PLEASURE OR PAIN?
Do you ever think about that fine line between pleasure and pain? If you are ready to go hut to hut on a mountain bike, you might want to ponder this statement. Some people might argue that we want to avoid pain at all costs, but in order to heal, we must feel the pain and let it work in our favor. When it comes to sports, good pain helps us to become better athletes and have a more desirable bodies. When you do sit-ups you can see that your stomach will get strong and firm. When I started adventure racing, I thought many times about the pain that our bodies would endure. At times exercising at intense levels for over 36 hours without proper sleep or nutrition. Is this fun? Surprisingly my answer is yes mainly because even throughout the moments of uncomfortable situations, the experience brought a feeling of euphoria and self-respect as I learned what my body was truly capable of doing. Each time, I take the plunge and move past my self imposed limitations, I found fulfillment, excitement and a meaning far greater than I could ever image.
Recently on a 7 day San Juan hut to hut trip, I felt this same sensation, a strange mixture of being challenged with the extreme heat, long uphill climbs and multiple cuts and bruises from unmaintained wild single track and pleasure of accomplishing a long anticipated goal. I found that the pain was worth it because it helped my mind to build self confidence making the experience more expansive.
Human being like to be comfortable, however comfort can mean a lack of growing. Adventure helps to push out of that comfort zone because you do not know what to expect. Nothing is planned and everything is new. The reason we must push our limits is because it feels good. The reward highly outweighs the pain associated with the sensation. Athletes know is concept well because when they train hard, they perform much better. Once you train the mind to accomplish once thought of impossible tasks, you help relearn what is in fact possible. One day during the bike trip, I had plenty of time to think about this concept as I spun my cracks relentlessly for 22 miles uphill with a 4,000 vertical foot climb in temperatures reaching 98 degrees, my mind began to wonder. Mainly back to more pleasurable experiences so that I could at the moment forget about my uncomforted, but then I embraced each sweat drip and dust sticking to my face.
I came to the conclusion that challenges help us to grow and when we grow we become happy. I like to place these growth opportunities on my bucket list making a hut to hut trip on my mountain bike a reality. The San Juan Hut system offers a basic accommodation and well get excited about making meals with canned goods, but after being on your bike on average 30 miles per day, you are so hungry you could eat anything.
Toward the end of the week, you can feel your legs start to become fatigued, your bum has lots of little red bumps from miles upon miles in the saddle, and you are putting on the same bike jersey that you wore that last 4 days. However the only thing to do is to just keep on spinning, testing your mental and physical ability to go beyond where you might have thought you body could go.
The challenge is what I love and concurring a true test of endurance. During this trip, you do not have to take all the alternative single track routes and can make it easier by staying on the designed road, but our group decided that the single track would be more fun and moments that I am sure to remember beyond it takes for my legs to heal from the multiple bruises and scraps.
There are no one moment that was spectacular but a mixture of epic views, virgin single track, splattering of cow poop on the trails, be careful not to smile and laugh, when you hit the cow patty at the right angle it explodes, and good laughs with friends come to mind. The adventurous “alternative routes brought me back to a time when mountain biking began and I felt like a true explorer going where few have gone before.
After a long day in the saddle, getting to the hut is like the prize. Far from a five star experience, but simply equipped with everything you need. Well almost, I could have used a personal masseuse and chef but who is complaining, my body was so tired, I could probably fall asleep on a rock and been happy. In order to make the trip highly enjoyable, I recommend making sure that everyone on the trip is about at the same athletic level. You also want to make sure that you are comfortable with your gear and bring only the essentials. Remember that water takes up a huge amount of room and adds quite a bit of weight. Another tip I can give is to ride aggressively but also remember that the bike might perform differently with a heavy front and rear pack. Essential on the trip is healing salve and butt butter. Most importantly test your bike before you leave to make sure the set up will work for the next 250 miles. I made that rookie mistake and when the shuttle driver dropped us off, he mentioned that the system that I adopted would not work and it could be extremely dangerous for me and the bike. Keeping the sun in check will make or break your experience. Getting a pair of sun arms and legs is a highly suggested idea or you can get a good sunscreen. Trust me, life is better with it.
The experience you have is epic, but the bonding you share with your companions is exceptional. Conversations turn to what route should we do to what works best to combat chafing. Wondering whose clothes look the dirtiest and who is going to get naked and jump in the river after a long ride first? Our group found it most amusing to talk about their bowel moments and making sure everyone is regular. Is this what I have to look forward to when I get older? We compared the composting toilets and determined which ones offered the best overall experience.
Each day and hut gives you a different experience from hot showers and friendly horses to our own river swimming experience to epic views. Cows that cross your path and are curious to hear the sound of singing to creative cooking with a make it out of cans cookbook. At one point we all had a moment where we thought that the trail looked like it was going downhill but the illusion was that it was in fact moving uphill.
If you are interested in learning more about the hut system or for booking a trip. You can also read about the book on Amazon Colorado Hut to Hut – Telluride to Moab.
Bike touring is not for everyone, as I mentioned, it is a healthy mix of pleasure and pain, but for for those who like a challenge, who get excited exploring new places on a mountain bike, or by going off the beaten track, then cross that item off your bucket list and book a hut to hut mountain bike trip. Regrets come when we wonder, “What if?” yet don’t act. Don’t wonder – take the plunge and challenge yourself. Bike touring gives you time to think and not to think, a time to be social and meditative, a time to laugh and time to cry and time to put more butt butter on your ass for the next ride.