Have you ever had one of those days or weeks that are lets say challenging? Maybe its from the
change of the summer into winter, or maybe it has to do with work, or life, or a troubled relationship, or could
be that you just turned another year old.
Recently everything hit me at once on my birthday. Turning another year old was no big deal,
but it was just that this on top of all other life's challenges had me very close to the edge. I woke up feeling
a little stressed. I went outside to breathe the cool winter air and felt sunshine which was a surprise
considering that it had been overcast for several day before. I was definitely not in the mood to work so I said
what the hell, "I am going for a ride!" It had been weeks since I had been on a real ride, so I dusted off my
mountain bike, gathered up my gear, made half a penut-butter sandwich, filled my water pack, and headed for the
With no destination in mind I headed for the hills. I hit dirt in about 10 minutes after a good
warm up climb. I had an urge to ride to the top of Mt. Ashland. This physical challenge would make me at least
forget about things for a while.
I climbed up some of the hard sections on the trail and and harder hills feeling my heart
pounding in my chest and seeing the condensation from my heavy breathing. After about 8 miles of climbing the
problems that seemed so important began to feel not so bad.
I continued my climb and cleared section of the trail that I usually was unable to. My body was
now sweating in the cold air. My breath was very heavy and my spirits where getting better with every pedal
stroke. Dark clouds began to form in the sky, but this only made me push harder.
After 12 miles of climbing life's problems were no longer on my mind and all I cared about is
reaching the summit. I stopped for a bite of my sandwich. In about 10 seconds the whole sandwich was gone. It was
one of the best peanut-butter sandwiches I had ever eaten. Rain was now falling from the sky and the temperature
continued to drop the higher I got.
I reached the summit after about 2 hours, 15 miles, and 6500ft of climbing. It was bitterly
cold and the and the wind was blowing right through my lycra. I was almost in the clouds that were moving quickly
across the sky. I felt no pain and quickly put on some mittens and my tights. I sat for about a minute admiring
the view of Mt. Shasta on one side and Ashland of the other and took a few deep breaths. Within 3 minutes I was
heading back down the hill.
I descended the mountain quickly and kept in control. My hands, toes, and face were numb and I
could barley squeeze my brake levers. After about 45 minutes I was back at home, feeling more alive than I had
felt in months. I put on Jimmy Cliff's, "Bright Sunshiny Day" and danced around my living room, still so high
from the endorphins.
After an excellent dinner and some very good birthday cake, all I could do was sit back and
smile and be thankful for the things I had: family, good friends, food, health, and inner peace. What else really
matters? What a wonderful world it is.
It has been a couple of weeks since that ride, but I can still feel the high that I got from
it. When everything feels to be hitting you at once there is one solution that will make you forget about life
and your problems. Get out and ride! Longer and harder the better.