I have been afraid to write about this, because then it would become real... But this morning I've been listening to Joni Mitchell for inspiration, determined to finally do it. So here it is: in the end of March I am going to Death Valley in California for a bit of bicycle riding. Chris Kostman of AdventureCORPS has invited me to a couple of events that he organises: a century ride called the Hell's Gate Hundred, preceded by 5 days of cycling, hiking and yoga that is known as CORPSCamp.
I have never been to Death Valley, or to California before. And these events will be like nothing I've ever done previously. I will probably fail at them terribly, but I want to try anyway. The reason goes back to my trip to Interbike in Las Vegas last September.
I met many interesting people at Interbike. Some were sponsors with whom I've hitherto only had email contact, and Chris Kostman was among them. Describing Chris is a challenge, because "on paper" I knew of him as an athlete (the youngest to complete the Race Across America at age 20, he finished 9th). But when we met in person it was so removed from that, that I had a difficult time even picturing him on a bike. In fact I'd wanted to photograph and write about him back in September, but all the pictures came out looking like a GAP commercial, it was no good! An endurance cyclist since his teenage years, for decades Chris has been racing and competing in endurance events, and was even part of Team Bridgestone in the early '90s. Somewhere down the line he founded AdventureCORPS and now organises well known "ultra-cycling" events such as the Furnace Creek 508, as well as various century and double-century rides and cycling camps.
Reading about these things, as well as Chris's many articles on training and nutrition, one gets the sense that this is a person who lives and breathes sport and spends most of his waking hours training. I was almost nervous to meet him. Would he make me do push-ups as we chatted? Turns out we had a lot to talk about. Chris is alarmingly intelligent, and one of those people who is interested in everything - soaking up knowledge like a sponge and sharing it freely with others. Since I started roadcycling, he has given me valuable advice and has opened up my mind about the place cycling can have in my life. He also sparked my interest in the desert landscape.
Within 5 minutes my headache went away and I no longer felt tired or sleepy. In fact I felt like going on a very long hike or bike ride. This change in energy levels and sense of well-being was so quick and dramatic that it was as if I'd gotten an injection. Crazy. There wasn't much time before I had to get back to Las Vegas, but I walked around taking pictures for as long as I could, for the first time regretting that I could not stay and explore the area longer.
Smoothie roadbike to test ride while I am in California, which I am excited about as well.
Physically I'm not ready for the Hell's Gate Hundred and the 5 days of cycling that is CORPSCamp. But I keep from hyperventilating by telling myself there isn't really any pressure on me to finish all the rides, and that I can do as little or as much as I feel comfortable with. It will be both scary and interesting to find out how much that is. And of course, I will get to see California. I am nervous and looking forward to it all in equal measure.