Man, sometimes your external and internal world's don't really correspond. What do I mean by that? I mean that you can be surrounded by beauty but feel pretty poor on the inside. That was the case of today's ride. Despite waking up to an unforgettable sunrise, I was feeling pretty low.
The ride got off to a fine start. We enjoyed a fun downhill stretch before the climbs began. Once the climbs began, however, things turned South. I was being a bit lackadaisical about the strenuous ride we were facing. Everyone had warned us that the climb to Guffey would be challenging. Regardless, I seemed to care not. I was chatting away, carrying on as I usually do, making commentary that wasn't really conducive towards us focusing. One or two misunderstandings later, my partner and I were having it out with each other on the side of the road. It was as if the colorful sunrise and beautiful mountains were nonexistent. In that moment our dynamic was screwed up, and it was making everything really ugly.
I found myself pedaling with a lot of regret. I was displeased with myself for losing my cool. As the supposed leader of our duo, I should've been more aware. I knew that this was going to be a difficult ride and that stress levels were going to be high. I could have conducted myself in a way that was better for the both of us.
You know, the good thing about riding through the Rockies with someone is that you can't just walk out on them. I am a rather independent person. Lots of people were amazed that I chose to do this cross country ride by myself. What those people didn't realize was that doing things by myself comes much more naturally to me. The thought of doing a ride with 14 other people is more daunting than the thought of going it alone. I'm independent, almost to a fault. So, in the past when things would get heated, it may have been easier for me to just walk away rather than to try and work it out. In this tense situation with my riding partner, I literally could not walk away. I knew that we had to get up the mountain...together. This is one of the most positive aspects of this bike journey. Quite frankly, it's forcing me to face a lot of my own issues.
So, when any partnership goes awry, whether it be platonic, romantic, professional, or other, what do you do? You communicate. Celine and I pulled over to talk. I apologized for acting out of character. She helped me understand where some of her distress was coming from. We didn't get to the bottom of it, but we worked it out enough to get up the hill. Once at the top, I think we were both able to finally enjoy the scenery.
I was pleased to arrive in Guffey, a small, odd, little mountain town. I rolled into town with a general sense of where I was supposed to go. Once there I encountered three men working on some old automobile. One of them asked if I needed any help. I told him I was looking for some guy who puts up cyclists in his garage or something. He told me I was at the right place. This gentlemen, Bill, proceeded to give me a tour of his haunted campsite. This place was crazy. There were coffins, bull skulls, rusted old hot rods and junk electronics selectively placed about the several cabins on his land. Words don't really do this place justice, it might make more sense in pictures.
That evening we got to know Bill, in addition to his crazy campsite. He's sort of just been in Guffey forever, building the town up in his quirky style. He shared some fun stories of life in Guffey with Celine and me over a cold Milwaukee's Best. He recounted the time that he told the elementary school's principal to get her mind out of the gutter after she reprimanded him for telling the school children the name of his model skeleton when they came to his shop on a field trip. The skeleton's name was Boner. I think it goes without saying that Bill was a heck of a character.
We so enjoyed this funky mountain town that we opted to take an additional rest day. That day was spent relaxing, hiking around the surrounding hills and even doing a little evening karaoke. In case anyone cares, I performed "It was a good year" by Frank Sinatra.
So, the ride to Guffey was special because my partner and I got over a hill, both literally and figuratively. In all honesty it's the mental tests, perhaps even more so than the physical tests, that are making this ride an invaluable experience.