There are good ideas and there are bad ideas. The first good idea of the day is to pay rapt attention to this website. That experience is significantly enhanced while applying gentle pressure to your personal generosity button. You will feel very very good about yourself as a result.
In my humble opinion, the bad idea of the day is to run 50 miles. Off road. In the mud. At 6am. In sub-optimal weather. Over hill and dale and all throughout the Green Mountains of Ascutney, VT for the Vermont 50. Yuck, that sounds miserable.
BUT I’m not a runner. I’m a cyclist, so the idea of mountain biking those 50 miles sounded like an excellent off-season activity. After all, I had a title to defend. Better yet, I had family to see.
My crazy cousin Jay (father to a pair of those children above), his friend Amy (mother to the rest of those children above, myself not included), and about 548 of their good friends took part in the running portion of the Vermont 50. While I think that sounds horribly unpleasant, they both succeeded and had a smashing time in the process.
Backtracking a bit, my cousin’s family and their friend’s family rented a house nearby and made a sweet weekend getaway out of it. The fringe benefit of being their cousin is that I got to tag along. In an awesomely quirky mountain cabin, complete with stuffed dear heads, gazelles, puzzles, and a fire-pit, we had a great time. Plus I got to Vermont in time to see the crew above dominate the mini-run. 1 mile around Ascutney sounds like fun. Multiply that by 50 and that sounds less fun. But that’s just me.
Meanwhile, I woke up at 2:53am so that I could be fully digested and ready to roll at early hour of 6am. Waking up to rumbling thunder and fog and mist so thick that merely driving to the venue seems dangerous was an ominous start to the day. But upon arriving to the race, even before 5am, the energy and excitement of the additional 800 cyclists becomes downright palpable! Or maybe it was just the fog and the two dozen port-o-johns. Either way, people were stoked and so was I! With the ginormous help of the cannon atop my head at the pitch-black hour of 6am under, I was able to take the lead early and carry that momentum to an overall smashing race win… as well as the new course record.
Again, here I am with my adoring familial fans – Anna, Emma, Freddy, Paige, and Luke. (I’m the guy in the middle who is over 5′ tall.)
Oh, well worth the side note: the night before the race before going to bed, these amazing, 3-5 feet tall people performed a talent show. A dancing Luke, the three year old, took the cake in my book.
In addition to that record, I also took home a beautiful glass container of Vermont maple syrup from Top Acres Farm, a block of Vermont’s best known cheese: Cabot Private Stock Cheddar. Plus a pair of Vermont Peanut Butter’s jars of nutty excellence. (Actually that’s an exaggeration; I bought one jar the previous day at race registration – because I think VTPB does great things – but then I won another jar, so that pretty much made my day. If one is good, two are better.)
STRAVA! Plus a handful of well deserved KOMs if you ask me.
Another good idea is to take advantage of the 6am start as it pertains to the rest of your day. Namely, finish up the race a hair after 10am, soak up the limelight of having just won such a massive bike race, bask in the bike cleaning station and warm showers before they become caked in frigid mud, partake in a tasty sponsor beverage, enormous BBQ, and festive music, and STILL have time to drive 3 hours south to eastern Massachusetts and watch the nation’s coolest bike race, GP Gloucester! Take folks, take a page out of my book: you’re not living unless you’re living.
I wisely opted not to double-up and I therefore packed up shop and drove down to MA to watch Gloucester rather than race it. I don’t do well in muddy cross races and this was some of the finest mud America has to offer.
Let the off season adventures continue! Oh speaking of which, I have a really good idea for you…