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What It Means to Be a Finisher

July 23, 2021

Finishing something, like a task or a project at face value, doesn’t sound like much of an accomplishment. It’s rare to earn praise for finishing in a culture that glorifies power, podiums and productivity above all else. Yet lately, we've been viewing the idea of finishing from a different vantage point; one that starts and ends at 10,151 feet above sea-level. 

Bike racing medal
Silver Rush 50 finisher medal

The Leadville MTB Race Series is infamous, notably due to the elevation of the town itself, the rugged, high-alpine terrain, the competitors it draws in and the majesty of the surrounding 14,000 ft. peaks. The 100-mile course has been well-documented and surveyed by the likes of Rebecca Rusch, David Weins, Lance Armstrong, and Levi Leipheimer. 

On a level way, way, way down from these legends, some Blue Fire Collective members raced the Silver Rush MTB 50 mile race this month. It’s a feat in itself, but it also serves as solid prep for a late summer biking adventure in the San Juan Mountains which are far, far, far away from the racing crowds. 

500 riders, 50 miles and 8,000 feet of elevation gain

When you complete in the Leadville series, you get a weighty medal on a black ribbon with the word FINISHER in bold, block type. It’s nice that they don’t skimp on the hardware that they loop around your neck at the end of the race, because after 50 miles and 8,000 feet of climbing, no matter who you are or how fast you rode, it is the kind of course that makes you feel like you did a thing when you’re done.

It was a good day. We started slow and finished fast. We stayed upright and bonk-free. We smiled a lot. We cheered on our friends, new and old, drank beer and swapped stories, just as you do.

Erin Brosterhous of Blue Fire getting hugs from the fam at the finish.

It’s been a couple weeks, and we are still amped from the race and thinking about what it means to ‘finish.’ And here’s what we have come up with. 

Doing a hard-ass, high altitude race is really just an opportunity to explore why you do what you do and how you do it. Rebecca Rusch, a 6-time world champion in mountain biking and adventure racing, has some rules for success. They are all really good and worth a look-see, but the one that resonates right now is: “Remember why you ride.” That loosely translates to ‘It’s not what you do, it’s why you do it,’ and we think that is important, well, pretty much always.  

Remember why you ride.

We think ‘winning’, at anything, is about setting lofty goals, putting in the effort, cheering on your team and showing up within that community. Nine times out of ten, if you check these boxes, all of the pieces come together for a stellar result. In Leadville, the result was a magical day spent outdoors plus a handful of memories and life experiences that we’ll take with us into the next adventure, whether it's a new client project or a cup-filling, perspective-gaining race with 500 of our new best friends.

Bike racers at the start of a race.
The start of the Silver Rush 50 bike race.