The Challenge

 The top of the climb to Estes Park

The top of the climb to Estes Park

I joined Strava a couple of months ago. I'm late to the game, I know. It's been around since 2009, and acts as a social network for athletes, in addition to tracking every statistic of every ride, run, row, or hike. You can also enter challenges, which is right up my alley. I tend to not enjoy competing directly with a group (hence my resolution at the beginning of this year to NOT enter organized races...though I may break that promise in November to try my high-elevation legs at a 5K). I raced in college (running), almost every week, and then for years after. Don't get me wrong, I love to win, and I love to go fast, no matter the sport. But I really don't like the ritual of outright competition. What I do love, to the point of obsession, is competing with myself. I almost always run alone, and ride alone. I like the meditation of it, but also, turning the pressure up when no one else is around...and when no one else cares. 

I'm still completely enamored with Colorado: the endless incredible roads to ride, and the crazy climbs. This month I entered a cycling challenge on Strava. The goal: to climb 9,000 meters by the end of the month. It's the 15th; I'm at 49%. These past couple of weeks have been tough, but now it gets tougher. I'm going out of town next weekend, which means I'll be away from my bike, and away from my mountains. I have no doubt that if I don't make it by the 30th, I'll spend my Halloween doing repeats on my closest hill. That's just in me. 

There's something hugely satisfying (to me) about completing a task that gains no real recognition. Sure, the 15 people following me on Strava--many of them strangers--might give me a "thumbs up," but that's about it. Except, of course, the knowing--the determination to finish something, as often as possible, alone.