This race season has been more of a struggle for me than I really planned on. To start the season off, I had to pull out of the opening round of the BME in Snowmass after crashing in stage one. Super sick. Next came Keystone, where I felt like I had never ridden a bike before. With round five of the Enduro World Series in Crested Butte coming quickly, I was panicked. I came home from Keystone frustrated and disappointed. “What is wrong with me?” I asked myself over and over again. I couldn’t figure it out. I’m faster (and smarter) than I’ve ever been, strong, and fit, I have all the support I could ask for and am not under any pressure to do well. So what the hell was I doing with my head so far up my ass?
I like talking. I especially like talking when I’m looking for an answer. So I talked to anyone I thought might have an answer for me. The overwhelming and resounding answer I got back was, “You’ll figure it out, Alex. Quit caring and just go ride your damn bike.” Duh, thank you, still not what I was looking for. But there were two people who added something a little more—Gary Steffensen, a long time ski coach and strength coach of mine, and Ryan Geiger, my cycling coach and one of my best friends. Both of them told me something along the lines of, “We all know you’ve got it in you, we can sit here and tell you that you’re fast, but you shouldn’t rely on anyone besides yourself to get your confidence back. YOU need to tell yourself that you’re fast, and YOU need to believe it.” Yeah, yeah, I believe it. Whatever, not the answer I’m looking for.
Then it was off to Park City for a few days of riding before heading to Crested Butte for the EWS. The first day I was there I went out on an epic ride that took me up to the Wasatch Crest and dropped me back down into Canyons. I was grinning ear to ear the whole time, mostly because it was a beautiful day, I was on my bike, and the trails were incredible. But there was a very precise moment where there was a paradigm shift in my attitude. I was riding down a section of the Crest and went flawlessly flying (blind) through a rock garden. It scared me a little when I realized what I had just done. “You’re playing a dangerous game going this fast on a trail you’ve never ridden” I said out loud. But I didn’t slow down. I kept riding, all the way back to the resort base, 110% confident in my ability to ride my bike, and ride the trail blind, fast. It was during that sweet descent that I fully appreciated what Gary and Ryan had told me. “I am going to be fine. Just fine.” My soul was smiling.
My personal demon could not have been conquered at a better time, for it was off to round five of the EWS. Plenty of people arrived several days early to Crested Butte to ride, and to get acclimated to the high elevation. I arrived in Crested Butte on Wednesday afternoon. I had been hiking in Ouray for three days and consequently off my bike since the previous Saturday. On top of that, I hadn’t even ridden my Roubion since Keystone. I had been riding my Tallboy instead. There were two stages of the race I had never ridden, and I didn’t care at all. I had the chance to ride both of them, but I couldn’t be bothered. I played bike park all of Wednesday afternoon and went on a leisure ride with Beth on Thursday instead. I knew that I would be fine for the race.
Now here I sit after day one, very content with how I rode today. Granted, I had ridden the day’s stages before (Doctor Park and Roaring Judy). But I had a score to settle with the two trails. Day two of last years Ultra Enduro was Roaring Judy and Doctor Park. I crashed, clipping a bar on a tree, on Roaring Judy, broke my nose, rode Doctor Park with a concussion, and subsequently had to pull out of the race. Today I rode both stages without any crashes, mechanicals, or major mistakes. I rode like I would ride any other day, never pushing to the point of cross-eyed exhaustion, because I don’t really give a shit (I know I’m not going to beat T-Mo or Beerten no matter how hard I push), and still did relatively well. I’m sitting in 22nd out of forty-something, and I’m only ten seconds back from being in the top 20. SIACKKKKKK. To quote Adam Craig, “Welcome to the NGS program, Pavon!”
Writing is something I have always been passionate about. I love sharing my stories, my thoughts, my advice, but mostly, I write to record memories and express myself. So here are a few of my fondest memories, best and worst moments, my most profound and boisterous thoughts, and riskiest advice. Enjoy!