Flagstaff Week, 2018

It wasn’t until I was flying down a mountain at 40mph that I realized this is where I belong. Not just this place—Boulder—but in this community, with these people, working at Rapha and, yeah, even flying down a mountain at 40 mph on a Friday morning. With one good brake…but that’s neither here nor there.

A few months ago I wasn’t so sure. Hell, on the one-way drive from Florida to Colorado, I wasn’t so sure. But I was sure Florida wasn’t it for me anymore—and that was enough.

They call it Flagstaff Week

Every year around this time, Mosaic hosts a week of climbing. Five days in a row (six for extra credit) of riding up Flagstaff Mountain to a set of nondescript mailboxes. In the beginning of the week you get a card, and each day you make it to the top of the climb, you get to punch a new hole with the punch waiting at the top.

The ride is called Super Flag because the mailboxes are about two miles further than the standard Flagstaff climb. To say it’s torture for the legs is saying it lightly.

A brutal work schedule prevented me from making it all five days, but I made it on the last day, which I was told was the best day. Most were celebrating their finish—a full week of hard work. I was celebrating my first time ever up Super Flag. The enthusiasm was about the same, I’d say.

About 25 of us started at a local bike shop; two by two we rolled out at 7 a.m. sharp and headed for the mountains. The closer we got to the base, the more labored our breathing and eventually our conversations ended. But you could cut through the excitement with a disc brake.

^^^ The first big climb.

On the way up, I remember cornering of the switchbacks, looking out over the city of Boulder and feeling especially thankful I had found just enough strength in my brokenness to get me here. That I had just enough gas in the tank to set a new life into motion in this incredible city. 

Not so long ago, back in Florida, I remembered when it was a fight to get out of bed in the morning. When I forced myself to smile and grocery shop and drive the short hour to see my family. But I didn’t want them to see me hurting, so eventually I stopped visiting.

But. Look at me now, I thought, my legs and heart on fire. 

A thousand or so feet up, we made it to the amphitheater—more than halfway—and that’s where the real work began. Because the second leg, while shorter, is the same elevation gain.

Type 2 fun, ya know? 

^^^ It wasn’t a competition, but I totally beat all these boys. Hell yeah.

I was already in my lowest gear and at that point, it is just a fight to hang on. I switched between jogging the pedals out of the saddle and sitting and grinding. One foot over another, like I was churning extra crunchy peanut butter…mixed with molasses…and cement. I glanced down at my watch; I was going 3.8mph. My heart sank into my stomach. It was the one and only time during the climb I thought, “I don’t think I can do this.”

But I’d made it this far. 

I’d made it this far. I’d made it 1800 miles from Florida. I’d made it into this group of cyclists that I could call friends. I’d made it out of bed that morning and onto the mountain. My only choice was to finish this thing, punch the damn hole, and fly down the mountain, victorious.

“You are doing this. You will do this. You want to do this and you can fucking do this.” 

I repeated it until the climb leveled out, until I made it up and over the last switchback, until I jammed my feet into the final few pedal strokes and rolled up next to the mailboxes.

^^^ MADE IT TO THE JANKY MAILBOXES!!!

“Aaayyyyy! Lindsay!!” Friends welcomed me at the top.

Oxygen is hard to come by up there, but between big gulps, a huge smiled cracked across my face. I laughed out loud. I couldn’t hold it in. Happiness. Satisfaction. Pure joy.

I’d made it. I belong in this group and in this place and I really felt it that morning.

After the last few cyclists made it to the top, we headed back down to Rapha for coffee and muffins and all the goods. I took my cup outside and basked in the beautiful morning.

It was a long road, and I can’t believe this is the life I’m living. I am so thankful I made it here.

Push on, PUSH ANIMALS >>>

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