But that’s not what I’ll remember most about today.
This morning, I rode out to Pittsburg, a private township nine miles up the Slate River Valley. I clipped into my bike shoes before 6:00 a.m. so I could volunteer for the Alpine Odyssey, a qualifier race for the Leadville 100. I was a tad grumpy about getting up so early but excited to be out biking before the sun had even broken the mountains.
Nine miles took longer than I expected, and I swore as I crested the top of the last hill, wondering just how much further I had to go. At Pittsburg, the sun lit the top of the ridge to my right, but I stood in shadows at the bottom of a hill. My toes were chilled and falling asleep, and when I sipped my coffee my breath rose in faint, wispy clouds. I pulled my hood up over my head and slipped jeans over my bike shorts and waited. My presence was mostly about appeasing landowners nervous to have 200 riders pass by their horse corral.
The lead Moto arrived shortly after 7:00, and not long after that the lead rider: Lance Armstrong (sighting one of three for the day). Two hundred yards behind lance, a pack of riders descended the hill in V formation. Dust rose up from their wheels so that it looked as if they were emerging from a cloud. Adrenaline surged up out of my throat.
“Holy shit,” I said. And I smiled.
It was the most striking moment, and I can’t stop reliving it. It feels surreal and beautiful and a lot like a reason for living.