I haven't raced since May and I still need to spend time thinking about what happened. Maybe a big adventure with lots of time for reflection and it'll all come to me....although life itself is the biggest adventure and I love it for that (with all the ups and downs that love entails ;) Last May I raced the SoCal400. It was supposed to be 400 miles and a qualifier for Race Across America (RAAM), but I didn't qualify. I didn't even finish.
I'd ridden from the ocean up to 5,200 feet, down a valley, back up, around the Salton Sea, through 100 degree heats, fought head winds through the day and night. By sunrise I'd ridden back around to the base of those same mountains and crossed over again. It was smooth sailing from there, all down hill... but then it wasn't.
Time was short, I was hurting, there was still plenty of work left, and I was tired - so I stopped.
I'd ONLY (I mean, I'm not totally embarrassed) ridden my bike 343 miles in 28hrs.
Things actually went pretty well through the race. Besides poor preparation, which lead to disorganization and late nights leading into it, this was a mentally motivated DNF.
It all started about 150 miles in. I really started thinking about where I was in life and was feeling pretty foolish for not having any direction. Racing and forming even bigger adventures and challenges in my head isn't the only thing I want to pursue with vigor.
This made me feel pretty foolish.
At that point I was still in the race, I didn't give up but I had decided that RAAM couldn't be the focus of my life for the next few months...plus I was far from ready.
So, as the morning light returned after a long night of falling asleep on my bike, discomfort, and just continuing forward on very little enthusiasm... I was running out of will...running low on purpose.
I made it back over the mountains. I'm proud of my team and of our effort. Still, I am regretful that I stopped.
From the top of the last mountain, it is about 60 miles back down to the coast, but there still remains 5-7,000ft. gain. Not quite a free ride. After the first big descent, I was hurting and hardly even able to safely navigate.
Down on the flats I was only able to pull 10mph and, as I saw my team van climbing a hill ahead, I just pulled off the road. I needed to stop. I immediately fell asleep.
After being woken up by the film crew van, I decided to ride up to my crew to discuss just bowing out. I think I said it hurts all over, I just don't see the point and I don't need to prove that I can do this to anybody.
With little conviction I said, "30 more minutes" and I'll reassess, but my crew member said something (it might have been "yeah - keep going") and I said, "yeah - I'm stopping."
To be honest, I should have proven it to myself. I need to show myself what I can do. It isn't enough to just feel capable of anything.
I'm still not sure what to make of it all. It was a very tired Andre making that decision. It's unnerving to know that Andre is lurking. He may be the devil, he may be a lesson giving angel.
To some degree, because of this I'm working on a few things that I am excited about, a new direction.
RAAM is still on my agenda book. I've got a qualifier picked out in September, or October, or November. That seems to be the only direction I've got at the moment.
Still searching... still a struggle but I know that I just gotta keep pushing and it will be worth it- both for the experience and for where it takes me.
Thanks for great photos Bryan Myss