Editorial note: this is a recount of the day by one of the riders of this group from the Go4Graham Foundation, Kit Hinders. Endurance athletes, like any other group, can suffer from mental illness. In fact many push themselves hard to escape trouble elsewhere. The Go4Graham foundation is a local non-profit, led by endurance athletes that encourages healthy movement, connects the community and educates people to help prevent depression and other mental health challenges. www.go4graham.org to learn more. Now more than ever before people need health connection, come to one of their events!
By Kit Hinders
With our big Double Triple Bypass attempt, I had this great idea to recreate Geoffery Chaucer’s “Canterbury Tales” but for bikes. I recorded some conversations on the ride, asked questions, took pictures, did everything needed to write a masterpiece. I sat down the day after our ride to begin writing, which involved doing a bit more research on Chaucer’s work. I read a review of “The Canterbury Tales.” It read something like “…this is a great book to read before bedtime, helps you sleep! Great read for someone with too much time on their hands.”
Wait, that’s not what I want to write! So, here, I’ll give you the juicy bits, brush over the slow parts (IE the parts uphill) and leave you with some inspiration.
Go4Graham is a grassroots movement and community of passionate people who are out to shred the stigma surrounding mental health.
240 miles is a ton of riding, no one present had ever ridden that distance before, so we were all traveling into the unknown. Each climb was like playing roulette with our legs. We all had our highs, lows, and snacks, but first, let me introduce the riders.
Taylor: Fearless leader, G4G leader, and man with the plan.
Scott: Ex-Pro mountain bike racer, elder statesmen, and most friendly rider present.
Lucas: Three time Master’s World Track Champion, about the strongest man I’ve ever ridden with.
Justin: Silent, stoic, assassin (Michael’s [non-biological] twin)
Bryan: Man has a mustache that could order drinks at the bar with a bike beautifully painted by his wife.
Michael: The crit racer of the group, Michael is the foil and [non-biological] twin to Justin
Darren: Joined us on Loveland Pass (as he lives in Breckenridge) and provided fresh humor six hours into the ride.
Kit (myself): Lanterne Rouge and photographer.
We started excited and bleary eyed at 3:26AM (only 11 minutes late!). We climbed Squaw Pass with giggles, jokes, and conversations only possible at 3 in the morning. We descended to Idaho Springs at perilous speeds in the dark. Taylor was our leading reindeer, plowing ahead into the darkness. I bought up the rear, terrified, enthralled, and mesmerized by the courageousness of the ride.
We picked up Justin and made our way towards Loveland. En route, we met Darren, which brought our group to eight strong. We hit the summit of the pass in small groups but captured a beautiful picture at the Continental Divide as the sun came over the front range. The picture is the type that we will look at for years to come and remember all the fun we had, not the suffering, sore bottoms, and tired legs.
We rode together, more or less, all the way to Vail, where we regrouped and rolled into Avon, eight strong. At one point, we had a man ride up the paceline on an E-bike, grinning like child. He cheered, whooped, and hollered in a great moment of levity, friendliness, and joy. We were seven hours in, 120 miles down, and heading for home. It was about noon, and we might be home for dinner!!! (we were not…)
The West side of Vail Pass was beautiful, stunning, and crowded. The amazing thing was, people seemed to know G4G and that we were riding the Double Triple Bypass. Folks were so friendly and encouraging. In a virus altered reality, it is easy to get lost in isolation and forget the power of community and how much stronger we are together. If you saw us, cheered us on, encouraged us, THANK YOU. We can do more together always.
A burrito stop in Copper was the last moment we were all together. Darren went back home, Taylor, Scott, Lucas, Justin, and Bryan disappeared up the road. I rode with Michael. Only to catch Bryan near the ski area. He had pulled to the side of the road and ate all his remaining food. Up front, Taylor and Scott rode clear of Justin and Lucas, who was fighting a bad stomach. We rode in twos and threes to Idaho Springs where Taylor and Scott took the right turn and headed for home. Justin and Lucas went to McDonalds, where Justin ate one of everything on the menu and Lucas tried in vain to eat some French Fries. We came in twenty minutes later, Bryan bought a liter of cola, Michael had a Red Bull, and I a soda.
Justin, Michael, Bryan and I remounted for the last 35 miles, while Lucas took Justin’s car back to Bergen Park. On a normal day, those 35 miles would take two hours, but at this time, with 200 miles in our legs, and precious little in our stomachs (minus Justin), it took forever. Racing the setting sun is an over romanticized notion. In reality, it is anything but! We returned to Echo Lake as we found it at 4:30 AM, dark and cold. Taylor, Scott, and Lucas were all home, showered, and reflecting. We were 18 dark and twisty miles away from our cars. Nearly there.
It is here I want to pause. Go 4 Graham was founded to bring awareness to mental health and create a support community. This community has members of all kinds, runners, hikers, bikers, yoga enthusiasts, cross fit athletes, and oh so many more. We advocate moving for mental health. This was our challenge, but we want to invite you to take on a challenge of your own. If you need help setting goals, finding groups to exercise with, or some extra encouragement, we would like to help. The Double Triple Bypass was our platform to spread awareness about mental health and the importance of having those tough conversations with your peers around depression, anxiety, and suicide. We raised money, we rode bikes, and we built community, but this is one step in a long journey to Shredding the Stigma around mental health.
Justin, Michael, Bryan and I finished, exhausted, happy, and hungry just after 10PM. The day encompassed 236 miles, 22,000 feet of elevation, and culminated in an 18 hour adventure. The memories and camaraderie we experienced will remain priceless, but the lasting message we all gained from our ride together is that no one is alone, no one who falls back is irretrievably lost, and we all must take our turn at helping others. No, it did not require 236 miles of riding to come to this conclusion, but we wanted a challenge, we wanted to spend time with our friends, we wanted spend all day outside, and lastly, we wanted to raise awareness about the important of Mental Health. On the outside, you hear about eight guys riding 240 miles, you might think “They’re really tough!” Outward appearances can be deceiving. No matter the person, no matter how strong they look on the outside, we all still struggle sometimes. For us, we advocate movement and physical activity to help increase our brain’s natural chemistry. We did this ride to invite all members of our community to take on a challenge, no matter how big or small. What’s more, get in touch, share your story, and help us shred the stigma of mental health.
To donate to the foundation go here: https://www.facebook.com/donate/335144204173637/10108214469983203/?fundraiser_source=feed&source_data%5bpost_id%5d=10108214469983203