I find a great deal of satisfaction in 3 things that support and propogate each other: food, outdoor activity, and sleep. Kept in balance, this simple trifecta makes me very happy.
For those that know me, “outdoor activity” tends to trend on the more zealous side of the spectrum. I don’t consider myself a thrill seeker; I’m not “extreme”. I don’t crave adrenaline fixes. But I love adventure and being away from the hubbub of daily life. I love the adventures that take you away from most people, but also bonds you closer to your companions. I like to delve into the beautiful backcountry, and seek experiences that put my body and mind to the test. In college and for more than 10 years after that, I sought this experience in climbing. Ice climbing, mountain climbing, rock climbing. Big walls, single pitches, high altitude mountains, long alpine routes, splitter cracks to steep overhanging crimp fests, from New York’s treasures at the Gunks to Yosemite’s priceless granite walls, to the highest peak in the Southern Hemisphere, Aconcagua. I loved it all (except bouldering, to be truthful).
Then in 2008, I took up cycling. It turned out to be another great way to get onto quiet backroads or into the mountains and atop beautiful vistas. I tried something I thought I wouldn’t like in my first year of cycling… bike racing. I thought I’d find the cost, commotion, and competition unappealing. But friends heckled me into trying cyclocross, and I was immediately hooked. This led to mountain bike racing the following season. Racing focuses me and motivates me to try harder than I ever would try on my own. Similar to being in your zone in the middle of a 14 pitch route, intently focused on your next series of moves and your next piece of pro, bike racing intensifies your focus and drive. Before Leadville, a coworker asked what I think about for a race that is 9-10 hours long. My answer was basic: nutrition, breathing, my pace and effort, and thinking of the course in sections. At the time, I wondered if that was really accurate. In retrospect, that is truly what I thought of during Leadville, and little else. Now that I’m writing this out, I can say it’s as much the experience of adventure and pushing my physical limits that I love and seek out–whether climbing or cycling–as it is the experience of creating singular mental focus, a kind of moving meditation.