I train every day. It's as simple as that. I don't have a coach. I alternate between running, biking, and swimming. I log my miles, fill my own water, and fix my flats.


At times the tedious ritual plagues me. Then I clear out the old and come up with a new vision. I create a new ride, a new distance. When I aspire to higher mileage, I know I have pushed myself.


Considering the factors of distance, altitude, climate, and terrain, I was moderately confident I could finish the Subaru Cup in Wisconsin. I had completed three M.A.S.S. races and had just finished the 100-mile Subaru Elephant Rock ride through the Rockies. Still, I harbored a respect for the unknown.


Off to Wautoma


Ready or not, it was time to leave the familiarity of New Jersey. My flight from Philadelphia to Milwaukee was the first leg, followed by a two-and-a-half-hour drive to Wautoma. From Wautoma, it was a scenic seven-mile back road drive to Mt. Morris.


Pulling in, I felt energized. Exposed trails remind me of my race and my stomach flutters. I would ride the same trails as the pros. Maybe I should watch and cheer instead. No, I could not go home without doing this race. This is an opportunity of a lifetime; you are not going to miss this. I push away the butterflies.


Colorful camping tents lined the dirt road up to the main race area. The mountain, which doubles as a ski resort in the winter, was bustling with promotional vendors, Subaru cars, and the ever-important refreshment tents. Mountain bikers of all sizes, men, women, and even their children, dodging here and there, were testing the trailheads at different entry points.


I made my way to the Subaru Trek team trailer in the pro racer area. Wow, this is serious; how cool is this? Every pro rider's name is listed boldly on the trailer.


My jaw dropped even further at the site of at least a dozen gleaming specimens of cycling perfection. I am in heaven; pinch me! I don't know how long I stared at those beautiful bikes, but somewhere in that time warp, a friendly hand was extended to me along with an equally engaging smile that belonged to the team's manager, Jon Rourke. Introductions were made to the team mechanics, Matt and Shep, I knew their expertise and devotion were responsible for the pristine mountain bikes in front of me. I launched into a myriad of questions ranging from bike parts to bike paths. Clearly cyclists themselves, they were both engaging and professional.


There was still daylight to walk the course. I needed to inspect it.


I managed to walk roughly one whole loop, about five miles. Satisfied with the inspection, I would return in the morning at the start of the pro race. Sunday would be the amateur race.


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