Monday, March 7, 2011

Found Me

I set out yesterday at 8am from the City of Minneola Trailhead to find myself. I hate clichés but the truth is that is what I was doing.

I needed to find out what I was doing and why.

I really only had that one goal for the Huracan 300 endurance mountain bike race. It wasn’t to complete the 300 miles or to win or anything like that. I needed to define who I was and why. I needed to clarify what I wanted from life and how I was going to get it.

You see, sometimes life gets away from you a little bit. You do too much. You are too much. You give too much. Sometimes it becomes too much and you need a reset button.

That’s what I needed.

In the darkness, in the middle of a beautiful Florida meadow, all by myself I indeed found myself.

I signed up for this race months ago. That sounds like fun. I thought it was a MTB stage race. I can do that. 

Then in a moment of stupidly and delusions of grandeur I committed myself to the “ITT”.

The individual time trial: Self supported, go till you finish and good luck with that sucker.

That may not have been the smartest choice.

Anyway it was it was and I was “ready”.

Then I developed a cyst on my lower butt check. Then it got worst. Then, it made me sick to the point that Tuesday and Wednesday night I had night sweet and chills. Wednesday I “called in sick to work” (Yeah, when the hell do I do THAT?) went to the ER and had the thing lanced and got antibiotics. I wonder if anyone else in the race was on antibiotics.

Yes, you read right. 48 hours before a 300 mile mountain bike race I had a cyst lanced that was right where my butt meets the seat. I didn’t think I could ride.

I showed up Friday morning anyway.

I hadn’t even tried to sit on a bike seat. At 7am I did and it hurt a lot.

Smart choice: go home.

My choice: tough it out.

I did.

For the first couple of hours I was alright. I stood a little. I used my right butt cheek. I tried to find comfort but could not. It was just plain difficult, to say the least. Two hours into the race we came upon a long section of “dirt” road. More sand than dirt actually. Without being able to sit down I had a lot of trouble. I pushed on and after 4 hours of riding I started to feel better. I’m sure it had nothing to do with the large dose of Tylenol.

For hours I rode on. 6 hours then 7, 8 and 9. The route took me into the Croom Preserve where I had never been before. Here I found an hour of cool single track and lots of good climbs. I crashed twice but was feeling good.

Out of Croom and onto a bike trail that lasted for ever.

At hour 10 I was tiring but positive. The pain I had gotten used to. My legs felt fine and I was pushing through.

Darkness set it. I put my lights on and rode into the woods by myself.

For no reason what so ever I stopped and put my bike down.

I got out some food and started eating.

Then, right in that moment, in that beautiful spot, on that night, lying in the grass next to my bike:  I found myself.

Right there four things jumping from my heart to my head. They were four priorities. Not my whole life. Not a blue print. It was like the four legs of a chair; four pillars.  

Everything in my life would be perfect if I were to focus my energy on those four things.
It became apparent that if I were to continue through the night I would hurt all four of the pillars. I thought long and hard as I mounted my bike and trekked on.

About 30 minutes after my moment in the meadow. I hit came to the start of 25 miles of single track. At this point the wheels came off.

Riding out of the saddle all day had wrecked me. I couldn’t put my butt on the seat and standing was hurting my knee. I pressed on for an hour like that then, just like I had in the meadow, I laid my bike down and stopped. This time I called Autumn and asked her to come pick me up.

I pushed on as best I could to get to the Landbridge Trailhead. I walked. I rode. I suffered. It took me 3 hours to go 5 miles. Eventually I found the limestone road and went off course to get to the pickup spot. When I got there I curled up in a ball in the grass and, even though I was shivering, went into a peaceful sleep.
I rode for 14 hours without a break longer than 5 minutes. I travel 150 miles from Minneola to the Landbridge Trail head.

I have no regrets. I HAVE NO REGRETS.

I’m sad for all the people that were tracking me and rooting for me. The reality is that it wasn’t about the race. I didn’t want to finish. I wanted to figure out which direction I needed to go. I wanted to know what I was going to do tomorrow and why.

Life is so busy. There is always so much to do. This was my time. My alone time

What my four priorities are isn’t important to you. This is only important to me. You see we are all different and we all do things for different reasons. The important thing is to be who YOU are and to fight for your right to be that person.

Yeah, I needed 14 hours on a bike to find me.

Likely you do not.

The world is full of people doing the wrong things; people that are where they are because they somehow think its right. People that don’t want to change because they are scared or comfortable.

That’s crazy.

What do you need to do to find yourself? What do you want from life? What can you do to be truly happy?

I know what I need to do. Hang on tight…

My resolve is like it never has been….


  1. WOW!! I am so proud of you for pushing on and then realizing why you were there. I appreciate that you put all this into words . I am sure this post will touch so many people in soo many ways. I know it has touched mine and made me realize something ~~~~~ I need to find myself :D

    May you travel down the road learning as you go !
    Thanks for the inspiration.

  2. Reading this really inspired me. Thank you Rick! What a trip you had, sort of a pilgrimage. Good for you!!