It was pointed out to me once that the word “epic” is extremely overused. When a word of importance, that carries significant meaning, is used in excess, it loses its strength, its valor, and its position. Similarly, exaggerated stories using extreme words for mundane circumstances take away the very essence that is the meat of the word.
Epic, in its true form, is a lengthy narrative poem that usually contains heroic deeds and events significant to cultures and nations. When you think of an epic journey, you may think of Iliad or Odessey attributed to Homer. Something of great heroic caliber that is passed down through the ages through repetition and family, it’s epic.
However, you may think of a recent epic bike ride that you had. Maybe because we feel entitled to the word since we are propelling ourselves through beautiful countryside and we feel heroic because of the distances covered and odds overcame. When the flagrant use of this word was pointed out to me, I tried to limit the use of it, unless I felt that it was truly deserved. Was it epic? Or was it merely a beautiful, incredible ride? Was it a hero’s journey, or a well ridden century?
That being said, I have seen the word, epic, used multiple times in describing this year’s Tour of the Gila. Yes. We had some heroes there. You have heard of Lance Armstrong, but the true hero of the men’s Tour of Gila, was Levi Leipheimer. Get ready to watch this Santa Rosa resident at this year’s Tour of California. He is on fire. On the women’s side, it was Mara Abbot, that was the hero. Maybe hero is a strong word, maybe they were the conquerors of the Gila. They could not have done it without the support of their teammates, their troops, who also battled the forces, the conditions, and the odds in such a sacrificial way, that their leaders could win. Good racing by Peanut Butter & Co riders to secure Mara the win. Team TIBCO fought a good battle, but PB rode a great race, not to mention the other teams as well.
We fought sustained 50mph winds, with 85mph gusts. We suffered through beating winds through high desert crevices that forced us off of our bikes, and tore the roofs off of buildings. The sea dwellers, like myself, had to combat the effects of high altitude. Race efforts are hard, but putting them above 7500 feet, and it is barely death defying. The Tour of the Gila has mountains, plains, forests, and deserts. And finally, on the queen stage, the Gila Monster, it snowed. Yes, I raced in the snow. There is a first for everything. We crossed the Continental divide at 6950ft twice that day, and then crested a 7450 peak for the finish of the stage race. Huge flakes were falling as we crossed the line, happy that the race was over, and in search of warmth. We climbed close to 22,000 feet in the entire race. Was it epic? It was extremely difficult. It was brutal. It was a learning experience. Did I think it was epic? No. But, maybe if I was the hero slaying the Gila Monster at the end of the day, I would have an epic story to tell. But not today, maybe next year.
On to Fayettville, Arkansas. 14 hour van/car/trailer ride.