Just say those three little words that I need to hear.
In a pre stage race interview, the Tour of the Gila media correspondent visited our house in Silver City. Beyond asking the typical questions regarding our background and finding the sport of cycling, he asked us to each describe the ToG in three words.
Oh, what three words can mean. Three words can change someone’s life. Three words can give you hope. Three words can warm your heart. Instead, when I thought of three words to describe this infamous race, I was not filled with warm fuzzy thoughts. I was filled with trepidation of things to come. I found my heartrate increases, my temperature rising. Could it be the altitude? Or just the Gila.
I was reminded of these three words of the ToG. I know they aren’t profound, but they are the Gila. I think you lose brain cells at such high altitude as well.
Last year, with sustained winds well above 45mph, and gusts up to 80mph, I had the worst day on my bike. It is hard to recover from the worst day on your bike. People ask that question in interviews quite frequently.
“What is your worst day on your bike”
I say, “Stage 2, Inner Loop Road Race, Tour of the Gila, 2010”. I was blown off my bike, I had to walk up a hill due to wind, I saw a roof blow off a building and onto the road we were trying to “race” up. I thought that would be my only time have to walk in a professional bike race, then I raced in Holland, but that is a whole other story.
Three words. This year was a new year. Yet, the lure of the Gila remains the same. It is still windy in the Gila National Forest, in the high deserts through Cliff and Mimbres. It is still at 6200 feet, climbing well above well 9000ft. There is still no oxygen there. It is still very hard. It is still raced. I had 40mph gust in the time trial. Oh, the Gila. Why can’t you give me the three little words that I need. I leave each year vowing to never return. Vowing that I have moved on from the Gila, vowing that I have been burned too much. The pain is too deep. The emotions run too high. Yet, there is something so intriguing about that race. Something so beautiful about Silver City. Something alluring.
Will I be back? Who knows. I don’t know if those three little words will ever change.