SUMMER SUNDAY: THE COMMON MAN'S EVEREST
Editor’s Note: Jesse’s column is normally published on Sunday. This weekend Jesse was busy, as you will read in her post. What she didn’t tell you is that she got 2d place in her division.
There are certain feats that seem impossible to me. The list includes climbing Everest without oxygen, natural childbirth and keeping up with the laundry. I know if I set my mind to it, if I prepared thoroughly and if all of the variables worked in my favor, I could probably achieve these feats — well, maybe I’d use oxygen on Everest.
But even as these feats seem out of reach for me, I know people (or people who know people) who can do these things. And when I hear about their prowess, I’m usually wowed. But there is also a part of me that asks, “Why?” Why not use the oxygen, take the epidural, and let a few stains slide?
Then, in cases like this past weekend, I’m reminded of my own choices — choices that also warrant the posing of the universal, “Why?” – even from myself. One such choice had me racing in the Full Tilt cross-country mountain bike race on my single speed Saturday. Two laps, 23 miles, 4400 vertical feet of climbing.
Why single speed when I have a beautiful carbon mountain bike with twenty gears (and rear suspension)? It’s like picking one club to play a round of golf or one fly to fish. It’s a valid question, one that I had plenty of time to ask myself while climbing the endless switchbacks and one for which there are many amusing answers – none of them rational.
The most compelling, however, is that it was a challenge that begged the question, “Could I actually do it?” I knew I could race successfully on my gear bike, but could I actually do it on a single speed? Then, once I was committed, it was kind of fun (really!).
I was also reminded that it’s not just me, but there are many in my sphere who create these mini-challenges for themselves. These are the common man’s “Everest” and they look different for everyone . As I raced Saturday, a group of friends ran a half- marathon from Ouray to Ridgway. For two of them, it was their first half-marathon.
Afterward one said, “The bar is set so high in Telluride. For some people, it was just another morning run — we were done by 9 — and they’d continue with their day. But, this was the furthest I’ve ever run in my life.”
Like me, she was probably a little intimidated at first and wondered if she was going to survive. Then, after the first few miles she realized it was going to be hard, but she could do it. And, upon finishing? I ‘m sure she felt relief, elation and self satisfaction.
Sure, there are always people who are going to go faster, further and higher (yes, I’ve been watching NBC’s coverage of the Olympics), but the important thing is she went her fastest, furthest and highest. For most of us, that’s not going to happen in Rio 2016 or in the Himalayas — but it could in our own backyard.
In Telluride the possibilities are as inspiring as the athletes– from those who win Imogene Run year after year, run in the Hardrock 100 or train for hardcore classic bike races like Mt. Evans to those who go out and summit a local peak or complete a half-marathon for the first time.
Perhaps the better question, when posed with these seemingly nutty challenges, is “Why not?”
Summer Sunday is a weekly column by Jesse James McTigue and sponsored by Jagged Edge intended to deliver tips, news, musings and stories about the people, places, events and experiences that make the Telluride summer an epic adventure.