A word so highly overused it is mocked by nearly everyone. The first time I heard the word “epic” I was probably in middle school and it was in reference to Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. We have all read and forgotten them long ago. I wrote a lot of papers about them in college and as I sit here and think of where I will be in exactly seven days from this minute, my adventurous mind begins to compare the two epics to my upcoming bid to finish the AZT 750.
A stretch? Yeah, ok, probably. Some girl pedaling (and pushing and carrying) a mountain bike through Arizona is nowhere near the caliber of a tale of the events of the Trojan War and the ten years after, but the very definitions of the words ring loudly in my thoughts every day.
Iliad: A series of miseries or disastrous events, a series of exploits, a long narrative
Odyssey: A long wandering or voyage marked by many changes of fortune, an intellectual or spiritual wandering or quest
Wait. I am just riding a bike. Pedaling. Pushing. Carrying. Through an entire state. I am not a hero battling in an ancient war. My relative “miseries” and “disastrous events” will come in the form of exhausted legs, hot weather, chafed everything, sore shoulders, flat tires, slipped chains, hunger pangs, thirst, boredom, sleep deprivation and sore toes. I expect all these things. I have read other’s accounts on the blogs, the trip reports and as much as I can stand of the constant chatter on the forums.
My “long, wandering voyage” will be absolutely amazing, uplifting, inspiring, spiritual and awesome at times and it will be absolute hell (on wheels) at times. The sun will be hot, the nights may be chilly, the trail will be lonely, rocky, steep and long, and it will be very hard to leave stores, towns, and my sleeping bag at times.
I will smile, laugh, shiver, sweat, cuss, sing the song stuck in my head when my ipod dies, complain, contemplate and probably shed a few tears between Mexico and Utah.
In short, I will write my own epic. I will define my own quest, wandering, race, adventure, voyage—whatever term is suitable at the moment—over 750 miles on a bike. I could talk about failing to finish the 300 mile version of this race last year and overanalyze and outline all my mistakes, but why? I have gone over it enough times in my head. I have taken the lessons learned, applied them to my strategy this year and let them go. I am still new, young and inexperienced among those in this game who have been everywhere and ridden everything. I am nobody in the bikepacking/mountain biking world. I am not as fast as Eszter yet. I have a small race resume and I haven’t accomplished anything of great merit on my bike yet.
But via the bike, I have set my life on fire. A fire that burns hot for a journey and its inherent challenge and adventure. Hmmmmm, sounds reckless, doesn’t it? Not really the safe, secure life prescribed by society, is it?
I contend that there is a big gap between reckless and courageous. Common sense and intellect is involved in the latter. The courage to live my dreams isn’t comprised of emotional whims and wild actions based on feelings. I have found the courage to face down my fears by refusing to be paralyzed by them.
I am not the type of person who simply avoids something my heart is calling me to experience because of the things that may go wrong, fears or limits I place upon myself. Rather, I have chosen to stop limiting myself to doing the basic, and being basic, go for broke, really listen to my heart and just straight up believe.
Sure, there are very real things that could keep me from reaching the Utah border—my bike may break out in the middle of nowhere and I may be unable to fix it or I may get hurt. The water situation, the hike across the Grand Canyon, the heat, the scorpions, the snakes, the massive amount of financial stress from time off work to train and race, the lack of anyone to pick me up at the finish and the physical fatigue that leads to subtle mental fatigue at times are all things I have had to take action to prepare for and face. The result? I am ready to tackle this race starting Friday.
Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy….
Live the epic.
Setup rundown with some pictures, SPOT link and race information coming tomorrow if interested....