What I learned by vacationing in Telluride

Four years ago, my family and I vacationed in Telluride, Colorado, deep in the heart of the San Juan mountains. The villa we rented in the resort area was at the base of the ski area. There was a ski lift that took us over the ridge and into the picturesque western town. My sons experienced incredible freedom as, all by themselves, they could ride to the summit, or cross over into the shopping area.

We hiked. We swam. We explored. We would have gone white water rafting, but the river was too low due to a drought. My kids yearned for an adrenaline-inducing adventure and asked if we could go mountain biking.

My initial response was no. I’m not into death-defying drops, sharp rocks, and speeding down a mountain. Not on skis. Not on a bike. But they kept asking.

We discovered an old narrow gauge train track that had been converted to a mountain bike path. The route was treacherous enough to require a trained guide, who carried with him a substantial first aid kit. While I still didn’t fancy skidding down jagged peaks, I was intrigued enough by the historical aspect of the trail, and curious about where the old track ran. Trains get me every time! That’s how I found myself atop a mountain preparing to ride The Galloping Goose Trail, part of the Lincoln National Forest, home to Smokey the Bear.

We rented bikes, donned helmets and riding gloves, and signed our lives away on the required waivers before all our gear was stowed along with us in a big van. Our trail guide Rand was in his mid-twenties, sported dreadlocks and a wicked tan. At Lizard Head Pass (elevation 10,222), Rand gave us a quick tutorial on how to navigate rocks, roots, trees, and streams before saying, “Let’s ride!”

My youngest son took off like a shot, yelling, “WOOHOO!” at the top of his lungs. The sound echoed across the canyon. Rand followed him enthusiastically while my oldest son and I trailed behind. Soon, the distance between us widened to where the guys weren’t visible. I could hear their joyous whooping.

Meanwhile, I felt fear in every pore of my body. Sweat poured down my back, soaking my Under Armour shirt. I white-knuckled my way around boulders, keeping my eyes focused on the gravel bed, trying to ignore the sheer drop immediately to my right. Despite not looking at it, every thought seemed to focus on the possibility of my tragic death as I careened over the edge. (I hear in my head even now the voice of Donkey from Shrek screaming, “I’m looking down!”)

At one point, my tire hit a rock at an angle that sent me skidding to the precipice. I fell over trying to avoid the edge, cutting open my knee in the process. A sob escaped, and my tears dripped down my cheeks, mingling with the blood seeping down my leg. My hands shook so violently that I didn’t think I could go any further. But I had no choice. There was no other way to get to the bottom but to get back on that bike and ride. So I did.

Deborah Kevin, Telluride, CO. 2014.

Over the next few hours, I’d periodically catch up to my kids and the guide as they waited in a particularly lovely spot. We’d trade stories before setting off on another (for me) harrowing section. Before I knew it, we’d reached the bottom.

I was bloodied, sweat-soaked, and every muscle in my body ached, but I did it—I’d ridden down that trail. (Well, mostly. There were a couple spots where I had to walk.) And I’d survived! The euphoria I felt displaced my fear.

That’s how it is in business, too. We get rudimentary training and set off down the mountain. We ride despite the fear. We try to avoid potholes and boulders, but there are always surprises which send us careening in an unexpected—and terrifying—direction. We fall. We cry. We cut deals with the Universe. We look for escape routes and ways to avoid continuing on the path. We’re terrified. Those of us who persevere reach our goals.

And the euphoria when that happens is what gives us the courage to tackle the next scary adventure!

If you’re ready to tackle your next adventure but fear is holding you back, I invite you to come along with me on a Journey.

3 replies
  1. CK Kochis
    CK Kochis says:

    Oh my…Your story reminds me of my friend who thought it’d be fun to traverse down the “easy” (a lie, I tell ya) bike trail down Brockway Mountain in the Keewanau Peninsula of Michigan. I, too, reached the end of the trail bloodied, bruised and riled up with adrenaline. As the brakes screamed the entire distance, I cursed like a drunken sailor on steroids! On our trek back into town, I thought, “Wow. I did it. I survived.”

    I love how you weaved in the entrepreneurial metaphors. Yes! Once a person has faced the edge of a cliff, perspective on what’s important is forever altered. Life is an amazing adventure…

    Reply

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