Thursday, September 27, 2012

Fire And Ice

The 135 mile Mt. Adams Randonneur Permanent required serious strategy:

Up early.
Coffee & oatmeal to go.
Lipstick.  Get dressed.
Hair.  Vitamins, allergy meds.
Go!  5:10am depart.
Cross at BOG.  Venus Cafe.
Mo-fos.  Mo coffee.  A bagel!
Go.  Enjoy the flat.
Tail wind?  Bingen.
Now north.  Climbing through the forest.
Mile 61 top of main climb.
Feel awesome!
Enjoy the woods.
Gifford Pinchot mo fo.
Mile 100 top, it gets easy.
Enjoy life.  Breathe deep.
Remember my dream.
Eat the right dinner.
Enjoy the stars.

The result: the hardest day on a bike in my entire life - survived.

As we began the main part of the climb, Bingen and a migraine behind me, the landscape looked eerily like my own tan down blanket.  The dream I mention in my strategy was from earlier in the week.  The Gifford Pinchot wilderness and my bed were one in the same.  I rode all over the forest and the bed and the mountain I climbed was myself. 
White Salmon gave way to Trout Lake and a wrong turn led to a road I'd like to try again someday.  There were plenty of signs thanking the fire fighters and some landed crane helicopters and fire camps.  Then we started to see the mountain.  At first it looked like a high, white, cloud bank.  Holding still and watching the clouds move past proved it was a mountain, but it seemed more like the ethereal home of the gods. (It's straight over the source of the smoke in the photo)

The descent was chilly and parts of it were dirt and gravel.  But before hypothermia could set in, there was one more climb to conquer: Curly Creek Road.  Only five miles, then to Old Man's Pass for the final descent.  A lack of clothing on my sweaty body during the twenty mile dusky descent made life suck for a nice long while. 
Then, regrouping, we crossed a tall and elegant cathedral style bridge that makes the Saint John's bridge seem small.  It was dark and narrow by now so we plodded on.  I feared the final descent back to SR-14.  The notorious gorge gusts were sure to toss me, especially as my strength waned.  But down we went on a windless road, my fears unfounded.

Stopping along the highway to snatch the jacket I stashed earlier, I turned my headlight toward the ground.  There, at my feet, was a rotten little doe.  So rotten it didn't smell the way dead things smell anymore.  This sight scared me more than anything all day.  

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