Spoke Talk: Beauty in mountain biking
The following essay was composed by Steamboat Springs High School student Cole Sias after she competed in the Colorado High School Cycling League State Championships last fall. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club trains the Steamboat Springs High School cycling team, which just completed its first race of the season last weekend.
I find beauty in mountain biking. There’s the visual beauty — being in nature, taking in the views. And there’s the beauty of the experience, the freedom, the quiet and the rhythm. Finally, there is the beauty of competition.
The final mountain bike race of the season is almost finished, but that’s the last thing on my mind as my lactose-saturated legs power me up the serpentine trail. I’m relieved to see the top of the climb ahead; daylight through the treetops.
Just a few pedal strokes later, my bike is tipping forward, and I’m picking up speed. I can’t ease off now though, because there’s another girl in front of me, another competitor to pass. I drop into a bigger gear, look for the line and charge down the hill. I hear my name being shouted from my left, but I can’t look over — too fast, too rocky.
I am reaching the end of my second lap and the end of my race. I sprint in front of one more girl before skidding across the finish line and get off of my dusty, reliable, not-very-girly matte black-and-lime BMC and try to calm my gasping breath. It takes about two minutes, but when my heart rate is no longer maxed, I reach down to take the timing chip off of my ankle, and then sign the leader jersey.
Now it’s my turn to enjoy the beauty of the racers as the rest of my team lines up. I walk along the sidelines, telling the boys at the start “Good luck.” They smile, somehow looking tough in our pink team jersey, ready to race.
I find beauty in the fight of the riders, the push of their legs and the percussive whooshing of their breath — in the flow and the speed, the steady encouragement from our coaches. The uphill battle against gravity brings everything together. It distills our training, our mental preparation and our determination to “pass just one more person” into a wonderful experience, intense and sublime, full of misery and bliss.
My bike is freedom and self-expression, test and reward. I can’t imagine my life without the trails or my legs without the scars.
Cole Sias trains with the SSWSC high school cycling program and finished eighth in state in the freshmen women’s division racing for Steamboat Springs High School last year.
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