Last year was a tough year. Despite racing all over the world and having some pretty amazing support from friends, sponsors and my best pal/husband, I felt like I had a disappointing race season. No, I'm not quitting mountain biking or even Enduro racing. Not on your life. But I did just make the difficult decision to quit training for the Grand Traverse (yeah, I know, that's a ski race), AKA the GT, a 40 mile ski race from Crested Butte to Aspen, Colorado.
You see, I live in a ski town. I started skiing right about the same time I started rock climbing and mountain biking and I used to split the 3 activities, (the trifecta), pretty evenly amongst the appropriate seasons. For the past 5 years or so, mountain biking has basically taken over my life. Indeed, it is an addiction.
Well, life happens. And sometimes the opposite of life occurs and then your partner is left picking up the pieces of her life and at that point, you have to find a new partner as there is no solo category for the GT.
I was lucky to happen upon Brooke, an absolute conundrum of a woman who is sweet as can be, but beast-like when you get her in some ski boots and point her uphill with a pack on. We were getting along great and knocking out long tours together. It was fun adventure. And then last weekend, a month out from race day, I planned a tour for us that included multiple high alpine passes and about 30 miles of navigation and (or so I thought) awesome views. We started a little late at 7:30am (in order to let the mercury rise above zero) and were each hauling about 4,000 calories and enough water to keep us going into the night. It was a beautiful morning and we were making good time on the heavily traveled trail, for about a mile or so. This evolved into breaking trail and navigating through thick trees. Sometime after noon, the weather turned foul with lower temps and strong gusts of wind. It was snowing lightly (and probably not at all at lower elevations), but up above treeline the wind churned up nasty ground blizzards and we had to brace ourselves against the gusts. This wasn't all terrible- 2 weeks before we had skied from Fairplay to Leadville in much stronger winds, but during that adventure we had warm temperatures (it was over 40 degrees and sunny most of that day), and visibility on our side. Now we were quickly becoming chilled as frequent GPS checks were necessary to make sure we weren't wandering under an avy slope in the blinding and cold conditions.
Mid-afternoon came and I decided to call it and we reversed our route. Skiing down was slow going and in the space of 9 hours, we had only covered about 12 miles.
The next morning, we skied a delightful little couloir and we finally got to taste a bit of powder together.
Do I regret my decision to quit? Not yet.
Is there a very good chance that I won't learn my lesson and that I'm gonna sign up for the GT again? Of course.
Dubner, SJ (2011). The Upside of Quitting. Freakonomics Radio. Retrieved from http://freakonomics.com/podcast/new-freakonomics-radio-podcast-the-upside-of-quitting/.