Words by Ryan Taylor
Ryan Taylor is writing about his escape from the rat race of life at Singletrack 6 stage race in British Columbia. His race reports are interlaced with personal observations and dashes of humor. If you missed the first installment, check it out here.
Rossland stirred to life this morning for the first day of Singletrack 6. The oddballs and weirdos that are mountain bikers crept out of the woodwork to start the first day of this near-life experience.
Tall socks and flat brimmed hats littered the landscape. The scene resembled a fitness convention/skater punk/zombie apocalypse more than a bike race.
The race started as every race does – fast and sketchy, with everyone panicking to get good position for the entrance to the singletrack. We were greeted with climbs and a descent that was so dusty the only way you could see or breathe was if you were a 5th generation coal miner.
It was around the midway point when stuff got weird. Miles and miles of BC Forest Service road pointed up to the searing summer sun and my thoughts wandered into a dark place. We mountain bikers have all been there – you are literally climbing for hours and you start to think…
“This is stupid.”
“Why am I doing this?”
“Why the fuck is this so hard?”
“This trail is stupid.”
At the time, while hating your life, holding off cramps for hours at a time, and thinking about stopping to see if there are any wild gummy bears in the grass, you think you have it figured out. Yep, this is the last mountain bike race I’m ever going to do. This is bullshit.
I’ve been saying these things in different forms for about 20 years now, and today I was certain this was it.
Briefly, I had a regression of these thoughts when I rode the “Whisky Trail,” the timed descent part of the first stage. Whisky was a ribbon of flow and truly world class.
Of course, all good things must come to an end, and my jubilation was met with more climbing. The dark thoughts come back and take over again.
The loop eventually ended, and anger turned to exhaustion and devouring enough Coke and bananas to poison a small child. It’s at this point where the Coke had never tasted better. A simple slice of watermelon is better than a Christmas dinner.
And then mystery of it all reveals itself, why we keep doing these stupid things. The simple pleasures of life, such as drinking a Coke, would not be a memorable event without forcing yourself to the edge just minutes before.
The watermelon would be a passing thought of the day if you hadn’t been craving it for hours.
The simple pleasure of reading a book and being still would not be as calming if your legs weren’t twitching and your back wasn’t aching.
That is why you keep coming back.