|A magazine ad from the late '90's featuring John Stamstad|
I had read all about his exploits in mountain biking by way of "Dirt Rag" and other publications that covered mountain biking. He was the guy who showed the world that one guy could indeed ride a solo 24 hour long MTB event. He not only proved that could be done, but once a solo 24 category was added to many 24 hour MTB events, he went out and won many of them. John actually still holds the longest distance record for a 24 hour period for MTB off road.
I was in awe of his accomplishments, of course, and when he set off to do a solo ride down the spine of the Rocky Mountains in 1999, it was if we were witnessing someone sailing off into outer space for the first time. Solo? What if something happens? Something bad? What about mechanicals? How would he find his way in the dark? Would he sleep at all? How do you eat? There were so many unanswered questions.
So, you can imagine that I was curious to find out what magic John had that allowed him the confidence to set sail into an unknown like he did, and come out 18 days and five hours later, with a record that stood for a few years or more. Well, as it turns out, he didn't know what would happen either.
That says something about not only John, but about anyone else that takes on a challenge in terms of Life, or cycling in specific. Like Trans Iowa, for instance, or any longer gravel event. The "Do You Have What It Takes?" type of challenge that anyone can try to answer for themselves. That's attractive. That seems like something that is maybe strangely compelling to many of us.
Then there has to be a benefit, a side attraction to get us to be willing to toe the line. Social activities, even those involving a challenge, can be that benefit. Seeing and experiencing terrain, culture, and even weather can be those benefits. Riding our bicycles all day, (and maybe all night and the next day too), can be that benefit. It cannot be so difficult that there is only pain and suffering. Sure, you'll have some of that......
John told us all about how these sorts of ideas slotted into making him keep moving forward. It was a fascinating and educational conversation, and I cannot wait to share the link with you all so you can hear it for yourself.