That was one of the best damn rides I’ve done all year. Every time that I push myself a bit further, I question why I seek these challenges. It’s not the risk that drives me; the risk is simply inherent to when and where I want to go. 180 miles at night circumnavigating Mt. Hood in November is a bit crazy, but the crazy part isn’t what motivates me.
I didn’t start climbing Lolo Pass until sundown. A healthy bit of fear came over me as I climbed in the dark, worried about what’s next. It was 36 degrees and a heavy wind was forcing its way through the valley. This reminded me all too well of the many storms that soon follow, but fortunately none did. But it wasn’t long before a clearing exposed Mt. Hood, with recent snowfall draping far down its slopes, lit by moonlight. And these are the moments that calm me, the silence with no one around for miles, comforted by the feeling of just being lucky enough to be here. These are the moments that I live for, and a 16 hour night ride around Mt. Hood presents plenty of them.
My greatest challenge of self-doubt was at 95 miles with 10k of climbing done, and it’s 1am and 27 degrees. I’m climbing up the East side of Hood on Hwy 35 out of the saddle for freaking ever because, yeah, I rode my fixed gear. I stop, tired, to eat some food, stargaze, and build a snowman (just a little one), and I think to myself, ‘I’m so fucking tired. I could be in bed right now and I’m only halfway done.’ And it was more than a thought, it was the actual feeling of being wrapped in my down blanket that washed over me. I closed my eyes to imagine it. You shouldn’t do that. But I enjoy that self-doubt; to push through it helps you to find new emotional, mental and physical limits.
And I made it back, just in time for sunrise. I made myself a cup of coffee, wrapped myself in that warm blanket that I longed for so many miles ago, and sat on my porch feeling pretty lucky.