Sunday, August 14, 2011


So if you haven't heard, I got this crazy idea that I wanted to bicycle in all 50 states.  It would have sounded a lot cooler if I could say I was doing a 50/50/50...that is, turning 50, riding 50 in 50 states...but I'm a bit long in the tooth for the first part of that equation.  Double nickels, in fact....55.  But it's still all 5's, right?  So, how does 55 riding 50 in 50 sound?  

When this idea hatched, I had already ridden in 50% of the states, (funny how that 50 keeps popping up!), and temperatures in Texas were soaring over 100 degrees; it seemed like a good time to leave.  Originally, I was going to go ride the central plain states, but their weather was just as hot.  Looking at the map, it was a simple decision to head to the wonderful Pacific Northwest, where daytime temperatures peaked in the high sixties...  Hallelujah; pack the bags and hit the road.

A few days before I left, I read a quote that really resonated with me.  "Life begins where your comfort zone ends."  Well, I guess I am living because I have definitely left my comfort zone because:

  1. I have never ridden my bike unsupported, in a unknown area alone.  
  2. I have  always been a phone call away from help. 
  3. Though I have driven a couple of days solo, never have I done an extended car trip alone.   
  4. I have never stayed with people I didn't really know; it is easier to stay in a hotel, safely hidden behind an anonymous hotel door.  On this trip, I will be staying with friends of friends, and folks from the cycling site,
After three days of driving, I finally reached the first state in which I was going to ride, Oregon.  I chose to start at Crater Lake.  The lake is a collapsed volcano and sits over 7000 feet above sea level; I was coming from almost sea level--300 ft. The weather was perfect and I was eager to ride.  The ride around the lake is only 31 miles, and though I was arriving at the park at 2 pm, I felt I could easily ride it in a couple of hours,  despite 3700 feet of climbing.  
Bike computer upload
Surprise!!  I was not prepared for how the elevation would affect me; about half way through the ride, I began to get tired....really tired.  My heart rate ran way up and I was huffing and puffing as I spun up the mountains surrounding the lake. 
Ten miles in, it sunk into me that I was truly on my own.  There was no SAG car or friend to support me, either with water, food or encouragement. I was alone, and if I was going to finish this ride, it was totally up to me. It was just me and my bike. Mile after mile, my mind played games with me as the road just kept going up and up.  Around mile 20, as the shadows started to get long, I was tired and worried that the sun would set before I got back to the car. 

At this point, I actually considered flagging down someone ... anyone....and hitching a ride back to the visitor center.  I felt so vulnerable without the support, and self-doubt was nagging; it was then that I realized what a crutch I had allowed that support to become. With that realization came freedom.  I knew I was perfectly capable of riding the rim; I had ridden much more challenging courses.  With this shift in attitude, I found I had plenty of strength left and finished the ride as strongly as I started.

Yes, I had left my comfort zone....and even though I was tired, I was living. 

There is still snow beside the road, some which didn't open until June.
Half way up the first climb.  I thought I was done until I got back on my bike and rounded the corner.  It was still 7 miles to the top.
Crater Lake vista point
Snow along the road
Fumaroles made by gas escaping through the molten lava.
Enjoying the scenery
Vista point, and an excuse to stop and smell the roses....and catch my breath.

1 comment:

  1. the first of your amazing journey..... I love the changes going on
    in your life

    may you have many happy trails my friend, I hope to join you again on the road!