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Dispatches from Columbine: Congratulations! Now What?

2013 Dispatches CongratsBy Dave Wiens and Rebecca Rusch

Your 2013 Leadville Trail 100 MTB is done. In the books. Written in the rocks on the periphery of the very course that has consumed you for the past several months. Regardless of the outcome — whether you achieved your goals, crushed your goals, didn’t do either, or laid a big fat egg out there — now comes an unexpected and difficult part of the LT100 journey: a sort of aimless, empty feeling.

What do you do now?

If you are experiencing these feelings, don’t worry: It’s normal. If you have yet to feel this way, don’t worry: You probably will. It may take a day or two for these feelings to creep in — especially if you achieved your goals; the elation brought by your accomplishment is still fresh.

Last weekend brought an end to a journey that began months ago when you first earned an entry into the race, when you accepted the challenge and committed to the hard work and preparation that this event requires. That’s the journey.

This past Saturday, you experienced the destination. That destination was a beacon that had been guiding your life and that beacon no longer shines. But don’t think of this as a negative; instead, consider it something that has the potential to generate motivation — motivation that can become an inextinguishable beacon in your life. And isn’t motivation possibly one of our most powerful possessions? We are our best selves when we have a goal and a purpose to strive for.

The motivation you derived from the LT100 lasted for months and was based on arriving at that destination: a start line and a shotgun blast at 6:30 a.m. on the second Saturday of August. Put simply, all you need to do is to commit to the LT100 next year and you’re right back on that track. But if you’re like us, you might benefit from having goals like the LT100 sprinkled throughout your year. They don’t all need to equal Leadville in magnitude. They can be simple low-key affairs and don’t even need to be proper events. A particular ride or other challenge with friends (or even alone) is more than enough to rekindle the flame that fueled your fire for the past several months.

One of us (Rebecca) has epic events so stacked up she hardly has time to ponder the event she just finished before switching focus to the next: Rebecca’s Private Idaho, the Brazil Ride stage race, Interbike and a new house remodel. The other (Dave) is a bit less ambitious and has a family he likes to see, but still purposefully stacks up challenges to work toward. This summer that meant participating in the Leadville Race Series events, including the Austin Rattler, Wilmington Whiteface, Barn Burner and Tahoe Trail. Coming up: the West Elk Bicycle Classic, perhaps some fall/winter bike races like the Chequamegon 40 and/or the Iceman Cometh and, of course, town league hockey and all kinds of skiing.

So if you’re feeling a little empty this week, scour the Internet for a compelling event or activity. Plan for and commit to a special challenge, one that will require some grit, will and determination, and then let us know if you’re still feeling a little low. We don’t expect to hear from you.

We’d like to leave you with this parting thought from our own Ken Chlouber: “There is no shame in failure. There is only shame in quitting.”

Congratulations to all of you on an epic journey. We look forward to seeing you at the next one. Enjoy the ride!

Rebecca and Dave

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