|Heather and I re-enter the wind tunnel.|
But I keep seeing this picture that my friend Julie shot during the race, and it brings things back.
Heather and I were rolling back onto the Richardson Highway after a break. We had about 150 miles behind us. The headwinds were beating us to a pulp. And there, in the mountains, was a huge blanket of fog draped over Thompson Pass (in the upper-right portion of this photo). That’s where we were going, and pretty much everything about that portion of ride was already a big bucket of suckage. That high, looming fog reminded us that things were going to get worse before they got better.
Most of my epic rides have been in the mountains, where quitting isn’t an option. If you want the pain to end, you have to get your ass to the trailhead. But I’ve never really been sure what keeps a road rider going when the suffering gets bad and he could simply say, “This isn’t fun. This is stupid. Fuck it.”
People have told me that it’s all mental, and I guess it is. For months, I kept reminding myself that the Fireweed was going to hurt, and there would be times when I’d question the point of continuing. I knew that if I’d quit, the feeling of failure would have haunted me all winter. So I didn’t allow it to be an option. There was no doubt that we’d get to Valdez if we could just cowboy up and keep riding.
It hurt, and we suffered in those headwinds. But in a weird way, sitting here in the comfort of this chair, it doesn’t seem like it was that bad.
But that could just be the wine talking because, as Leonard said this week, “That ride was a head-windy bitch.”