I just started preparing for the Trans North Georgia Race that will take place over Labor Day weekend and have been thinking a lot about how things change in the course of only a year. I have not been riding much since returning from Trans Rockies and have been postponing getting my gear together for this race in particular. Many changes have been occurring in my life for sure but one of the biggest impacts this year has been the realization that Jeff Papenfus, friend and fellow mountain bike racer, is gone. He had a mountain biking accident in the NC mountains last month and died unexpectatly. I know that he is riding the sweetest single track in the universe now but he will be greatly missed by so many. Training, riding, and exploring the NC mountains with Papenfus was always a treat... no one knew the NC mountains like him and he always knew the best way to attack a trail.
The 2010 TNGA was Jeff's first attempt at a self-supported race and was a pure learning experience! He was completely looking forward to the 2011 TNGA and was riding much stronger this year with a much more ambitious goal than a learning experience. Helping him prepare last year and watching him turn into this strong endurance mountain bike racer was exciting - finally I had someone who would ride those long training days in the mountains with rain or shine.
This year the TNGA race will be a "ride" for me not a "race" - a ride to return to the joy of riding with friends - a ride to enjoy all the beauty I will be fortunate enough to be pedaling through - a ride to remember the good times with an adventurous friend - a ride to think about the things important in my life and how we MUST be true to ourselves and LIVE everyday because you never know what will happen in the next minute - a ride for Papenfus :)