There is so much great riding in Utah Valley and, after 5 years in Flagstaff, I am so happy to be back on these gorgeous mountain roads! Especially in the fall. Summer is my favorite but a warm autumn day in the mountains with yellow and red leaves scattered across the road and falling down all around me - it's magical and makes my heart jump for joy!
In preparation for Ironman Arizona, I have had the pleasure of doing some really long rides. All of them solo. It's not my first choice to spend 6 hours in the saddle by myself with no one to talk to but, seeing how it's been hard to find the right training partners here (I was SPOILED in Flagstaff), I do enjoy the solitude and it's great preparation for race day.
The Nebo loop from my house in Provo is SUCH a great long training ride. The first hour or so is along the foothills to the mouth of Payson Canyon and then the climbing starts. And keeps going. And going. And when you think you are at the top and start descending, you realize that you're wrong and keep climbing some more. But if you are like me and you LOVE climbing, beautiful views, and mountains, then you are in paradise!
And then - to my big surprise - my former coach and good friend, Heath, pulls up next to me and hands me some water and a Snickers! He is the best. I had invited him to come with me but he couldn't make it and, when he found a few extra minutes, he jumped in the car with his two lovely daughters and came to look for me in the canyon. That put a HUGE smile on my face! Thank you, Heath!
I was having a really good day on the bike and felt so much joy. This right here is a BIG reason I do this crazy sport. Because - other than my family - nothing fills me with happiness and gratitude for this amazing life more than being out here. Sun, warmth, hills, trees, mountains, fresh air in my lungs, wind in my face, healthy body, feeling alive.
As I was getting closer to the top and had a better view of Mount Nebo, I remembered all of the other adventures we've had in the past on this mountain. One of them being a two-day winter ascent back in 2004. We had such a great group of friends that winter and climbed to the top of most of the mountains in our part of the Wasatch Range. Such good memories! Some day I'll get back into mountaineering and do crazy stuff that doesn't involve a swimsuit, running shoes, or a bike. Like summitting Mt. Rainier again. But - for now - triathlon is still calling my name!
Throwing it back to the winter of 2004 on Mount Nebo with Mandy
After descending down the other side of Nebo, there is finally a place to re-fuel before biking all the way back down in the valley. Here is where I really started pushing it and - unlike some days where you push but nothing really happens - I was cruising along, hitting some good numbers, and totally in my element.
At the end of the day, this was some good money in the IM AZ bank.
Tired legs, nourished soul, calm mind, family time!