one of my Durango bro’s demonstrating what the phrase, “Wattage in the cottage,” means as he attacks the 25 mph pace and dives into one of the 6 technical turns in the Downtown Criterium during this past weekend’s Iron Horse Bicycle Race in Durango. only 30% of the racers that did the 50-mile Road Race the day before even turned out for the ‘crit.’ why? well, in my experience, i have found that many bicycle racers are scared to do a technical, crowded crit. i’ll show you why these warriors wet their pants at the thought of a crit and didn’t toe the Start Line. i’ll also give you hints on how to stay upright and safe and strong while crit racing. Remember, oh Noble Yogis, never run away from that which fears you. Running away is not union (yoga). Running toward is. Consider dangerous undertakings as perfect Training Grounds for (y)our Bardo Entry; (y)our eventual ultimate yoga (union)!

just don’t tell your mom i said that.


Namaste Noble Warriors!

this is an account of my final day of racing at the Iron Horse Bicycle Classic in my h(om)etown of Durango. As noted previously, i jumped into this brutally wonderful event with the same conviction a cowboy climbs back onto the nearly wild colt after being bucked off and hurt. After ‘giving myself’ asthma in the high mountains of Telluride last March while winning the world’s highest nordic ski race, my CV training has been a paltry mixed bag of feeble efforts followed by long periods of rest. not the type of fire power required for Iron Horse. however, the point in toeing the Start Line was to be a Warrior. in the words of the often ignored Olympic theme; “Lord, let me win. However, if i cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

some of you have already written me about the “New Voice” that Spoke to me during the Road Race. a Voice that questioned my need for yet another season of podiums and seemed alien to the very character of ever-competitive ilg.

well, grow up.

life is change. if i have Taught you ANYthing about the yogic warrior lifestyle all these years, it is that there are certain ‘ashramas’ or ‘stages’ of a human incarnation where certain duties, actions, and behavior (like living a life of an extreme multisport athlete)are appropriate kindling for the following ashramas. Competition is, at least in this (our) Lineage, absolutely vital for stirring the requisite psychology and physiology needed for eventual spiritual maturation in a safe, progressive flow of Kundalini and thus Enlightenment. please use the DL Archives to revisit my Teachings about what the word, Competition, truly means. it is often misunderstood. it means, “To arise from within.”

i will write more on this subject of Ashrama and how the notions of Competition fulfill the Ancient One’s footprints toward Enlightenment in upcoming DLs. i do watch the WF SanghaLounge in the “DL” section. if you are not writing in, excited about learning more of the tiny fragments of spiritual icebergs that i attempt to skillfully yet inspirationally plant in all these DL’s, then i will leave the Teaching unTaught. i will only Teach you appropriate to your level of enthusiasm for the spiritual underpinnings that Dance so vividly and poignantly behind each and every time we choose to sweat.

for now however, it’s time for me to take you CRITTIN’!!!

Yup, i am taking you along with me in the peleton during one of the most scintillating (i know i overuse that word, it’s just too go(o)d though!) disciplines of road cycling; the intimating and technical and heart thumping and lung searing and leg acidifying discipline of Criterium Racing – or as we say in the sport, “going crittin’ baby!” Buckle up!

special, special, SPECIAL thanks to my Beloved Ananda who, with her 6-month Swollen Belly, staggered around the crit course like a drunkard trying to get these shots for you. in fact, she got a touch of heat exhaustion/altitude illness from the long weekend helping me (us). i asked her about a bijillion times if she really wanted to come or stay home. she came. Warrioress. i bow and truly hope you enjoy her photographic efforts.

Toeing The Start Line. you wanna a piece of this? elbow to elbow, skinny tire to skinny tire. pre-fatigued from the Road Race the day before, the Warriors lined up ready to do Fast Twitch Battle on a 1/4 mile long course for 45 minutes plus 5 Laps. did i mention the 7,000′ altitude and the steep, stairstep hill right around Corner #1? the roller-coaster course included an 80′ drop into an off-camber sweeper into corner #6 with speeds around 30mph. if you chicken out and hit your brakes in that corner or any other? you might just be responsible for taking out the entire peleton. not the way to make oneself popular on the battlefield. The crowds were massive, the blue sky threatened rainclouds which would turn the cross-walk painted corners into an ice rink. Nervous were the Warriors before the Start Gun. i’m lined up in the third row, far left, attempting to get a strong entry line for Corner #1.
Line up wide, enter the apex narrow, no brakes in the corner, and then attack out of the corner. that’s crittin’. within the first minute your heartrate will go from resting to red-line and the Many Voices Of Doubt will start poppin’ like cracked corn in your mind.
the crit racer must enter the Pain Cave early and stay there and up the anty of pain until he cracks all competitors. here, i am in 8th position, about 30 minutes into it. i have hung onto the sizzling shock of speed and somehow have controlled the burn in my legs and lungs all this time. Trust me, one minute of this type of effort can feel like a 50-mile Road Race! i was STOKED that i had been able to hang with these big guns this long with only doing one crit in the past decade! THANK YOU WF, BIOBUILDE, POWERBAR, and SUNRIDER HERBS!!! my aggression emerged early, and i began throwing my bike into the corners with the best of them. muscle and mind memory from when i used to crit a lot in Albuquerque and Boulder. i actually LOVE crittin’…my physique and power and size makes for a good crit racer. my first sport was Hockey and i owned my own boxing/martial art gym, and was a podium placing Downhill ski racer. Those past lives came into rebirth on the crit course and drew out my Germanic Barbarianism. in fact, crittin’ is like Hockey on pavement, baby. i love speed cornering; a necessary ingredient in crit racing. you create your space or you get dropped. fast. Oh, speaking of Hockey? since Detroit is out of it, the Stanley Cup will be honored by a real Team! Ha! enjoy your Off Season Detroit! Oh, Anaheim is gonna put the skillful, puck-controlled big hurt on Ottawa. sorry, my Canadian friends…Anaheim in 5. Lord Stanley is coming to the West Coast!

