Note: I began writing this post with the intention of it being my perspective on racing the 2019 unPAved gravel race. However, a couple simple yet beautiful images (along with two nifty patches) from Salsa later and I instead wrote this. I hope that you all can take something away from this as it illustrates the larger picture about why we do things (like unPAved or DK), who we do them for and what really matters.
The header picture that you see; that one taken by the lovely people from Salsa who honor certain events with their special Chaise, means a lot to me. Not because of the view or the stature of the events (both amazing) but because I have been able to twice express a little special shout out to my daughter Claire. I’ve been able to honor her with a subtle “C” over my heart each time….and let me say both times I “Chased the Chaise” in 2019, thinking of Claire got me through races which honestly didn’t go my way. So let’s go back to June at Dirty Kanza where this started.
The day before Dirty Kanza 2019 my wife and I received maybe the worst news two new parents could get. At what was supposed to be a routine eye exam at 4 months in our minds turned out to be an appointment that ended with a Cancer diagnosis. Completely out of left field we were both floored. It’s the kind of thing that takes the wind/life/energy right out of you. Something that honestly I couldn’t even express after that race. It was still too raw and frankly we didn’t even know what the plan would be. Here I was a thousand or so miles away in Kansas, sitting in a dorm room alone talking on the phone to my wife who had just personally received that news (thankfully her Mom was with her at the appointment…so grateful for that, as this is not news you want to receive when alone). What do you do in that situation? It’s crazy. Do I jump on a flight home…are there even any flights left on a Friday afternoon back to Boston? It’s a situation that frankly I’m not sure how Kait and I were able to hold it together. After the call from Kait, we decided that as there was nothing that could be done until the next Doctors visit on Tuesday and that I might as well ride my bike and maybe just maybe it would take my mind of things for a little bit.
Well, I guess life dishes out the tough stuff to people that it thinks can handle it. Kanza this year was rough. A puncture from a flying rock kicked up by a rider in front of me left my tire unable to hold air or a tube with air. After a few attempts to revive it including putting on a whole new tire, I limped into the first check point over 45 minutes down on the lead group. It was at this point that things pretty much all hit me. I’d be lying if I said I held it together. Thank God I had a friend that was crewing for me who was able to give me the support (emotional and literally new wheels) that I needed to take on the remaining 140 miles, because at that point riding my bike just didn’t seem that appealing anymore.
So, I moved along. I got riding and promptly had to reset my brake pads so they would stop rubbing. Another hurdle on a day full of them. However, after that even with brakes rubbing and time ticking away the only thing that really mattered to me was finishing the damn thing and honoring that little girl that I was so far away from. I wasn’t going to win or get a top 10 for her so I damn well better get to the finish line….so I did. I rode the better part of 170 miles on my own. I of course rode past people and some rode past me towards the end, but either way I was alone with my thoughts. Time and distance went by as fast as I made it go by. Honestly, yeah it sucked in a lot of ways. All the training you put in sabotaged by a rogue rock…it’s brutal. You get one shot in a race like this and to have it all wiped away 26 miles into a 200 mile race, woof! But you know, I was able to keep moving forward. I pedaled my bike because its something I really love to do. Something that helps wash away the stresses of life and fulfill the competitive fire.
To bring this story that I hadn’t planned on writing or sharing but just kind of flowed out my fingers on the keyboard to an end; here is the Kanza Chaise picture. I asked the photographer to confirm that I was making the “C” the correct way so it wasn’t backwards 🙂 This was my way of saying I love you to Claire and Kait and that they were the reason I was able to keep going and get through it even when things weren’t going my way. Truly a lesson for what we were beginning with Claire’s diagnosis of Retinoblastoma. So there you go, that is my 2019 Chase the Chaise story. It’s funny how something like a Chaise can end up being so meaningful to so many people in so many ways. I will always stop for the Chaise, you can count on that! (What’s your Chaise story?)
Next time (probably later this week) I will share with you everything about unPAved 2019 and how a great weekend prevails even when you get knocked down a few times and things don’t go 100%.
Thanks for reading,