I woke up this morning feeling giddy. Strange, as it’s our seventh day of this NoGo Tour and our seventh day spending way too much time in our chamois, on our saddles, and pushing the pedals.
I’m awake before the alarm, with an excitement I haven’t experienced in years. It’s as if I’m an eight year old on Christmas morning and it’s not just because we have eaten the equivalent to a Christmas Eve meal the night before. For some reason, I cannot wait to begin the day. I’m eager to start all over again where we left off.
I’m a bit confused and somewhat shocked. I haven’t felt this way in a long time. I can recall the two last occassions: both were stories of love. The first was the week I decided to forgo a normal career path and try to become a professional cyclist. The other was when I really fell in love.
I have butterflies in my stomach and thankfully it has nothing to do with the six-foot-eight-and-a-half naked man still sleeping a few too short feet away from me. Ok, a little bit to do with him, because I wouldn’t have gone on this trip without him. But that’s not where these flutters are coming from.
I feel happy. This has been one of the coolest weeks of my life and it still shocks me every day what we are doing. I haven’t felt this way about the bicycle in nearly ten years, back to the US U23 National Team house in Izegem, Belgium.
I have told this story a few too many times, but I had just finished up my second semester as a freshman at the University of Michigan, in what was a grueling first year. I studied a lot, slept little, and wore myself way too thin. All I looked forward to was hitting the pillow each night, the only time I could rest and where the stress couldn’t get to me. I always dreaded the next day.
Then I made it over to Belgium and forgot about it all. I lived 100% for the bike for one of the first times in my life and I… I loved it. I realised I was so excited to be doing what I was that I went to bed looking forward to waking up the next morning. I fully fell in love with cycling. And it was with that realisation I decided to try my hand at the sport.
There are bubbles. It’s the same feeling I had the first time I really fell head over heels, waiting for her text, her call, unable to contain the excitement of when I could see her next. It was one of the best feelings in the world and – and it’s probably what life is supposed to feel like. I know, this all seems a bit dramatic. But this isn’t a joke.
Our bikepacking stars crashed a mountain wedding yesterday. As you do.
This week has made me come to a realisation and I’m having a tough time pinpointing exactly what it is. It’s exhilarating, it’s unexpected, incredible. I’m living more in the present than a buddhist monk. And maybe that’s because if I don’t, I won’t make it to the next evening.
I’m a planner. I like to control all the controllables, all the variables. I like to know what I’m doing, where I’m going next. I get upset if my coach doesn’t lay out at least a few days training in advance because I need to prepare myself mentally for the days ahead, for the coming workouts.
On this trip, there is no future. There is only today. We decide on the next day’s route at the earliest the night before; at the latest, moments before we leave. I don’t know what’s coming, what’s next, what to expect.
I’ve done few of the roads before, and if I have, it was years ago as an under 23 racer. I have no plan what to do, when to go hard, when to go easy, what to eat or drink. I just… ride.
We set out each day and tackle what’s in front of us without any agenda. And it’s been the most incredible feeling in the world. It’s made me fall in love again. Head over Specialized shoe heels.
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