Now I understand what she meant.
Three years ago, I stood in the dark street in front of Hope’s Seaview Bar just after midnight and and listened to my friend and relay team partner Julie say, “That was the most fucked-up thing I’ve ever done!”
She was talking about riding the third leg of the annual Soggy Bottom 100, and the long, dark descent into Hope from Resurrection Pass. It's a trail that's full of roots, rocks and bears.
Last night, I rode the same leg as part of a two-man team that swept the course. Oscar the Grouch and I left Devil’s Pass trailhead in a steady rain just before 7 p.m. A number of riders—many of whom had just abandoned the course—were reporting rain, strong winds and cold temperatures in the high country that we would pass through during an approximately 40-mile trail ride.
The Soggy Bottom lived up to its torturous reputation. Devil’s and Resurrection passes were brutally cold, wet and windy. The rocks were slippery, the mud and roots were greasy, and the trail was full of deep, gooey sucker holes and cold, standing water that nearly reached our hubs. The riding conditions were some of the worst imaginable, and following fresh bear tracks at midnight made us seriously question the sanity of what we were doing.
By the time Oscar and I rolled into Hope with the last two riders just a few feet of us at 1 a.m., I had thought of Julie’s statement many times.
Carlos, the event organizer, led us inside to warm up, and Jordy grabbed us a couple of beers. Carlos handed us our Soggy Bottom volunteer stem caps. I’m not sure I’ve ever been happier to reach the end of a ride.
I’ll post a story or two from this experience as I sort it all out in the next few days. For now, I’ll just say congratulations to every man and woman who had the balls to line up for the start of this madness.
And thanks to Oscar the Grouch for sharing the six-hour ride to sweep the course, and for his good company and humor during one of the must fucked-up things I’ve ever done.