Thursday, October 21, 2010

Chance Meeting on the Trail

Tuesday is now my cross train day and I have been getting out on the mountain bike on that day each week. This week while I was out riding, I unexpectedly met up with an old training partner running the single track Kevin and I built for mountain biking down near the Ossipee River. This runner, R, briefly took a break from road racing many years ago and raced mountain bikes for a while. A crash and serious injury during a race sent her back to running road races. We stopped face to face on the trail and she grabbed my handlebars and said sternly, "Be careful on that thing!" She went on to say that she recognized that these trails "had mountain biker written all over them." I admitted that Kevin and I had something to do with them. We made some small talk and then headed off in opposite directions.

It made me smile to meet up with this old friend on the trail. For the rest of my ride, I reminisced about the tough training we used to do together. R was faster than me at the races. I would always enthusiastically try to beat her and she would stubbornly hold me off each time we raced together. But in our workouts, she pushed me and encouraged me. We did workouts I would never even attempt these days... ladders, mile repeats, quarters, 800's, tempo runs on the track, all at a pace I couldn't even get close to now and with very short rest intervals. I was often light headed and nauseous near the end of those workouts. I vividly recall having tunnel vision during the last few quarter mile repeats on several occasions. I have never experienced that in a race or at any other time in my life. R was one tough ass runner and somehow she was able to bring out a toughness in me that I wouldn't have ever known was there.

When we finished on the track we would head down into the woods onto the snow mobile trails and fisherman's paths near the river for our cool down. We did this so no one would drive by and see how beat up we were from our workout. This was rough running with some bushwhacking involved. It gave us a good excuse to go really slow. These rough trails and informal paths are the same trails that are now the awesome Ossipee River Trails! As I rode it suddenly occurred to me that R is the one who showed me this beautiful area in the first place, so many years ago! Later, I showed Kevin, the trail building fanatic, and the result is this wonderful network of trails used by so many people in the community. Nice!

Near the end of my ride I came face to face with R again. She told me she hadn't been in these woods for many years. She was very impressed with the quality of the single track and wanted me to make sure I thanked Kevin for her. As she sprinted off down the trail she let out a big "Whooooo-hooooooo! This is awesome!!!" It made my day.

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