For those that may be reading this, what's your best ride ever? Seriously, I'd be interested in hearing about it, so please comment if you feel up to it. Your best ride may be one in a race or in training. It may be one where you felt amazing from the start or one that you built into. It may be one that was incredibly scenic or surreal. Many have asked which is my favorite discipline of triathlon. I love all three of them for their own unique offerings. Swimming may easily get the shaft, although swimming in Kailua Bay is one of my favorite things. Running is pure and simple and nothing can match the mental and physical benefits one receives bang for the buck from running. Cycling is probably the most amazing though. the territory covered leaves the other two disciplines dwarfed. The exhilaration of a huge climb or a fast descent is hard to match.
The tour has obviously started. One year ago, I was getting ready for my birthday trip to France, the most amazing gift that has ever been given in my opinion. I have been fortunate to do some amazing rides. I have raced the infamous lava fields on the Big Island many times. I have ridden up famous climbs in the US like Mt Lemmon, Whiteface, and Kitts Peak. I have raced with broken parts through 70 of 112 miles and persevered. My best day on a bike though is an easy choice, a clear cut memory. It was my ride last year from Luchon, up the Col D'Peyressoude, then the Col D'Aspin, then finally the Tourmalet. Why was this my best day on a bike? I rolled out of Luchon all alone at 6am with my ipod on a clear, mild day. You start climbing the Peyressoude almost right away. There were trailers and tents everywhere from the stage the previous day, yet everyone was still asleep, making it peaceful. There wasn't a bit of litter anywhere from the day before. My legs felt stiff from the big climbs I had done the two preceding days. Looking up the mountain at the switchbacks jutting through the light clouds was an incredible site - one that could feel daunting, yet exciting at the same time. The first descent was long and chilly and I was still all alone. I rolled through some picturesque towns and soon found myself ascending the Co D'Aspin. This climb isn't that tough compared to the others I experienced on the trip. It's long, especially compared with anything we have in the states, but my legs were coming around and seeing faded paint spelling "Indurain" or "go Lance!" certainly upped the adrenalin. I had to skirt my way around roaming cattle and goats on this climb, then another long, fun descent before starting the monster - the Tourmalet. I pulled over to take some pictures and was joined by two guides from the trip I was on, one being George Alteri. I climbed with them up to the ski town La Mongie, then stopped to refill my empty bottles and take some photos. In hindsight, I wanted to finish this surreal day the way I started, all by myself. This was my day. The switchbacks and wind from La Mongie to the Tourmalet summit was incredibly challenging, especially with beat up legs from the six huge climbs I had done in the 48 hours leading up to this moment. But not once did I question what I was doing. I sat at the cafe on the top of the mountain downing double espressos and really trying to take in the coolness of what I just did and was doing. As I did, hundreds of cyclists appeared, out capturing there own memories on one of Frances most famous climbs. The excitement of the morning stays with me to this day. I'll do this same ride again some day. It won't omit the raw emotion from the newness of the adventure that it did on that day last summer. But I'll be doing it with my son Ryan and it'll bring on a whole different meaning I'm sure. I just hope I can stay with him. It's rides like these that remind why I do this in the first place, and that ground me, allowing me to feel unbelievably fortunate.