The Joy of Pain by Chris Ramsey

My hands lift the magnesium powder gymnasts call “chalk” and rapidly rub it between them, making sure they are ghostly white in color. My coach comes over and tells me to make this routine my best, and if I fall, fall hard. He then proceeds to lift me to the bar where my ghostly white hands touch the cool steel. My mind goes blank and the problems that I have fade away. I am only thinking about the present, caught up in a moment. My legs signal the start of the routine. The judges’s pen is a weapon and my body is the target. Every time my body breaks form, it is a deduction. My one and only goal is to make sure I don’t give that pen a reason to move. Inevitably the pen moves. Gymnasts always chase perfection like little kids chasing dogs, always close but never quite there, this strive for perfection torments the majority but is home to few.

Gymnastics has been an integral part of my life ever since I was little. When I was in preschool there was a gym that would come by and teach gymnastics to us little uns. For some reason I was decent enough at it, that the people that were running it told my parents that I should do gymnastics. When I was six I joined Bitterroot Gymnastics where I currently train now. Gymnastics has stayed with me and become part of who I am. Sometimes I’ll be walking down a street and see a rock or a bench, and think to myself, “Hey, I bet I could pull a back full off of that”.

Currently I am a level 10, the highest level you can go. And I have paid with my blood, sweat and occasionally tears in order to attain it, not to mention the anxiety before meets and the hours of exertion and exhaustion in the gym. Gymnastics has given me more than physical strength and abilities. Because we are always trying to get better we learn newer and harder tricks. Sometimes these tricks are really complicated and scary. Your air sense has to be amazing and you have to feel where your body is in relation with the ground without actually seeing it. It is so easy to psyche yourself out. I’ve seen teammates after crashing just sit there and look at the high bar or floor for hours. Gymnastics has taught me that once you fall get immediately back up and try, try, try again. Overcoming fear is the key to success. Once you get over the fact that the outcome may be bad, you are truly free.

When all is said and done, I’m just a kid that has an outstanding passion for a sport that most people only forget until they see it on television during the Olympics. Few know what I do. Few realize what I give up. But the important thing is that I enjoy what I do.

Chris Ramsey – 2014

I am including this piece in my last post pre-TD-race. This piece was written by my baby and one of three reasons I am competing in this race. I have been reading these words since that terrible day. As goofy as Chris and his two older brothers are, they are also old souls and full of wisdom.They are so much wiser than their Mom. The Joy of Pain belongs to Chris and his gymnastics, it belongs to William and Keith and all the endeavors they have survived on the ranch and in life, and for me there is the pain I’m trying to channel into my bike riding and this TD race. There is no “Joy” in the pain of grief. Im frightened, scared and in pain. I do not want to let my three boys down. I want to be able to be as strong as they are…I want them to know how much I love them. I ride this race to help me heal and to learn. I ride this race for Chris, William and Keith. I will carry their spirit and strength with me.

So, the Tour Divide Race is finally here. I will drive to Banff Canada on Monday. The race will officially begin on June 9, 2017 at 8:00am. There will be a moment of silence for Mike Hall and I’m hoping that my family, friends and strangers alike will give my Chris a moment of silence too. I hope all who are following my blog will start the official dot watching on trackleaders.com/tourdivide17. My dot and face will be there. Send me your energy and good thoughts. Donate to my GoFundMe page.