Friday, December 30, 2011

Time In a Bottle

I wonder if celebrities, rock stars and movie stars, ever see a picture of themselves and remember the details of the moment it was taken.  After having thousands of pictures snapped, I suppose that all of those moments might run together in one's head.

On the wall in one of the bedrooms at my mom's house, there hangs a picture of me taken in 1994.  In that picture, I am climbing Fried Egg Hill, on the Slickrock Trail.  I am on my S-Works FSR, wearing a Specialized helmet, Mountain Hardwear shorts, and blue Pearl Izumi gloves, my hands on the Onza barends as I crank slowly toward the photographer.  My ponytail has fallen forward over my right shoulder, and my eyes are invisible behind Oakley Full Metal Jacket glasses.  My Shimano shoes are clipped into Speedplay Frog pedals, and I have on a Team Howling Duck t-shirt, rather than a jersey.

In my mind's eye, right now, I can see the photographer sitting on the rock, with a sunshade protecting him from the mid-day heat.  I hear the shutter click, and the photog calls out the roll and exposure number to me, in case I want to buy a print, later. 

For some reason, I do want a print.  There was something was so different about that day.  I had had the same guy shoot my picture at the same place, before, with no thought of buying a copy.  But, that ride had been pretty awesome.  In fact, the whole trip had been really fun.  I wanted documentation.

I remember realizing, as a senior in high-school, that I was having more fun than I should, and that I should enjoy it while I could.  This particular trip to Moab was similar.  It seemed to me that I must be peaking, that riding a bike would never be more fun.  And, it might possibly never be as fun, again.  I was in the best shape of my life, on the latest and greatest bike available, in the best surroundings I could imagine.

Looking back on it, I think I was right.  I still love riding, and I have had a lot of good times on a bike since that day.  But, I think that might have been the one best era of my life and the best specific ride I will ever take.

Later that year, I suffered the disappointment of not finishing the inagural Leadville 100 mountain bike race.  The next year, I suffered a repeat of that.  After that, some of the luster was gone from mountain biking.  I stopped racing (and therefore stopped training).  My fitness declined a bit, and I could see my performance level dropping just a bit, from year to year. 

There were some discouraging times ahead for me.  I got divorced, went through some economic hardships, got older.  Yet, I still feel a bit of that special ride, when I see that snapshot.  It reminds me of a time when i was on top of the world.

I'm glad I bought that picture.


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