Minute 36 and the guy who finished in the top ten of the Pro Road Race decided it was time to throw the hammer down (as if we had not already splintered the massive peleton into our leading group of 12 already!). a champion crit racer must possess thighs with the strength and power of jet turbines and be able to ‘switch gears’ inwardly and artfully until he demolishes the willpower of those who surround him. see the long, thin line? this is the Trail of Searing Tears through Cross-Eyed Eyes so common to those of us that crit race. pouring every ounce of inner and outer effort into each pedal stroke. wondering how the hell long will this torture continue. unless you are in shape. then you’re a rabid Doberman, eager to feast upon the wives and children of any other bike racer that dares your fitness. having won several crits in my life, this feeling is absolutely exquisite and is a powerful spiritual ally in inner work. far more often, however, has come the familiar hum of humility from yo-yo’ing off the pack as the speed and pain becomes an anaerobic cross too hurtful to sustain. when such a moment comes, it looks like this:

getting gapped. here i am during one of five excruciating laps of utter dismal pain, yo-yo’ing off the lead group. me and this guy, who is a Cat. 3 Champion, worked together as best as we could to bridge back to the Leaders which were like a carrot mirage; dangling only 10 freakin’ seconds in front of us. NASCAR racers just need to press down on their foot to go faster. in crit racing, at this level and in this period of the race only an inner Herculean conviction of sweat and spirit can increase your speed. it was during this critical Bardo Time that i dug soooo deep into myself…the crowd cheering, helping me to bridge, “Go Steve!” i would hear. or, “Coach, go! You’re there, you’re there!” Such support nearly brings tears to me when i am plastered so nakedly at my edge of edges in front of my friends, students, and God. not giving up…THIS is why it is soooooo important to compete in SOMETHING! to let that primal shit from deeeeeep within arise Beyond our egoic matrix and permeate our Spirit and thus prepare us for the Ultimate Competition we’ve been engaged in for countless lifetimes; The MultiTiered Intensities Of Our Bardo Entry. Of course, Shiva destroyed the sunny weather right at this juncture, and the race course was soon buffeted by high winds and rain. out of the protection of the Lead Group, i saw my 10-second gap increase to 20, 30…and then…

…i hit the Wall.
figuratively, thankfully.

with only 4 minutes left, i took myself out of the race. i had lost the wheels of the Lead Group after a long battle and the race as well as any shot at a podium was now powering up the road. as the Lead Motorcycle appeared behind me, i left the course to the back-slapping congrats of the crowd. i did this in order to keep the Course safe for the Big Guns to bolt. instead of being a Warrior out there on the course, being cheered and clapped for just seconds previously, i now sat on the curb with Ananda and the others and clapped and cheered as the real heroes – my fellow Warriors – raced by.

“Long is the night to the wakeful; long is the league to the weary;
long is samsara* to the foolish who know not the Sublime Truth.”
– Dhammapada, 60

long afterward, as the setting rays of Grandfather Sun dipped graciously beneath the massif of Dibentsaa**, Ananda and i sat at a chic sidewalk cafe next to the Crit Course with Andrew and Lana(see yesterday’s DL). Durango has changed since my childhood. where once only chip seal and t-shirt stores existed, now chic cafes and fine art galleries flaunt their fares with peacock like glitz. in the course of our dinner, a parade of extremely good looking bike pro’s came up to our table and chatted with Andrew about their performances in Europe and the other stuff of a life lived for sweat and spirit.

Don’t just dare to dream,
don’t just dare to do.
Do the Do.
Life is short.
Leave non-competitive mediocrity to the sleeping, bleating sheep.
Wake up and race the Human Race!
the Race toward Enlightenment!

om so ti,
the mountain yogi

* samsara; cyclic existence…the habit of taking death and rebirth. unEnlightenment.
** Dibentsaa; Mt. Hesperus. The Northern Sacred Peak of Dine bi Keyah (Navajo Land). The Sacred Peak beneath which i grew up. The Sacred Peak that channeled to me the Teachings of WF. The Birthplace of WF.

Leave a Reply