Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Everest Challenge Bike Ride and Race

About six months ago I took up road bicycling to be my exercise of choice. It has been a fun way to get in shape and compete a little bit with myself and eventually in the old man racing scene. I keep pushing and making some progress that is motivating on a daily basis. I get up at 4:30 AM to ride and currently average 150- 200 miles a week. I'm not sure where its heading at this point but I do like it. I like looking for ways to keep it interesting.

A couple of weeks ago I received an email from the Brumby’s (a local riding group) communication channel that another rider was looking for travel mates for a trip to California to do a bike race and a week of Mountain bike riding in the Sierras. In my wild imaginings I thought why not. Everything would have been fine except that Betty had already planned a trip to Seattle for a quilting convention the following week end and expected me to be home. I had hoped to do a race or two before the Tour de Tucson in November since I am totally inexperienced and needed the exposure to race preparations. So I worked the plans to go and come home on Monday with her approval and Betty would leave Tuesday.

The race was a Saturday and Sunday event but I would only ride on Saturday. After a couple of emails and phone calls plans were made. I read through the web information on the event and learned a few things that I did not fully realize the importance of when riding in mountains. Mainly gear ratios and climbing. I called Jesse D. (my main riding and training mate) and he explained it to me. I still did not get the proper gearing for my bike on short notice.

I just bought a new bike that was lighter and was assured by my friendly flatlanders here in Arizona that I would be okay. When I showed up at the race and saw what other more experienced riders were using I knew I was In for a hard time and would not be okay. I had roughed out hills before so I figured I would just do it again.

I had never ridden up a twenty some mile hill with a 5000 elevation gain to 10,000 feet. We rode for about 8 miles in a non-race mode pack to the start of the hill. Right away I fell out of the pack when we started climbing. Luckily one other guy also was going slower as well. He had done the race before and said some of the speedsters would fall off. I was with him for 10 miles but when the hard part started for the last 10 miles his proper gearing left me as well suffering alone. I never did see any others fall off. Needless to say for 10 miles at high elevation I had to grind out every stroke and on a couple of steep places I had to stand and pedal or fall over. I did pass a couple of others that were struggling worse than I was. As much as I wanted to quit my previous training had paid off and with Hammer supplements provided as the sponsor my legs kept delivering power to move along. I tried to stay positive as Becky had sent me a text the day before and said "u can do it if you think you can". So I climbed for about 3 hours and raced down in about 30 minutes and then rode for another 20 or so miles to the Hotel. It was about 80 miles all together and 5 hours in the saddle. So, while not completing the race I still rode further and harder than any previous ride.

The journey started out on Thursday afternoon as I drove over to Jonathan Cavner's house , (an avid cyclist and runner and the guy that sent the email),in south west Phoenix. We headed west to California at about 5 PM. We arrived somewhere in the middle of the desert along the 395 and pulled over and slept about 150 miles from Bishop. I slept on the back seat of the Corolla. We woke up and drove into Bishop. We drove to the top of the 3rd climb of the first day and rode the steepest part of the hill near the finish. It was a 14 degree slope at the end of a 20 mile ride that neither of us ended up making on race day. We checked into the budget hotel and then went to eat. Later that evening we attended the race check-in, dinner and a pre race briefing.

Sunday I attended the ward meetings in Bishop and enjoyed the day reading and resting. I also attended the CES fireside broadcast and listened to sister Dalton’s message. It was amazing in its purpose and teaching.

I got up early Monday and caught the bus to Reno, NV to fly home. I did not know if I should leave my bike with Jonathan or take it and hope I could find the way to get it on the plane. I took the bike on the bus and with a little faith hoped I could finish the trip with it. Had it not been for a good Samaritan that was listening to my plight at the Fed Ex store where I struck out on a packing box I might have had a very bad day. I did find a suitable case at a local bike shop and Bob, my new friend in Reno, that I just met drove me there and to the airport afterwards. I had two hours to spare.

So nine hours of driving to get there and 14 hours of travel and sitting to get home so I could ride my bike for 5 hours. Is something wrong with that picture? I guess though I'm just glad I did not have to ride my bike another 500 miles home or maybe I'm not. The Sierras are beautiful and the time away is good for the mind. I like the thought of how strong I would be after a 500 mile ride.

A quote by Theodore Roosevelt that sister Dalton used in her talk hit home as I thought about what we do in life when we take some chances.

"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

So it is in life's endeavors and raising a family. How can we not see the pursuits of life and weigh them against eternity. I do subscribe to the idea of living with no regrets when it comes to good accomplishments and taking a stand on important matters. I have no regrets because gospel standards have given me a happy life with a wonderful wife and amazing children.

I count my blessings every day as we never know when the adversity we don't bring on ourselves or don't expect may find us.

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