One thing you have to understand first about my Dad is that he’s a serial hobbyist, and he’s got some serious focus when it comes to his hobbies. Whatever the particular hobby du jour, he pours his energy, time, and money into it fully. To him, there is no such thing as “dabbling” in something. He goes all in.
Over the years, there have been deep excursions into golfing, electric cars, fly fishing, remote controlled planes and helicopters, and now the current obsession of cycling. He will spend hours on the internet, watching YouTube videos, visiting specialty shops, devouring all the information he can get about a particular topic. I’m not sure when the current obsession with cycling started, because he gets so into it and you forget that he hasn’t been doing this his whole life.
So it came as little surprise when he signed up for one of the hardest bike tours in the country, Ride the Rockies. This year, the route took riders 471 miles in 6 days, over mountain passes at more than 11,000 feet in elevation. The total cumulative elevation gain in the 6 days was over 28,000 feet! This is not for the weak-at-heart.
He had been training like crazy, logging over 2700 miles since February. We had the honor of seeing him in action a few days this week, driving along the route to cheer him on and spend some time with him after finishing the day. There’s just something about seeing thousands of people out there challenging themselves, pushing for something that you know they’ve worked their butts off for. The air was permeated with the sense that big things are possible.
The first day from Boulder to Winter Park was one for the history books. He went through wind, rain, hail, lightning, and snow to make it to the top of Berthoud Pass before the course was shut down for safety reasons. We finally spotted him on his final climb up to the top of the pass, and we held up our homemade signs that read “Go Kirk” and “You are a Rockstar” and rang our cowbell, cheering him on. There wasn’t a bit of him that wasn’t wet, and his teeth were chattering in the 35 degree temperatures. We were able to offer him a granola bar, a dry jacket and eventually a ride down the other side of the pass after they closed the course.
The rest of the ride had vastly better weather, but continued to be difficult, challenging him with long days and lots of climbing. Seeing him ride through this week and hearing his stories from each particular day were nothing short of inspiring. I know there were times he wanted to give up, times when he would barely make sense on the phone with me, and times he was moved to tears with pride.
In this life, passionate people stir us to pursue our own passions. It doesn’t really matter what you’re passionate about…It could be golf, or fly-fishing, or cycling, but you have to find something to pour your heart into. Thanks Dad, for inspiring all of us around you. I’ll keep pushing, keep pedaling, think big circles, and keep moving forward.