Every spring I tell myself to take a couple weeks of downtime after an arduous winter of working, training, traveling, and racing (Skimo). Then, reality sets in. I go for my first group ride with the fast dads of Flathead Valley and I get dropped. My jaw drops while my chest heaves as I scramble to stay on the wheel at the back of the pack while the giant invisible dragon behind the peleton gives chase with his jaws open, threatening to swallow me whole and spit me out the back some 3 miles down the road. “How can this happen, I’m in the shape of my life?” is the annually recurring question in March when my Skimo season winds down and the cycling season takes the fore. One more time I’m humbled. One more time I spin home with feeling of dejection, inadequacy, and frustration. I contemplate whether I’m up for the long uphill battle to shed my Skimo shackles and shave my legs in an attempt to uncover the spinning legs that have carried me to multiple highs of accomplishment on the knobbies.
RIDGE coach Ben Parsons is no stranger to success in mountain sports. He has been competitive in mountain biking and ski mountaineering races for nearly a decade. As Ben prepares for this weekend's Butte 100 Mountain Bike Race, he does so with an already full trophy case from races across the Northern Rocky Mountain Region this year: