drive this, and we hopped on our bikes a half mile from our local grocery store."

My husband and I make it a point to drive this route annually, usually in the fall when the aspen are aflame with gold, orange, and red. Inevitably, we'll see hard-core cyclists decked out in their warm gear, grinding their way up the mountain. Inevitably, I'll say, "That's impressive. Those people are crazy," and he'll nod his assent and we'll continue our conversation from the comfort of our motorized vehicle.

You see where I'm going with this.

So as we peddled, I also couldn't help thinking, "I'm a rock star," as I watched all those sane people drive by in the comfort of their cars.

Seriously, I have never, ever been in the kind of conditioned state required to do anything endurance related. I'm athletic and coordinated, but I played sports like volleyball and softball, which require the quick, powerful bursts of energy for which my mostly fast-twitch muscle fibers were made. Liners in the gym? Steal second base? Sprint off the court to redeem a shanked ball? No problem. Run a mile or two to warm up? Problem.

I'm probably the only kid in the country who qualified for the President's Physical Fitness Award every year in every category except the mile run. I mean, there ought to be a consolation prize in elementary school for the poor people like me who could do sit-ups, pull-ups, sit-and-reach, and a record-breaking shuttle run but couldn't manage to get their bodies around the quarter mile track four times in eight minutes.

Given this history, it has been a kind of triumphant revelation to find an endurance sport I not only can do but love. For me to casually say to my husband, "Hey, maybe we should get a sitter so we can climb Squaw Pass this weekend" because I'm dying to do a training ride for the 78 mile ride traversing three mountain passes that we're signed up for next weekend is nothing short of miraculous, magical.

As we descended the mountain, rain pelting our backs, thunder rumbling ominously in the distance, my fingers numb with cold and adrenaline, the speedometer reaching 30 mph, I made the remarkable discovery that I've become one of those crazy people--and it's glorious.


  1. Shaundra, I've been away from blogging for a bit, and it was such a joy to read your recent posts. Thanks for the inspiration - both about living and blogging. hugs to you! Megan

  2. Shaundra -- after reading your well-written cycling post -- it's clear we can never be friends. bummer...(lol)...

  3. Megan, So lovely to hear from you! I hope you are doing well, and I'm intending to try your brownies this weekend. Thanks for the encouragement!

    Rita, lol! I don't blame you, but I'd be mighty pleased if you'd reconsider...(smile).


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