Thursday, December 09, 2010

what is miserable?

I have been hanging out with the Chew Man a bit lately and he has me stoked. I got him to retell the story about being brutalized by the weather in the late 90's.

I feel like I have written both of these stories on my blog before. Apologies to both of you readers for that.

The story goes: He was leaving northern Columbus Ohio to ride the 200 plus miles back to Pittsburgh. It was late spring, and he thought that he would be fine in shorts and a jersey. About 50 miles in, it starts raining, then pouring, then the temperature dropped to the mid 40's. Chew said he considered stopping to buy gloves, and also considered getting a motel room. Instead, he just pedaled home.

He claims that this is what gave him the mental toughness to win his second Race Across America. Danny said that after he got home, he couldnt feel his fingertips for two weeks. I think that is kind of crazy, but it is a good example of somebody just being able to push hard.

Now I will share a story about one of the worst rides of my life.

Matt and I were a few weeks into our Great Divide Mountain Bike Route trip. It was late September at elevation. We were in central Wyoming and had just eaten breakfast in some town. A dude talked to us about our trip, and when we went to pay, he had already covered it. Awesome.

We stocked up and rolled out. We had about 200 miles with only a small "provisions" store in between. 150 of those miles had no water or food. This is all on dirt roads/paths.

Anyway, after rolling out of Rawlins, it started raining. It was like 45 degrees, we were literally traversing the contintal divide at like 7000', which made the weather nuts. There were lightening strikes and thunder all around us. The roads turned to peanut butter mud, and our temperatures dropped. Unlike Chew, I got really scared. I put on every piece of clothing that I had, I had lost all dexterity in my fingers and hands, making braking hard and would have made changing a flat impossible. Matt and I basically ended up under a rock ledge and under a tarp huddled together trying to stay warm.

I remember Matt being calmer than me. I had borderline hypothermia. My lips were so cold that I couldnt talk right. Matt loves being miserable. Matt has been vegan for a few decades AND does triathlons. Those are two of the most miserable things ever. I guess that since Matt wasnt eating some fake cheese or swimming and running, he was able to calm me down to ride the twenty miles or so to the paved road. We rode into the dark, where we finally hit pavement, and found a form of shelter to sleep under.

The next two days were spent riding through the great divide basin. The weather was sunny and nice, and ironically we were in need of water, as there was none for two days straight. All of the steams were dry. We nursed the gallons of water that we had.

The maps said that there was a potential water source after like 140 miles of none. It was a reservoir of some type. We saw it from a distance and had to climb up to it, no knowing if it was dry. Finally I saw some green grass and knew we were in luck. Sweet. We rode hard after this to the next town, and literally big ringed the continental divide along the way.

Ups and downs.


Matt Ruscigno said...

Dude! But in the four years since you've become WAY better at being miserable and making yourself suffer. I'm slightly jealous.
I also learned a lot from that part of our trip not only about suffering, but also friendship, communication, empathy and motivation.
Important things to think about as I consider racing Tour Divide next year!

Miss. Bea Havin said...

I love reading your blog, Steevo

JohnnyBrison said...

This is the kind of stuff that has me go out and ride like an idiot just to push limits. I mean, let's not all become morons, but finding more strength in oneself is always worth it. Cycling is about that suffering and tolerance in many ways. I always like to learn more about what humans can endure.

Spice said...

In what direction did you ride the divide? going north or going South?

I rode thru the Rawlins, WY area on my moto trip this summer...there's not much there..I don't ever want to go back...even on an 80 degree day it sucked.

You two are hard dudes.