Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Day 24: Holy crap!

Every time I think I've become a cycling stud, with the miles giving themselves up readily under my muscular thighs (haha), some new geological/meteorological horror arises like a vengeful God, smiting me for my prideful ways.

Yesterday, I got smited real good.

There was a loooong climb up over the Continental Divide, 4000 feet of climbing to the summit, 7500 feet. It was raining and chilly, about 45 degrees at the bottom, freezing cold and snowy at the top.

I'd been riding for 8 days straight, so I was kind of tired, and there was supposed to be a restaurant near the top of the mountain but it was closed, so I was very hungry.

Whenever you read those stories about people dying in the wilderness - like the family that takes a drive into the mountains and gets lost, then the car gets stuck so dad heads off into the snow to find help, but dies 2 miles from Texaco - they all start with some minor thing going wrong, which causes other small things to fail, which eventually leads to a cascade of screwups, leading to the Ultimate Failure.

Yesterday was like that. Since I don't have the right clothing for prolonged exposure to cold, it's important that minor things don't fail, initiating that scary cascade of screwups.

But...because I hadn't taken a break in 8 days, I was slow. And since I relied on that closed restaurant for food, I was hungry - which made me slower. The rain eventually soaked through everything, making me cold, which made me slower still, which kept me on the mountain longer, which got colder the higher I went, sapping all my energy, slower and colder, with each passing minute.

I panicked. I thought that I'd been on the mountain for so long that I must have missed a turn. I turned on the GPS and misread the direction. The turn was a couple miles ahead, but I thought it said behind, so I turned around and headed downhill like a total idiot.

Eventually I realized the mistake and turned around, reclimbing the same cursed patch of road until finally, some foggy white and frozen amount of time later, I reached the summit. It was all downhill from there.

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