We awoke in the hamlet of Packwood knowing there was suffering waiting for us. We dressed in our costumes and loaded up the lone van that would accompany us on the remainder of our journey.
The woods swallowed us up and the climbing began. Today would be well over a hundred miles and would feature ten thousand feet of climbing.
I remembered some of the road from my one and only prior experience here at the inaugural High Pass Challenge back in 2007 or 2008. I knew that moonscapes lay ahead but for now we were climbing and enjoying the cool air knowing the heat would come soon enough.
After a food stop as riders were beginning to assemble and start I jumped on my bike and grabbed a head start. I assumed I would be swept up in the first mile. I didn't attack or anything, knowing that even after this climb there would be more climbing and plenty more miles. I settled into a rhythm and waited for the fast guys to catch me.
The ride was so epic, it was in black and white !!Finally, as I was stopped taking pictures "The Plastic Boys" caught me. They were so dubbed as they were on carbon framed bikes. I jumped in and hung with them a few miles until I saw the sign that said the viewpoint was another seven miles up the road. I can't tell you if it was wisdom, or wimpdom, but as soon as I saw the sign I ratcheted down my power output. Soon I was alone.
I was joined then by the Reigning King of the Mountains for the remainder of the climb.
Even Kings need to stretch now and then...
Mt Adams, We will pass that on day five...
KB would turn north as we turned south and his sweet wife would pick him up that evening as he had other commitments. We kept telling the surgeon "Cancer can wait!" He just smiled, bid us farewell and headed off into the sunset.
After fueling up we head to the second big climb of the day; Old Man Pass. While only 3,000 feet in elevation, the road kicks up with a double digit incline and never lets up. By now the day had hotted up and the sun was directly overhead. Shade was elusive and my legs were feeling the fatigue of both yesterday and the climbing of today. We spread out on the road and everyone found their own room in hellish hotel known as climbing purgatory.
At the summit the van was parked and we paused, eating and refilling water bottles. Then it was time to drop and drive. The descent was fun but we still had dozens of miles to go to reach our hotel.
We formed up into an echelon and when we got to roads with traffic we were a pace line. With loud voices we cheered each other on as we took pulls longer than we wanted. Our bottles were empty and we had eaten everything in our pockets that could have helped us. We were spent.
Soon we made the left turn we had been dreaming of and were greeted by a hill that was maybe fifty feet high and it broke our spirit. Profanities were uttered and with gritted teeth we were up and over and then after five minutes of coasting, we arrived.
114 miles, 10,230' of climbing, down to twelve riders...