Time goes so fast. The Iron Horse is just three weeks away and today was a beautiful training day. Last week our training ride took us to the top of the first of our two mountain passes in an effort to get more comfortable climbing at training pace. We had about 20 in our group ride and all different levels of riders. It was fun riding out front, circling around and coming back up the climbs to encourage the riders in the back of the pack. I was so happy to see everyone made it through the climb and back to the lake with a smile (well, almost everyone). Today, we got an early start in order to prepare for a 7:45 a.m. race day start. It was a chilly 45 but warmed up quickly. Our ride took us from Durango up to the ski resort, to Coal Bank Pass and Molas Pass (10,879 feet) and then back down to climb yet another ascent up the back side of Coal Bank before heading back down to the ski resort. With 6,500 feet of climbing under my wheels, I feel ready for race day. Parts of the ride were beautiful and parts were brutal with tailwinds, crosswinds and headwinds throughout the day. There was a “close encounter” with a speeding SUV who passed me, crossed the double yellow line and flew by on a blind hairpin turn. I was really shaken up but that’s the risk we take to ride outside in the mountains. At the same time, it caused me to reflect upon my life and how blessed I am to be alive. I have had many close calls and some I obviously didn’t even know about. I see friends leaving this earth and others enduring very hard circumstances. I have learned to develop and practice an attitude of gratitude and thank God for my many blessings each day. I have my race day goal in mind and will do my best to come as close to it as possible. I think of the movie “Any Given Sunday”, which was about football and how each team could win or lose based on different factors of the day. So it will be on May 25, 2013. So many things come into play; sleep, diet, weather, road conditions, hanging on to a fast group of riders, etc. Preparation is key to being confident that you’ve done all you can do to have a great race. Finding balance with my family, work, training and play is well worth the effort it takes to make it happen!