I have to get to sleep. I have to get to sleep. I have to get to sleep. I’ll shift my position to get more comfortable. Why do I need to be more comfortable leading up to so much discomfort? I need to sleep. What is that, I only have 4 hours left to sleep? This is not good, I need more sleep than that for tomorrow.
Beep! Beep! Beep! Hit alarm! It is 2:30am! I am already running late! Am I really doing this? I am so tired it is taking all my energy to keep my eyes open and get out of bed. Throw stuff together, eat some kind of food, load up the bike. I am finally driving. I was hoping to have left earlier. I could still send a text and bail, but that wouldn’t be memorable or worthy of retelling. “Yeah, I got up so early to ride this big ride, but was tired, so I bailed and went back to bed.”
I am here! No one seems too pissed that I am marginally late. I need to focus on my own prep routine. Ok, air up tires, super hard, 40 p.s.i. That should roll real nice. I’ll let some out later, maybe? Power up my lights, hang with the pack. We are finally rolling out, Jon is pushing a tough pace for me at this point. Is this a sustainable pace? C’mon, light pedal strokes. Keep a good rhythm. Pedal, pedal, pedal, pedal… It is nice out, will it be hot later? It is very humid here in town, will it be humid on the mountain? Why did I just attack on that downhill and sprint that uphill? Now I look like an asshole. I want to ride up those rocks. I want to ride down those rocks. Wow, we are already to Oracle, we are making good time. I see the sky is starting to brighten. My butt hurts so bad, stand, grind, sit, rinse, repeat.
How much longer to Circle K? I am going to get a coffee. How much longer around that corner? When will I get to see the disk of the sun in the sky? This pace is killing me, I am going to grab the draft. Oh yeah, drafting at 13 mph! I already want to bail, my legs are like noodles. Do I bail after 30 miles of asphalt? My butt hurts SO bad now. I haven’t gone on a long ride for a long time. How are Yvonne and Heidi just having a chat over tea back there while I am suffering? I am in over my head. I am drinking from the firehose. I am biting off more than I can chew. I could always get to Oracle and then spend the day with my dad. He could drop me off when he goes into town later. I need music. We are finally at Circle K!
What do I want? Ice! I want ice water. I want a red bull for later. I want doritos! I am going to put ice in my camelbak, but not too much. I don’t want to be out of water and only have ice. I cannot drink ice… The donuts are gone, the CR333 is replenished. We are rolling out yet again!
There’s where I used to ride my bike to get candy when I was a kid. It is now boarded up. There is where I had my hair cut for the first many years of my life. There is where I went to school. It used to seem like quite the epic to ride my Huffy to get some candy. It symbolized freedom. Yet, here I still am, free on the bike. There is my parent’s house. There is where I went to school. Kindergarden. Push harder. These hills have nothing. Finally on the dirt.
I know there are big hills coming. They are going to hurt. I remember driving out here with my dad to do construction projects. I know there are many miles of rolling washboards and gravel to grind. Gravel grinder. Washboard wanker. Push, the legs are starting to actually feel good. I can try and keep up now. Is that where Peppersauce is? This downhill is great, I am loving this. Pick the right gears, stay in that middle ring. Hey, there is Peppersauce! Oof this hill looks big! This downhill is so long and fast! Ah, finally a nice long, steady grade.
There is a truck and quad in the road. There is also a dog. Come here pup! You look just like my dog Nana! Let me get a picture. This old sailor turned desert rover is impressed by our efforts. It is not for everyone, but everyone should still try. Everyone should make the journey into the pit. The pit is the only place you can be honest. It one of the places you can be alive. Life is a muscle and it won’t grow until it is stressed. My life is otherwise growing weak, flabby, it must be stressed in order to create passion, desire. These are the demons that much be exorcised through exercise.
Oh wow, it is starting to get hot! I am starting to get cooked. Take off helmet, binge on ice water, repeat. Pedal. Hot. Pedal. Hot. Dripping sweat. Sweat stung eyes. As long as I have one open. Okay, both are shut now. My eyes burn more than my legs. My gloves are soaked. Arms are soaked. That breeze feels amazing. Keep coming, sweet breeze. Push, push, push.
Finally, a rest in some shade. Lay in that cold, wet sand, shade. Doritos, Red Bull, Wings. Good chat, good stories with my companions. This is living.
Now is the beginning of the end of the push. I pedal hard. I pedal too hard. I get too hot. Stinging sweat in my eyes, my heartbeat coming out my nose. These views are incredible. I am breath. I am whirling like a wind. My mind is spinning with so much commentary. I lay against the mountain. The mountain provides so much resistance, yet provides a haven from the sun. I am not cooling down. I must wait until I am cool. I am so hot I have goosebumps. What am I even doing here? Ride some more, get hot some more, rest some more cool down some more. Continue this cycle until the top is reached and the prize is won. Steady pace. One foot in front of the other is one closer to the end.
I am at the top. Friends are waiting. We have journeyed so far, but this is just the beginning. Every day is a beginning. Drink the sweet drink and prepare for the final push in this chapter.
Atop the mountain, prepare to dive back to earth. A final approach. Breath and warmth surrounds me, inviting me home.