Let’s Climb Everest

This week really had its ups and downs.  Literally.  Read on.
Tuesday rolled around and I was ready to ride.  It was raining, the Toa was in the shop getting some upgrades, and I wanted a little dirt, or mud in this instance.  So, I hopped on the ‘Cross bike and headed towards Roxy.  I have a nice little 30 mile loop that travels along a few of the gravel roads and/or trails on the East side of Medford. 
First off, any time I’m on a bike near Bear Creek Park with anything remotely resembling dirt tires, I do a lap or two at the BMX track.  I’m not fast or brave enough to do any jumps  but the whoopsies are a cheap, quick thrill.
From there, it’s Siskiyou to Modoc where I hit the short trail through Holmes Park.
Next, I work my way over to Coal Mine Road for a short, steep climb that then allows me to descend down a gravel/pothole-filled section of Barnett.
 
After that, it’s on to Mary Bee, Aerial Heights, and one lap up and around Roxy Ann before blasting back home.  A good hard workout if you want it to be that includes about 2300′ in 30ish miles.
Wednesday found me taking it easy and I rode the C3 to the shop to say “hi” to Derek and Lewis simply because they are just too cool not to visit at least once a week.  After a few minutes of shop talk (aka dirty jokes by Derek and Lewis usually since I wouldn’t dream of such a thing) I was on my way.  I swung out to Jacksonville to stretch the ride a bit and enjoy a little sunshine after the recent rain.
 With big plans for Saturday, I decided to give my legs more rest and I spent both Thursday and Friday off the bike while preparing for a massive undertaking. 
My friend, Shawn (a recent addition to the 5 & 9 Crazy Mofos club), and I have been talking about Everesting since last Summer.  Saturday was the day.
Everesting is a challenge in which a person rides their bike the equivalent of Mt. Everest’s elevation (just over 29,000 feet) in one ride on the same mountain.  No loops.  Up and down the same hill as many times as it takes.  It doesn’t have to be in one day, just one continuous ride.  In fact, I think at least one rider took more than a day and a half.  If you are at least mildly interested, I’ve included this handy dandy link for you to check out www.everesting.cc
After much deliberation about where we were going to ride, we settled on Hillcrest Road in Medford due to the possibility of snow on anything much higher.
Knowing we would be on the road for awhile, we were ready to roll at 4 am.
Needing to do 21 laps of about 1400′ each, we rolled out slow and steady.  The lack of traffic was very welcome and a feeling of euphoria swept over me as we were flying down Hillcrest on our first descent hitting speeds near 50 mph at times.  It felt pretty amazing knowing we were up early, doing what we love, while most of the city was still tucked in their warm beds dreaming of….um….whatever they were dreaming of.
As the sun finally pushed its light through the heavily overcast skies, we were just hitting the summit on our third lap.  Despite a slight breeze and temps dipping a little at sunrise, we were feeling good and still optimistic.
That would soon change.  Around 4 or 5 hours in we felt the first sprinkles.  The last weather report I had checked called for isolated showers.  We should have been good, but by the time we rolled down to base camp (our cars), we realized if the showers were isolated, they were isolated over us.  Wet roads would be the name of the game now.
It was about that time some much needed moral support arrived to lift our spirits in the form of some ride-along buddies.  The first to show was fellow Unreal rider Mark, followed by other friends, Adrian, Chad, and Eric.  They did a couple laps with us in the pouring rain and managed to take our minds off the task at hand for a couple hours.  Thanks again guys!
With our friends gone and Shawn and I now soaked to the bone and shivering, we were having second thoughts.  Our answer was to eat some snacks and get back on the bikes.  Switching out of my mildly sexy and fashionably reflective blue jacket, I put on my EXTREMELY sexy and dry Hi-Vis yellow jacket and we started another climb.
The lower part of Hillcrest is relatively easy compared to upper Hillcrest and Pineridge (which was part of the route at the very top) where there are portions that push a 20% grade.  We learned early on that paperboying one particular section saved wear and tear on our knees.  You can barely see Shawn employing this tactic here.
The descents were fun except for the part where we cooled down to what felt like the brink of hypothermia.
In the end, the unrelenting drizzle, the resulting chilled bones, and the realization that these factors were slowing us down so much we would have to be riding past 11 pm started to take their toll.  Not a comfortable proposition, so we decided to do lap 11 and see how we felt.
 Having climbed 16,000 feet, and nearing 100 miles, we decided to call it quits.  For the second time in 4 years of riding I was giving up on a ride.  I wasn’t happy about it, but sometimes the wise thing has to win out over the proud thing.
We did one last descent and rode a couple extra miles in order to get a full hundred.  We were soaked to the bone, shivering, and mildly happy to be off the bike and digging in to the snacks we had at base camp.
While I’m not really ok with feeling like a quitter, I have taken solace in the fact that Shawn and I have vowed to tackle this monster when the weather is a bit nicer and the days are a bit longer.  Also, the current plan is to make it a little tougher by doing it on a gravel road.
Thanks again to everyone that came out for support.  Thanks Shawn, Erin, and Tammy for some cool pics and your time taking them.  And, thanks again, Shawn for being crazy enough to do stupid stuff like this with me.
Now, everyone, go make some memories!
Aaron


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