A Shot at Redemption

Hoo boy.  Talk about a week of highs and lows.
Tuesday and Wednesday were decent days..  One ride on the C3.  One ride on the Toa. Nothing special aside from the fact I always enjoy riding my bike and that’s special enough for me.
Actually, I misspoke.  I ALMOST always enjoy riding.  Saturday, I didn’t.  I’ll explain.
With a previous failed attempt at conquering the Everest Challenge a couple months ago, Shawn and I decided to give it another try.  This time would be a little different.  We invited 2 other riders to join us as they had both expressed interest in tackling the challenge the next time we went for it.
With daytime highs leading up to the “Day of Doom” in the 90s or 100s, we decided it would be wise to start at 12 am.  Midnight.  While it may seem like I don’t have a real job since I spend so much time riding, that isn’t the case.  I get up at 4:45 am every weekday and being asleep by 8:30 pm is a pretty common occurrence for me.  Needless to say, 12 am would probably raise issues with my internal clock.  It did.  In spite of going to sleep a couple hours after work on Friday, I only managed 3 hours of sleep and ended up sitting around for 5 hours waiting to start a bike ride that would take anywhere from 17 – 21 hours to complete.  
Yeah.
But, roll out at 12 we did and in 3 hours Shawn, Bryan, Matt, and I were taking our first break with 5000′ behind us.
Over the next 2 laps, some weaknesses started to reveal themselves and by the end of lap 7, Shawn was ready to throw in the towel.  He had only managed 10 minutes of sleep since the night before and was starting to doze off while climbing up the hill. 
I admit, that gave me the opening I was looking for.  Secretly, for the last week or so I had gone back and forth on even wanting to attempt the challenge again.  I’m pretty sure I would have backed out if Bryan and Matt hadn’t been involved.  I decided to push on with the little voice inside my head telling me I should stop.
10 laps and 10,000 feet into the challenge, I bailed.  I have so many excuses, some legit, some semi-legit.  The absolute truth is I simply didn’t feel like riding my bike all day on the same road.  At least a double century provides some variety.  This was going to be 28 laps on the same 4 mile stretch of road.  BARF!!
With Shawn and I out, it was up to Bryan and Matt.  After 2 hours of sleep and pigging out on pizza and frozen yogurt, I guiltily went back to check on the boys.  It seems Matt’s knees had been bothering him for the last 2 laps and he was forced out with 20,000 feet completed.  What a bummer.  Nice job, Matt!
Bryan ended up finishing the challenge.  What an accomplishment.  Unless a person makes the attempt, they can’t truly know how difficult it is.  I give Bryan major props.  AWESOME JOB MAN!
While I knew why I bailed and thought I was ok with it, the depression started setting in.  What a loser!  I can’t believe I quit.  I suck.  All of that went through my mind and then I asked myself, “when did I get so messed up that I climb 10,000′ in one ride and still feel it wasn’t a good day?”
I needed redemption.
I found it on Sunday.
Shawn and I were to help our friend Ruth out by shuttling a couple cars from one end of the Wild Rogue Trail to the other.  So, we loaded up our bikes and headed to Grave Creek to grab the cars.  After an hour and fifteen minute drive over Bear Camp Road, we dropped the cars at the end of the trail and hopped on our bikes to start the long ride back.  
Only problem was, I had ridden with Shawn from Medford and forgot my bike shoes.  No problem!  Shawn let me wear his since I only had flip flops.  He did the whole 50 mile ride in his sandals!
During the entire 5000′ climb from the river to the top of the mountain we counted a total of 15 stretches of gravel and more than double that in empty beer cans on the side of the road.  That was a comforting feeling.
While the entire ride was through a pretty remote location, we weren’t really concerned with the possibility of becoming stranded.  We probably never went 15 minutes without a truck or a convoy of trucks and cars being shuttled to the take out points for the various rafting companies that operate float businesses on the Wild and Scenic portion of the Rogue River.  Though there was a bit of traffic, everybody seemed to be aware of 2 morons riding on a single lane back country road and we didn’t get smooshed.
I have to say, every time I ride somewhere new, I’m amazed by the awesomeness that is Southern Oregon.  We are truly lucky to have what we have here.
Anyway, since we did a bit of climbing on Saturday (I know, I know, not as much as Bryan or Matt), we were more than a little glad when we hit the summit and started the very steep and very fast descent back down to Galice.
As we hit the bottom of the mountain just outside Galice there was a noticeable jump in temperature and we finished off the last 7 miles to Grave Creek with temps in the 90s.
I’m so glad I did the ride on Sunday.  I needed a reminder of how much I love cycling after being disgusted with Saturday’s ride and the way I felt about it.  I really need to stop saying never, but I’m pretty sure I’ll never try the Everest again.  I’m crazy (stupid) and will continue to do crazy (stupid) rides.  But, I vow to make them rides I can feel excited about.
Lesson learned!!
Aaron

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